How to Use a Treadmill for Weight Loss

A treadmill is one of the most popular machines in any home gym or commercial gym.

Treadmills allow for versatile cardio work, and you can also harness the power of a treadmill to lose weight.

Before going any further, a quick word of warning…

You will not lose weight by simply strolling on a treadmill and making no changes to an unhealthy diet. However complex the diet industry tries to make the idea, losing weight is remarkably simple. Consume fewer calories than you expend? You’ll lose weight.

Now, the hard part is implementing and maintaining these changes.

Assuming you’re eating the right amount of fresh whole foods, exercise can make a real difference if you need to shift some stubborn pounds.

So, before we break down 5 hacks to torch more calories on a treadmill, what are the general benefits of this machine?

The Benefits of a Treadmill

A highly versatile addition to any home gym, the best treadmill comes with a shower of benefits.

  • You can walk, jog, or run on a treadmill so vary the intensity of your workout in line with your fitness levels
  • Personalize all elements of your workout including speed, time, and distance so remain in complete control
  • Gives you the scope to exercise whatever the weather from the comfort of your home
  • Delivers a first-class cardio workout with very little way of impact on your joints
  • Allows you to monitor your heart rate and maximize weight loss

So far, so good.

Now, let’s dive down in a little more depth into that last marker there concerning weight loss and treadmills.

Ways To Use a Treadmill for Weight Loss

To keep things simple, we’ve curated 5 easy ways to use a treadmill to lose weight, assuming that you eat healthily and without consuming too many calories.

  1. Target Your Fat Burning Zone
  2. Consider High-Intensity Interval Training
  3. Mix Things Up To Prevent Boredom
  4. Use a Treadmill with an Incline
  5. Keep Going For Longer When You Can

Target Your Fat Burning Zone

When you’re performing any cardio exercise, you’ll burn the most calories when you’re exercising at your fat-burning heart rate.

Sounds great, but how do you calculate this zone?

The first step is to work out your maximum heart rate. This translates to the highest number of times your heart beats per minute during exercise. Working this out is as easy as subtracting your age from 220.

Example: The average 30-year-old has a maximum heart rate of 190 beats per minute (BPM). That’s calculated by subtracting 30 from 220.

Now, for most people, the optimum fat-burning zone is 70% of the maximum heart rate. For the example above and a 30-year-old, that would be 133 BPM.

You’ll need to wear a heart rate monitor to keep tabs on these metrics.

Here’s a simple treadmill workout so you can target that fat-burning zone:

  • Warm up by walking for 3 to 5 minutes at 2 mph or less. Tweak these figures according to how fit you are.
  • Use the treadmill incline at 2% and pick up the speed to 4 mph. Jog for 1 to 2 minutes
  • Start running. Aim for somewhere between 8 and 10 mph. You may need to adjust these speeds so that you enter your fat-burning zone. Maintain this speed and stay in that zone for 15 minutes. If you can stretch to it, run for 30 minutes. Don’t push yourself too hard too quickly, though
  • Slow down and jog for 1 to 2 minutes
  • Round out your routine by walking for 5 minutes so you can effectively cool down

Remember, these figures are not set in stone. Fat-burning zones could be 50% of the maximum heart rate for some people and over 80% for others. Many variables impact this from age and sex to fitness levels and any existing medical conditions.

You should also be prepared to experiment with speeds. We’ve used the above examples as a benchmark for you to fine-tune as you feel comfortable.

Get this right and you’ll optimize the time you spend on a treadmill for weight loss.

Consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT – high-intensity interval training – combines intense exercise with periods of rest.

There’s some scientific evidence showing that a HIIT workout on a treadmill can help to reduce body fat while also burning the most calories in the least time.

With a HIIT routine, you give it your all then unashamedly rest. Then, once you’re done, your body will do its very best to achieve a resting state by metabolizing stored energy rather than converting it to fat.

How can you ratchet up the intensity of your workouts on a treadmill, then?

  • Warm up by walking on a flat treadmill for 5 minutes at roughly 2 mph. Never skip the warm-up stage of any exercise routine. Doing so is the quickest route to injury
  • Run for just 30 seconds at 10 mph
  • Walk for 1 minute at 4 mph
  • Repeat the above steps 5 to 10 times depending on how fit you’re feeling
  • Walk for 5 minutes at 2 mph to cool down. This part of your exercise is just as crucial as the warm-up so cool down properly and patiently

Once you’re managing the above routine with relative ease, it’s time to amp up the difficulty. Alternate running with sprinting as fast as you can. Also, feel free to increase the time or speed to suit.

As a rule of thumb, you should rest for roughly twice as long as you work out.

Mix Things Up To Prevent Boredom

One guaranteed way to stop exercising is to allow yourself to get bored.

Luckily, there’s no excuse for this at all. With a treadmill at home, you can add some variety and spice to your cardio workouts.

Here are just some of the different ways you could use a treadmill for weight loss without becoming bored…

  • Walking for long periods
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • HIIT routines

Beyond this, try incorporating some strength training to help you get more out of your workouts, and perhaps some yoga for increased flexibility and also to help you relax.

Use your treadmill as part of your weight loss program, but don’t ditch all other forms of exercise. Not only does injecting a little variety keep boredom at bay, but you’ll also reduce the chance of getting injured, and you’ll prevent those plateaus from occurring where you don’t seem to make any more progress.

Use a Treadmill with an Incline

One of the easiest ways to ramp up the intensity of your workout is to use an incline treadmill.

Whether you choose to walk, run, or jog on your treadmill, doing so up an incline will always burn more calories than if you’re exercising on a level surface. Doing so brings more muscles to the fore and you’ll also be able to build more lean muscle mass when you push yourself and use an incline.

Here’s how you can give this a shot with your treadmill.

  • Walk for 5 minutes at 2 mph as your warm-up
  • With the treadmill incline set to 1%, jog for 1 minute at 4 mph
  • Each minute, raise the incline by 1% until you hit 10%
  • Do the same in reverse by decreasing the incline until you’re back to level ground
  • Finish up with your standard 5-minute slow walk to warm down

Keep Going For Longer When You Can

Last but not least, try building in some much longer treadmill workouts when you have the time and you’re feeling energetic.

The benefits of working out for longer increase exponentially. It doesn’t require that much more effort to run for 45 minutes instead of 30 minutes. Do this, though, and you’ll notice a dramatic difference with calorie burn increased by fully 50%.

Weave in some lengthier workouts and you’ll see those final stubborn pounds come away.

How To Use a Treadmill for Weight Loss


Well, if you began today without a clue about how to employ a treadmill for weight loss, you should now have a clear idea about how to get started.

If you’re resistant to investing in an expensive machine like a treadmill, why not think about how much time and money each month you spend getting to the gym? Eliminate this considerable expense and suddenly a treadmill doesn’t seem quite so expensive after all. Even better, the equipment should last a lifetime if properly maintained.

Also, if you have limited space at home, it’s possible to find plenty of folding treadmills allowing you to lose weight at home even if you live in a small apartment without the room for a dedicated home gym.