30 Minute Treadmill Tabata

It’s no secret, I love to kick my own ass. Yesterday I did just that in only 30 minutes by combining two things I love: Treadmill and Tabata

If you’re unfamiliar with Tabata training, it is a super efficient type of high-intensity interval training. The work is organized like this: 20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of recovery in 4 minute rounds. (For more science and detail, check this article out.)

The key to making the most out of your 4 minutes is to do an exercise that you can push yourself to the max. Something that leaves you totally breathless so that the 10 seconds of recovery feels inadequate. And yes, it is as brutal as it sounds. But it only lasts for 4 minutes.

In theory, you can really turn anything into a Tabata. In practice, I’ve found that some things are easier to tabata than others – there are some workouts (i.e. bicep curls or tricep kickbacks) that I struggle to meet a max effort and get breathless in 20 seconds. And the whole idea of max effort is to go breathless.

Enter the treadmill… my breathless wonder. The ultimate ass-kicking tool. The treadmill works so well because of the intensity-potential. Whether through speed or incline, anyone can max out. And sprinting works the entire core and upper back too. My all over soreness today is proof. Plus, the timer on the tread makes tracking the 20 second/10 second intervals easy.

30 Minute Treadmill Tabata Workout

Minutes 0-4: Warm up with a slow jog on the treadmill

Minutes 4-8: Continue the warm up with dynamic stretching off the treadmill

Minutes 8-12: Tabata interval 1*

Minutes 12-16: Recovery jog (or walk)

Minutes 16-20: Tabata interval 2*

Minutes 20-24: Recovery jog (or walk)

Minutes 24-28: Tabata interval 3*

Minutes 28-30: Cool down with a slow jog or walk

*Tabata Intervals 1 – 3: Sprint for 20 seconds and then hop to the sides of the treadmill for 10 seconds. Alternate 20 seconds sprint and 10 second recovery for 4 minutes.

Keep in mind:

  • Don’t skip the warm-up, silly. As with any high-intensity activity (i.e. sprinting) warm up reduces our risk of injury. A warm-up jog should be an easy pace (example 5 – 6 mph) that you can maintain for a long period of time. Here are a few examples of dynamic stretches to include in your warm-up.
  • This workout includes 3 Tabata intervals, that 12 minutes total of the 20/10 second intervals. Each one is followed by a 4 minute recovery. Use this time wisely so that you have the energy to make it through all 3 rounds. This is what I did with my recovery time: my first recovery was a slow jog at 5.5 mph, the second recovery was 1 minute walk at 4 mph and 3 minute slow jog at 5.5 mph and the last recovery was a 2 minute walk at 4 mph and 2 minute slow jog at 5.5 mph.
  • Choosing your “sprint” speed can take some experimentation. You are aiming for a speed that feels difficult (nearly impossible) to maintain for 20 seconds. This is different for each person. For a frame of reference, my speed yesterday was 10 mph. I am not in distance or speed shape, otherwise my sprinting speed would be closer to 12 mph. Be honest with what you can and cannot handle.
  • Do not slow the speed down to actively recover with a jog during those 10 seconds. The intervals are too short for the treadmill to adjust and you will end up missing out on your sprints. AND if you feel that you can actively recover with a jog in those 10 seconds, you are not sprinting fast enough. You literally should feel like you’re at the end of your tank at the end of each 20 second sprint.
  • If you don’t ever run, this is probably not the Tabata workout for you. Start with something you’re more familiar with. Here are a couple options: squat and pushup Tabata and cardio Tabata

What is your favorite way to Tabata? I’m thinking of doing a Tabata Tuesday series to share more of my go-to ways to get the most out of Tabata. Sound good?

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