Workout of the Week- Treadmill Intervals

29 Nov

I love intervals.  They are quick and I can always find time to squeeze them in.  I like keeping my intervals to 21 minutes and love that I can do them on any cardio machine.  My favorite machine in the gym to do intervals on is the treadmill.  I get such a rush while I’m doing them and my endorphins are always super high when I’m done. 

Cybex Treadmill

I want to share with you one of my favorite treadmill interval workouts.  You will have to adjust the speed according to your own comfort level.  Let the intervals begin.

*Note:  I’m not a runner by nature.  Running is hard for me.  My feel good running pace is typically 6.6 – 7mph.  My intervals are based off this information, so please adjust the speed accordingly. 

*Remember to consult and check with your doctor before trying a new workout program and or exercise*

Minute Speed Incline
0-1 4 0
1-2 8 0
2-3 4 0
3-4 8.5 0
4-5 4 0
5-6 9 0
6-7 4 0
7-7:30 10 0
7:30-9 4 0
9-10 7 12%
10-11 4 0
11-12 8 0
12-13 4 0
13-14 8.5 0
14-15 4 0
15-16 9 0
16-17 4 0
17-17:30 10 0
18-19 4 0
19-20 7 12%
20-21 3.5 0


So why do intervals you ask?  Let me share with you an article I found that talks all about interval training:

Interval Training Workouts Improve Speed and Endurance

Intervals training workouts that vary exercise intensity help build fitness fast

By Elizabeth Quinn,

Interval training has been used by athletes for years to build fitness. Interval training combines short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session. An early form of interval training, "Fartlek" (a Swedish term meaning ‘speed play’) was casual and unstructured. A runner would simply increase and decrease his pace at will.

Today, athletes use more structured interval training workouts and HIT (High Intensity Training) to build speed and endurance. This variation of interval training and speed work can be a simple or sophisticated routine, but the basics are still the same as the original fartlek training.

What is Interval Training?

Interval training is built upon alternating short, high intensity bursts of speed with slower, recovery phases throughout a single workout. The interval workouts can be highly sophisticated and structured training that is designed for an athlete based upon his or her sport, event and current level of conditioning. An interval training workout may even be designed based upon the results of anaerobic threshold testing (AT) that includes measuring the blood-lactate of an athlete during intense exercise.

How Interval Training Works

Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity. Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen, but the by-product is lactic acid. As lactic acid builds, the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to "pay back" this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. It is in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.

It’s thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.

The Benefits of Interval Training

Interval training adheres to the principle of adaptation. Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance.

Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with repetitive overuse, common in endurance athletes. Intervals also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without overtraining or burn-out. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way add cross training to an exercise routine.

Interval Training Burns More Calories

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise. If you are counting calories burned, high intensity exercise such as intervals are better than long, slow endurance exercise, but you may pay a price. There are risks inherent in high intensity training, so it’s important to know both the the benefits and dangers of high intensity training.

Interval Training Workout Routines

Designing the right interval training routine can be sophisticated or casual. Elite athletes may go to sports performance lab to have blood lactate and exercise metabolism testing performed to determine the best interval training routine. On the other end of the spectrum, you can use the casual "speed play" interval training (fartlek). With this routine, simply pay attention to how you feel and set your intensity and duration accordingly.

If you want something a bit more structured, you can use a basic interval training workout routine. Keep in mind that interval training is extremely demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles, and it’s important to have an OK from your physician before you start interval training. You should also have a solid base of overall aerobic fitness before performing high intensity training of any kind.

Beginners should start with short intervals (under 30 seconds), fewer repeats and more rest. Elite athletes can up the intensity, time and frequency of training. Few athletes benefit from performing intervals more than two times per week.


  • Do you do intervals?  If so, what is your favorite type on intervals to do (running, biking)?
  • Do you prefer intervals or steady state cardio?
  • Does running come naturally to you or do you have to work at it?




22 Responses to “Workout of the Week- Treadmill Intervals”

  1. JessSutera November 29, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Great interval workout! I’m about to write a post on intervals for tomorrow actually – great minds think alike! I like intervals to help me build speed and to get me through those treadmill runs in the winter that are unavoidable around these parts. I’ll definitely give yours a try!

  2. Lisa @ Healthy Diaries November 29, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    I LOVE interval runs! It’s actually the only way I can run on the treadmill usually because they make time go fast. I usually go with a 3-2-1 interval doing 5mhp for 3 min, 6 mph for 2 min and 7 mph for 1 min.

    I’m not a fast runner so this definitely is hard work for me since I comfortable running at 5.5mph.

  3. Erica November 29, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    LOVEEEEEEEEEE interval workouts! I’m totally going to try your version on Thursday 🙂 Thanks girl!

  4. loftyappetite November 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I walk/run on the treadmill (like you said i’m also not really a big runner) but i’ve never tried an actual interval workout to push myself. I’m going to give yours a try! 21 minutes sounds very doable 😉 thanks for the info!

  5. La. November 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

    Currently all my workouts are at home. I can’t even run outside since I’m so pregnant and I stopped running when I had to pee all the time! When this baby is 6 months old I will join a gym again. I can’t wait!

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

      I currently am not running either. I might run for a minute here or there during a warm up, but like you I’m far too pregnant to run comfortably!

  6. Amy November 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    This looks like a great interval program. Running does not come easy to me. i can only do 6.0 without dying. I’m more of a weights girl or plyometics than cardio.

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 29, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

      It took me a long time to get myself on a treadmill, I would always do the bike or elliptical machine out of fear. Then about 10 years ago I forced myself to run and I decided if I took it slow and at my own pace it wasn’t so bad. I love lifting weights as well! I love how much weights can transform your body!

  7. Sophia @ Raven Waves November 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    I really enjoy intervals! They get my heart pumping!! Major props for getting up to a 10mph on a treadmill…I would definitely fly right off!

  8. Allie @ Healthy Balance, Healthy Life November 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Running intervals are my favorite. I prefer steady state cardio but do intervals because I know they’re good for me and they are rewarding after. I usually base when I do high intensity and recovery on songs that have parts with varying slow and fast beats. The Time by The Black Eyed Peas and Countdown by Beyonce are both good for this! I think that running comes naturally AND I have to work at it! Being a slow runner doesn’t mean you’re not a runner!

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 30, 2011 at 7:15 am #

      I like using music to guide my cardio as well! Black Eyed Peas are definitely one of my fav groups to workout too! All their music has such great beats!

  9. sweetlyvegan November 29, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    I love love intervals too!! I AM SOOO GLAD U DID A POST ON THIS! I was going to ask u if u would (: I tried to do intervals the other day on the treadmill and that lasted about 3 minutes. haha…. can we not do intervals then when pregnant? I heard some ppl can run all the way thru so thats why I gave it a shot! I realized at the 3 minute mark that even running at 6.5 wasn’t comfortable for me so I went back to the elliptical. What kind of cardio do u do while pregnant? mostly the elliptical? maybe u have already posted on this topic before? ill look thru ur blog and see if i can find … I’m sooo doing this to lose the baby weight in the spring!!! THANK YOU! ❤

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 30, 2011 at 7:13 am #

      I haven’t ran intervals since first trimester. I find running to be really hard right now especially with the extra weight and huge stomach. Currently, I do treadmill walking and incline walking at around a 4-4.2 pace and a 12% grade incline (I switch every other song that I’m listening to). I usually do like 20-25 minutes of that followed by 20-25 minutes on the elliptical. I’m finding the further along I get the elliptical feels so much better so I’m doing elliptical only workouts as well for about 45 minutes. If I workout too hard, I’m tired all day so I try to balance getting in a great workout without overly exhausting myself! I also wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I don’t get my heart rate up too high.

  10. Heather B November 30, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    You wrote this just in time for my workout last night. Usually when I get on the treadmill it’s just to run but this workout was pretty fun and I was able to push hard because I knew I could walk. I added more incline on the slower walks and it was great. Thank you!!

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life November 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

      No problem! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I know I can always make myself do anything for one minute, especially knowing I get take a break afterwards!

  11. sweetlyvegan December 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    I changed up my workout yesterday and I LOVED it! I did what you recommended… the 25 minutes of walking on the treadmill @4.0 -4.5 and I did the incline on levels 1-4 (I’m not sure what 12% is?) and just adjusted the incline according to my heart rate. Then I did strength training, and then the random hill on the elliptical for 25minutes. I must say the treadmill walk got me to break a nice sweat- more than I get on the elliptical and I really enjoyed it! Thanks so much for the tips!!!

    • Trainer Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life December 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      12% is the grade of incline on the cybex treadmill I use. Our incline starts with level one and goes up until level 14. Incline walking is great for keeping the legs toned and it does make you break a sweat, plus it burns lots of calories! I’m glad you tried it and liked it. I think it helps time go by quicker if I do both the treadmill and elliptical during the same workout.

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