T Nation

HIIT On a Treadmill?


Is there anyway to effectively do HIIT on a treadmill? I tried yesterday by running at intervals, 30 seconds at 11.0 mph followed by 60 seconds at 2.0...the problem is though it takes about 20 seconds for the treadmill to really ramp up to speed, or get down so there were transitional periods when going from 2.0 to 11.0, and back to 2.0....

Is there any other way to do HIIT on standard cardio equipment in the gym? I only ask because my gym's basketball court is really the only place I could do sprinting there, and there are usually games going on in it, so I'm relegated to cardio equipment.


I find the stationary bikes the best. My gym has the standard electrical (OK) and the fixed gear spin class style ones (better). If they don't have those, get outside and run.


I must agree with this.


I hate treadmills period. You CANT do HIIT on them, they're terrible inefficient, and also treadmills can be more damaging to, say your meniscus, if they have "shock absorbing quills" and etc in them. If you're going to do HIIT, either do it on an Elliptical or on a track/the street. With either of those, YOU control the speed and can ramp it up in an instant, exactly what you need for HIIT.

Id also tweak you're sprints. I believe the standard pace should be about <40% of ability and sprint should be about 80%<. I notice this a lot with the very few people i see doing HIIT, they arent doing it properly. The whole point is to shoot your heart rate up in a moment and then focus on bringing it down. Id knock your intervals down to a 15 sprint /90. Take that 90secs to relax and focus, trying to lower your heart rate, taking nice deep breaths, etc. When you get good at it, you'll be able to raise and lower your HR more efficiently.


Thanks, so elliptical (or bike as another poster mentioned) and 15/90 for sprint/walk ratio times..


as much as most males don't want to use them, ellipticals and cross-trainers tend to work pretty well for intervals since you control the speed. i'd say turn up the resistance level on it, and use one of those for HIIT. The two most important keys to your success will be to assume that the elliptical is a lying bastard and reads about 30% more calories burnt than you really have, and to wear a ski mask and/or pantyhose on your head to avoid being seen by other T-Nation members and laughed at for using girly machines.

or you could run outside and use evenly-spaced objects as your markers for intervals - for example, sprint for the distance between 2 light poles, then jog for the next 2 or whatever works for your situation.

or finally, say 'screw you' to traditional cardio and use BB complexes like that article recommended last week. i did the 'evil 8' for my cardio last week and by the last good morning i did, i was pretty fried.


well, i was about 30 seconds late to the elliptical party...


why does it matter if it takes a few seconds to get up to speed? you're still doing the work


I have a primitive solution actually as I do HIIT on treadmills. I set the speed and incline to whatever my working 30 seconds will look like, complete my 30 seconds of work, jump off with my feet on the sides and watch the clock for 60 seconds, then back on for 30, repeat. The downside is that you have to jump on a treadmill moving at 15 mph at a steep incline from a dead stop and that you're not walking in between for the 60 seconds...usually I'm so winded that I don't want to walk or jog anyway. It always bothered me as well that the treadmills took so long to get up to my working speed so this was my solution. Take it or leave it. Fuck ellipticals btw.


For what it's worth I broke 3 treadmills trying to do HIIT on the treadmills at my gym. It was probably a combination of me constantly playing with the speed, and the fact that I was weigh'ing in anywhere between 230 and 250 when I was doing it. I can't really speak to the quality of the treadmills either.

I found it a lot easier to just do them on my gym's in door track using 2 laps jogging, 1 lap sprints. The track was short (I think 1/16th of a mile per lap) so in reality the sprints were just done on the long sides of the track.


I was thinking of doing that to tell you the truth...


Let me know when you fail to get on and fall on your face. xD


My last few are always close calls, thank god for the handles.


i still dont understand why it matters if it takes a few seconds to get up/down to speed


I'm with you, what difference does it make, really, to end result?


i don't think you need to worry too much about wasting a second here or there changing speeds. i think the real problem with doing hiit on the treadmill is that you're putting yourself at significant risk of falling off if you go at the intensity that you should. remember you need to be going all out during your working round, and that's dangerous on a treadmill. get on a bike or a rower.


I guess a few of you don't understand that some treadmills take up to 20 seconds before you're running at full speed and the point is to do 30 seconds of HIGH intensity and then a set degree of rest, typically 60 seconds, not 20 seconds of jogging, 10 seconds of high intensity and then 60 seconds rest. Yes it matters, it impacts your energy output...that's like going outside to do sprints and for the first 2/3rds of your "sprint" taking your sweet time getting up to your sprinting speed. Another option would be to take into account the lag of the treadmill and do something like 45 seconds on, 60 seconds off to account for the slow speed increase.


i fully understand everything thats been said. i guess i have to rephrase... why does it matter if theres an extra ten seconds of jogging? it doesnt. i dont see why anyone would count the time it takes to come up to speed as part of their "working" interval


Again, my experience has been 20 seconds not 10 to reach full speed and 2/3 of the time spent jogging defeats the purpose of high intensity interval training. I agree with you fully that the time spent reaching speed should not be counted and should therefore not be tracked until you reach your working speed. So again, I would either let the treadmill run at whatever your working speed is, or simply add on an additional 20 seconds (or however long it takes it to reach speed). The entire point to why I perform HIIT and sprints besides fat loss is to be explosive and having to wait for a slow treadmill defeats that purpose.


One last note. Most treadmills are programmable and intervals times can be entered. So my guess would be that it matters when someone starts out with HIIT on a treadmill, programs their working speed at 30 seconds and their recovery for 60 and then realizes that 2/3's of their working speed is spent just reaching their working speed. The other option is to try and look down at the buttons and steady one arm while at a full sprint which is dangerous in it's own right. At a 15 incline at 15 mph I don't want to think about anything except not getting sucked under and breathing...