Looking for a great treadmill workout that burns calories, speeds fat burning, and improves your overall health? The good news: the best cardio workout doesn’t mean mindless hours of running on the treadmill. Sure, you’ll burn calories, but you won’t rev up your metabolism as much as you could with a short intensive cardio session that varies the intensity of the workout.

To vary the intensity of your treadmill workout, you need to vary both your speed and the incline of the machine. As you run faster on a steeper incline, your heart has to work harder to pump the necessary oxygen to your muscles. If you back off for a minute or two and then rev it up again, you are building oxygen reserves that can keep your metabolism operating in high gear for hours after you finish your workout. And then the big payoff: your cranked up metabolism becomes a fat burning furnace, even after you’ve left the gym and gone home to hit the sofa.

The following treadmill workout was published in Fitness Magazine, and while it’s not the only treadmill workout plan that burns fat, it is one example of how to vary your running/walking speed along with the incline of the treadmill. Notice that it only takes a 20-minute treadmill workout to burn about 300 calories; this cardio workout will also jump start your metabolism and work your lower body muscles.

Minutes MPH Incline
0:00-3:00 3.0 1
3:00-3:30 3.5 2
3:30-4:00 3.5 4
4:00-4:30 3.5 6
4:30-5:00 3.5 7
5:00-6:00 5.0 1
6:00-7:00 4.0 1
7:00-7:30 4.5 2
7:30-8:00 4.5 4
8:00-8:30 4.5 6
8:30-9:00 4.5 7
9:00-10:00 3.5 1
10:00-11:00 6.0 1
11:00-12:00 3.5 1
12:00-12:30 5.0 2
12:30-13:00 5.0 4
13:00-13:30 5.0 6
13:30-14:00 5.0 7
14:00-16:00 3.5 1
16:00-17:00 6.0 1
17:00-20:00 3.0 1

Tips For Working Out on The Treadmill:

1. Invest in a decent pair of running shoes.
… and plan to replace your shoes every 3-months if you work out on a daily basis. Your running shoes should be thin soled, and you can wear the same running shoes you use when you run outdoors.

2. Practice proper treadmill form.
This means don’t extend your leg (foot) forward when you take a step. The belt on the treadmill is already moving backward, so when you step forward, you create resistance between your leg and the belt, which causes injury to your body. Keep your legs under your body while running and don’t lean forward.

3. Avoid treadmill boredom.
The best way to avoid boredom is to vary your workouts. The truth is, if you are paying attention to the speed and incline changes required in the workout outlined above, you won’t have time to get bored. And the workout is only 20 minutes! So skip the iPod and the books-on-tape, as distractions will just encourage you to settle into a nice long jog that doesn’t give you nearly the weight loss benefits that you’ll get from a shorter more intense workout.

4. Skip the workout buddy.
For the same reasons you don’t need an iPod, you don’t need a workout buddy. Just give your cardio workout your complete attention for twenty minutes, and you can socialize when you’re finished.

5. Don’t skip your weight training.
Your cardio workout is only one leg of your three-legged fitness program. You also need resistance training and proper nutrition. Women have a tendency to overdo the cardio and skimp on weight training, while do just the opposite. Both genders need an overall balance of cardio training, strength training, and a healthy diet to achieve an optimal level of fitness and overall health.