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How to Get a Total Body Workout on a Treadmill

By +Carolyn Richardson on Feb 17, 2013 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

Are you tired of the preset programs on the treadmill? After only a week or so using your treadmill, the experience may get so boring you try to switch things up on the fly: increase the speed here, ramp up the incline there, and you’re set. But this spontaneous button-pushing won’t help you get results you can track. It’s time to chart your own treadmill course. Here are two treadmill workouts that will keep you on your toes and help you get results.

Remember: If you're a newbie to exercise, always check with your doctor before engaging in more moderate intensity activity. 

What you'll need: A separate towel (to thoroughly wipe down the treadmill before and after your workout), yoga mat, and workout gloves are essential for grip, stability, and hygiene.

A Total Body Treadmill Workout


Warm-up: 5 minutes at a moderate pace (Alternate 1 minute walking at least 3.0 to 4.0 mph, 1 minute high-knee march at 1.5 to 2.0 mph)


Lateral Shuffle: 1 minute left side at a moderate pace (Turn to left and walk with bent knees sideways, like you're shuffling but not as deep as a full squat. Keep hands on hips, chest up, toes pointing forward towards the siderail of the treadmill - try keeping feet shoulder width apart (about 2.0-2.5 mph).


Walk: 30 seconds  (4-4.5 mph) (slow the pace to 1.0 mph when finished)


Lateral Shuffle: 1 minute right side at a moderate pace (about 2.0-2.5 mph)


Walk: 30 seconds (4-4.5 mph) (slow the pace to 1.0 mph when finished)


Front Plank: Pause treadmill for 30 seconds and hold a plank


Jog/Run 2 minutes at a moderate pace 4.5-5.0 mph or higher (slow the pace to 1.0 mph when finished)


Mountain Climber on Treadmill: Pause treadmill for 30 seconds. Get in pushup position facing away from the treadmill console with hands on the floor and your feet on the side rails of the treadmill. Walk with your feet.


High March 2 minutes at a moderate pace (about 2.0-2.5 mph)


Front Plank: Pause treadmill for as long as you can hold it up to 1 minute


Jog/Run 2 minutes at a moderate pace 4.5-5.0 mph or higher


Cool-down: 5 minutes at a moderate pace (after the first minute slow down to about 3.5 mph then to 3.0 by the last minute).



Be sure to rest when needed between each exercise or lengthen the walk or high march intervals. To challenge yourself modify this workout by adding more time to each interval or increasing the incline during the jog and walking segments. For safety reasons, do not increase the speed during the mountain climber or hand walking segments.

Boxing Treadmill Workout


Warm-up:: 5 minutes at a moderate pace After the 1st minute increase the incline by 1 each minute while increasing the speed by 0.5 mph. (slow the treadmill to 1.0-1.5 mph)


Walking lunges 1 minute at 50% incline (6 setting incline) (use the side rails to stay balanced. Keep your chin and chest up with your back straight as you alternate legs. Be sure to keep your feet and knees forward as you go straight down keeping your knee just above the treadmill surface without touching).


 Walk: 1 minute  (4-4.5 mph)


Incorporate Torso Twist: 1 minute Continue walking but hold your hands in a fighting stance. Hands up close to your face, with bent elbows close to your body. Twist back and forth as you continue to walk. (3-3.5 mph)


Add Upper Cut Punch: 1 minute Continue walking but modify your torso twist into alternating upper cut punches. (3-3.5 mph)


Jog/Run 3 minutes (5.0 mph or higher)


Walking lunges 1 minute at 100% incline (1-1.5 mph)


Power Walk: 1 minute  (3.0 to 4.0 mph) (gradually lower incline back to 50% or 6)


Incorporate Alternating Cross Punches: 1 minute (3-3.5 mph)


Add Over-the-Shoulder Throws: 1 minute Continue walking but modify your cross punches into alternating over-the-shoulder throws (Alternate throwing a pretend ball with both hands from one shoulder across and down in front of you. Maintain the controlled torso twist movement. (3-3.5 mph)


Jog/Run 3 minutes (5.0 mph or higher)


Cool-down: 5 minutes at a moderate pace (after the first minute slow down to about 3.5 mph then to 3.0 by the last minute).



If the punches become too much, simply go back to the torso twist. The jog run can also be used as a rest period or be moved to the short walk intervals. To maintain stability, do not increase the speed or incline during the punch intervals.

Your thoughts...

Do you change things up on the treadmill or do you go for tried-and-true presets at the gym?


I stick to running, 6 mph, varying the incline.  That's WHEN (not often) I run on the dreadmill :-p   It sure would be entertaining to see someone doing the total body treadmill workout.  

The mountain climbers seem so dangerous! But i'd love to try the other excerises

A video of this would be nice.


Ditch the treadmill, get a barbell set.  Treadmills are a waste of space in the gym.

Anybody that suggests getting rid of their treadmill is way too hung up on trendy workout fads. 

Uh, no.  Strength training builds muscle and burns fat. Too much running makes your body better at storing fat and lose muscle. -into-trouble/

"Instead of burning body fat, the body is taking extraordinary measures to hold on to it."

"too much steady-state cardio triggers the loss of muscle...The percentage of muscle mass is an independent indicator of health.65 Lose muscle, lose bone, lose health—all in this nifty little package"

Exactly! If I did this at the gym, people would think I was nuts! And the owners would probably tell me I was going to hurt myself and to stop!

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You know, I go to the gym and I see the same "fluffy" women doing zumba, running on treadmills, pedalling bikes etc and they never look healthier or leaner.  Meanwhile, in the free-weight section, there are women who train heavy with weights and look healthy and toned.   Most women are just making a huge mistake by avoiding strength training.  These treadmill tricks aren't going to help anyone get healthier.

Your heart is a muscle, probably the most important muscle in your body and it requires exercise. Although strength training is important for overall strength, your heart requires exercise in the form of endurance training. It is recommended a person gets approximately 150 minutes of endurance training each week and at least at a moderate range of 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. To find out your maximum heart rate take your age and subtract it from 220. If you are 38 years old your maximum heart rate is 182. A moderate goal would be 109-127 beats per minute. Your heart is just as important to keep healthy as your muscles. Having big muscles doesn`t mean your heart is healthy. A balance of stretching, cardio and strength training are all very important to overall health. If someone is bored with simply walking on a treadmill for cardio, this article is interesting give ideas on how to make it more interesting. Let`s not knock good health, no matter which form of exercise someone chooses to participate in.

Treadmills aren't a waste of time if you know how to incorporate different HIIT workouts on them. They are great in rehabilitation as well. I had a client that could not perform a stress test with her cardiologist as she would have an anxiety attack everytime she had to step on and commence the test. Hence she came to the gym to overcome this fear and it was her goal to be able to do the stress test. After a while she overcame her fear and was able to perform the test to the delight of her specialist. As a chronic illness sufferer the treadmill has been her saving grace, so we have to be carefully in putting a piece of equipment down, as what works for some may not work for others. As for doing some of these exercises on the treadmill, i would find them concerning as a gym owner, as it increases the chance of an injury occuring. Also treadmills can get damaged by using them incorrectly.

ALWAYS incorporatestrength training with your cardio and you're set!

Sorry about the typo errors i was squeezing this in whilst working on the desk, naughty me :)


I've been doing the treadmill workout for a couple,years now and 1- it sure adds challenge and interest to the workout and two- I have a gym grade treadmill at home. I've done the workout at the public gym a few times and people seem mildly amused by it... Also I disagree with the article that changing speed randomly doesn't benefit you... It's called fartlek... Running different speeds to gain strength and overall speed. Also adding random hills adds strength. There's a lot of things you can do on a treadmill other than walk and run...

Im a little older and my affordable Walmart treadmill (not made by them) offers a lot for me.  Heretical as it may seem, I dont rely on the calorie count on the treadmill--I actually just see them as bonus - this site gives a fair idea of how many calories the treadmill can use up.  I walk about 4 miles per day at rates lower than most here, but I go at a speed and a time which stretches me and it does work.  I guess that I most focus on the calories of intake for my weight loss--that works best for me.  This, of course, just my approach - we all do it our way and find what works for us.

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I incorporate weights with the treadmill. I have the ones you strap on, I put one set around my ankles and one set on my wrists. As I am walking, I lift the weights, over my head behind my back, across my tummy. Plus, the weights on my ankles help to strengthen my legs. When I am done with my mile on the treadmill. I snatch up my 5 lb weights and do 10 reps of 4 different lifts with the wrist weights still attached. Once I remove the weights I feel great! 

I have tried everything to loose weight and this is the only thing I have found that has even remotely worked.

ya - there is no way in Haiti that Id do a plank or the mountian climber on a treadmill **trippin!!** but the rest of it seems doable. Thanks for the suggestions :)

Original Post by: nhgirl

Anybody that suggests getting rid of their treadmill is way too hung up on trendy workout fads. 

I just joined the gym for the first time. Women use the treadmill and the elliptical but nothing else. I can see why. All this amazing equipment and lots of people around. It can be intimidating to come to a gym and not know how to use of the equipment properly. 
I hired a personal trainer. It wasn't expensive but I am far more likely to get more out of my work out. Without him I would give up quickly. The treadmill is walking and we can do that outdoors. But the rest gives me the kind of workout I can't get at home.  

Can somebody let me know if, in this workout, we're supposed to keep the treadmill on the 5% incline during the punches and body twists and stuff, or does it go back to a 0 incline?

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