4-Week Treadmill Training Plan

Shana Verstegen
by Shana Verstegen
Share it:
4-Week Treadmill Training Plan

Whatever your feelings are regarding the treadmill, there are many benefits and great workout options for this calorie-torching piece of equipment. This treadmill training plan takes advantage of these benefits.

Here are six good reasons to spend at least some of your cardiovascular workouts on the treadmill:

  1. Reduced impact on joints compared to pounding the pavement.
  2. Constant feedback for speed, incline, distance and heart rate.
  3. The ability to quickly manipulate your speed and incline.
  4. Predictable surface. No worries about potholes or black ice!
  5. The “biggest bang for your buck” in terms of cardiovascular machine calorie burn.
  6. You don’t have to run. Walking is a fantastic workout option on the treadmill.

Here is how to navigate the Level 1-10 Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale:

This specific 4-week treadmill training plan accommodates all levels, from walkers to the high-level endurance athlete by using your rating of perceived exertion rather than speed. In other words, if you don’t run, you don’t have to. You can get a very challenging workout simply by manipulating the incline and walking fast.

Spend 5 minutes warming up by walking on the treadmill at a zero incline before beginning your “challenge” interval each day. Listen to your body and adjust your speed accordingly.

4-Week Treadmill Training Plan

Originally published February 2019, updated January 2023

Ready to take the next step? Unlock MyFitnessPal Premium to access custom goal settings, quick-log recipes, and guided plans from a registered dietitian. Premium users are 65% more likely to reach their weight loss goals!

About the Author

Shana Verstegen
Shana Verstegen

Shana is a TRX and American Council on exercise master instructor and a six-time world champion lumberjack athlete. She holds a degree in Kinesiology
- Exercise Science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and is a certified personal trainer through ACE, NASM and NFPT. An energetic and personable speaker, she is also the National spokesperson for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.


15 responses to “4-Week Treadmill Training Plan”

  1. Avatar Trinity Ann says:

    When they say level 5 is that 5 miles per hour setting on the treadmill?

    • Avatar Kathi says:

      Level 5 is from the RPE chart (the bright colored one). You are supposed to adjust the speed on your treadmill until you are at a level 5 of exertion. Because each person is at a different fitness level the speed will vary from person to person. So later when they talk about level 3 and level 7 they are referring to the colored RPE chart.

  2. Avatar Sherri says:

    Please clarify, other commenter has same question… speed Level 5 on my gyms’ and my own treadmill is NOT a walk. It’s a jog. Level 7,8,9??? That’s a full out run. Try again, start with level 3… 3,4,5 are slow, medium, fast pace WALKS. Or, Do you mean Perceived EXERTION level 5, possibly? Please clarify.

  3. Avatar Melanie says:

    It never states what the speed is. Week 2 defines the time added from week 1 but no actual speed. I never walk at a speed 5 on my treadmill. That’s a run for me.

  4. Avatar TheEternalGremmie says:

    It’s actually very simple:
    1) Raise your level of exertion to the point that you forget your own name, then
    2) Do math

  5. Avatar Ema Seijas says:

    To all the confused people: the levels are subjective to your fitness levels. The colored chart details what each level should feel like *to you*. It’s not 5mph. For me, a level 5 would be somewhere around 3-3.5 mph.

    By week 2, you should know your levels pretty well. It adds in incline in a percentage. That IS NOT subjective, that is controlled by the treadmill.

    Hope this helps.

    • Avatar StLSeaWorldGirl says:

      Thank you, that was very helpful! 😀

      Now, if I can just figure out how to adjust the incline on my machine…

  6. Avatar Neverthelessshepersisted says:

    OMG! Why do I even read these? Thank you captain obvious!

  7. Avatar Joe says:

    I wish it was easy to program the gym treadmills to vary speed by a specific allotted time instead of manually messing around with the controls.

    Also, I’m surprised this article doesn’t suggest to do a cool-down at the end of your treadmill session.

    • Avatar Justice League says:

      i agree 100% with the affecting the controls issue. when i push my self to go faster for a cpl mins then need to slow it down, i sometimes freak out a little trying to smack at the control pad. there have been instances where i pulled the emergency cord to stop the machine. there has to be a better way!

  8. Avatar Simona Suozzo says:

    It would be useful to match the RPE with the heart rate level.

  9. Avatar Mario Persico says:

    The Confusion Continues…I get the Rate of Perceived Exertion, I get the incline, I get the time in minutes, but what the heck does the numbered columns 1-7 across the top mean? Anyone??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.