Surviving the Treadmill

I’m all for running outside to enjoy the great outdoors.  But sometimes it’s just too darn cold.  Or sometimes it just doesn’t work with kids.  So, as busy parents, we resort to the much-hated treadmill.  I created this for one of my mom clients who is time-crunched.  It’s quick and easy.  And, I would argue that it is possible to get a good cardiovascular workout on the treadmill without boring you to death.  This one works even if you are not a runner.  Simply make all of the work portions a hilly hike instead of a sprint:

Build a pyramid with one minute of active recovery (walk or slow jog) after each work portion.  Keep in mind that the work portions should push you to the point that you would have trouble carrying a conversation.  Start with a 5-10 minute walk. Then,

30 seconds hike at 3.5  mph, 5% incline, recover

1 minute jog or sprint, recover

1.5 minutes hike at 3.5 mph,  5% incline, recover

2 minutes jog or sprint, recover

2.5 minutes hike at 3.5 mph, 5% incline, recover

3 minutes jog or sprint , recover

then go “down” the pyramid

2.5 minutes jog or sprint, etc.

Follow it up a 10 minute slow walk, some pull-ups, push-ups, squats, and plank holds and you have fit in a quick, effective workout!  Please let me know if you have questions or want some more advice on heart rates for each level.


  1. Brandi Gancarz says:

    D-so each “recover” is an add’l 1 min walk/jog in addition to the jog/sprint?? Just want to make sure I understand-this is a great option for a weekend workout for me-thanks!!

    • Brandi,

      I didn’t write this, Sara did. But I think after each run walk, you are to recover for as long as you need before going onto the next interval. That is how I interpreted it.


      • Hi Brandi, Sorry I didn’t see your comment initially. I would aim for a one-minute recovery in between each step of the pyramid. Most people use a walk around 4 mph on flat for recovery. The steps of the pyramid are the “hard” portions which include the jog/sprints and the hill hikes. Hope that clears it up for you.

  2. Hi Dustin, This reminds me of how fit I was in school. I( was always under 100 lbs. 5’6′ in school. I thought I was too thin. But, I was very active. Anyway, I have a friend who told her grand daughter that she was overweight, now her daughter and her grand daughhter don’t want to speak to her. What would you tell her to do? What would you also suggest to a 14 year old who wants to be a ballerina dancer, what to eat, and if practicing six days a week is too much? Shalom, Esther

    • Esther,

      I would have that grandmother apologize to the grand daughter so they can be on speaking terms. I would have the girl eat all the same things I teach adults to eat. 6 times per week does sound like a lot. It would depend on the person and how their energy level was feeling. If they are constantly tired and not wanting to go to practice, it might be a sign of overtraining.


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