How To Lose Weight On A Treadmill – 6 Steps To Try In 2024

how to lose weight on treadmill
These 6 steps help you effectively use a treadmill for weight loss. Photo: Drazen Zigic/Freepik

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If you have a treadmill at home or regularly use one at the gym, you need to know how to use it to its full potential. It’s no good just climbing on it and hoping to lose stubborn belly fat – you need to know the best way to burn calories.

No matter how efficiently you use your treadmill, it won’t help you lose weight unless you also live a healthy lifestyle with a calorie deficit. Luckily, you can improve your results with the right methods of treadmill walking for weight loss.

In this article, we’ll explain how to lose weight on a treadmill. We also have some tips for the most efficient treadmill weight loss method and answers to some frequently asked questions.

How To Lose Weight On Treadmill

  • Step 1: Start with walking.
  • Step 2: Progress to running and sprint intervals.
  • Step 3: Experiment with inclines.
  • Step 4: Have a plan.
  • Step 5: Consider proper nutrition before and after a workout.
  • Step 6: Stay hydrated during workouts.

How To Lose Weight On A Treadmill

how to lose weight on treadmill
You can lose weight on a treadmill. Photo: Photo: branin/Freepik

Do you want to know how to lose weight on a treadmill? Here are some basic steps that will help you optimize your workout and maximize your results.

Try implementing the following steps to increase your chances of success.

Start With Walking

Walking is a great way to warm up your body and prepare it for more intense exercise. When you’re starting out on a treadmill, walking will burn plenty of calories.

A brisk walk can be especially beneficial when done for a long period of time. Even a short walk can help with fluid buildup and water weight.

To start with walking, you can set the treadmill speed to 3 to 4 miles per hour and walk for 15 to 20 minutes. You can gradually increase the speed, duration, and frequency of your walking sessions as you get more comfortable and fit.

Progress To Running And Sprint Intervals

Running[1] is a more intense cardio exercise that can help you build more lean muscle mass. Start by alternating between walking and jogging for a few minutes. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your jogging intervals so you spend more time in the calorie-burning zone.

You can also try sprint intervals, which are short bursts of high-speed running followed by low-intensity recovery periods.

Try sprinting for 30 to 60 seconds at 6 to 8 miles per hour. Then, reduce the speed to 3 to 4 miles per hour and walk for 90 to 120 seconds. You can repeat this cycle for 10 to 15 minutes and then cool down with a slow walk.

Experiment With Inclines

Inclines are another way to increase the difficulty and effectiveness of your treadmill workout. Inclines can help you burn[2] more calories and fat and target a greater variety of your leg muscles. Walking on different slopes uses different muscle groups.[3]

Start with a low incline of 1%-2%, and walk or run for 10 to 15 minutes. You can gradually increase your workout’s incline, speed, and duration as you get stronger and fitter.

You can also try varying the incline throughout your workout. Try alternating between flat and uphill segments or do a hill climb. A hill climb is a continuous increase in incline until you reach the maximum level.

Have A Plan

Having a plan is essential for achieving your weight loss goals on a treadmill. A plan can help you stay motivated, focused, and consistent with your workouts and keep you from plateauing or overtraining.

Set realistic and specific goals. Examples include how much weight you want to lose, how long you want to exercise, and how often you want to work out.

Then, track your progress towards those goals. Adjust your plan as needed according to the results you get over time. You can increase or decrease the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts as you see fit.

A common principle in exercise planning is progressive overload,[4] which means you gradually increase the demand on your body. For example, you might set your treadmill to 3 or 4 miles an hour one week and 5 miles an hour the next.

Try increasing the distance you walk, the incline, the frequency of workouts, or the time you spend running. These adjustments will help you continue to lose weight and get stronger.

Consider Proper Nutrition Before And After Workout

Time your meals and snacks according to your workout schedule for proper nutrition. For example, eat a light snack[5] containing carbohydrates like toast or an apple about an hour before your workout. Within two hours after your workout, you should eat a meal with carbohydrates and protein[6] again, such as a protein shake and a banana.

Stay Hydrated During Workouts

how to lose weight on treadmill
A consistent exercise routine promotes weight loss. Photo: SofikoS/Shutterstock

Staying hydrated during your workout is crucial for weight loss and health. Hydration can help suppress your appetite,[7] flush out excess water weight, and help you detox. Dehydration, on the other hand, is a nightmare for a workout and actually limits your performance.[8]

To stay hydrated during your workout, drink water before, during, and after your workout. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks that can dehydrate you and interfere with weight loss.

Does The Treadmill Help You Lose Weight?

Is a treadmill good for weight loss? A treadmill can help you lose weight when using it correctly and consistently. Simple treadmill workouts for weight loss usually involve alternating periods of running and walking.

Keeping a consistent treadmill routine is important when it comes to how to lose weight while walking on a treadmill. Using a treadmill intermittently and rarely won’t result in much weight loss. You must maintain a regular exercise schedule to lose weight over time.

On the other hand, you also need to change up your exercise schedule instead of doing the same workout day after day. Try switching between the treadmill, some form of weight or resistance training, and stretching or yoga. A consistent workout routine that involves variety[9] will promote increased muscle mass, a healthy cardiovascular system, and flexibility.

Benefits Of Treadmill Workout

Burn Calories And Fat

A fitness routine with treadmill workouts can help you burn calories. This can contribute to a calorie deficit and further weight loss. 

In a 2015 study,[10] researchers compared three groups of people. A group that ran regularly lost almost the same weight as a group that went on a healthier diet. The third group, which did both, lost nearly twice as much.

Improve Cardiovascular Health

An effective treadmill workout has the potential to help you improve your cardiovascular health, which can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes.[11] Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. This can help improve your cardiovascular health.[12]

Increase Muscle Mass

Treadmill workouts can help tone your muscles,[1] especially in the lower body. Building muscle improves your appearance even if your amount of body fat stays the same.

Stronger muscles will also make it easier to do your everyday functional activities. In the case of treadmill exercise, you’ll be in better shape for the general walking you must do daily.

Reduce Stress

Exercise is well-known to reduce stress[13] and improve your mood by releasing endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These brain chemicals make you feel happy, relaxed, and motivated.

Treadmill workouts can also help you distract yourself from your worries and focus on your breathing, movement, and goals. This can lead to pride in your accomplishments.

How Long Should You Go On The Treadmill To Lose Weight?

How long does it take to lose weight on a treadmill? That depends on various factors, including your personal goals, current weight, age, and past exercise experience. The intensity and frequency of your treadmill workouts are also major factors.

While you want to start small and work your way up, a general goal to promote health is 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week.[12] If you have time, you could always do a treadmill workout for over half an hour for weight loss.

If you’re pressed for time, consider increasing the intensity rather than the workout duration. For example, you could replace five minutes of walking with running.


Losing weight on a treadmill is possible and beneficial if you follow some simple and effective steps. Start with walking, progress to running, try using inclines, and have a plan. Also, consider proper nutrition before and after your workout and stay hydrated. These steps can help you burn calories and fat for better weight loss.

You should also combine your treadmill workout with a balanced and healthy diet and other forms of exercise for the best results. Be patient and persistent with your weight loss journey, as weight loss is a gradual and complex process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a treadmill good for weight loss?

A treadmill can help you burn calories and fat and create a calorie deficit, which is the main requirement for weight loss. Consider combining it with a healthy lifestyle and a variety of other exercises.

Does 12-3-30 actually work?

12-3-30 is a popular treadmill workout – set your treadmill to 12 miles per hour, a 3% incline, and a 30-minute duration. This workout usually burns about 500 calories for the average person, so it can work.

Is the treadmill good for losing belly fat?

It’s impossible to spot-reduce one area, but using a treadmill can help you lose weight all over your body, including your belly. Therefore, you may eventually lose belly fat when consistent with treadmill workouts.

What burns the most fat on a treadmill?

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, burns fat very well. On a treadmill, it might look like a short burst of running followed by a period of walking. HIIT treadmill workouts are intense, so don’t do high-intensity intervals more than twice a week.

+ 13 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Konopka, A.R. and Harber, M.P. (2014). Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy After Aerobic Exercise Training. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, [online] 42(2), pp.53–61. doi:
  2. Silder, A., Besier, T.F. and Delp, S.L. (2012). Predicting the metabolic cost of incline walking from muscle activity and walking mechanics. Journal of Biomechanics, [online] 45(10), pp.1842–1849. doi:
  3. Pickle, N.T., Grabowski, A.M., Auyang, A.G. and Silverman, A.K. (2016). The functional roles of muscles during sloped walking. Journal of Biomechanics, [online] 49(14), pp.3244–3251. doi:
  4. Bell, L.R., McNicol, A.J., McNeil, E., Huy Van Nguyen, Hunter, J. and O’Brien, B.J. (2023). The impact of progressive overload on the proportion and frequency of positive cardio-respiratory fitness responders. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. [online] doi:
  5. Ormsbee, M.J., Bach, C.W. and Baur, D. (2014). Pre-Exercise Nutrition: The Role of Macronutrients, Modified Starches and Supplements on Metabolism and Endurance Performance. Nutrients, [online] 6(5), pp.1782–1808. doi:
  6. Cintineo, H.P., Arent, M.A., José António and Arent, S.M. (2018). Effects of Protein Supplementation on Performance and Recovery in Resistance and Endurance Training. Frontiers in Nutrition, [online] 5. doi:
  7. Vij, V. and Joshi, A.S. (2014). Effect of excessive water intake on body weight, body mass index, body fat, and appetite of overweight female participants. Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine, [online] 5(2), pp.340–340. doi:
  8. Carlton, A. and Rob Marc Orr (2015). The effects of fluid loss on physical performance: A critical review. Journal of Sport and Health Science, [online] 4(4), pp.357–363. doi:
  9. Nemanja Lakičević, Gentile, A., Mehrabi, S., Cassar, S., Parker, K., Roklicer, R., Bianco, A. and Patrik Drid (2020). Make Fitness Fun: Could Novelty Be the Key Determinant for Physical Activity Adherence? Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 11. doi:
  10. Nielsen (2016). Does running with or without diet changes reduce fat mass in novice runners? A 1-year prospective study. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, [online] 56(1-2). Available at:
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  12. CDC (2023). How much physical activity do adults need? [online] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at:
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Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her passion is helping others learn how strong and healthy they can become by transforming their daily habits. Christine spends… See More