The 30-Minute Treadmill HIIT Workout Proven to Torch Calories

A lot of people dread getting on the treadmill. It can be boring and repetitive, and it takes a long time to get any meaningful benefits.

However, the treadmill doesn’t need to be boring. You can mix up your cardio with a HIIT-style workout that delivers faster results and stimulates you mentally at the same time.

That’s what we’re going to share in this article, with a special, 30-minute HIIT workout devised by running coach David Siik.

30-Minute HIIT Treadmill Workout

treadmill ready for a HIIT session


David Siik is a running coach, who founded the Precision Running program at the top-tier celebrity gym, Equinox.

As part of that program, he introduced the B.I.T.E. method of training. B.I.T.E. stands for Balanced Interval Training Experience, and is essentially a variation of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), which is hugely popular today.

The B.I.T.E. method splits between intervals of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, giving you an all-round workout, and meant to deliver better results, with less pain and less risk of injury.

The specific workout we’re looking at here is called Good Cop/Bad Cop - “Good Cop” is when you run on a flat incline, before the “Bad Cop” takes over and forces you to keep the same speed, but slightly uphill.

Here’s the workout. It’s split into two segments, with a 3-minute recovery period between segments, and a 3-minute cooldown period after the last segment (make sure you warm up before starting the workout as well).

Segment One:

Your starting speed should be fast, but not quite the fastest you can possibly run. You need to give yourself room to advance over the course of the workout, before you finish running at max speed.

Here’s a breakdown of each interval in the first segment.

First, figure out the absolute top speed at which you can run for 30 seconds. Your starting speed for the first intense interval will be 2 mph below this. 

So, if your 30-second max speed is 10 mph, then you’ll start at 8mph

Start with a 2-minute warmup - a light jog to get the blood pumping and the joints warmed up. 

  • 90 seconds - fast speed (2mph slower than your max speed) - 0% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 90 seconds - same speed - 5% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 60 seconds - 0.5 mph faster than the previous speed - 0% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 60 seconds - same speed - 5% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 30 seconds - 0.5 mph faster than the previous speed - 0% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 30 seconds - same speed - 5% incline

Take 3 minutes of walking to recover, before moving on to the second half.

Segment Two:

  • 90 seconds - your closing speed from segment one - 0% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 90 seconds - same speed - 3% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 60 seconds - 0.5 mph faster than the previous speed - 0% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 60 seconds - same speed - 3% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 30 seconds - 0.5 mph faster than the previous speed (your top speed) - 0% incline
  • 1-minute recovery (walk/jog, 0% incline)
  • 30 seconds - same speed - 3% incline

Finish with 3 minutes of cooldown, like walking.


chocolate chip protein cookie

Benefits of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT Workouts)

There are a ton of benefits to HIIT workouts, which is why they're so popular today. And even though it's a little less common to see people doing HIIT training on the treadmill, these benefits apply just the same to a treadmill HIIT workout like the one above.

Let’s take a look at the benefits now.

Fast Twitch Fibers

The first two letters of HIIT stand for “High Intensity”. That's why this workout is broken up into short bursts of intense exercise, where you're meant to sprint at high speed - unlike a brisk walk or a regular treadmill workout, which is generally longer and slower.

The big benefit of this is that it builds “fast twitch” muscle fibers (also known as type 2 muscle fibers). These are responsible for quick, explosive movements, and are amazing for sports performance, as well as translating to powerlifting and strength training.

After Burn Effects (Metabolism)

man doing mountain climbers

HIIT also boosts metabolism, which is great if you're trying to lose weight, burn fat, and/or lean out.

This means your body burns calories passively for some time after your workout. So, overall, you're going to get more fat loss from a great HIIT workout even though it is shorter.

Studies have shown an increase in metabolic rate after HIIT, compared to other forms of exercise, such as high-intensity resistance training. It’s also been shown that the boost in metabolism from HIIT can burn an additional 6-15% more calories, even after the exercise is over.

HIIT Treadmill Workouts Destroy Boredom

One of the most underrated benefits of HIIT is that it’s more fun and interesting.

It doesn’t matter how effective your workout is if you can’t get motivated to actually do it. That’s what the treadmill is for many people. If the plan is to run in the same place, at the same speed, for an hour, it’s easy to talk yourself out of the workout.

A HIIT treadmill workout shakes it up, and makes it interesting, which may make the difference as far as getting you motivated to show up at the gym.

Lower Impact

Finally, this HIIT-style workout is better for the joints than a regular long-distance treadmill run.

While there are certainly benefits for the cardiovascular system, regular treadmill running puts a lot of impact on the ankles, knees, and hips, causing long-lasting problems.

The B.I.T.E. method is specifically designed to provide less stress on these fragile joints, through shorter active periods as well as mixing in lower-impact incline work.

How Fast Should I Run for a Treadmill HIIT Workout?

running at high speed

How fast you run depends on your own fitness level. For one person, it'll be a lot different from the next, and that's completely fine. You can incorporate HIIT into beginner workouts!

For this HIIT treadmill workout, you’ll want to figure out the maximum speed you can maintain on the treadmill for a 30-second period. This could be 7mph, 11mph, for example - or any other number.

Once you’ve figured out your max speed, subtract 2mph from that. This is your starting speed. From here, you’ll go up in 0.5mph intervals until you finish the workout at your max level.

How Long Should I Do HIIT on a Treadmill For?

HIIT workouts are generally shorter than a regular workout - the idea is to increase the intensity of your workout to get more benefits in less time. That being said, it’s up to you how long your workout lasts.

Generally, you see HIIT workouts go for between 15-30 minutes. The example we showed above goes for 30 minutes (plus a little warmup time, which is important not to skip). This is a good baseline to work off of.

Is HIIT on a Treadmill Good for Weight Loss?

HIIT treadmill workouts are amazing for weight loss. Not only is the nature of the workout burning calories, but most HIIT workouts also help to stimulate the metabolism, resulting in your body continuing to burn calories even after the workout is over.

If you don't like treadmills, there's also bodyweight HIIT workouts that are great for getting toned and managing a healthy weight. 

What is the 12/3 30 Treadmill Workout?

The 12/3 30 workout is another treadmill workout variation that’s gaining popularity today.

With this workout, you get on the treadmill at a 12% incline, at 3mph speed, for 30 minutes.

There are a couple of similarities to the Good Cop/Bad Cop workout - mainly the overall length, and the use of an incline (moving uphill).

However, the overall focus is quite different, being more focused on long-term endurance and type 1 “slow-twitch” muscle fibers, rather than short bursts and fast-twitch fibers, like David Siik’s HIIT treadmill workout.

Still, it’s a great way to get active and work on both cardio and lower-body strength, with fewer of the common issues that stop people from doing a regular treadmill workout.

Proper Warmup Before Treadmill HIIT Workout

man rowing to warm up for a HIIT workout

We said a couple of times that it’s important to warm up before your HIIT workout.

If you jump straight in, running almost your max speed, you're bound to injure something. So definitely take the time to warm up prior to vigorous exercise.

How you do this is up to you. You could do a dynamic stretching routine to start with. Perhaps a short movement circuit, or a few bodyweight exercises.

Then it’s a good idea as well to do some light jogging. This will make sure the systems you’re about to use in the actual workout are warm, which puts them at less risk of injury.

You don’t need to do this for too long. Just a few minutes, until you feel warm and loose.

Hydration Before Treadmill HIIT Workout

The other thing you want to take care of before your workout is hydration.

When the workout starts, you’re not going to have much room to rehydrate. You can sip during the recovery periods, but you don’t want to be drinking too much, or else you’ll be uncomfortable when you go back to sprints.

It’s a great idea to rehydrate with electrolytes ahead of time. You’re going to sweat a lot from this workout, which means lost electrolytes. Preemptively topping up your electrolytes, with a sachet of our electrolytes powder, Nakedade, for example, will help you maintain proper electrolyte balance and give you the energy you need to get through the whole workout - good cop and bad cop.