Beginner HIIT Treadmill Workout: Starting With HIIT Cardio

beginner hiit treadmill workout

Don’t have much time but still want a great workout? Try one of our beginner HIIT treadmill workouts that focuses on improving your cardio.

HIIT is a workout that doesn’t take a lot of time but still delivers heart-racing, sweat-inducing results. Combine that with a treadmill and you’ve got yourself a variety of beginner HIIT treadmill workouts that’ll increase your cardiovascular endurance and pace, all from adjusting speed and incline.

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What Is HIIT

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It is a type of cardiovascular workout that raises your heart rate and gets you sweating in a short period of time. While it depends on the session, a HIIT workout can range from as little as 7-minutes to around 30-minutes.

HIIT consists of short bursts of activity followed by a rest period. This cycle is then repeated until the session is done, which is why it’s referred to as interval training. Both cardio and resistance-type training can be used in HIIT, though for this article, we are going to be focusing on the cardio side of things.

Related Article:  Should You Do HIIT Every Day?

Benefits Of HIIT Treadmill Workouts


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There are many benefits to HIIT training, not just with treadmill workouts but with exercise in general.

Related Article: Cardio for Beginners: 6 Mistakes to Avoid (Plus 3 Workouts)


While longer runs or low-intensity steady-state cardio, you’ll build up your endurance and ability to run longer distances.

By including a faster pace in between your steadier intervals, you can improve your VO2 max. VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen which your body can consume or use. HIIT treadmill workouts can also increase your lactate threshold, which is the threshold in which your body reaches before it starts to build lactic acid faster than it can expel it.

With a combination of these two benefits, your endurance will build and you’ll be able to run for much longer.

Related Article:  Can HIIT Make You Sick?


A great thing about HIIT workouts, especially on the treadmill, is that the only equipment you need is the treadmill! Everything that is required to give you that high-intensity with harder intervals is already included in the cardio machine so you don’t have to bring all these accessories with you.

Related Article: Can HIIT Be Done With Weights?


Ever been to a gym wanting to do a certain workout only to find that the equipment you need to do it isn’t available?

The good news—the treadmill is the most basic gym machine so there will always be one at your disposal, no matter what gym you go to.

This means that you’ll always have access to one to complete your HIIT treadmill workout.

Related Article: Can You Do HIIT And Weight Training On The Same Day?

Ways You Can Incorporate HIIT Into A Treadmill Workout

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Here are some approaches to your treadmill workout you can take, that will incorporate high-intensity interval training so you can reap all the benefits!


The main method that you can implement into your HIIT treadmill routine is to adjust the speed. Fortunately, the speed on treadmills is very easy to change, requiring only a press of a button.


Another way to change your interval training with a treadmill is to adjust the gradient at which the treadmill is set at. At an incline of 0, it’ll be similar to walking on a flat surface or ground. When you put the incline number up (or down), it is increasing the incline percentage, not the level of difficulty. So if you boost the incline to 1, it’ll be set at 1 per cent, not level 1.

While it is possible to adjust the incline during your HIIT treadmill workout, we recommend keeping it at incline 0, the standard height, to begin with, while you get used to the interval running. If you are able to complete the workout at incline 0 without too much difficulty, you can then adjust the incline percentage accordingly.


The final method that can help you with HIIT training on the treadmill is by changing the period of time in which you run and rest.

For a steadier-paced jog, your running time will be longer than if you were sprinting and exerting more effort, however, as your cardio endurance improves, you can make the times you’re running longer and the rest times in between shorter. This way, you’ll be doing more with fewer breaks.

We asked David Dack, founder of Runners Blue Print, his advice on adjusting running times.  He said:

A beginner runner should follow a walk/run protocol on the treadmill. In the routine, they should start with a 5-minute power walk, then alternate intervals of running at a challenging pace for one minute and walking for one to two minutes. Shoot for 8 rounds.

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5 Beginner HIIT Treadmill Workouts


Here are 5 workouts that you can include in your fitness routine that are perfect for beginners or those who have taken a break from fitness and want to ease back into it. The focus on these sessions is cardio so you can build your endurance and running ability.

If you want more ideas for your beginner HIIT treadmill workout, check out the Fitbod app here (click for 3 free workouts).


Before we start the beginner HIIT treadmill workouts, make sure you warm-up. A quick power walks on the treadmill and if possible, a 3-5minute steady jog will help get your heart rate going and warm your muscles.

Related Article: 30 Minute Full Body HIIT Workout: Total Body Resistance And Cardio


This 20-minute workout is perfect for people who are new to exercising and want to ease into it. It’ll combine slow and steady jogs for short periods of time with longer walking times in between so you have generous time to catch your breath and get ready for the next jogging interval. 

  • Time: 20 minutes

  • Incline:  0%

  • 60-second jog at a steady pace

  • 90 seconds walk

  • Repeat 8 times

The speed in which you jog and walk is entirely dependant on you. You can adjust it to your fitness level, and always increase the speed when you start to improve and get better. For example, you can jog at speed 6 and walk at speed 3, to begin with and see how that feels, and adjust as necessary.

Related Article: HIIT Upper Body Workout: Workouts With & Without Weights


This is for those who are starting to get used to HIIT treadmill interval training and want to push themselves a little more. It’s a 15-minute workout, meaning it’s shorter than the previous one, but it does have less resting/walking time and a faster jogging pace.

  • Time: 15 minutes

  • Incline: 0%

  • One minute jog at a faster pace

  • 30-second walk

  • Repeat 10 times

Related Article: Who Can Benefit From Interval Training (Is It Good For Everyone?)


If you’re want to start running for longer, here’s a good session to do. You’ll be jogging at a slower, steadier pace than workout 2, but also for more than double the time. With that being said, you’re given 90 seconds to rest and recover in between so you can catch your breath.

  • Time: 20 minutes

  • Incline: 0%

  • 2.5-minute jog at a steady pace

  • 90-seconds walk

  • Repeat 5 times

Related Article: Does Interval Training Burn More Fat? (Science-Backed)


For this workout, we’re going to start off slow and then gradually increase the running time while decreasing the recovery time, before easing off again.

  • Time: 13 minutes

  • Incline: 0%

  • 1-minute steady jog

  • 30-seconds walk

  • 2-minute steady jog

  • 1-minute walk

  • 3-minute steady jog

  • 90-second walk

  • 2-minute steady jog

  • 1-minute walk

  • 1-minute steady jog

Related Article: How Long Does It Take For HIIT Results? (10+ Things To Know)


This workout involves sprinting. The working time is going to be quite intense so to offset this, the recovery time is longer than the other workouts. Also, instead of walking during your downtime, you’ll be completely resting. To do this, just jump to the sides of the treadmill so you’re off the running belt. Just be careful that when you go back onto the belt, that you do so carefully.

  • Time: 10 minutes

  • Incline: 0%

  • 10-second sprint as fast as you can go

  • 50- second rest by jumping onto the sides of the treadmill

  • Repeat 10 times

Cool Down

Just as your warm-up is essential before every workout, remember to cool down. You can do a slow 3-5 minute jog before walking for the last minute on the treadmill. Foam rolling is a good idea as well, to help speed up recovery time.

Related Article: 6 Best Cardio Machines To Tone Legs (Plus, Sample Workout)

How Often Should You Do A Beginner HIIT Treadmill Workout?


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While HIIT treadmill sessions are really good for your health and fitness, it is also incredibly taxing on the body. The intensity of these workouts means that you need to be extra cautious of not overtraining and hindering your progress instead of encouraging it. Not to mention, running is an effective yet high-impact exercise that can be hard on the joints, especially your knees, so you need to be wary of that as well.

We recommend 3 HIIT treadmill sessions a week with a minimum of one day rest in between. So an example week could mean a HIIT workout on the treadmill on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday being your recovery days.

Final Notes

HIIT treadmill workouts are a great way to start working on your health and fitness. These workouts focus particularly on your cardiovascular endurance so that you can run for longer without working as hard. Its benefits also will cross over to other aspects of your life, such as any sports you may play or other fitness classes that you take.

Be careful to ease into it as first, especially if you’re a beginner. Over time, you’ll find that you’ll that these workouts will become easier for you. That’s when you can adjust the settings accordingly such as the speed in which you run and even the incline. This way, you can be sure that you’re always challenging yourself and working harder than before.

About The Author


Emily Trinh


Emily Trinh


As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating lots of snacks in between.