Three 4-Week Treadmill Interval-Training Plans

You don't need to spend hours at the gym to get fit. Exercise the smart way with interval training. It's an effective training method that you can even do on the treadmill.

Many gym goers don't use the treadmill for interval training, but it's a fantastic way to boost speed, increase metabolic rate, and improve cardiovascular health.

A study published in Metabolism's October 2010 issue showed that two weeks of sprint intervals (just six sessions total) produced positive results. The participants performed 4 to 6, 30-second sprints with a 4.5-minute recovery. The results: They were able to increase their metabolism and lost 3 inches around their waist and 1 inch around their hips. Translation: Their jeans fit better.

More: 5 Tips to Speed Up Your Metabolism

A 2012 study published in the Archives of Physiology and Biochemistry involved two groups with subjects with an average age of 25. One performed sprint intervals and the other group completed moderate runs for eight weeks. The sprint group showed improved insulin sensitivity, lower LDL and total cholesterol.

Treadmill intervals can stave off boredom. They're also proven to increase your metabolic rate, which helps increase weight loss and boost health. Plus, it's easy to squeeze in a treadmill interval session at your local gym or when traveling at a hotel fitness facility.

Not sure how to do treadmill intervals? Here are three, 4-week plans to get you started.

More: Melt Fat With Interval Training

Tabata-Type Progression

Try the classic Tabata training style to get started with treadmill intervals. This 4-week plan will get you started. Perform this interval session twice a week.

Week 1: Sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 40 seconds. Repeat 8 times
Week 2: Sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 30 seconds. Repeat 8 times
Week 3: Sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 20 seconds. Repeat 8 times
Week 4: Sprint for 20 seconds, walk for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times

*The speed should be extremely challenging but set to allow for proper running form to be maintained. Keep the incline around 2 percent.

More: 20-Minute Tabata Training Workout

TUF 30/30 Runs

These are called TUF runs because they're a sprint workout that I completed while working on "The Ultimate Fighter" (TUF) TV show. Perform this workout twice a week.

Week 1: Speed — 7 to 9 mph, incline — 10 percent, rounds - 12
Week 2: Speed — 7 to 9 mph, incline — 10 percent, rounds - 14
Week 3: Speed — 7 to 9 mph, incline — 10 percent, rounds - 16
Week 4: Speed — 7 to 9 mph, incline — 10 percent, rounds - 18

Note: The "work:rest ratio" will be 30:30, meaning, 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. The speed and incline should be adjusted to your ability.

See another variation of this workout at

More: How to Create Your Own Interval Workout

Descending Rest Intervals

This is a quick, challenging workout. The only thing that changes each round is the rest time. You'll run for 60 seconds, take the indicated rest time, and then run for another 60 seconds. Each round, the recovery time is decreased by 10 seconds. Perform this workout twice a week.

Round 1: 60 on, 60 off
Round 2: 60 on, 50 off
Round 3: 60 on, 40 off
Round 4: 60 on, 30 off
Round 5: 60 on, 20 off
Round 6: 60 on, 10 off
Round 7: 60 on, 0 off
Round 8: 60 on, done

Week 1: Pick a challenging speed that you can maintain for the entire workout.
Week 2: Increase your speed from week 1 by 0.5 MPH.
Week 3: Increase your speed from week 2 by 0.5 MPH.
Week 4: Increase your speed from week 3 by 0.5 MPH.

Be sure to warm up properly before and cool down after each workout to prevent any injuries.

Mix it up next time you hit the gym. Setting the timer for 45 minutes and jogging at 4.5 mph may not be the faster, or most effective, way for you to reach your goals.

Always speak to your physician before starting any new fitness program.

More: 30-Day Running Challenge

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About the Author

Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC

Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is a fitness professional and the founder of DB Strength in San Diego. He is also the head strength and conditioning coach for Alliance Training Center where he works with many top professional MMA athletes. Visit for more information.

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