Does Running on a Treadmill Burn Fat?

Woman running on a treadmill to burn fat

Africa Studio/

By Simon Gould

When you start putting on weight the first thing you notice is the fat. For men it begins around the stomach and those love handles. For women the hips tend to get the first spread of fat and it can be very difficult to shift. The first thing you think of to get rid of fat is to diet. But the best way is to diet and exercise. Specifically you want to do long periods of aerobic exercise to burn lots of calories and the fat on your body.

How to burn fat on your body

You burn fat by creating a calorie deficit from the calories you eat per day to the calories you use up. When there is a calorie deficit the body has to use something else as fuel for what you do all day. It chooses the easiest available fuel in the body and that is your fat. Consistently having a calorie deficit every day will consistently burn fat every day.

A woman needs 2,000 calories per day and a man 2,500. Using these figures you can work out how much you eat and how much you burn while exercising and this hopefully will give you a deficit. To burn one pound of fat you need to burn 3,500 calories and there are many ways to do this. As mentioned before the best way is to do both diet and exercise.

How the treadmill helps

Treadmills and other cardio machines are so good at burning calories because they get you into the aerobic zone. This means you’re exercising at up to 80% of your maximum heart rate and this is an ideal way of burning calories effectively for the amount of work you’re putting in. Once you’ve worked your way up to running longer distances you’ll burn even more calories and fat.

So we need to know how many calories we’re burning when we’re exercising on a treadmill. There is a website perfect for this, you just enter your speed, time and your weight and it tells you how many calories you’ve burned. I call it the treadmill calorie burn calculator and I’ll think you’ll enjoy entering all the combinations you can to see how many calories you can burn.

3 Fat burning treadmill workouts

Now onto the actual workouts that will help you burn any fat you have and don’t like. I’ve given one for beginners, intermediate and advanced. You might need to build up to the harder ones, but they’re all achievable and they work. I lost 30 pounds myself by exercising on my treadmill, and I was quite overweight. Warm up and cool down by brisk walking on your treadmill for 5 minutes before and after all these workouts.

1. Beginners workout

This is going to be a brisk walk using the incline. Even though it’s for beginners, you need to make sure you get your heart rate up nice and high so we burn fat. This workout is often referred to as power walking. Make sure you keep your head up high and swing your arms. This one is tougher than it looks.

Speed – 3 to 4 mph

Incline – 5 to 10%

Duration – 30 minutes

Calories burned – 345 (For someone doing 3.5 mph, 7% incline for 30 minutes and you weigh 180 lbs)

2. Intermediate workout

This one is jogging, so it’s a slightly lower speed than what some would call running. I went jogging speed when I lost all my excess weight. This is a very good workout for those who have a few stubborn pounds to lose. Jogging is something most people can do whether you’re used to exercising or not. You may need to build up to 30 minutes.

Speed – 4 to 6 mph

Incline – zero/flat

Duration – 30 minutes

Calories burned – 371 (For someone doing 5 mph for 30 minutes and you weigh 180 lbs)

3. Advanced workout

This one is quite hard and I think some of you may not be able to run this fast for 30 minutes. However, if you can you’ll be burning a lot of calories. The intensity is high so ensure you do warm up to prevent any possible injuries. This workout is best for those want a nice, athletic shape to their body.

10 minutes – 6 mph

10 minutes – 7 mph

10 minutes – 6 mph

Total – 30 minutes

Incline – zero/flat

Calories burned – 458 (For someone doing this exact routine and you weigh 180 lbs)

  • As mentioned earlier, calorie numbers calculated using this website.

Other treadmill routines for weight loss

Most people probably just get on a treadmill using the quick start button and off they go. The problem with this is you need to further yourself each week. If you’re running and you haven’t exercised much you’ll only be able to do 10 minutes maximum. As you train you’ll be able to run for longer and training routines help you do this.

The first and best routine for this is a slow build up to running 5k (3.1 miles). This is done slowly over 9 weeks using a walk/run method. This builds you up to running for around 30 minutes which will burn around 330 calories for you depending how fast you go and your weight. The routine is the couch to 5k treadmill plan and it will burn fat consistently over time.

We have some other routines as well. These are deigned for people who are bigger and is not so concerned about the speed but by the incline. One is for running and the other walking and they are both designed purely for weight loss. Give these a try to help you lose weight till you can start running and do the couch to 5k above. Here are the routines:

Don’t forget your diet

So yes, treadmills burn fat, and if you include some work on your diet you could burn fat twice as quickly. As we mentioned before men need 2,500 calories per day and women 2,000. So let’s say you burn 300 calories per day on the treadmill which is around 20 to 30 minutes. Then you eat 300 less calories than that recommended figure and do that around 5 days a week. You will burn at least 1 pound of fat per week.

There is one more way to help use up those calories and that is by strength training. This is optional because you’ll lose weight by exercising and your diet. But strength training helps you burn calories even when you’re not exercising. The break down and build up of muscle uses a lot of calories and these burn 24 hours a day. We have a page of strength training for treadmill runners.


Treadmills help burn fat and they do it very well. Above we have set quite a strict routine for weight loss. You don’t need to apply all of this straight away, it would work if you did but it’s a big commitment. As long as you watch what you eat and slowly get into an exercise routine you will start developing into the shape you want to be.

Start making changes to your life slowly but surely because being the right weight and exercising frequently, brings important health benefits. You want to live longer and have more energy during the day. That’s what all this can do. The treadmill does burn fat and that can do you a lot of good in the long run but the trick is to keep at it.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? Here’s my favorite, I always recommend it when asked.

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