Treadmill interval training for overweight runners

Running indoors on a treadmill can sometimes be a great way to change up your training during the cold winter months.

I recently had a friend reach out to ask if I’d ever written an article about interval training on a treadmill. I looked back at previous posts and found that I hadn’t written anything on the subject. So, since it is still winter for most of the country, this is a post to help as you train indoors on a treadmill for an upcoming race.

Now, if you’re new to running or fitness in general, following a treadmill workout is a great way to start improving your cardiovascular health (especially since most of the US is under a few feet of snow). This article will introduce beginners to the concept and help get the most out of their treadmill interval training.

What is treadmill interval training?

Running interval training is when you change the intensity of a workout between sprints and walking and intersperse resting periods throughout. It’s a way to get your heart rate up, increase your speed, and improve your overall fitness level.

Getting the most out of your training

To get the most out of your treadmill interval training requires a little bit more than just hopping on and hitting “start”. By changing speeds and incline percentages more strategically, your workouts can be much more effective and efficient at improving your endurance levels and calorie burn. I did write a post a while back that referred to the treadmill as a “dreadmill” because the monotony of long steady-state running workouts is just the worst. Changing it up with intervals makes it more tolerable.

Ease into it

Don’t feel intimidated by speeds and inclines, this training is about building out your individual results. You don’t need to run 10 miles per hour right out of the gate. Begin where you’re at. Interval training doesn’t necessarily mean max effort all the time. You can ease into it with more relaxed intervals that get your body comfortable with running while you improve your cardio fitness level.

Why interval training works

The Chubby Runner Dreadmill Interval Plan is a great place to start. The 10-minute treadmill interval plan is perfect for beginners new to treadmill routines and will help to ease you into interval work. The goal is to increase your own individual level of cardio and get you more comfortable increasing your running speed. Each sprint interval will progressively be a little longer until you are running more than you’re walking.

It’s a similar idea to the 8 Week Beginner Walk Run Plan, which you can find here.

Step by step treadmill plan

1st minute  Start with a brisk walk, 2-3 mph, no incline. (Brisk is whatever speed will make you breathe heavy, challenging, but not impossible.)

2nd minute Increase the incline from 0% to 5% and lower your speed slightly.

3rd minute  Go back to 0% incline and increase your speed slightly from your original speed.

4th minute  Back to 5% incline at 2-3 mph.

5th minute  0% incline and take the speed up slightly to 3.5-4 mph.

6th minute  Back to 5% incline at 2-3 mph.

7th minute  0% incline and take the speed up slightly, 3.5-4 mph.

8th minute  5% incline. 3 mph.

9th minute  0% incline. 4-5 mph. (this should be challenging for you)

10th minute  5% incline. 3 mph.

11th minute  cool down walk

Take your interval training up a notch

Once you’re comfortable with this routine, you can start adding different speed and time challenges. When you feel like you’ve pretty much mastered this 10-minute workout you can increase your speed even more, or stretch it out to a 20-minute, 30-minute, 40-minute interval challenge, and so on.

Treadmill interval training is personalized

This treadmill interval routine is designed to meet you where you’re at. If you’re an absolute beginner, you can start slowly and gradually work into a full running program. If you’re more experienced, you can take the principles and up the time interval and/or the incline to really challenge and improve yourself. It’s a plan designed to be adopted and modified so that anyone can benefit whatever their fitness level. Once you feel like you’ve taken the interval plan far enough, spring should be in full bloom and you can get out and run outside. We’ll work on outdoor intervals another time.