6 Strength Training Exercises You Can Do on a Treadmill

The treadmill has gotten a bad rap as that big ol’ hunk of gym equipment that everyone tries to avoid at all costs. But, contrary to what you’ve been taught, you can actually use it for way more than just running. In fact, a treadmill can be an amazing tool for low-impact cardio and strength training.

“If someone asks what machine they should get, I always recommend the treadmill,” explained Anna Kaiser, celebrity trainer and owner of AKT InMotion in Long Island, Connecticut and New York City. Not only can you use it to do that boring running thing, but you can easily combine it with body weight work to get a stellar, full-body workout.

Kaiser is getting ready to launch AKTread, a workout program centered around treadmill workouts. AKTread was born after Kaiser took on a personal training client who was missing so much cartilage in her knees that her doctor said she could never work out again. So she created a cardio workout that used the treadmill arms for support, allowing her client to train for over an hour at a time, with virtually no impact on her joints. “If you engage your core and your arms to help lower the impact, it’s awesome. You work your entire body,” she explained.

“Then, I went from just using it as a cardio workout to creating an interval workout that keeps it efficient. You don’t have to do the cardio on the treadmill and then go and grab weights, losing all of that time,” she said. By following Kaiser’s workout, you’ll hit your entire body, burning fat and building muscle, without ever needing to switch machines or pick up equipment.

1Up and Over

Photo by Alex Geana

Start walking on the treadmill at 3.5 mph with hands gripping on each handlebar. Lift your body into the air by putting all your weight on your arms, and straightening them completely. At the same time, move your legs in a running motion in the air, lifting knees as high as you can to your chest. Set your feet back down, take one step on the moving treadmill, and repeat the slow, controlled jumping motion with the opposite leg in front.

Repeat this movement for 60 seconds.

2Leg Lifts

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Turn off the treadmill and stand centered. Using your arms for support, sit back into a squat position, crossing your right leg underneath your left. Stand back up to center, lifting your right leg up so your foot is against the left knee.

Repeat 10 times on this side; switch sides and do 10 more reps.

READ MORE: 8 Exercises to Get Rid of Back Fat

3Mountain Climber

Photo by Alex Geana

With the machine switched off, put your arms on the front part of the treadmill with legs out behind you in a plank position. Then, slowly start running with your legs, moving the belt manually. If you start to speed up too fast, slow down your running to a more controlled, deliberate movement. Keep your tummy tight into your belly button, and be careful not to arch your lower back.

Do this for 60 seconds.


Photo by Alex Geana

Turn off the treadmill. Sit underneath the handlebars at the top of the belt, and reach arms up to hold on. Lift legs up into a table top position. Slowly twist your torso to the left and your legs to the right, so that your right leg is on the bottom and left is on top. Straighten out the right leg, and cross the left over it toward the right side of your body, forming an L shape. Hold your back and head steady, using the treadmill handles as support.

Switch sides and repeat, doing 15 on each side.

5Sitting Pull-Up

Photo by Alex Geana

With the treadmill switched off, sit underneath the handlebars at the top of the belt, and reach arms up to hold on. Bend knees and place your feet flat in front of you, shoulder-width apart. Using just your arms and abs, pull your entire body up toward the handlebars. Keep your tummy tight and be careful not to arch your back. Slowly lower back down the sitting position, controlling the movement completely with your arms.

Do 10 full pullups.


Photo by Alex Geana

Turn the treadmill off, and get into a plant position with feet on the machine and arms on the ground. In a slow, controlled motion, pull your legs in toward your head, keeping knees completely straight. Your butt should be high up in the air, arms straight in line with your neck. Make sure to maintain a flat back, without arching, like you would in a classic plank.

Repeat 8-10 times.

READ MORE: 7 Stretches You Should Do After Every Workout