Unless you are lucky enough to live in a tropical area, here in the Midwest we spend 5-6 months every year doing the majority of our workouts in doors.
One of the great joys of summertime is getting to run and exercise outside.
The possibilities are endless - actual hill sprints, bleacher and stair runs, track sprint workouts, or just a mind clearing jog through the neighborhood.
For me it’s hard to get bored with running during the summer, and my body benefits from the variety of the different terrain and types of workouts available to me outdoors.
Now that autumn is here and winter fast approaching, the possibility of regular outdoor runs becomes less and less likely, and long stretches on the treadmill becomes the likely reality.
It would be easy to pack it in until spring time and gain the dreaded “winter 10” on the scale, but that’s not my style.
This time of year forces me to be a little creative with my conditioning plan so I don’t end up hating the treadmill or avoiding it all together.
Luckily for you I have 4 new intense treadmill routines that are sure to break the soon-to-be winter blues and monotony of running in place.
1. The Ladder
1 Minute Intervals: Walk/Jog/Run/Sprint/run/jog/walk x 4 rounds.
The Ladder is a great middle distance run that will have you start at a walk and gradually build up to a sprint (or close to it) before gradually slowing back down to a walk. Each speed - walk, jog, run, sprint - is done for a duration of 1 minute.
Start walking on a treadmill at a comfortable pace. After 1 minute bump the speed up to a slow jog, typically 2-3mph faster than your walking speed. After 1 minute of jogging, increase the speed another 2-3 mph to a run where you are hitting a nice stride. After striding it out for 1 minute, increase the speed to a “sprint”, or as fast as you or the treadmill can handle for 60 seconds.
Once the sprint is complete, lower the speed back to the run for 1 minute, then the jog, then back down to walking for a 1 minute recovery. Each trip up and down the speed ladder equals 1 round. Aim for 4 rounds, adjusting the speeds as necessary.
During the later rounds, your “run” or “sprint” speed may need to be lower than the first round. If you don’t feel like you are recovering during the 1 minute walk, lower that speed as well or increase the walk time only to 90 seconds. After you feel that you have mastered this workout, increase the speeds slightly the next time you attempt it.
Example ladder speeds: Walk 3.5 mph/Jog 6 mph/Run 8.5 mph/Sprint 10mph/Run 8.5mph/Jog 6mph/Walk 3mph
2. The HIIT Hill Sprint
Hill Sprints are one of my favorite conditioning tools for myself and my athletes, so it would be a shame to only utilize them during the warmer months. An inclined treadmill is a great substitute and the following interval program will challenge even the most seasoned athletes.
Originally designed for the Airdyne, this interval workout consists of 3 separate 2 minute periods with 1 minute of rest between each.
The first 2 minute block alternates between 10 seconds of rest and 20 seconds of sprinting. After completing four 20 second sprints, rest for 1 minute on the treadmill side rails as it continues to run. The next 2 minute block is an even six run/rest intervals of 10 seconds in duration.
Once complete, take another 1 minute rest on the side rails, taking in air slow and deep to try to control your breathing. The final 2 minute block begins with three 10 second sprints with 10 seconds rest in between. The last minute is MAX EFFORT - jump on and sprint the entire minute, lowering the incline if you begin to fail.
This workout is typically done on 10-12% incline, advanced athletes will use 10mph, intermediate ability somewhere between 8-9mph, and beginners may use anywhere from 5-7mph.
The High Intensity Hill Sprint - 10-12% Incline:
20 second Sprint/10 second rest x 2 minutes
-1 minute rest-
10 second sprint/10 second rest x 2 minutes
-1 minute rest-
10 second sprint/10 second rest x 1 minute,
1 minute sprint (lower incline when needed but do not stop)
3. The Rolling Hill
Imagine this run as a relaxing yet challenging 20-30 minute run through an area with constant rolling hills.
Start jogging at a comfortable pace (anywhere between 5-8mph) for 1 minute, then as the second minute begins raise the incline to 15% but do not stop as it raises. Pay attention to how long the treadmill takes to go from flat to full tilt.
Let’s say that it takes 15 seconds, then that would mean you will need an equal amount of time for the treadmill to lower itself, so at the :45 second mark of the inclined minute you would begin to lower the treadmill back to 0%.
Repeat this pattern every minute for at least 20 minutes, with the goal being to maintain the same pace the entire time.
The Rolling Hill: 20 minutes-30 minutes - 1 minute jog incline 0% /1 minute incline 15%.
4. The Pump & Run pt.2
This routine is similar to my original Pump & Run workout found here at Muscle & Strength, but with a new twist.
The setup is same - 20 minutes consisting of 1 minute treadmill sprints alternating with 1 minute of bodyweight exercises (ten rounds running, ten 1 minute rounds bodyweight exercises).
But rather than aiming for 30 seconds each of pull-ups and pushups in between each treadmill run, this workout gives you 1 minute to pump out 6 pull-ups, 8 dips, and 10 pushups then immediately get back on the treadmill.
Obviously you will need a pull up bar and dip bars located in close proximity to the treadmill. Advanced athletes should aim for 10 reps of each, every round. Change grips on the pull ups each set.
Some alternate exercises if the logistics of your gym don’t make it realistic:
- Substitute bench dips for parallel dips.
- Substitute ring rows or bent over barbell rows for pullups.
- Substitute narrow diamond or med ball pushups for pushups if they are too easy.
Now I know that none of these routines can truly replace those early morning street sprint sessions or running the bleachers at your local football stadium, but at least now you have a variety of fast and effective treadmill routines to keep the winter weight away and to keep you from losing interest in cardio for the next few months.
Remember that the speeds are variables that can and should be manipulated - once one of these routines feel easy, make sure to increase the speed the next time.
For more motivation and unique training ideas check my catalog of workouts here at M&S.