It is a gym staple and, what is more, an ideal piece of equipment for improving your fitness and endurance: the treadmill. There are numerous different techniques you can adopt with this equipment. You can use it to boost your cardio and respiratory capacity, tone your body or even slim down. In this article, we give you some ideas for a performance-focused session designed for runners who already have a bit of experience on treadmills. If you have any doubts about whether you are able to run and do the vVO2max test described below, do not hesitate to seek a medical opinion.



The first stage of this programme involves testing your endurance and assessing your vVO2max. To do so, you might want to try the time trial field test which will help you estimate your vVO2max (velocity at maximal oxygen uptake)*. The aim? To run as far as you can in 6 minutes. The vVO2max* is an essential concept for improving your endurance and pacing your cardio training sessions correctly. It will serve as a reference for your different training sessions, particularly in the exercise we outline below.

In order to start this test, warm up on a treadmill for 10 minutes at a moderate pace. Then set your stopwatch for 6 minutes. Start at an average pace and gradually accelerate as much as you can so that you run as far as possible. Managing your pace is very important during this test; you should not start too slowly or quickly as you will risk messing up the results.

For beginners: if you have only just started exercising, you might want to assess your performance by doing this test at a walking pace. Simply do the exercise as we explained, but gradually increase the speed at which you are walking.

Once you have done the test, divide the distance you covered by 100 in order to get your vVO2max. Approximate vVO2max = distance in metres / 100. For example, if you ran 1245 metres, your vVO2max will be 12.45 km/h (rounded to 12.5 km/h). This result corresponds to the speed at which you should be able to run for 6 minutes.

Don't be afraid of refining this result during later vVO2max sessions. In fact, this time trial slightly underestimates your ability. You can try doing the test several times in order to adjust your score. For example, if the vVO2max you get from the first test is 10 km/h, do it again by starting off at 10km/h for 6 minutes. If you manage to maintain the 10km/h pace throughout the test, your vVO2max is correct. Otherwise, adjust it based on your new score.


This second part of your treadmill session involves an interval/incline exercise. Interval training is very good at improving your vVO2max. By alternating fast running based on your vVO2max with recovery periods, you will work at a higher intensity for longer (cumulative) than if you were working continuously at your vVO2max.

In order to do this interval exercise on a treadmill, you will use your vVO2max (which you worked out in the previous test). You may want to try using a heart rate monitor to assess and monitor your heart rate while you are exercising.
For beginners: you can do the same exercise while walking. Simply double the incline that we tell you to use below.

Start the training session with a 5-minute warm-up and 0% incline. This warm-up should be done at between 50 and 65% of your vVO2max, or at a pace where you feel comfortable. Next, follow this training plan:
- 2 mins at 0% incline          (80 - 85% vVO2max)
- 2 mins at 6% incline           (60 - 70% vVO2max)
- 2 mins at 8% incline           (55 - 65% vVO2max)
- Recovery: 2 mins at 0% incline   
Do 2 to 3 sets of this type, depending on your fitness.

This training session will be useful for testing your endurance. Don't be afraid to regularly redo the time trial test to adjust your vVO2max and work at the right pace in all of your cardio sessions. In order to improve your vVO2max, do an interval session at least once per week. Running at a pace close to your vVO2max will really help you improve.

* vVO2max, or velocity at maximal oxygen uptake, is the speed at which oxygen consumption is at its highest, that is, you have reached your VO2 max. Below this threshold, oxygen consumption increases with the intensity of your exercise and energy is provided by aerobic metabolism. Above this limit, oxygen consumption becomes constant and additional power is provided by anaerobic metabolism.