Three Hill Workouts for the Treadmill

asweatlife_Three Hill Workouts for the Treadmill


(photo by Christiana Basso)

Earlier this week, I made a whole-hearted attempt to convince you to appreciate the treadmill with a post devoted to speed workouts you can do on the treadmill. And today, I’m here to follow up that attempt with more reasoning: hill workouts for the treadmill.

When I was training for the Chicago marathon, hills were the last thing on my mind. Chicago has a notoriously flat course, and since I was doing the majority of training in Chicago, incorporating hill workouts into my training just never occurred to me. This time around marathon training, however, I’m preparing for a marathon through the horse farms of Kentucky. Beautiful? Yes. Flat? Definitely not.

Luckily, the cold weather that’s driven me to run indoors four days out of the week has also helped me simulate some hills so that I’ll be more prepared for my marathon. Here are a few of the best hill workouts on a treadmill that I’ve encountered:

Before each workout, warm up for about a mile at a 0% incline.

Hill Workout #1

A descending pyramid workout where you maintain your speed, but not your incline.

Increase the incline to 1% for one minute, then increase the speed to 2% for one minute. Repeat this until you make your way up to a 6% incline, then work your way back down to 0%. In the same format, work your way up to 5% and back down, then 4%, 3%, 2%, and 1%. Maintain your speed throughout. Finish with a one minute sprint at 7% incline.


Hill Workout #2

Also known as 6/7s, from running coach Gary Silver.

90 seconds @ 6 percent grade and marathon pace
1-minute recovery @ flat jog
1 minute @ 7 percent grade and marathon pace
2-minute recovery @ flat jog

Repeat for 6-10 sets.


Hill Workout #3

Another pyramid workout that tests your aerobic endurance. Choose a speed that’s 70-75% of your max.

8 minutes at 2% incline
6 minutes at 3% incline
4 minutes at 4% incline
2 minutes at 6% incline
4 minutes at 4% incline
6 minutes at 3% incline
8 minutes at 2% incline

Can’t get enough hill workouts for the treadmill? Check out these workouts, which feature pyramids, hill intervals, and long climbs!

Endurance Move Workouts

About Kristen Geil

A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

2 thoughts on “Three Hill Workouts for the Treadmill

  1. Yesterday in class I had to run for 4 minutes at a 6% incline and I hated every minute of it. Today I did a tempo workout on the treadmill, but I will have to start mixing it up with some hills if I don’t want to die of boredom.

  2. also don’t forget Cass’s brilliant torturous idea of setting the treadmill to a 5K/10K sport workout- just tried that myself and it kicked my ass!

Comments are closed.