Intervals for Cardio


Treadmill Interval Training Tips

Interval Training on TreadmillInterval training on a treadmill provides a high calorie burning full body interval workout.  It's a fact that treadmills burn more calories than any other piece of cardio equipment.  Research has shown that treadmills burn more calories than steppers, rowers and exercise bikes.

Today's treadmills are more comfortable to walk or run on because of improved shock absorption.  To reduce shock absorption some have cushioning in the belt and others have cushioning built into the deck.  Also, most treadmills have an inclining deck that raises and lowers to increase or decrease workout intensity.

The Work Intervals

There are three ways to increase intensity during work intervals on a treadmill.  You can increase belt speed, raise the incline, or do both.

The Rest Intervals

There are four ways to reduce the intensity during rest intervals.  You can reduce belt speed, lower the incline, or do both.  You can also stop exercising by stepping off the belt and straddling it by standing on the side rails.

Short Rest Intervals:  For short rest intervals it is best to just lightly hop off the belt and straddle it by standing on the side rails while balancing yourself with the hand rails.  This is because short rest intervals don't allow the belt to slow down fast enough for a proper change in intensity.  In other words you'll still be running during your rest interval when you should be walking or resting.  When you are ready to perform the work intervals just lightly hop back onto the moving belt and continue exercising.  So the best way to incorporate short rest intervals into a treadmill interval workout is by hopping off and onto the moving belt.

Longer Rest Intervals:  You can reduce the speed and walk on the belt during rest intervals if they are long enough to allow the belt to slow down.

Timing the Intervals

You can watch the timer on the console display of the treadmill or use an interval timer to time the intervals.

Putting It All Together

Now that we have covered all the bases let me guide you through a treadmill interval workout.  I like doing short intense intervals on treadmills so for this example I am going to use the Tabata protocol.  The Tabata protocol is a short but intense 4 minute workout split between 8 sets of 20 second high intensity work intervals followed by 10 second rest intervals.

Interval Chart:

 Tabata Intervals  Sets  Time

 20s High intensity work interval + 10s Rest interval

 8  4 min.

When performing the high intensity work intervals the goal is to run fast and push yourself hard during each one.  However, make sure your always in control and running smoothly.  You'll notice that each work interval gets a little harder than the last one and completing the last few of them will be tough if you're pushing yourself hard enough.

I begin my interval training session with at least a 5 minute warm up.  When I get near the end my warm up I raise the incline to a preferred position.  Just moments before I complete my warm up I set the belt speed to a pace that is fast enough to make me run hard and I go straight into my first 20 second work interval by running hard. 

After my first work interval is complete I transition into my first rest interval by lightly hopping off the moving belt and straddling it by standing on the side rails.  During short rest intervals try not to adjust speed and incline settings because you won't have much time to do it and the time is better spent concentrating on rest.  So do your best to preset the speed and incline to levels that will make you run hard during the work intervals so you don't have to make any adjustments to increase intensity during the rest intervals. 

After the rest interval is complete I transition back into the next work interval by hopping back onto the moving belt.  I repeat this process until I complete all eight interval sets.  Then I follow up the intervals with a 5 minute cool down.