Rise and shine 20-minute treadmill interval workout to start your day

A treadmill interval workout!

When I first started exercising regularly many years ago, the only thing I would do is jog on the treadmill. That’s it. It was my thing. I would do maybe 30 minutes of steady-state jogging, break a sweat and call it a day. I kept this habit up for quite some time, thinking that the only way to work out was to do cardio. Wow. Fast forward to today, and other than teaching one high-intensity BODYATTACK class each week, which is mostly cardio, I don’t do any cardio. Like none. I definitely prefer doing weights, yoga, barre, etc.

Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and in an effort to get more steps in during the day and get my blood flowing in the mornings that I don’t have a big workout plan and need a rest from weights, I’ve found myself back on the treadmill. But this time, the routine is very different. It’s super short. It includes intervals. It goes by in an instant. And that’s because I get bored on the treadmill, don’t have a lot of time to work out and like to have a plan. Here’s a 20-minute treadmill interview routine that I’ve been doing lately …

20-minute treadmill interval workout

While you can easily do this routine in the afternoon or evening, I tend to think it’s the perfect workout for first thing in the morning. And because it’s only 20 minutes, no need to eat beforehand. Fasted (as in, not having a pre-workout meal after you wake up) works well. However, drink plenty of water before, during and after. By the way, this is not a difficult high-intensity routine, but it’s got beneficial intervals to get your heart-rate up.

Rise and Shine 20-minute treadmill interval workout by A Lady Goes West

*Disclaimer: While I’m a personal trainer, I’m not your trainer. Please check with your doctor before trying a new routine. This post does not constitute as prescriptive advice, merely my own experience.

The easy way to think about this workout if you don’t want to print it out is like this:

  1. Put the incline at 1.5 percent.
  2. Walk for three minutes to warm up. 
  3. Begin running for one minute, then walking for one minute, alternating.
  4. Each time you run, add .2 mph to the speed. (You can start at 6.0 or 6.5, depending on your fitness level. This plan starts with 6.5 and maxes the speed out at 7.7, but often I go a little faster toward the end.)
  5. Finish your last interval with three minutes left to walk to cool down.

Some tips:

  • Swing your arms. Don’t hold on to the railings at all.
  • Keep your chest up and your shoulders back.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • Stretch your legs and arms a bit after you finish.

And when it comes to cardio, don’t overdo it. You definitely don’t need to be doing it more than three times a week and should also include some bodyweight training, resistance training with weights or bands and even some mind/body yoga, if you have the time. Check out my fitness page for more workouts and tips. Have an awesome day!

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Questions of the day

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What’s your cardio of choice?

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38 Comments

  1. I too used to just jog on the treadmill or ride the elliptical almost everyday for my workout. Now I do cardio maybe 2-3 times a week, I definitely prefer and have noticed a bigger difference in my body from strength training. I’ve always liked to run outside though and like doing intervals on the treadmill. I need to start using the incline more on the treadmill, so this workout is perfect.

    1. Funny how we have all caught on to this? And YES the little bit of incline increases the difficulty in just the right way. πŸ™‚ Have an awesome day, Patricia!

  2. Ashley! I LOVE this girl. Intervals are really the only way I workout. I guess steady state has just become too easy for me and going longer just seems silly. Intervals get my heart rate up faster and I’m a sweaty mess which I love.

  3. My favorite form of cardio is playing soccer. It goes by quickly and definitely includes intervals πŸ˜‰

  4. This is great! I’m totally the same way lately, plus trying to sweat out a little illness, so simple cardio circuits have been my go-to this week. But I just CANNOT keep myself pumped about a treadmill workout, preferring to ellipticize (that’s a word, right?) or do some fun intervals on the stationary bike.

    I’ll definitely try this one out though. Anything to keep me interested. (But running at 7.3?! Girl, do you think I actually run in the Olympics, Imma modify like a champ, ha!)

    Have a great rest of your Thursday!
    XO, Jessica

  5. Looks like a good one! I tend to avoid the treadmill unless I’m just using it to warm up. I stick with cardio based classes like boxing, cycling, boot camp, etc , for my cardio work

    1. I feel ya! I prefer group fitness for my cardio too, but can’t seem to get to another cardio-based one other than the one I teach these days! Glad you are keeping up with your routine, Jessie! πŸ™‚ How’s life??

      1. Life is good! It’s getting super hot and humid here in KC though. Even the dog doesn’t want to go out, so we wait till after 8:30 to walk.

        How has the transition been back to full time office job? It sounds like you get to do some travel, so hopefully you aren’t confined to a desk all day.

        1. It’s going well! I am at a desk a lot though. Definitely have to force extra walks to get me steps! Have a great weekend, Jessie!

  6. I’m currently on 30-day challenge to walk/run 5 miles a day. I mostly walk outside with my 5-month old. After this challenge I’ll do this interval work-out. Sounds like it’ll work perfectly during my baby’s nap time.

  7. I bike to the gym and I swim. On Thursday, I ride the bike to the gym and then do BodyPump. I bike when I get bored, I bike to BART then take BART to whenever I feel like going. Walking is a form of cardio, I guess, so I like walking.

  8. When I was trying to lose weight, I used to really go crazy on the treadmill and nothing else. That didn’t end well of course. But now I’ve learned to only do it a couple of times a week and have also been doing weight exercises. So far so good!

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