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Expression Desks Blog

What muscles do treadmills work? A Comprehensive Guide

by Bilal Aslam 13 Oct 2023 0 Comments

Treadmills are a popular choice for individuals looking to enhance their cardiovascular fitness and burn calories. However, beyond the cardiovascular benefits, treadmill workouts also engage various muscle groups in your body. In this extended article, we'll explore in-depth the muscles that come into play during treadmill workouts and how you can maximize your workout for better results.


Your quadriceps, located at the front of your thighs, are heavily engaged during treadmill workouts. They work hard to extend your knees as you take each step. To target your quadriceps, consider increasing the incline on the treadmill or incorporating interval sprints into your routine. Additionally, strengthening your quadriceps can contribute to better knee stability and reduce the risk of injury.


The hamstrings, situated at the back of your thighs, play a crucial role in controlling your stride and flexing your knees during the treadmill workout. To activate your hamstrings more, focus on longer strides and uphill running. Strong hamstrings can improve your overall running efficiency and reduce the risk of muscle imbalances.


Every time your foot pushes off the treadmill, your calf muscles come into action. You can further challenge your calves by increasing your running speed or the treadmill's incline. Well-developed calf muscles can enhance your running performance and help prevent common lower leg injuries.


Your glute muscles, found in your buttocks, are engaged when you run, particularly if you increase the incline or maintain a faster pace. For a more intense glute workout, you can perform hill intervals or incorporate uphill walking or running into your routine. Strong glutes not only boost your running power but also play a crucial role in overall lower body stability.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexor muscles, located at the front of your hips, are essential for lifting your legs and moving them forward with each stride. To engage your hip flexors, focus on exercises that mimic running, such as high knees or treadmill drills with exaggerated knee lifts. Flexible and strong hip flexors can improve your running form and reduce the risk of hip-related issues.

Core Muscles

While the primary focus of treadmill workouts is lower body conditioning, your core muscles play a critical role in stabilizing your body and maintaining balance. Engage your core by maintaining proper posture and avoiding excessive leaning on the handrails. You can also try core-specific exercises on the treadmill, like planking or mountain climbers. A strong core is essential for running efficiency and overall posture.

Tibialis Anterior

The tibialis anterior, located at the front of your lower leg, helps control your foot as it lands on the treadmill. This muscle is especially active during walking and jogging on the treadmill. Strengthening the tibialis anterior can aid in preventing shin splints and improve overall lower leg stability.

Adductors and Abductors

These inner and outer thigh muscles play a supporting role in controlling your leg movements and maintaining stability during treadmill workouts. A varied workout routine can help target these muscle groups more effectively. Strengthening these muscles can enhance lateral stability and reduce the risk of knee and hip injuries.

Treadmill workouts offer a versatile way to engage these muscle groups, and you can customize your routine to focus on specific areas or achieve an all-around workout. Here are some tips to make the most of your treadmill workouts:

  • Vary Your Speed: Adjusting your speed challenges different muscle groups. Slower speeds can focus on endurance, while faster speeds can engage your muscles more intensely.

  • Incline Matters: Adjust the incline to target specific muscles. A higher incline works your glutes and hamstrings, while a lower incline is better for quads and calves.

  • Interval Training: Incorporate interval training by alternating between high-intensity sprints and recovery periods. This not only enhances muscle engagement but also boosts your overall fitness.

  • Mix It Up: Combine running, walking, and occasional uphill jogging to work various muscle groups and reduce the risk of overuse injuries.


In conclusion, treadmill workouts provide a comprehensive workout that engages several key muscle groups in your body. By understanding which muscles are involved and tailoring your routine to target them, you can achieve better results and enjoy a more balanced and effective workout.

Remember to start at a comfortable level and gradually increase the intensity of your treadmill workouts to prevent overexertion and injury. Always consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns.

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