A one-month treadmill workout to get you back in shape

This 31-day plan will get you back on the fitness bandwagon and start building muscle and endurance.
Image: A man walks on a treadmill in the gym
Walking is a great way to increase circulation, improve mobility and burn calories.Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images
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By Stephanie Mansour

As a personal trainer and wellness coach for over a decade, one of the most basic exercises I encourage my clients to do is walk. Whether you were gifted a fitness tracker for the holidays (and aren’t quite sure what to do with it) or you’re just getting back on the fitness bandwagon and are intimidated by the gym equipment, walking outside or on a treadmill is a great place to start.

That’s why we’ve devised a one-month treadmill plan for January that will get you off your couch and help you establish a workout routine. Plus, since walking is a great way to increase circulation, improve mobility and burn calories, you’ll feel your body growing stronger with each workout and set yourself up to attack your fitness goals this year.

The foundation for our treadmill workouts will be interval training. We’ll change up the speed and incline throughout each workout so that your heart rate will stay elevated and you’ll keep your muscles guessing what’s coming next. Research shows that interval training is best for fat loss, so while our main goal isn’t necessarily to shed pounds, but instead make consistent exercise a habit, that may be an extra bonus!

To start, let’s go over the treadmill basics.

Wear gym shoes or tennis shoes for this walking workout (and any gym workout!) to support your feet and ankles. I always recommend stepping on the treadmill before pressing START. This is because you can start walking very slowly without being caught off guard and having to hop on without knowing the pace.

Once you’re walking, you can press the button to increase the pace. For a slow walk, I recommend somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5. You may find that this is too fast or too slow, so adjust it as needed to find your own comfortable, slow-walking pace. This will be your baseline. (Whenever I refer to “baseline” in the workout, you will return to this speed!).

Now that we have the basics down. I’ve developed four different workouts that we will rotate between all month long. Familiarize yourself with each one, and then follow the calendar below to know which workout to perform each day of the month.

The Slow Walk

Establish your own baseline for your slow walk. This walk should be a casual stroll at a consistent pace that you could maintain for 15 minutes. Try out a baseline of somewhere between 2.5 to 3.5 depending on how long your legs are, how often you’re used to walking, and what feels comfortable for you. You could do this slow walk for 15 minutes and that would be considered your workout! On the other hand, if you are a runner, this could be your jog speed, which may be faster. Pick the slow speed that works for you – and keep in mind that this could vary day to day based on how energetic or how tired you may be that day!

The Need for Speed

Once you’re comfortable with your walk pace, it’s now time to find your “sprint” pace. If you’re a runner, this would be your fast run speed. If you’re walking, this is the speed that’s difficult to maintain for more than 1 minute. Pump your arms and walk briskly, making sure to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.

This workout will be the following:

3 minutes at The Slow Walk speed

1 minute at this sprint speed

1 minute at the Slow Walk speed

And continue alternating every other minute at the sprint speed.

Continue with this workout for a total of 15 minutes!

The Climb

At your slow walk pace, we’ll start playing around with walking uphill! The increase in level can really work your quads, glutes and hamstrings and serve as a strength training exercise as well as cardio. Simply press the up button on the treadmill and notice how the elevation number increases. Go up to a number that feels like a tough climb that you can maintain for 1 minute. Press down through your heels so that you work the back of your legs as well as the front of your legs. You’ll keep your speed number the same as you work harder to walk because you’re walking uphill.

This workout will be the following:

3 minutes at the Slow Walk speed

1 minute at this climb level

1 minute at the Slow Walk speed

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And continue alternating every other minute at the climb level

Continue with this workout for a total of 15 minutes!

The Recovery

Every strong body needs a day to rest! On this day, do some stretching, foam rolling, yoga, or something else that feels relaxing to your body.

Your One-Month Treadmill Plan

Download your printable calendar here. Hang the calendar on your fridge, or keep it in your purse or car, for easy reference. Fill in the bubble as you complete the workout each day.

January 1: The Slow Walk

January 2: The Need for Speed

January 3: The Slow Walk

January 4: The Recovery

January 5: The Climb

January 6: The Slow Walk

January 7: The Recovery

January 8: The Slow Walk

January 9: The Need for Speed

January 10: The Climb

January 11: Recovery

January 12: The Need for Speed

January 13: The Slow Walk

January 14: The Recovery

January 15: The Slow Walk

January 16: The Climb

January 17: The Need for Speed

January 18: The Slow Walk

January 19: The Recovery

January 20: The Climb

January 21: The Recovery

January 22: The Slow Walk

January 23: The Need for Speed

January 24: The Climb

January 25: The Slow Walk

January 26: Recovery

January 27: The Climb

January 28: The Need for Speed

January 29: The Slow Walk

January 30: Recovery

January 31: The Slow Walk

This treadmill plan is designed to boost your confidence in your commitment to your health for the whole year. You can repeat this every month, and notice how your slow walk, speed, and climb numbers change as you become more fit.

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