What is the Best Treadmill for Interval Training?

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Nautilus T618 TreadmillInterval training is an exercise program that comprises of repetitive blocks of short interval high intensity exercise mixed with longer intervals of low intensity active recovery. It has become a very popular way for people to build lean muscle and lose weight without spending hours at a gym because it is more effective at burning fat than doing steady paced exercise for a long period of time. While interval training is more popular on spin bikes, outdoor running or with boot camp type programs, it can easily be done indoors on your treadmill too. While you can do interval training on a regular and inexpensive treadmill, the best treadmill for interval training will ideally include a few advanced features to make it more convenient.

Before we get into the features that you should look for on a treadmill, you should know that the intensity of training on a treadmill can depend any or both of two factors – speed and incline. An interval training program can include only varying speed between the high intensity and low intensity blocks of exercise, varying inclines at a single speed, or a combination of both. The goal is to increase your heart rate to 80-90% of your maximum rate for about 1 minute before decreasing it to a recovery rate for 3-4 minutes.

Some treadmills come with the ability to pre-program interval workouts, which can be useful if you don’t want to be bothered with manually altering speed and incline in the middle of the workout. We will show you how to set up interval training on a treadmill later on in this article, but first let’s look at the features an interval training treadmill should ideally have and the basic composition of an interval training program.


Choosing the Best Home Treadmill for Interval Training

  • Safety features
  • Safety is very important while doing interval training on a treadmill. Switching from fast running to a slow jog or walk can throw you off balance, you should have well placed hand rails to hold on to. The stationary side rails on either side of the moving belt should be wide enough and non-slip to allow you to hop off and straddle the belt if you want to briefly stop while you switch between speeds or inclines. The treadmill should definitely have a safety key that you should wear to stop the treadmill in case you do lose your balance.

  • Responsive controls
  • Even if the treadmill includes preset programs for interval workout training, you should be able to manually control speed and incline settings to accommodate your own fitness level and ability at any given time. However, it is not so easy to change settings on the fly when you’re running. That is why in addition to the normal increase and decrease buttons for each of these controls, you should have a few preset speed and incline settings programmed on big and easy to read buttons. These buttons should be well placed on the console in front of you, and ideally another set on a hand rail.

    When selecting a different speed or incline level, the treadmill should switch immediately and smoothly to avoid being thrown off your stride. Here are a few treadmills that have especially good incline systems.

  • Sturdy and comfortable deck
  • When doing the high intensity interval, you will be running full tilt and really pounding on the deck. Therefore, the deck and belt should be sturdy and durable enough to take the abuse. You should also be careful that your joints don’t suffer because of a hard deck, therefore decent deck cushioning and shock absorbers are important. If you’re especially concerned about joint problems, we have our best picks for cushioned treadmills here.


    Interval Training on a Treadmill for Weight Loss

    There is no best treadmill interval workout because you should design your own ideal program depending on your fitness level and ability. If you are a complete beginner to any sort of interval training, then you should start off with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase as you get better. Even doing this for just 30 minutes every other day should help you lose weight and build lean muscle faster than if you go for a constant speed medium jog for an hour everyday.

    To start off as a beginner, try to set aside 30 minutes for the entire workout, including warming up and cooling down. Warm up for about 8 minutes and then start your intervals. The workout is comprised of several cycles where each cycle includes a 1 minute or less all out run followed by a 2-3 minute recovery walk or light jog. If you do a 30 minute workout, you should be able to do around 5 such cycles. The number will increase as you get fitter. The 1 minute active period can be either your fastest sprint at 0% incline or a slightly lower speed but with a slight incline. However, don’t go beyond 1 minute for the intense part. End with a cooling down period.

    For more ideas on interval training workouts, take a look at what Shape Magazine recommends. Another machine that is very good for interval training, is a low impact option, and provides a more intense workout than a treadmill is a vertical climber.


    Compare the Best Interval Training Treadmills

    ProductRating (out of 5)Decline & Incline settingsSpeed Low-HighProgramsContinuous horse powerTread belt sizeDimensionsMax. User CapacityPrice
    Horizon Fitness Elite T74.40-15%0-12 mph422.75 chp20" x 60"77”L x 36”W x 60”H350 lbs$$$
    Nautilus T618

    4.70-15%0-12 mph263.5 chp20" x 60"72.5"L x 35"W x 57.5"H350 lbs$
    Xterra Fitness TR6.63.80-15%0-12 mph113.0 chp20" x 60"78.9"L x 35"W x 57.1"H350 lbs$
    ProForm PFTL13116 Pro 20003.6-3%-15%0-12 mph323.5 chp22" x 60"84"L x 25"W x 38"H350 lbs$$
    Sole F65 20174.00-15%0-12 mph103.25 chp22" x 60"82"L x 35"W x 57"H350 lbs$$$$


    Horizon Fitness Elite T7 Treadmill

    Horizon Fitness Elite T7 TreadmillThis treadmill is ideal for someone with looking for a low maintenance unit as there is no need to oil any parts at all. The Elite T7 folds up for easy storage, and its design makes it easy to move. It is also very quiet, which makes it well-suited to those who live in apartment complexes or in houses with others. Its motor is 2.75 CHP, so it is not especially powerful. However, the lower CHP is part of why this machine is so quiet. Like many standard treadmills, it goes up to 12 miles per hour.

    Interval training often involves bursts of hard running, and this model’s Variable Response Cushioning adapts to your foot strike to create the ideal level of support. While it can provide support for a variety of stride types, it has a user weight capacity of 350 pounds. Users can monitor heart rate in two different ways – by using the handgrips or by using the included Polar chest strap and receiver.

    This model has a much larger display than many treadmills, which makes it significantly easier to read while running. The display uses a blue LCD light. The controls, which are also fairly large, are located under the display in close proximity to the handgrips. The controls are color coded, which can make it easier to adjust while running. This feature is especially important when doing manual sprint intervals, as adjusting treadmill controls while sprinting tends to be very difficult.

    Users can manually adjust speed and incline for intervals, or they can use one of this treadmill’s 42 preset programs. These programs include distance, interval, and performance settings. For those who are interested in tracking, the included ViaFit technology sends workouts to fitness apps that you use. It is also Passport Ready for Virtual Active workouts. This treadmill is very affordable considering its variety of features, but very tall users may find that the handrails are a bit short and not easy to reach if you’re on a substantial incline.

    Get the Horizon Fitness Elite T7 here.


    Nautilus T618 Treadmill

    Nautilus T618 TreadmillIf you’re looking for good value, this is perhaps the best interval training treadmill. With intelligently-placed controls, a powerful but quiet motor, and multiple convenience features that make your workout easier, the Nautilus T618 can make your interval training experience a streamlined one.

    One thing that makes this treadmill especially well-suited to interval training is the inclusion of additional controls on the handrails. This makes it easier to adjust speed without having to reach forward to the front controls. For those who prefer to incorporate inclines into their training, the adjustable (up to 15%) incline offers a range of possibilities. The T618 also includes 26 preset workout programs, including interval training for those who prefer automatic adjustments. You can use the contact hand pulse heart rate monitoring, or you can use the included wireless heart rate tracker, making it even easier. The treadmill can reach 12 miles per hour.

    The T618 includes a larger accessory bar than most treadmills, and this allows you to keep water bottles, towels, and other accessories within easy reach. For those who prefer to have built-in entertainment while running, the integrated speakers and tablet stand are a plus. Like many modern treadmills, it also can sync your workout data to the Nautilus app or to other fitness apps such as MyFitnessPal. The Bluetooth connected RunSocial virtual training program also integrates to allow you to run scenic courses all around the world.

    Despite its range of features, this treadmill still can fold very easily for storage. It offers a wide belt for stability and it also includes a high-tech impact-lessening system. This system softens the impact when your foot strikes the front of the belt, and it also provides some spring to help launch your next step. The belt moves over large rollers, which is rare for treadmills designed for home use. These help extend the belt’s life and minimize noise. The 3.5 CHP motor is pretty powerful for a treadmill at this price.

    For safety, you can use the retractable cord or the large Stop button.

    While many customers report being happy with this model and the warranty on parts and electronics, one downside is a fairly short frame warranty. The company offers a 15-year frame warranty, and this is much shorter than the frame warranty on most other treadmills.

    Get the Nautilus T618 here.


    Xterra Fitness TR6.6 Treadmill

    Xterra Fitness TR6.6 TreadmillThis affordable model offers many features offered on higher-end models. With a 3.0 CHP motor, it’s less powerful than some other models, but it is especially quiet and the motor is backed by a lifetime warranty.

    For those who want a treadmill that offers a great value and is also optimized for interval training use, the TR6.6 is a good choice. This model has controls on the side handlebars as well as on the front of the machine. The front display uses a large blue LCD screen, making it easy to monitor time, speed, and other metrics. However, those who want a lot of preset programs may want to look elsewhere, as the TR6.6 only has 11 preset workouts. It goes up to 12 mph, which should be enough for most trainers. This model also features an audio jack where you can connect your mp3 player to the built-in speakers. For those who prefer to read while exercising, it also has a reading rack designed to give you the best reading angle.

    Despite its affordability, the TR6.6 offers a wide, cushioned belt that can help protect your joints on even the most challenging of interval sprints. Users can easily monitor their heart rate using hand grips or the included wireless heart rate monitor.

    While this treadmill can fold with lift-assist for storage and can be moved, it is quite heavy. Lastly, while the manufacturer specifies that this treadmill goes up to a 15 percent incline, a few users who have measured the incline have found that it is only about 11 degrees or so.

    Get the Xterra Fitness TR6.6 here.


    ProForm PFTL13116 Pro 2000 Treadmill

    ProForm PFTL13116 Pro 2000 TreadmillThis treadmill, while slightly more expensive than many, has several high-end features for those who want a quality, durable machine. One very unique feature is its capacity for downhill running. Most treadmills have flat and incline settings, but this one has flat, incline, and decline capabilities. This helps you more closely mimic the feeling of running outside and is great if you’re training for a marathon.

    This treadmill also offers 32 preset workouts for variety. It has the capability to connect with Google maps, and the incline will adjust automatically to match the topography. This feature can add interest for those who plan to log many hours running. If you prefer to connect your own media, this model has an input to connect and mp3 player to its speakers, and it also has a ledge for your tablet. However, it does not include controls on the handrails, which can make manual adjustments harder.

    This model features a 3.5 CHP motor, so it isn’t the most powerful, but it has more power than many lower-end models. This extra power is ideal for rigorous or long workouts and for heavier runners, although this model only has a 300 pound weight capacity. It has a wider track than most treadmills, which reduces the risk of tripping and accommodates a variety of stride lengths and body sizes, and the cushioning makes running very comfortable on the joints. It can reach a speed of 12 mph, which is suitable for most people. It also can be folded away easily and stored.

    While many users are satisfied with this treadmill, a few have reported receiving treadmills that do not work. ProForm offers 100 percent money back in these cases, but customers typically must cover return shipping unless bought from Amazon. Additionally, some customers have expressed frustration with what they have described as a slow response time from the company itself.

    Get the ProForm PFTL13116 Pro 2000 here.


    Sole F65 Exercise Treadmill 2017

    Sole F65 Exercise Treadmill 2017This treadmill has several high-tech features to simplify interval training. While it folds like many others, it automatically folds up when you flip a switch, which simplifies the process further. It has a higher-power motor than most treadmills in its price class, as its motor is 3.25 CHP.

    Users of this treadmill have the unique ability to use their smartphone or tablet to control the treadmill. This can make changing incline, speed, and other options simpler. It also allows you to send workout data to your preferred fitness apps. The F65 is optimal for use in interval training because it also includes speed and incline controls on handrails. The belt is cushioned and double-ply for a more comfortable run and for extended belt life.

    As with some other models, the F65 does not have a large variety of preset workouts. It includes 10 presets. However, you can create user profiles to save data and preferred programs. Users can monitor heart rate by holding the handrails or by using a wireless heart rate monitor. However, some users have complained that the handrails are excessively short, which can make exercisers feel less secure.

    When interval training inside, it helps to be able to access your water bottle and other accessories. This interval workout treadmill features a water bottle holder and a utility tray to keep these items within reach as you exercise. It also is Bluetooth compatible for those who want to connect devices to the treadmill’s existing speakers. As with many Sole treadmills, this one comes with a generous warranty: lifetime on the frame, three years on parts and electronics, and one year on labor.

    Get the Sole F65 2017 from Amazon or directly from Sole Fitness.


    How to Program a Treadmill for Interval Training

    If you get an interval running treadmill with preset programs, you have to first program your own details into the computer to be able to compute calories burned, etc. after each workout. This way you can focus on your workout and let the treadmill do the rest. This may take a few tries to figure out what settings work best for you but once a workout is programmed, you won’t waste time on it again.

    First select your desired program; in this case it may be the interval program or it can be manual, weight loss, or heart rate specific. If you select manual, you will have to select the speed and incline during the workout. This is useful if you prefer to control each workout you do, but the speed and incline buttons should be big and easy to reach.

    Then enter your body weight and age and then enter your total workout time. Now, if you selected a preset program, then select your maximum comfortable incline that you want to reach during the active period of the intervals now. Also select your maximum speed that you want to run at.

    Now you can start your workout and just focus on that if you selected a preset program, or you can hit the speed and incline buttons yourself if you selected the manual mode.


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