Workouts & Exercises

How Long Should You Run on a Treadmill?

Running on a treadmill is one of the best exercises that someone can do at home. This is especially the case with all that’s going on with the world nowadays.

Safety has become strongly correlated with staying inside, in the comfort of your home.

Maybe you’ve started working out by running on a treadmill recently, or you’re just considering starting. Either way, the first question that probably pops up in your mind is, “how long exactly should I run?”.
Well, it depends on numerous factors, more specifically, goals.

In order to help you improve your treadmill running habits and better understand exactly how long you should run each time, I’m going to go over some of the goals that most people have.

First, What’s Your Goal?

Ultimately, how long you should be running on the treadmill depends on your goal. Running to lose weight isn’t the same as doing so to tone your muscles or train for a race.

So, before I go over how long you should be running on a treadmill and which workout you should follow, you need to determine your fitness goal.

Do You Want to Burn Fat and Lose Weight?

how long should i run on the treadmill to lose weight

This is the reason most people run on a treadmill. If your aim is to lose some pounds, you’ll have to put in a lot of effort. Slimming down requires burning plenty of calories, so brace yourself for some intense workouts and long running sessions on your treadmill.

Do You Just Want to Get in Shape?

how long should you run on a treadmill for beginners

Getting in shape isn’t as demanding as losing weight, especially if you’re already relatively fit. If you’re using a treadmill just to get in shape, you won’t have to run for long during every session.

Do You Want to Tone Your Muscles?

how long should i run on a treadmill to build muscle

Running on a treadmill is an aerobic exercise, which means that it won’t allow you to increase your muscle size.(1)That said, it is most certainly true that running can still be of greatly benefit when it comes to toning your muscles and giving you better definition.

If you want to use your home treadmill to tone and strengthen your lower body muscles, you won’t have to run as long as someone who’s trying to lose weight or prepare for a race or a marathon.

Do You Want to Build Endurance & Stamina for a Marathon or Race?

how long should i run on a treadmill if i want to lose weight

Building endurance is no small feat, and neither is preparing for a race, especially a long one. That’s why you should be ready for super intense workout sessions if you’re doing the whole treadmill running thing in preparation for a race.

How Long Should I Run on the Treadmill by Goal

Now that you’ve determined your goal and understood whether your workout sessions are going to be intense or not, it’s time to answer the question: how long should you run on a treadmill?

To Burn Fat and Lose Weight

If your main aim is to lose weight, then you’re in luck because running is one of the best exercises for it. Before even starting your running exercises, however, you should take care of your eating habits since they greatly affect the results of the exercise.

Once you do that, I then recommend that you start by running for 20ish minutes, 3 times per week. It’ll take some time, but I assure you that you’ll start to notice some progress after a couple of exercises. If you’re new to running, then start with a walking treadmill routine instead of jumping right in to full fledge running.

Even if you’re having trouble running the whole 20 minutes, you can always rotate, walking a minute, and running another until you’re done. Once you get the hang of it, slowly increase the time until you reach something optimal like 30 minutes four times a week, for example.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): The Perfect Workout for Losing Weight

Most workout enthusiasts will agree that the HIIT treadmill workout is one of the most effective ways of burning calories and reducing your overall body fat and it can keep your treadmill workout times quite low because the intensity is quite high.

As the name already alludes, the idea behind HIIT is to basically work intensely for short periods of time and rest in between them. This has proven to be a quite effective and a quick way of burning calories.

Moreover, your body continuously attempts to get back to a normal resting state during a HIIT workout, which, in case you didn’t know, is achieved through metabolizing a lot of your fat for energy.

If you’re a beginner to treadmill HIIT workouts, this is how I recommend you handle a HIIT routine:

  • Start walking for five minutes at two mph to warm up while the treadmill is flat-positioned.
  • Run at around 6.5 mph (0 to 2 incline) for 30 seconds.
  • Walk at 3 to 4 mph for around 90 seconds.
  • Repeat this 5 times.
  • Return to walking at 2 mph for five minutes to cool down.

However, if you’re average or above average, then this is how you should pull it off:

  • Set the treadmill in a flat state and start walking at 2 mph for 5 minutes as a warmup.
  • Run at 12 mph (5 incline) for 30 seconds.
  • Walk at 3 to 4 mph for 45 seconds.
  • Repeat this seven times.
  • Return to walking at 2 mph for 5 minutes to cool down.

If you’re even more advanced, then the first thing that I recommend you do is to alternate between sprinting and jogging. You can also add more time to each test. The rule of thumb is to make sure that your rest intervals are always twice as long as the high-intensity ones that precede them.

To Get in Shape

If your main aim is to improve your fitness and get in shape, then you’ll need a different kind of rhythm for the exercise. For one, you’ll need to focus on the intensity of your running on top of how long it should take.

On average, you’ll need to run for well over 150 minutes each week at a medium level of intensity, or you can go full force for just around 75 minutes instead. Slowly increase the level of intensity of your exercises as your overall level of fitness keeps improving.

4-Week Treadmill Workout Plan for Getting in Shape

If you aim to get in shape in the shortest period of time possible, you’ll need to pair a balanced diet with a 4-phase workout plan. This plan spans over 4 days and should be repeated for more than a whole month, and it includes:

The Slow Walk

First off, you’ll need to establish a baseline for your walk, one that you can maintain consistently for at least 15 minutes.

I recommend that you go with something between 2.5 to 4 mph, obviously depending on which speed you’re most comfortable with.

However, if you’re already an experienced runner, then your “slow walk” is probably just you jogging, which is totally fine. To put it simply – pick a slow speed that works best for you, and don’t worry if you fail to meet it sometimes. I totally understand what it feels like to have fluctuating energy from one day to another.

The Need for Speed

Once you’re done with the Slow Walk phase, it’s now time to speed things up. In this phase, you’re expected to establish your “sprint” baseline.

This pace will differ greatly depending on what type of person you are. If you’re a runner, then this would technically be your “fast” run speed. However, if you’re still a walker, then this would be that one speed level that you have difficulties maintaining for more than 60 seconds.

During phase two, you’re workout should be as follows:

  • 3 minutes at your Slow Walk speed
  • 1 minute at your sprint speed
  • 1 minute at your Slow Walk speed
  • Continue alternating between the two speeds, one minute each until you reach a total of 15 minutes.
The Climb

At your slow walk pace, start playing around with the up button on your treadmill until you reach a number where it feels like a tough climb. This increase can help you work numerous muscles such as your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Once you reach the level that you feel is challenging enough, do the following:

  • 3 minutes at your Slow Walk speed.
  • 1 minute at this elevated level.
  • 1 minute at your Slow Walk speed.
  • Continue alternating between the two every other minute for a total of 15 minutes.
The Recovery

Any strong body needs some rest, and on the fourth day of this 4-phase workout, you’ll do so. I highly recommend that you do some yoga, stretching, foam rolling, anything that relaxes your body basically.
This day might seem insignificant to some, but trust me when I say that it’s an essential piece of this workout plan and any plan out there for that matter.

To Build Strength and Tone Your Muscles

One great way to build muscle using the help of a treadmill is to go through interval training. As I’ve mentioned above, doing sets of walking and running is more useful if you want to remove fat rather than build muscle.

I do realize that losing fat will consequently make your muscles more visible. However, this kind of workout won’t increase the mass or strength of your muscles.

Therefore, you’ll need to implement a hybrid workout that utilizes both your treadmill and some other equipment to help you build skeletal strength and muscles.

15-Minute Interval Training: Perfect for Building Strength

First off, before starting this workout, you’ll need to make sure you have an incline treadmill as well as a few other pieces of equipment that are listed below:

  • Light pair of dumbbells, 1 to 3 kg
  • Heaver pair of dumbbells, 4 to 8 kg
  • Set of mini bands
  • Physio Foam Roller

The actual workout should go as follows:

  • 5-minute walking warmup (2.5 – 4 mph with 2 – 4% incline)
  • 1-minute run | 30 seconds sprint
  • 1-minute triceps extension using the light dumbbells
  • 1-minute run | 30 seconds sprint
  • 1-minute side raises using the light dumbbells
  • 1-minute run | 30 seconds sprint
  • 1-minute bicep curls using the heavy dumbbells
  • 1-minute run | 30 seconds sprint
  • 1-minute squat press using the heavy dumbbells
  • 1-minute run | 30 seconds sprint
  • 1-minute carb walks using the medium or heavy mini band
  • 1-minute run | 30 seconds sprint
  • 1-minute glute kickbacks using the light mini band

Remember to stretch after any workout, which will help you reduce muscle soreness and decrease the chances of injury. 5 minutes of stretching and cooling down after such an exercise should do the trick.

You’re probably wondering by now about what speed you should engage this exercise at. Well, as mentioned before, this varies from one person to another. I recommend that you choose a pace that is as challenging as it can get without tiring you out.

To Build Endurance & Stamina for a Marathon or Race

Sometimes, people find themselves training for a race on a treadmill at home. This is mainly due to bad weather and the like. Of course, I highly recommend that you do run outside, at least once a week, preferably where the race is actually taking place.

But for the other days, running on the treadmill will be perfect.

The pace at which you train solely depends on the factors surrounding the race itself. For example, if you have a race of 5 km (3.1 miles) and you’re capable of running at 6 mph, then it’ll take you around 30 minutes to finish the course. You should then try to improve your running time as much as possible using your treadmill.

Running for 40 minutes, in this case, should get you covered and give you the needed strength, endurance and stamina to handle the real deal. Additionally, if the race has some hilly elements to it, then you can always mess around with the treadmill’s incline to get a similar experience.

Treadmill Workout for Runners

For this workout, you won’t need anything except your treadmill (duh!).

Here’s how the workout should go:

  • Start with a 5-minute walking workout
  • Repeat the main set 10 times. The main set includes the following:
    • 30 seconds of running at your 3k pace
    • 30 seconds of recovery
  • Jog for 3 minutes to recover (With time, you can reduce the recovery time between the sets)
  • Repeat the session!

Compared to HIIT workouts, this interval speed session may seem less intense, and that’s because it is.

HIIT sessions are super intense and short, allowing you to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest time.

Interval speed sessions, on the other hand, will help you increase your running cadence as well as your running economy. That means that, with time, you’ll get more efficient while using less and less energy at the same speeds.

This exercise also improves neuromuscular coordination, which means that you’ll be able to recruit muscles at a much faster rate.

So, if you’re fixing on short distance races, this session will help you improve your top-end speed. And if you’re more of a long-distance runner, this workout will take your cadence and leg turnover to the next level. Talk about a comprehensive workout!


Well, there you have it. That’s how long you should run on your treadmill, depending on your own goals. Should you have any questions regarding any of the workouts mentioned above, do not hesitate to ask in the comments!

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