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Beginner Treadmill Workout for Weight Loss

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Beginner Treadmill Workout for Weight Loss
Treadmills are perfect for all levels of exerciser. Photo Credit Andres Rodriguez/Hemera/Getty Images

A treadmill can be an asset when you've embarked on a weight-loss mission. Use it wisely to burn calories, but don't overdo it or you'll risk burnout, frustration and injury.

Remember, a treadmill can't be the only tool in your weight-loss arsenal. These beginner workouts complement a comprehensive strategy that involves a healthy, portion-controlled diet and other exercise, such as resistance training.

How Weight Loss Works

Weight loss is a complex process that's often boiled down into the simple equation of calories in versus calories out. Eat and drink fewer calories than you burn, and weight loss occurs. Of course, hormonal and environmental factors also play into this equation, but maintaining a caloric deficit is the most significant factor that is within your control.

To lose 1 pound, you must make this deficit equal 3,500 calories. Burning about 250 extra calories daily on the treadmill and reducing 250 calories from your regular meals (provided you're eating just enough to maintain your weight and not more) will result in a daily 500-calorie deficit that yields 1 pound lost per week.

Read More: Can I Just Treadmill Walk to Lose Weight?

Workout Ideas

Exactly how many calories you burn depends on your size and the intensity of your workout. However, the following treadmill plans followed for 30 to 50 minutes will do the trick — but don't slack, or you won't get the results you desire.

Walk off the Pounds

Walking is accessible to just about everyone and is a great way to start an exercise program. To make the workout worth your weight-loss while, you'll need to work up to about 3.5 to 4 mph during the majority of the time you're on the treadmill.

Aim for 45 to 50 minutes of walking at this brisk pace most days of the week to achieve the 250 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise necessary to prompt weight loss, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Don't hold onto the rails or console either, or you'll mess up your gait and potentially cheat your calorie burn.

Run-Walk Your Way Slim

Once you can comfortably walk for 20 to 30 minutes straight on the treadmill, pick up the intensity of your workout to burn a few more calories and prevent your results from plateauing. You might not be ready to run for several miles straight, so alternating between running and walking is a way to go.

Warm up with a quick walk for about five minutes, then alternate 10 to 15 rounds of one minute of walking with one minute of running. The running pace you choose should be something that raises your heart rate and makes you slightly breathy by the end of the speed segment. Use the walk intervals to recover just enough to tackle your next run interval.

You'll burn slightly more calories than you would with a steady walk and the intervals may prompt more fat-burning mechanisms, suggests a paper published in the Journal of Obesity in 2011.

The treadmill can help you reach weight-loss goals.
The treadmill can help you reach weight-loss goals. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Climb to Your Goals

If you're not quite ready to increase your speed, increase the intensity by changing the incline on the treadmill. You'll burn more calories, especially if you don't slow down as you climb the grade.

Any combination of hills will increase your calorie burn over a constant 0 percent incline, but some ideas include:

  • Interval hills: Much like the speed intervals above, alternate one minute at an incline of 5 to 7 percent with one minute on a flat for 10 to 15 total intervals. 
  • Steady climb: Set the treadmill incline to between 3 and 10 percent and commit for 30 to 40 minutes of climbing.
  • Pyramids: Warm up for five minutes and then increase the incline by 1 percent every three minutes. You'll reach the top of the hill in the last five to 10 minutes of your workout, leaving just enough time to cool down on a flat road.

Read More: How to Walk at an Incline to Lose Weight

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