How To Build Endurance On A Treadmill

Treadmill Running


By Simon Gould

The definition of endurance is the capacity to endure an unpleasant process without giving way. Now I don't know if we'd call it an unpleasant process but building stamina and endurance is something a lot of us want. Whether it's to improve our mile time or get some weight loss, endurance will help us achieve these. There's nothing better to build endurance on, than a treadmill.

Examples of people who want endurance are the marathon runner who wants to beat their time. They want to reduce their minutes per mile and break through a 4 or 3 hour marathon. Maybe you're a bodybuilder who has a high percentage of fat on their body. They would want some cardio endurance training to get that percentage down to single figures. Everyone who works out can benefit from more endurance.

Low intensity or high intensity training?

Low intensity training would be doing your regular cardio work which could be running and reducing the speed and adding the duration. This will promote long term calorie burning and thus build endurance and reduce fat percentage. The problem is this takes some time and requires quite a big commitment as running on multiple days of the week are needed.

High intensity training involves increasing your speed in intervals until you can't run any further. This also burns a lot of calories and builds endurance but does it in a short amount of time. Your overall speed of your longer runs will increase as a result of the high intensity speed work you're doing. So which is better for building stamina and endurance, high intensity or low intensity training?

The answer is do both. Combine the benefits of both within your training routine. This will help you burn calories and increase your overall speed. If you run and you have a weekly mileage this may have to be foregone. You may need to just train the low and high intensity workouts for a few weeks to commit your time and energy to it to get the most out of it.

A treadmill is ideal for all these routines. We know that you can do log runs on one but high intensity training is ideal as well. The console gives you the time, speed and distance and these are important to know. You would change from a sprint to a recovery run very quickly and you just have to change the speed at a certain time. I always use a treadmill for my speed work.

Low intensity training

So for low intensity let's assume you can run 20 minutes. Your aim for LIT (Low Intensity Training) would be to slowly increase the duration of the run to 40 to 60 minutes. You would do this at a lower intensity than your 20 minute runs. This will help build stamina and the weight loss you're after by burning calories.

The downside to this is it takes time to see results. You would need to typically do this longer run on 3 to 4 days of the week for 3 to 4 weeks for a lasting change. We would then advise doing it once a week after the initial period to make the change permanent. You will notice a change in fat levels and you'll be able to run your initial 20 minute stint easier and faster.

High intensity training

HIT (High Intensity Training) is hard work. It will really get the blood flowing and that's the aim. It's been proven to increase both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. If you can run for 20 minutes at 7 mph we'll draw up a plan for some HIT which will increase you're overall speed you would run the original 20 minutes for:

  • 5 minutes walking warm up
  • Sprint for 45 seconds x 10
  • Rest walk for 45 seconds x10
  • Fast run 45 seconds x10
  • Rest walk for 45 seconds x10
  • 5 minutes walking cool down

That is 30 minutes. It doesn't seem long but you should find it pretty exhausting. We haven't put the actual speed because that is so individual for you. As this is done on a treadmill we've have allowed time for the treadmill to speed up and slow down so don't worry about that delay. Combine this with the LIT during the week for maximum effect:

  • Monday: LIT (Low Intensity Training)
  • Tuesday: HIT (High Intensity Training)
  • Thursday: LIT
  • Friday: HIT
  • For 4 weeks. When 4 weeks is up try and do 1 per week to maintain the improvement.


If you've managed the 4 weeks it should have transformed your body and performance. The bodybuilder will have dropped his fat percentage and the long distance runner will have improved mile times. Even for the hobbyist who wants to try some different training methods these are great ways to improve your endurance and see how your body reacts.

Lots of research are now being completed about the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT). It's becoming the latest workout trend and can replace a normal workout routine. Even though you don't do it for very long you really get the heart pumping and this is the reason it has so many benefits for the body. It burns calories well, yes, but it also does a lot more.

It has all the benefits of regular exercise that can take a lot longer. If you're struggling for time then HIIT is really something to consider. If you have time then do low and high intensity to take your fitness and endurance to the next level. You'll find exercise for a longer period easier when it was once harder because of your increased stamina.

Thinking of buying a treadmill? See my top 3 recommended treadmills for 2021

Meet The Author

Simon Gould

I'm Simon Gould. I've been around treadmills my whole life. From running on them at an early age to working in treadmill dept's of national stores. I've run outside and I've run on treadmills and I prefer running on treadmills. I still run on one nearly every day and love it.

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