30 Treadmill Workouts That Are Fun

The 30-Day Treadmill Workout Challenge That's Actually Fun

This killer treadmill challenge, which works for athletes of all experience levels, uses intervals to improve your endurance, speed, and power in just a month.

"I just love running on the treadmill!" said maybe about three people ever. After all, it's dubbed the "dreadmill" for a reason. If you're training for a race or just trying to get in your dose of cardio, however, the treadmill is often unavoidable in the middle of winter or dog days of summer, when heading outside to run may not be an option.

That's why Shape tapped the queen of cardio, ultramarathoner Robin Arzón, the New York Times best-selling author of Shut Up and Run and vice president of fitness programming and head instructor at Peloton, to create a 30-day treadmill challenge that is fun, tough, and actually engaging.

Each week of this treadmill challenge, you'll tackle a roughly 30-minute interval workout, which helps you become a stronger runner by improving your endurance, speed, and power. The workout will remain the same, but the intensity and focus will change from week to week. To score a well-rounded workout, you'll also perform a few bodyweight moves, which incorporate the turned-off treadmill, to build strength halfway through the cardio session.

Don't worry, you'll also have time for recovery — which can be a jog or walk — to get your heart rate down and prepare you for the next interval. And most importantly, since the program is built around your own personal base pace (more on how to figure out that number below), it's designed for all levels of athletes — even those brand new to running.

How it works: Each week of the treadmill challenge, you'll follow along with the treadmill interval workout, below. During weeks two, three, and four, you'll focus on improving one component of the workout each week — speed, hills, or endurance — while keeping the other areas the same. (This ensures you don't increase your total distance by more than 10 percent per week, a good safety measure.) Even though you're only making one component harder at a time, you'll probably see improvement across the board, says Arzón. Before and after each run, consider performing the stretches demonstrated by Arzón below.

What you'll need: A treadmill (Need a little extra motivation? Look no further than Arzón's 30-minute playlist filled with power tracks to help you "get off your ass when you really just want to watch Netflix.")

30-Day Treadmill Challenge

treadmill interval workout graphic
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Treadmill Challenge Week 1: Master the Interval Workout

Find Your Base Pace

Before you begin, you'll need to figure out your base "run" speed, aka your "base pace," which will be your building point for the rest of the treadmill challenge.

To do that, you'll use the talk test. Start running and find the speed that feels challenging while still allowing you to sing your favorite song or hold a conversation for a few minutes without panting, says Arzón. (You should feel like you're giving about 40 to 50 percent of your effort—after all, you'll be adding speed onto this throughout the workout!)

To figure out your "jog pace" for the workout, subtract about 1.0 mph from your base pace number. A good rule of thumb: You should feel like you want to be going faster, she says. Still, make sure you aren't pressed right up against the treadmill — if you're hugging the console then you probably need to adjust your speed, says Arzón.

Try the Treadmill Workout

Once you have your base pace, it's time to try the treadmill workout. This week, you'll follow the workout as-is. If you're new to running, start implementing this workout into your routine two days per week, suggests Arzón.

The rest of the week you'll spend doing low-impact workouts, such as spinning or yoga, plus one "long" run — whatever that means to you. While this is a great opportunity for those training for longer races to get their miles in, it can also be swapped for 60 minutes of sustained cardio, such as 30 minutes on the stair climber and 30 minutes on the elliptical, says Arzón. And remember to keep your chest up and eyes forward — no looking down at your feet!

Treadmill Challenge Week 2: Speed It Up

In week two of this 30-day treadmill challenge, you'll perform the same treadmill workout, but you'll take each interval in the speed block 0.2 mph faster — including your base pace.

Treadmill Challenge Week 3: Up the Incline

In week three of this 30-day treadmill challenge, you'll perform the same treadmill workout, but take each interval in the hill section of the workout 0.5 percent steeper.

One important form tip to keep in mind: As you up your incline, shorten your stride and lean into the treadmill slightly, says Arzón. Remember to use your arms to maintain momentum and don't hold on to the arm rails — even on a serious climb.

Treadmill Challenge Week 4: Build Endurance

In week four of this 30-day treadmill challenge, you'll perform the same treadmill workout, but you'll add in one extra minute of running (at a speed of your base run, plus 1.5 mph) before you jump back down to a recovery jog. This will help build your endurance.

Treadmill Challenge Bodyweight Circuit Exercises

During the bodyweight circuit portion of the treadmill interval workout, do as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of the below exercises in one minute.

Triceps Dip

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A. With the treadmill turned off, place hands on the side of the treadmill with fingers facing forward and legs extended fully in front of body.

B. Bend elbows to lower hips toward the floor until elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.

C. Push into hands to straighten elbows.

Do as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Push-Up

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A. With the treadmill turned off, come into a high plank position with hands placed firmly on either side of the treadmill, directly beneath shoulders.

B. Lower chest down toward the base of the treadmill, keeping back straight and neck in a neutral position.

C. Straighten arms to return to starting position.

Do as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Mountain Climbers

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A. With the treadmill turned off, come into a high plank position with hands directly below shoulders, firmly gripping either side of the treadmill base.

B. Alternate driving knees into the center of body.

Do as many reps as possible for 1 minute.

Elevated Lunge

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A. With the treadmill turned off, place right foot behind body on the side of the treadmill, keeping toes pointed out and foot flexed.

B. With hands on hips, lower to the floor and bend left knee to come into a lunge position, left leg forming a 90-degree angle and left knee in line with ankle.

C. Drive back up to starting position.

Do as many reps as possible for 1 minute. Switch sides; repeat.

Stretches to Perform Before and After the Treadmill Challenge

Before you begin the treadmill challenge's workout of the day, start with some pre-run dynamic stretches that will improve your range of motion and loosen up your muscles to help reduce your risk for injury. And after you finish your cool-down sesh, turn the treadmill off and use it for some quick static stretches that will help loosen up tight quads, glutes, lats, and hamstrings. (Speaking of which, here's how to prevent the most common running injuries.)

Pre-Run Stretch: Butt Kicks

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A. Standing tall with arms at sides in running position. Kick heels back one at a time to touch glutes.

Do 20 kicks.

Pre-Run Stretch: Leg Swing

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A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, right hand on hip, and left hand holding the treadmill. Swing left leg to side, then back across torso.

Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Pre-Run Stretch: Starfish

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A. Stand with arms out to sides and feet shoulder-width apart. Bend down, touching right hand to the top of left foot.

B. Come back up to standing, then touch left hand to right foot.

Do 20 reps, alternating sides.

Pre-Run Stretch: Toy Soldier

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A. Stand tall with core engaged, feet hip-width apart, and arms at sides.

B. Lift right leg straight out in front of body and touch left hand to right toes. Lower right leg back to the floor.

Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

Post-Run Stretch: Hamstring Stretch

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A. Standing on the turned-off treadmill, bring right leg up to the right side rail. Touch hands to toes and bring head down toward knee.

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Post-Run Stretch: Quad Stretch

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A. Stand on the turned-off treadmill with feet hip-width apart and hold the railing with left hand. Then, grab right ankle with right hand, bringing heel to glute.

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Post-Run Stretch: Glute Stretch

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A. Stand on the turned-off treadmill with feet hip-width apart and hold the railings with both hands. Cross left ankle over to right knee, then bend right knee and extend arms out to bring hips back into a seated position.

Hold for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Post-Run Stretch: Lat Stretch

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A. Stand on the turned-off treadmill with feet spread wide on either side of the treadmill and hold the console with both hands. Lean forward, keeping a straight back.

Hold for 15 to 30 seconds.

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