3 Treadmill Workouts That Are Anything But Boring

Say goodbye to the "dreadmill."

Photo by Blend Images - Erik Isakson/Getty Images

Shorter days, colder weather, and that post holiday letdown can all leave workout motivation in short supply this time of year. But a sweat session could actually be exactly what you need. “All those feel-good vibes that comes from a good workout will distract you from all the stress you might be feeling,” says trainer Sam Karl of Barry’s Bootcamp in Miami, Florida.

There’s a trick to making exercise a priority and staying motivated: do something that’s more challenging than your go-to routine, he explains. Being bored could make any workout less effective because you’ll be dragging yourself through each minute of the clock.

If the treadmill in your basement is your best option or hitting the gym on your lunch break is the only way to squeeze in a session, make the most of it. “Push yourself because a steady pace will prevent you from seeing any changes in your body,” Karl says. Try his treadmill tricks to get the most out of your workout.

Plan 1

Interval Sprint Training
If you’re short on time, this is the workout for you. “You don’t have to do a super long workout to burn a lot of calories,” says Karl. “Anything that keeps your heart rate elevated, like a high-intensity interval session, will boost your metabolism for hours after you’re done working out.” During this 14-minute routine, alternate between a comfortable pace (5 or 6 mph) and gradually build up to a sprint in just three minutes. Complete the circuit four times total, but increase your speed by .5 on each sprint, ending with your fastest speed. (Do this entire 14-minute routine two to three times total.)

Time / Activity / Speed

  • 5 minutes / warm-up with casual jog or walk / 4 mph
  • 1 minute / jog (you can hold a convo with someone while running this speed) / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / push-it-run (if you were talking, your sentences would be choppy) / 6.5-7.5 mph (or increase speed by one point from your jog)
  • 30 seconds / sprint (this is an uncomfortable pace) / 8–10 mph (or higher)
  • 30 seconds / recover walk / 4 mph
  • Repeat steps 2-5 three more times then finish with a 5-minute recovery jog

Plan 2

Hill/Incline Training
If you’re looking to strengthen your lower-body, this quick 8-minute run will get the job done. This run maintains one speed while the incline goes up and down. You can do this circuit two times (or more!), increasing the speeds to make it more difficult.

Hill/Incline Training (8 Minutes)

Minutes/ Activity / Speed (mph)

  • 1 minute / run at 0% incline / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; increase your incline to 12% / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; decrease incline to 2% / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; increase incline to 10% / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; decrease incline to 4% / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; increase incline to 8% / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; decrease incline to 6% / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; recover at 0% / 5-6 mph

Easier Option

Hill/Incline Training
This is a steady climb-the-hill run with small increases. “You’ll feel the burn relatively quickly and will raise your heart rate sooner than you think,” says Karl.

Minutes/ Activity / Speed

  • 1 minute / run; 0% incline / 5-6 mph
  • 1 minute / run; increase incline to 3% / add .5 mph to your speed
  • 1 minute / run; increase incline to 6% / add .5 mph to your speed
  • 1 minute / run; increase incline to 9% / add .5 mph to your speed
  • 1 minute / run at a push-it-pace; increase incline to 12% / keep speed the same
  • 1 minute / walk at 0% incline / return to your starting speed (5-6 mph)
  • Repeat the circuit above by either starting at a faster speed or by adding 1 full point to your speed every time, instead of a half point.

Plan 3

Circuit Training
Using any of the other routines, insert the seven exercises below in between circuits or sets.

12 jumping squats: Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging at your sides, squat down until your knees are bent about 90 degrees (as if you’re sitting back onto a chair). Immediately swing your arms overhead and jump upward as high as you can. As you land, gently bend your knees and repeat the squat. (This is 1 rep.)

12 lunges: Standing with your feet hip-width apart, step back with your right leg, bending both knees 90 degrees. Return to start. Switch sides and repeat. (This is 1 rep.)

12 thrusters: Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, arms hanging at your sides, hold a pair of 8- to 10-pound dumbbells. Squat down until your knees are bent about 90 degrees. Return to standing and, keeping your palms facing forward, immediately press arms overhead until ends of dumbbells meet and arms are straight. (This is 1 rep.)

12 bicep curls: Stand and hold a pair of 8- to 10-pound dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows at your sides, slowly bend your elbows until dumbbells are a touch above waist level (you should feel your bicep muscles tighten as you complete the lift). Then reverse motion to return dumbbells to start position. (This is 1 rep.)

12 push-ups: Starting in plank position, with arms straight, wrists directly under shoulders and back flat, bend elbows to lower chest to floor. To make this easier, do the move from your knees.

30 seconds of mountain climbers: Starting in plank position, quickly bring right knee in toward chest, repeating with left knee. Continue doing this, alternating sides as quickly as you can.

12 burpees: Starting in plank position, jump feet to hands and stand up. Then jump raising arms over your head, then squat lowering hands to floor and jumping feet back to plank position. (If jumping feet in is too challenging, walk feet in toward hands until you can raise body and stand up.)