A dead-simple sprint workout that will help you burn fat and feel like you actually accomplished something.
Confession: I like treadmills.
I didn’t expect this. I certainly didn’t want to like them, but damn it if I’m not a fan.
You have to understand, as a guy who loves prowler pushes, skipping rope, and hiking up mountains, I’ve never liked cardio equipment. In fact, whenever I hear the word “cardio” all I see are hundreds of people on treadmills and ellipticals watching TV and wasting time.
Those aren’t real workouts, I tell myself. Real workouts should make you feel like you accomplished something. They should leave you out of breath and sweaty. They should be over fast.
So I avoided treadmills and instead did bodyweight circuits, sled pushes, and other “hardcore” things to burn fat, get my heart-rate up, and hate my life for short periods of time.
But then I discovered one dead-simple routine — which I’ll share below — that changed my mind and actually had me searching for a treadmill.
After trying this, you may just love treadmills too.
You have been warned.
How to do High-Intensity Treadmill Sprints
Here’s how most people do treadmill sprints:
- Get on treadmill.
- Walk for a few minutes.
- Gradually increase the incline and speed.
- Run your ass off for 20-30 seconds.
- Continue to run your ass off while trying to push the “down” button on the treadmill to slow it the fuck down.
- Have a mild panic attack.
The truth is, treadmill sprints are a pain in the ass if you have to keep adjusting the speed and incline of the belt as you run—which is why I never did them.
Then I visited Dr. John Berardi at his home a few years back and had my mind blown by how he gets around this problem. It’s so simple, I don’t know how I never thought of it before.
All you have to do is — get this — set the treadmill to your maximum speed, stand on the sides of the treadmill, jump on the belt when it’s whirring underneath you, sprint, then jump back to the sides of the treadmill. Repeat until you’re tired and your legs feel like rubber.
It doesn’t sound necessarily safe — but it is very effective.
Anyway, here’s the protocol:
- Start the treadmill and walk slowly for 2 minutes.
- Increase the treadmill speed to 8.5 mph and the incline to 12% while standing on the sides of the treadmill.
- As soon as it’s up to speed, sprint for 20 seconds.
- At the end of the 20 seconds, jump back on the side of the belt and rest for 10 seconds. (Grab the handrails.)
- Repeat 10 times.
- Drop the speed and the incline and walk slowly for another 2 minutes.
Once you get past the “I’m gonna eat shit as soon as I step onto a moving treadmill” fear, you’ll be fine. Just hold on to the rails, get your feet moving and then let go.
Fair warning: The first few sprints will seem too easy and you’ll consider increasing the speed. Don’t. Somewhere around sprint number 5 you’ll curse yourself for ever thinking that.
Here’s another tip from JB: To keep progressing, make one small improvement each time you do the workout. For example, increase the speed by 0.1 mph, the incline by 0.1%, or the number of sprints by 1. Improve in small increments each time and your body will continue to get leaner, stronger, and faster.
What to do next
If you liked this article, make sure to check out “I’m A Recovering Fitness Junkie”. It’s about why I go to the gym less often and no longer care how much protein I eat (and how that’s made me a better person).