What speed to use on a treadmill to lose fat

Updated April 25, 2018

Walking, jogging, running and performing intervals on a treadmill are all effective ways to burn calories and lose weight. The length of each training session, the effort you expend and the consistency of your workouts are equally important factors in reaching and maintaining your weight loss goals. The treadmill speed you choose depends entirely on your fitness level.

Burning Calories

Half a kilogram (1lb) of fat equals about 3,500 calories, which means you need to burn7,000 more calories than you consume for each kilogram of fat you plan to lose. Exercising at the appropriate intensity for your fitness level is one way to lose weight while making the most of your time. According to, a 72kg (160lb) person who spends an hour on the treadmill walking at 5.5kph(3.5mph) burns approximately 277 calories. Jogging at 8kph(5mph), the same person burns about 584 calories. Running at 13kph (8mph) burns 986.


While burning more calories than you take in is the essence if weight loss, how to go about doing it is different for an overweight beginner than for an active exerciser who’d like to trim down a bit. This is because a de-conditioned body needs to build endurance first, training in lower heart rate zones to strengthen the body while shedding as much initial weight as possible. All consistent exercisers hit plateaus along the way and must adjust the intensity and duration of their workouts to continue seeing changes in their bodies.

Endurance Training

As a method for losing fat, very overweight to moderately overweight exercisers see the most benefit from endurance training. Working out in this zone means your heart rate is elevated to anywhere between 65 and 75 per cent of your maximum heart rate. You’re supplying enough oxygen to the muscles for the demands you’re placing upon them, so your body is able to use stored fat as a primary fuel. If you perform a talk-test at this level, you should be able to speak in full sentences, but singing would be a challenge. If you walk comfortably on the treadmill at 5kph (3mph), 5.5kph (3.5mph) may be enough to elevate your heart rate into the endurance zone.

Interval Training

As you become fit, endurance training can keep your weight in check and help prevent overtraining, but further weight loss may come slowly. Exercisers who initially lose fat must either lengthen their endurance workouts or increase their intensity to see continued results. Interval training takes your heart rate into the anaerobic zone for a set period of time, from 30 seconds to five minutes. These heart rate increases help develop a stronger heart and lean muscle, which increases metabolism and in turn burns extra calories. You can use the speed function on the treadmill to interval train from a walk to a jog, or from a jog to a run.

Increased Fitness

Someone who is very fit and no longer loses fat while regularly running for an hour on the treadmill at 13kph (8mph) very likely only needs to lose an extra kilogram or two.In such cases, performing incline intervals may be slightly more beneficial than speed intervals, because it presents a new challenge to the muscles. Weight training presents a similar benefit.

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About the Author

Based just outside Chicago, Meg Campbell has worked in the fitness industry since 1997. She’s been writing health-related articles since 2010, focusing primarily on diet and nutrition. Campbell divides her time between her hometown and Buenos Aires, Argentina.