I’ve always hated running on treadmills. From the moment I watched a gym buddy go flying off the back of one over 20 years ago (and seriously injure himself), I’ve done my absolute best to avoid them, preferring to run in the great outdoors instead, or use one of the best rowing machines or exercise bikes to get my cardio fix.
In fact, I’ve only been on a treadmill once in the last two decades - when I needed gait analysis to help me find my perfect running shoes - and my phobia is so strong that I’ve even turned down opportunities to review the best folding treadmills for T3, even though I had been offered the opportunity many times.
In the past, I’ve justified this behaviour by telling myself it’s so much better for my mental health and motivation to run outside, breathe in the fresh air, explore new routes, and see some greenery. And I can honestly say I’ve never felt like I was missing out on the benefits of treadmill running once. Indeed, I used to pity people for running on a treadmill like a hamster on a wheel.
That is until I went down a TikTok rabbit hole a few weeks ago and came across a treadmill workout that had me questioning everything I felt about treadmills. Incredibly, once I’d seen it, I was on a treadmill and enjoying the benefits of this amazing workout the very next day. So, how did it help me get over hatred of treadmills? Read on to find out.
Why are treadmill workouts so popular?
Walking treadmill workouts have been riding high on TikTok for the last couple of years, and the surge in interest is partly down to the creation of the ‘12-3-30 workout’ by Lauren Giraldo (see below), which saw her set her treadmill to a 12 per cent incline and walk at a pace of 3 miles per hour for 30 minutes - and lose a lot of weight in the process by doing it consistently.
Having gone viral, the 12-3-30 workout came out on top in a 2023 global fitness trends report by PureGym (it came second in the UK overall, along with incline walking at number five), with a whopping 308 per cent spike in online searches year-on-year.
But why have treadmill workouts become so popular? Well, one of the obvious advantages of treadmill workouts is that you can walk or run indoors, be that at the gym or at home, so you never have to put up with soggy kit and trainers from running in the rain – and you’ll never need to think about the safety risks of running in the dark during the winter months.
Then there’s the cardiovascular benefits themselves, which can help you to lose weight, improve your endurance, maintain bone density and muscle mass (running is a weight-bearing activity, don’t you know,) and boost heart health. Not to mention that running on a treadmill for 20-30 minutes a day can also offset the negative effects of sitting.
But one of the best things about treadmills, aside from all the pre-programmed workouts they have, is that you can play with a range of settings to adjust the incline and pace so you can tweak your speed and distance goals. And that’s where the new flurry of viral treadmill running workouts comes into play.
I tried a TikTok treadmill workout – here’s what happened
So, there I was, lying on my bed and mindlessly scrolling through my #ForYouPage on TikTok (feeling totally unmotivated to do anything physical), when I came across the below video of a walk-to-run treadmill workout set to a Beyonce playlist.
To say my imagination and motivation were captured would be an understatement. The video hooked me in the first three seconds by kicking off with a song that’s always guaranteed to get me on the dancefloor and start singing my heart out – Love on Top - and from there it just got better and better, while the BPM (beats per minute) steadily picked up the pace to tracks like Crazy in Love, Single Ladies, Naughty Girl, and Run the World (Girls).
Aside from the banging tunes, the workout also made a lot of sense to me because you have to turn up the pace on the treadmill ever so slightly by around 0.1 mph (or 0.2 km) each time the song changes on the playlist.
But more than that, I could just tell that the playlist would help to distract me from my fear of running on a treadmill and carry me along in the process. Without further ado, I headed to the creator’s Linktree in her bio, found the playlist (which you can play through Spotify), and went to the gym the very next day feeling excited to try the workout rather than nervous.
Considering the workout is an hour long, I can honesty say the time flew by. I didn’t miss the outside world with its fresh air and greenery, and I didn’t mind the lack of potholes or dogs that often like to trip me up when I’m in my local park, either.
I felt totally motivated to run (no mean feat!), ran for longer than I usually tend to, and my fears of falling off the treadmill melted away pretty quickly. After stumbling upon the creator’s host of other treadmill running playlists, I also feel much more confident that I’ll keep up my running this winter, rather than confining it to the summer months as I usually do.
And if you’re not a Beyonce fan, or a pop music fan for that matter, fear not. Just search #treadmillworkout on TikTok and you’ll discover a variety of creators putting together other playlists that cover everything from soft rock and metal and everything in between. See you on the treadmill!