Treadmill Workouts

Treadmill Workouts Might Be the Key to Leveling Up Your Running — Here’s How

Whether your goals are fun or fitness, there’s a treadmill workout for you.

By Team PelotonUpdated March 15, 2024


You may love the fresh air and freedom of running outside, avoiding the treadmill whenever possible—but did you know treadmill workouts have unique benefits that you can’t get from taking your cardio outdoors? Whether you have a need for speed, you’re a total beginner to running, or you want to build endurance, taking your running workouts to the treadmill is a great way to train. We tapped three Peloton Tread instructors to share the exact workouts that will help you reach your goals, from improving your 5K time to increasing your stamina. Here, we’ll share the benefits of treadmill workouts in your regular fitness routine, and we’ll dive deeper into the different types of treadmill workouts for speed, endurance, and more. Plus, we’ll share helpful tips for integrating treadmill workouts into your regular training routine. 

What Is a Treadmill Workout?

Treadmill workouts are exercise routines that challenge your cardiovascular system and help build stamina, using the treadmill to vary speed and incline to meet various workout goals. The workouts can take a variety of formats from long, steady runs to high-intensity interval training with short sprints and longer recovery times. You can even add inclines to increase resistance and build your lower-body strength. 

The Comprehensive Benefits of Treadmill Workouts

While running outside is great fun and a key part of race training, treadmill workouts, whether on the Peloton Tread or another treadmill, offer you more tools at your disposal. Not convinced that the treadmill has a place in your workout routine? Here are some of the major benefits of treadmill workouts:

  • Improve cardiovascular health: Walking, jogging, or running can help prevent cardiovasular disease, and having access to a treadmill can keep you consistent and committed.

  • Strengthen muscles: Walking, whether on a treadmill or outdoors, strengthens the muscles in your legs and helps prevent muscle loss, which is especially important as you age.   

  • Facilitate interval workouts: Treadmills make it extremely easy to add intervals into your workout by varying your speed and incline. Interval training can improve cardiovascular health more than continuous, steady-state training. 

  • Amp up the fun: Treadmill workouts keep your brain and body guessing, especially when you’re not running or walking at the same pace the entire time. With a little variety in your treadmill workouts, you’ll find yourself looking forward to your daily fitness and you’ll be less likely to skip out on your date with the tread.

  • Challenge yourself at any pace: Since treadmills allow you to change speed in small increments, you can gradually increase your paces and see improvement as you consistently complete these workouts. 

Endurance Building with Treadmill Workouts

Hitting the tread consistently is one of the best ways you can increase your stamina (how long you can keep moving) and your endurance (how long you can keep working at an intense effort). Here’s what we mean.

Pacing Strategies

Truth is, it’s much harder to accurately judge your pace and effort when running outdoors, especially without the help of a running watch or fitness tracker. It can be easy to slow down or speed up without even realizing it. Having the ability to keep your metrics in your eye's view throughout the entire run is also a game-changer. For instance, the Peloton Tread has a high-tech display that tells you everything you need to know during your run: your output, time, speed, resistance, class ranking, heart rate, and so much more. The 1- or 2-second delay that happens when you take your eyes off your path forward to look down at your watch adds up over time, especially if you’re running great distances. 

Even without a Tread, you have the ability to track your running workouts on the Peloton App. App+ Members can use Bluetooth to pair third-party treadmills with the App, so they can view real-time metrics such as incline, speed, pace, and distance from walking, running, or Tread Bootcamp classes on their profiles. (For those wondering, these workouts count toward your Peloton challenges and badges.)

Complementing Outdoor Running

No, you don’t have to give up outdoor running completely. Your workout schedule can include both outdoor runs and treadmill workouts for balanced, engaging training. A treadmill can help you track your speed gains and intentionally improve your speed over time, little by little.

A treadmill can also help you understand what different paces feel like, from the pace you want to hit for long, slow runs to your race pace. Once you learn how to keep a steady pace at your desired effort level, you'll find it easier to take your runs on the road.

Try doing your long runs or steady-state pace runs outdoors, then hitting the tread for workouts where you want to vary your speed for certain distances. You can also try treadmill workouts that alternate running with strength training for the ultimate all-in-one workout.

Versatility for All Runners

No matter your pace or goals, the treadmill can work for you. You might want to try incline treadmill walking or even a hike. Joggers can incorporate short periods of running to improve their speed and endurance, followed by recovery walks. Advanced runners can use the treadmill for hill workouts or even enter manual mode for an extra challenge that improves your form to boot. Wherever you are in your fitness journey, treadmill workouts can help you get there.

Learn to Work Harder, Longer

Well-programmed treadmill workouts can help your body learn to work at a sustained effort. For example, interval workouts can challenge you to run for longer and longer durations, then recover with a cool-down walk. 

How Treadmill Sprint Workouts Can Increase Your Speed

Aside from improving endurance, treadmill workouts can fulfill your need for speed, too. Here’s how.

HIIT Workouts Can Improve Speed

Treadmill sprint workouts, also sometimes called speedwork or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), make the most of your time to ensure that you meet your goals—running faster—in the most efficient and safest way possible. HIIT workouts, remember, involve working as hard as possible for short periods of time, followed by longer periods of recovery. You’ll push yourself to your max sprinting pace for 30 seconds or so, then recover in a jog or a walk. Following this treadmill workout format teaches your fast-twitch muscle fibers how to respond to a stimulus quickly, and it also improves your ability to accelerate or decelerate on a dime. 

“Speed work on the tread can be good because the biggest output of power and therefore energy expended by you as a runner during sprints is during the acceleration phase and deceleration phase,” says Peloton Tread instructor, Marcel Dinkins. “By doing speed work on the tread, the tread essentially does the acceleration phase as well as the deceleration and we get to come along for the ride instead of being the sole supplier of this energy. Which leaves us with more opportunity to work on our sustainable speed and peak speed in a bit of isolation,” she explains.

Incorporating Speed Intervals and Tempo Runs Into Your Treadmill Routine

Treadmill sprint workouts have a place in your workout routine around once a week, depending on your fitness goals. One other day a week may be dedicated to a tempo run. Not familiar with tempo runs? Allow us to explain.

“Tempo runs are your sub-max speed run,” says Marcel. “During these runs your maximum sustainable speed is just under your lactic acid threshold. When you run above this threshold,  your body produces byproducts, which make your muscles feel heavy like someone has dumped a pound of sand down your leggings,” she explains. “This happens because your body is unable to produce energy at the same rate that you’re expending it. When you do tempo runs you’re able to work on training your sustainable speed without crossing that threshold. The more you work at your tempo pace the more you can train your body to move the chains of your lactic threshold higher.”

Because of this, tempo runs are perfect for anyone preparing for a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, or full marathon. Tempo runs train your body to run at your goal race pace for a significant period of time, improving your overall efficiency that’ll ease any race day jitters. 

Physical toughness aside, Peloton Tread instructor Jess Sims says that tempo runs hone in on the mental aspect of running. “It forces you out of your comfort zone in a challenging, yet doable amount of time,” she reasons. The combination of speed and time makes this a challenging but rewarding way to prepare your body—mentally, emotionally and of course, physically—for what’s ahead: another successful race.

The Importance of Consistency and Progression in Speed Training

Consistency and progression are key in treadmill sprint workouts, especially if you want to improve your pace over time. Consistency refers to doing these sprint workouts regularly (ideally, once per week). Progression refers to regularly increasing your paces and being honest with yourself about whether a certain pace or workout has become too easy for you. 

Remember, the Peloton Tread and Tread+ tracks your interval pace, so you know exactly where you’re at, at all times. “When you run outdoors, it's harder to always hit that exact pace every time,” Peloton Tread instructor Selena Samuela explains. "Using the Tread to get used to goal paces is great, because you become accustomed to what it should feel like in a controlled setting.” 

That level of consistency, according to Peloton Tread instructor Rebecca Kennedy, is a runner’s greatest tool. Once you learn how to keep a steady pace, you'll find it easier to take your runs on the road.

Best Treadmill Workouts Offered by Peloton

These are a few of the best treadmill workouts to help you increase speed, build endurance, and more, according to our Peloton Tread instructors.

For Speed Improvement: Interval Runs

Working out on a treadmill or otherwise, you’ve probably tried your fair share of interval-focused classes, including HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Interval treadmill workouts follow the same structure, minus the heavy weights. Regardless of the total class time—classes range anywhere from 20 - 45 minutes—the actual workout consists of 1- or 2-minute sprints at ranging inclines, paired with a 1-minute recovery.

Selena swears by the Peloton 20-minute Intermediate Intervals class. “This class is short and sweet and really allows you to test your speed,” she explains. There are four intervals total, and the challenge is to add at least .1 mph to your first minute’s speed—and, yes, it’s way harder than it sounds. The class is structured in a 3:1 style, which means there are 3-minute pushes paired with 1-minute recoveries. “Each minute in your 3-minute push, you add .5 mph to your speed, so that the last minute of your interval you're running 1 mph faster than your first minute.”

For Endurance: 45- or 60-minute Endurance Runs

Contrary to what you may think, running fast doesn’t mean that every workout is a sprinting session. In fact, Rebecca says it should be the complete opposite. If increasing speed is your main goal, then you first need to tackle running slower speeds for longer distances. Think of it this way, she says: More miles = higher aerobic capacity = stronger ability to implement speed training.

Jess is also a huge proponent for adding a 45- or 60-minute run to your workout routine because “increasing your speed will help your body adapt to the stresses of running, ultimately preventing injury and burnout.” Plus, it’ll prepare your body for any lengthier outdoor runs in the future, especially if you have a marathon or race on the horizon. Once you knock out those longer, slower runs, your body will be able to handle the fast-paced treadmill workouts you’re after.

For Cardiovascular Fitness: Power Walks

If your current goal is to build your cardiovascular fitness, you’ll want to focus on zone 2 cardio. Zone 2 refers to your heart rate zone during training, and this particular zone is about 65-70 percent of your max heart rate. When you’re training in zone 2, you’re working your aerobic capacity and building endurance—but you’ll still far from an all-out effort. 

A Power Walk is the perfect treadmill workout for aerobic base training. You’ll pick up the pace and hit your purposeful stride while maintaining a Zone 2 heart rate. (Pro tip: Wear a heart rate monitor so you can accurately track what zone you’re training in.)

Treadmill Workouts for Beginners: Beginner Runs and Music Runs

Beginner treadmill workouts are perfect when you’re just starting out because your instructors will gently guide you through walking, jogging, and running speeds. They’ll break down the different components of a treadmill workout so it feels approachable and fun, not intimidating and impossible. The speeds they cue will also be lower, and yes, there are plenty of walking breaks if you want them. 

Music theme runs are also ideal for beginners to the tread. These high-energy, fun-first runs feature a themed playlist where each song presents a different running challenge. You may find yourself in a steady-state run for one song, then doing chorus pick-ups (read: increasing the speed) in the next. You’ll also get acquainted with “listening games,” where anytime a certain word is sung, you’ll increase the speed or incline. These dynamic classes are perfect for beginners because they’re exciting and distracting—you’ll totally forget you’re doing a workout.

Advanced Treadmill Workouts: Progression Runs and Hill Runs

Ready for a challenge? We recommend adding Progression Runs and longer (think: 45- or 60-minute) interval runs to your treadmill repertoire. Progression Runs may start slow, but every so often, you’ll increase the speed—and the speed only goes up. You’ll learn how to push your body on tired legs, making these workouts perfect if you’re training for a half- or full marathon. 

Speaking of races, if you have any plans to run in a race of any kind, you need to be able to conquer hills because, well, there’s at least one decent hill in every race. “If you want to get stronger and faster, this is a secret sauce run,” Rebecca says. “Hill runs are actually speed workouts in disguise.” Really, running on a steep incline strengthens the same muscles as sprinting, so it’s a great way to improve your endurance, speed, and strength at the same time. While slow runs are still fundamental (remember what we said earlier?), most hill runs that focus on speed have you run up a hill (aka on an incline) as fast as you can, in short bursts. That way, you’re challenged to push through and reach the top of the hill—and, don’t worry, you can eventually come back down with a recovery. 

Elevating Your Running Performance with Treadmill Workouts

Treadmill workouts are an excellent way to help you run faster, build endurance, gain confidence, and build a fun-first relationship with running. You’ll build consistency and progress your speeds, and you’ll also learn how to accurately pace yourself, which will help your outdoor running workouts too. No matter where you are in your running (or walking!) journey, Peloton has a wide array of treadmill workouts that truly fit every level and every goal. 

Our suggestion? Try a 20-minute treadmill workout—maybe a Beginner Run, a music-themed run, or a HIIT workout if you’re feeling spicy—and see what you think. We’re positive you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you enjoy running when you’ve got the power of Peloton behind you.


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