Deadmill Sprints: Everything About Sprints on a Motorless Treadmill

If you are looking for an incredible and challenging workout look no further. The hottest trend in fitness is to do deadmill sprints.

What Is a Deadmill?

A deadmill is a treadmill that is either turned off or non-operational. Because running on a treadmill that is not turned on can be bad for the equipment, some gyms have certain ones set aside just for this purpose. Crossfit type gyms are actually on the lookout for treadmills with a burned out motor so they can snag them cheap or free specifically for patrons to do deadmill sprints.

You can also purchase a non-motorized treadmill (NMT). These treadmills do not have a motor and the intention is for the runner to self-propel the track.

Advantages of a Non-Motorized Treadmill

There are distinct benefits to working out on a non-motorized treadmill. First, it is 100% muscle-powered. Your body is making the track move along. Because you are doing all of the propulsion, you are likely expending more calories than when running or walking on a motorized treadmill. It stands to reason: more work = more calories burned.

Another advantage is you do not need electricity. You can put your NMT anywhere you want, even in a garage without electricity. With an NMT you have no worries about what wall it goes on in your workout space. No electricity required!

running on deadmill

Deadmills are also environmentally friendly for two reasons. first, you are not using electricity. Second, you may be keeping a no longer working electric treadmill from landing in the landfill. Think of it as upcycling!

Basic flat tracked non-motorized treadmills are less expensive than the motorized counterparts. Simply referred to as deadfalls, these pieces of equipment can often be procured cheap or free and if you have the space to store one, you may find you love having it!

Now if you’re looking at a curved treadmill without a motor, those are another story entirely. The latest thing in fitness equipment, those are a big budget item.

What Is a Deadmill Sprint?

Just what it sounds like, a deadmill sprint is when you run hard for a short duration of time on an NMT.  A high-intensity interval training workout, deadmill sprints will tax your body and challenge your cardiovascular system. You can do these on a motherless treadmill or on one that is simply not turned on. The choice is yours.

When contemplating the physical benefits of deadmill sprints, there are so many. First, you are sure to get your heart rate up. Anytime you are able to do that, you are winning.

Deadmill sprints are going to work your legs, in particular hamstrings and glutes, more than a regular treadmill workout.

Deadmill Workouts

It is important to note that before beginning any deadmill workout you should properly warm up your body. This includes five to ten minutes of warm-up including some dynamic movement. I am especially fond of easy jogging, cycling or using the elliptical prior to performing my active movement drills and stretches.

Deadmill Sprints

For a first attempt at deadmill sprints, try this. First, warm up appropriately. You know your body. Do your thing like you would do before speed work on the track.

  • Step onto the deadmill
  • Lean forward and hang onto the front bar of the mill
  • Leaning forward, push hard and run with your legs, moving as fast as you can for 10-15 seconds
  • Rest by standing still or walking around :30 – :45 seconds.
  • Repeat 8 times

Deadmill Workout #2

  • 15-20 seconds deadmill sprint
  • 30 seconds rest
  • Repeat 8 times

Advanced Deadmills

  • 20 seconds sprint
  • 20 seconds rest
  • repeat 8-10 times

10 Minutes Walk to Sprint

This workout is a challenging pyramid type workout. If you can’t get through the entire 4 minutes of work at the set intensity, rest a couple of minutes longer. The goal is to do this twice through to completion, progressively getting faster the 4 minutes.

  • 1-minute easy walk
  • 1-minute brisk walk
  • 1 minute at 60-75%
  • 1-minute sprint
  • 1-minute absolute rest
  • Repeat

Full Body Deadmill Circuit

  • 2-minute walk on deadmill
  • 10 pushups
  • 10 sit-ups
  • 20 bodyweight squats
  • 2 minute walk on deadmill
  • 20 pushups
  • :60 second plank
  • 15 tricep drops with kettlebell
  • :30 second sprint on deadmill
  • 20 lunges each side
  • 30 Russian twists
  • 20 squats with a kettlebell
  • :30 second sprint on deadmill

Making It More Challenging

There are some ways to make deadmill sprints more challenging.

  1. Increase your sprint time and decrease your rest time.
  2. Add more intervals
  3. Increase the incline

How Many Calories Do Deadmill Sprints Burn?

There is a lot of debate on how many calories deadmill sprints burn, and it is important to realize that as with any exercise, calories burned vary by individual. The amount of calories expended during any given activity is dependent on many variables. For example, a 175-pound person will expend more calories running three 10 minute miles than a 120-pound person.

deadmill sprint workouts

Having said that, fitness experts agree that you can burn as many calories in a 15-minute deadmill sprint workout as you can running at an easy, continuous state for 30 minutes. What that means is that even though we can’t tell you exactly how many calories you will burn doing one of the above workouts, we can promise you that the workout is worth your time and energy.

HIIT workouts give you more bang for your buck than any workout when you are in a continuous state of work the entire time you are exercising.

Give It a Try!

If you are looking for a challenging HIIT workout that will end with you feeling stronger and like you can conquer the world, try deadmill sprints.


Word of Caution

Just in case you skip certain sections of the blog and jump to those that interest you most, I will repeat the earlier warning: deadmill sprints on a treadmill can be very bad for the machine. Some gyms even have rules against it to protect their investments. It can cause the track to jump out of alignment and is bad for the motor. If you have shelled out a decent chunk of change for your treadmill, just a word of caution. However, if your machine is old, on its last leg and/or only good for walking, have at it. 

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