Treadmill Hill Repeat Workout

I did a fun (in a challenging sort of way) treadmill workout yesterday that I wanted to share with you guys. It was so much fun that I really couldn’t wait until the end of the week to share it. You constantly change the incline and the speed throughout the workout and that really makes the time fly by.

My schedule called for 12 X 400 meter hill repeats. Hill repeats build leg strength and improve your stride power and running economy. Typically I would say that hill repeats are my least favorite of all workouts (because they are so darn tough). I don’t consider myself a strong hill runner at all, but today I had a great hill repeat workout and I already feel stronger. Ha.

I’ve done these outside in the past, but I was more in the mood for a treadmill run yesterday, so treadmill it was. The treadmill is actually a great option for hill repeats!

The goal is to push hard up the hill and to recover down the hill (or flat in the case of the treadmill). I alternated between 6% incline for my hill and 1% for flat. I was supposed to use 5% and 0%, but our treadmill is on a porch that is basically slanting downward already so I always bump it up a notch for good measure. On normal, flat runs I set the incline to 2% (just FYI).

Anyways. Going into the workout, I didn’t have a specific plan as far as the pace goes. I was just planning to push myself and I ended up with what I feel like is a pretty cool workout idea … hence the post about it.

I started out with a two mile warm up. This should just be done at a very easy, conversational pace.

For the first repeat, adjust the incline to 5% (or 6% if you, too, live in a slanted house) add 2 mph to your warm up pace. Run 400 meters (0.25 miles). Adjust the incline back down to 0 (or 1%) and subtract 2 mph (so back to your warm up pace) and recover for 400 meters.

For the second through twelfth repeats, you will basically do the same thing, but add 0.1 mph to your pace each repeat.

I also ended with a two mile cool down. My total workout was 10 miles (obviously you can shorten this).

Hopefully that made sense. You can use the chart below as an example, based on my workout.


Just a few tips …

It takes the treadmill a couple of seconds to adjust to the incline and speed that you set it to, so I always start adjusting the incline and speed when I get to 0.20 of my recovery quarter. By doing this you can ensure that you don’t accidentally “cheat” the hill portion of the workout. That would be quite tragic!

Make sure that you start conservatively. The first few repeats shouldn’t feel extremely difficult, but by the end you will be working (trust me). This is good practice for pacing yourself in a race. Start conservatively so that you can finish strong!

You can easily modify this workout to fit whatever paces and distance that you need. For example, you could cut it in half by doing a one mile warm up, six repeats and a one mile cool down for a total workout of 5 miles.

Hill repeats: love them or hate them? Will you try this workout? If you do, let me know how it goes!

7 thoughts on “Treadmill Hill Repeat Workout”

  1. I like your idea for a workout! I saw it on strava but obviously not all those details. I should probably do more hill repeats on a treadmill since we don’t have hills here and I was already doing so many treadmill speed workouts. One other plus is that recovering from ITBS, running downhill can trigger it, and on a treadmill doing hill repeats, I would not have that possibility.


  2. This looks like such fun. I love workouts with a lot of variety and you’re right- they go by so much quicker. And since you said you generally weren’t a fan of hill workouts, this approach got you through feeling good and gave you a new challenging. I did hill repeats yesterday outside, and I had a nice tailwind helping me along!


    1. Variety is totally the key when it comes to an indoor workout! I’m impressed that you can do/don’t mind hill repeats outside. I think I have a mental block against them, even though I know they are super beneficial!


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