We know that the treadmill can be rather tedious for some people (do you really want to run in the same place with the same view for an extended amount of time?). But, there are plenty of ways to change it up and make this type of running both challenging and fun. For starters, grab a kickass playlist. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, on the treadmill is a form of HIIT cardio that can add some variety (and awesome results!) to your workouts.
HIIT itself, which uses quick bursts of exercise at your maximum capacity followed by rest periods, is proven to torch calories, burn fat, and help boost cardiovascular health, and treadmill HIIT sessions are great for targeting your glutes and hamstrings, NASM-certified Peloton Tread master trainer and USATF/RRCA run coach Rebecca Kennedy told POPSUGAR. But how exactly do you do HIIT on a treadmill? We asked and she, along with Becs Gentry, another Peloton trainer who's certified through the YMCA in the UK, answered.
How Does HIIT on a Treadmill Work, and How Is It Different From Regular Intervals?
Rebecca explained that HIIT always incorporates some kind of sprints because it's all about high intensity. "The interval classes might be long intervals or hills or just working on your endurance," she said. "They might be walk-run intervals, jog-run intervals, run acceleration intervals, so they could be really different." Intervals in general range in length and have varying work-rest ratios that challenge your aerobic capacity, whereas HIIT is a specific kind of interval training that focuses on working in short bursts at your max effort, she said. Another way to put it is this: HIIT is intervals, but intervals aren't necessarily HIIT.
Becs further explained that in HIIT, you're "looking at giving maximum, or close to maximum, high performance in your work time and the polar opposite when it comes to your interval of recovery time. In HIIT training, you want to be going from zero to hero in your speed." If you looked at your speed metrics after a HIIT session, you'd see big spikes and then really low drops for rest periods, she said. In interval training that isn't HIIT, you won't see as dramatic of a difference in speed between rest and work — there are longer running periods at mid to high levels, and recovery doesn't need to be so slow because you're not going as hard.
Here's a simple example of a HIIT workout on the treadmill: do intervals of one-minute sprints and one-minute walking 15 times (that's 30 minutes total). See another example here. Apps that include HIIT treadmill workouts are Peloton Tread (you'll get video guidance) and Aaptiv (these are strictly audio). Go hit that HIIT!