7 Best Treadmill Workouts to Burn Fat

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Last updated on February 12, 2023

How do we Gain and Lose Fat?

Simply put, there is only one real thing causing weight gain. A caloric surplus. There are various claims that things like insulin, or sugar is the cause of fat gain. Whilst these can increase fat gain, they are not the primary causes. Calories are making you fat – but not all calories are created equally.


In 2014 a study was published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that showed that over consuming protein up to 4.4 grams per kg of bodyweight will not cause fat gain. In 2017 a meta analysis was published in the International Journal of Exercise Science that found similar results. Thus the greatest cause of fat gain is overconsumption of carbohydrates and fats and or inactivity.


Losing fat is very similar. Consuming less calories than you are expending will result in weight loss. Key words being weight loss. In order to avoid becoming skinny fat (a term used to describe someone who isn’t technically overweight, but lacks muscle and muscle definition) you need to combine a high protein diet with a training program. A study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal found that you will thus build muscle while losing fat.


Another popular thing you’ll hear on social media is that you can spot reduce. There is no scientific evidence for this, in fact there is evidence to state that this does not happen. Fat reduction happens over the entire body, but we will build and lose fat based on genetics.


How can Treadmill workouts help?

Treadmills are a very popular and convenient training tool used by thousands of people daily. They provide ease of training as well as ease of managing intensity and progressive overload. You can either make use of SSC (Steady State Cardio) which can best be described as a gentle incline walk, or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) which is split into intervals of going all out vs relaxing.


Which is better for fat loss? Neither. A study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research found that a comparison between a more traditional cardio (steady state) vs HIIT saw no difference in fat mass loss. The only time where you would choose on or the other, is when you are training with resistance as well, like weight training. Weight training should be prioritized, and thus HIIT can negatively affect recovery, and steady state might be better.


The amount of calories burnt on the treadmill varies greatly by the size of the individual, and the duration and intensity of the training. An hour of walking uphill can burn up to 400 calories, while sprinting all out can burn 1200 calories in just 15 minutes!


Here are the 7 best treadmill workouts for Fat Loss


Workout Type of Training Time Needed Precautions Can beginners do this?
Incline Walking Steady State, Low Impact 20-30 Minutes None Yes
Jogging Steady State, Medium Impact 20-30 Minutes Long periods may be hard on joints Yes
Interval Jogging Endurance, Medium Impact 60 Minutes Long periods may be hard on joints No
Hill Jogging Medium, High Impact 30 Minutes Long periods may be hard on joints No
Interval Sprinting HIIT, High Impact 20 Minutes Joint health, cardiovascular health and muscular tears No
Hill Sprints HIIT, High Impact 20 Minutes Joint health, cardiovascular health and muscular tears No
Full Interval Training HIIT, High Impact 60 Minutes Joint health, cardiovascular health and muscular tears Definitely not


1)   Treadmill Incline Walking



Incline walking is a great beginner workout for fat loss, as you get to set the pace and the incline.

  1. Start by having the treadmill slowly begin, and walk without an incline as a steady pace. Do this for 5 minutes.
  2. After 5 minutes increase the incline on the machine to about 3.0 degrees (adjust accordingly, someone more experienced may be able to handle more) and walk on this angle for 10-20 minutes.
  3. After this walk, lower the incline back to 0 degrees, and continue to walk for a further 5 minutes as a cool down.


2)    Treadmill Jogging

Jogging is another great option for beginners to lose fat on the treadmill.

  1. Start by turning the treadmill on, and walk slowly for 5 minutes to warm up.
  2. Then increase the speed (not the incline) until a speed at which you can hold a light jog that you then keep for the following 10-20 minutes.
  3. Then lower the speed to the initial warm up walking speed, and cool down for another 5 minutes.


Make sure your joints do not take a toll whilst running. If you are extremely heavy or have joint issues, start by just walking for the entire period. Also make sure your shoes are designed for the task at hand. If you feel too tired to jog the entire 10-20 minutes, walk for a while and continue jogging.

3)   Treadmill Interval Jogging

Interval jogging is for slightly more experienced individuals based on the fact that it will be a much longer training session.

  1. Start by walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes
  2. After which you will increase the speed and start jogging. Jog for 20 minutes, walk for 5 minutes, and jog again for 20 minutes.
  3. Then decrease the speed and have a cool down walk for 10 minutes.


It is important to note that this will be harder on your joints than number 1) and 2). Make sure you wear the correct shoes, and try to do some dynamic stretching before getting on the treadmill.



4)   Treadmill Hill Jogging

Similar to both incline walking and interval jogging, this workout will have you mimic jogging in the hills.

  1. Start by a light 5 minute walk on the treadmill
  2. After which you increase the speed and have a 5 minute jog on 0 degrees incline.
  3. Then increase the incline to 6 degrees, and jog for 5 minutes.
  4. Decrease degrees to 4, and jog for another 5 minutes.
  5. Increase the degrees to 8, and jog for another 5 minutes.
  6. Decrease incline to 0 degrees, jog for 5 minutes, and
  7. End with a cool down walk at 0 degrees.



This will of course be a bit harder on joints, and the correct shoes are advised


5)   Treadmill Interval Sprinting

The first sprint on the list! Do not attempt this workout unless you are extremely fit, and your joints are in good health. Make sure you do at least 5 – 10 minutes of dynamic stretching before starting.


Start by walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes as a warm up. Then the interval training starts.

  1. Walk for 30 seconds
  2. Sprint all out for 30 seconds
  3. Repeat this process 10 times. This will be 10 minutes of interval sprinting.
  4. Once you have completed the 10 minutes of interval sprinting, walk for 5 minutes to cool off.

The machine might need some time to speed up and slow down, do not count this in the sprinting and walking time. Make use of the plastic side skirts if you need a break or need to wait for the machine to adjust its speed.


6)   Treadmill Hill Sprints

Much like interval sprinting, this is only for highly trained individuals. Make sure you wear the correct shoes, and warm up with dynamic stretching for 5 – 10 minutes prior to getting on the treadmill.


Start by warming up, at 0 degree incline, walk for 2.5 minutes. Then walk at 5 degrees for 2.5 minutes. Then start with the interval workout.

  1. At 5 degrees, sprint all out for 15 seconds
  2. At 5 degrees, walk for 30 seconds
  3. Repeat this process 6 times, which will be 9 minutes of interval sprinting
  4. After the interval sprinting, walk on a zero degree angle for 6 minutes to cool down.


Repeat this process 6 times, which will be 9 minutes of interval sprinting. Again, the machine might need time to speed up or down, do not count this time as sprinting or walking time. Make use of the side skirts if needed.


7)   Full Treadmill Interval Training

This is the biggest workout of the bunch and should not be taken lightly. As the name states, this is a full interval workout and will include walking, jogging and sprinting. As a result, warm up properly before getting on the treadmill and make sure your shoes are up to the challenge.

  1. Start by walking on the treadmill for 5 minutes as a warm up, 0 degree incline. Then jog at a constant pace for 10 minutes, at 0 degree incline.
  2. Then increase incline to 5 degrees and walk for 5 minutes.
  3. At the same incline, sprint for 15 seconds, then walk for 45. Repeat this 5 times.
  4. Then decrease the incline degree to 0, and walk for 5 minutes. Jog at a constant speed for 10 minutes, and then walk for another 5.
  5. Then sprint for 30 seconds, and then walk for 30 seconds. Repeat this 5 times.
  6. Finish the workout by walking for another 10 minutes as a cool down.


Good luck with this one. Take great care to make use of the side skirts if needed, as you will get tired whilst sprinting. Also, make use of the immediate stop button if needed.



Fat loss does not have a singular solution. The best solution is following a high protein and healthy diet, with plenty of rest and hydration. Combining that with any of the workouts in this article will see a definite decrease in body fat, but also improvements in your health markers as well as quality of life.

Related Questions Asked

What is Fat ?

Fat is simply a storage method for the body to have calories available when we go through periods without food. Fat is the general term for adipose tissue which is composed of triglycerides. Fat also has other roles to play, such as protection of organs, and secretion of certain hormones such as leptin. The drawback to fat is that too much of it is extremely unhealthy.


What are the different types of fat

Dietary fat is different from the fat we eat. Of course dietary fat refers to saturated -, trans -, and unsaturated fats. The fat we store in the human body is as follows:


1)   Essential Fat

As the name suggests, we need this fat. This type of fat is necessary for healthy living, think of fat in your marrow, joint linings etc. Getting too low in body fat (sub 10%) will tap into these fat stores, and that can have health consequences.


2)   Brown Fat

Also a very good fat. Brown fat burns fatty acids to keep the body warm. More prevalent in babies, but still present in adults as well.

3)   Beige Fat

Beige fat (or brite) is relatively new to researchers. In 2017, researchers found that it seems to be essential for certain hormones and enzymes.

4)   White Fat

The one we all know and hate. Made up of large white cells that grow when we consume more calories than we need. This fat is stored as energy for a time when we do not have food available to consume. We also need white fat hormones such as estrogen, leptin, cortisol and growth hormone.

While some fat is important, too much is deeply unhealthy. High white fat levels have been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and various other cardiovascular diseases.


About the author  Steve

Steve Theunissen is from New Zealand and is a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist with over 30 years experience. Read more about Steve in the 'about us' page.

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