Exercise Health

3 Treadmill Workouts to Try When the Weather Gets Bad

Has a rainy day put a dent in your workout plans? Or is it so hot outside you can fry an egg on the pavement? Bad weather can make it hard for you to stick to your running routine — that’s when the treadmill can step in to save the day. As an outdoor walker or runner, you may have to adjust your normal workouts to be better suited for the indoors. It can get boring staying in the same place throughout your walk or run, so it helps to add a little variety to keep your mind occupied.

No idea where to start? Here are 3 treadmill workouts you can try when the weather turns for the worse. If you don’t have a machine of your own at home, you can head to your local fitness center on a day pass or with your membership to still get your blood pumping no matter the weather outside.

1. Interval Workouts

HIIT — high-intensity interval training — isn’t just for weightlifting and the gym. Adding short bursts of high-intensity strides or sprints to your treadmill workouts improves your oxygen uptake and use while running. The more oxygen you take in, the longer you can run while maintaining a high heart rate. This means that HIIT workouts can increase your endurance and strength as a runner. HIIT also takes a shorter amount of time compared to traditional treadmill exercises. Your body can only handle high-intensity exercises for so long, so be sure to stick with the plan and rest afterward.

Interval workouts with HIIT don’t always need to be about sprinting. High intensity can also mean adding inclines or walking laterally (facing sideways) to challenge new muscle groups. Choose the approach that best fits your training goals. Here, we’ll give an example of a HIIT sprint workout designed to boost your muscle strength and training capacity.

Warm up by walking or lightly jogging for 5 minutes, then increase to a moderate pace for another 5 minutes. Then, sprint as fast as you can for 15 to 30 seconds — you likely won’t be able to go much longer than this. Bring your speed back down to a comfortable walk or jog for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on how long it takes to bring your heart rate back down. Begin sprinting again at maximum speed for 15 to 30 seconds, then recover again. Continue the workout for 20 to 30 minutes, then cool down with a light jog or walk for another 5 minutes.  

2. Aerobic + Strength Workout

Variety is the spice of life, and who says you can only walk or run during treadmill workouts? Try adding strength training to take your training session the extra mile.

Start by warming up on the treadmill with a walk or light jog for 5 minutes. Then, pause the treadmill and take 30 to 60 seconds for a strength training exercise — like burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, or squats. Choose 3 to 4 exercises for each break, repeating them with each round of strength training. Feel free to use weights or bands as needed to get the most out of these exercises.

Jump back on the treadmill for another 5 minutes and alternate with strength training for the duration of your workout. Repeat these intervals for 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your endurance. Make sure to cool down with a 1- to 3-mile easy jog or walk.

3. Hill Climbs

If you’re someone who likes to train on hills or trails outside, bad weather can throw a wrench in your training plans. Treadmills don’t completely simulate walking or running in the great outdoors, but you can still adjust your incline to feel the burn. The percentage incline on a treadmill mimics what you see on roads — an incline of 5% means that for every 100 feet you walk or run, you gain 5 feet in elevation.

If you know the percentage grade of the inclines you normally train on, feel free to tailor your workout accordingly. The website Triathlete also has a 1-hour hill-climb workout you can try to switch up your time on the treadmill. Start by warming up with 1 to 3 miles of walking or easy running, followed by 6 strides (short periods of fast running) for 20 seconds each, if you’d like.

Now it’s time to climb — increase your treadmill’s incline to 6% to 8% and run 6 to 8 half-mile “climbs.” Walkers and novice runners can try a lower percentage grade first to find a challenging but safe incline. Triathlete suggests running at your 10k pace (around 9 minutes for men and 10 minutes for women). In between each half mile, take a 3- to 4-minute flat run for recovery. Finish by cooling down with 1 to 3 miles of easy walking or running.

Treadmill Workouts to Try When the Weather Gets Bad Infographic

By Emily Wagner

Emily earned a Bachelor of Science in biotechnology from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2018 and a Master of Science in biomedical sciences with a focus in pharmacology from University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2020. During her thesis work, she studied non-small cell lung cancer and how the immune system plays a role in response to different treatments. Emily feels privileged to use her research acumen and scientific mind to write about topics that advance the health and wellbeing of others. She currently lives in Colorado where she enjoys the mountains, spending time with her dog, baking, and reading a good book.