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Are Deadmills Bad For The Treadmill? Here’s Our Answer

Are Deadmills Bad For The Treadmill? Here's Our Answer

Will Deadmills Break My Treadmill?

If you are looking for some ways to have a more challenging workout on your treadmill, you might come across a deadmill workout. 

A deadmill workout is effectively a high-intensity interval training workout that requires you to sprint on the belt of your treadmill while it is turned off. 

This brings the question, could doing a deadmill sprint on your treadmill potentially damage it? Well, this is 50/50, but a deadmill sprint on the belt with the motor off might strain the motor or cause misalignment of the belt. 

To find out more about deadmill sprint workouts on your treadmill, the benefits of them doing them, how to do them and example workouts to try, we have put together a guide below with all the details you need to know. 

What Is a Deadmill? 

Before can get on to learning more about deadmills let’s start with what they actually are, as the term can be pretty confusing if you are a beginner. 

A deadmill as we mentioned above, is sprinting on the belt of your treadmill while the motor is turned off, this workout aims to move the belt of your machine the entire time with just human force, typically for around 30 seconds.

Deadmills are often performed on an old treadmill or a non-motorised model in intervals. 

This works your hamstrings and glute muscles even harder than a regular treadmill workout and is great for fat burning. Deadmills are a great way to push your body out of its comfort zone and build cardiovascular endurance too. 

When Not To Do a Deadmill Sprint On The Treadmill

If you have joint issues in your legs and need to avoid doing high-impact exercise then we would suggest sticking to a typical treadmill workout and giving deadmills a miss as pushing the belt of the treadmill yourself without a motor can be taxing to say the least on your lower body. 

Beginners who are new to treadmill should introduce deadmills at a later point till they get used to the machine too otherwise this harsh exercise could potentially cause injury. 

We also recommend not doing deadmills on a treadmill that is new or that you care about, as putting stress on the motor of a machine like this will affect its overall lifespan and there is a 50/50 chance you could damage the machine, instead use an old treadmill or a non-motorised model. 

How To Do a Deadmill Sprint & How Many Calories Do They Burn? 

Now we know what deadmill sprints are on a treadmill and when to give them a miss, we will get into how to do them and just how many calories you could burn by performing them as part of your exercise. 

To do a deadmill workout on a treadmill, simply turn the machine off, rest your front body and lower legs/arms against the front of the machine then start to turn the belt with the force of your legs, gain momentum and sprint as many times as you can until rest time, then repeat. 

You can make deadmills even harder if you are advanced by extending the sprint time, making rest time shorter or upping the incline of the treadmill before you turn it off to increase lower body burn and do your sprints uphill. 

Calories burned by deadmill sprints will be determined by different factors such as the duration of time you are sprinting for and your weight, for example, a 175-pound person might burn more calories than a 125-pound person would. 

Benefits Of Deadmill Sprint Workouts

Although deadmill sprints might not be the best type of workout to try on your treadmill for its motor, there are a lot of personal benefits you can receive by adding them into your daily workout routine. 

We have listed out a few benefits of doing deadmill sprint workouts below. 

  • They can aid weight loss – There is no question that deadmills can torch a lot of calories in a short time, and when combined with a healthy diet, they can help you shed unwanted pounds. 
  • Great finishers – Doing a couple of deadmills at the end of your treadmill workout is a great way to finish a session and keep your heart rate up towards the end of a workout. 
  • Build endurance – Deadmills are a form of high-impact cardio and over time will build up your endurance, especially if you keep extending the sprinting time to push yourself further. 
  • Develop lower body strength – Your lower body is highly engaged during deadmills and performing them regularly can help build and tone muscles in your hamstrings, calves and even glutes if you do them in an incline setting. 
  • They are environmentally friendly – Deadmills don’t require any electricity and are a great way to put old treadmills to use again rather than throwing them away!
  • You can push yourself – You often don’t know how much 100% effort is till you try, and deadmills are perfect as they require you to push yourself to the limit and see just how much endurance you have. 

Best Beginner Deadmill Workout 

If you have decided that you want to try out a deadmill workout on an old treadmill or non-motorised model, we have a great beginner workout for you to try out below that will get you started. 

  • Step one – Turn off your treadmill and lean forward on the device with your hands and the front of your body. 
  • Step two – Run as hard as you can for 15 seconds, turning the belt with your legs, then stand and walk for 40 seconds. 
  • Step three – Repeat six times or as many reps as you can till you are tired. 

Workout Two 

  • Step One – Turn off the treadmill as above then lean forward. 
  • Step Two – Sprint for 30 seconds then walk for 30. 
  • Step Three – Repeat 8 times total.

Frequently Asked Questions About Deadmills & Treadmills 

Can I do a full-body workout with deadmills? 

Yes, if you are more advanced you can try out a full-body workout using deadmills on your treadmill, this could be by integrating bodyweight exercises off the treadmill such as push-ups then jumping back on to perform deadmills. 

Do deadmills hurt the motor of my treadmill? 

Deadmills will inevitably put some stress on the motor of your treadmill as the belt is being turned while it is disabled, this could in the long run shorten its lifespan or even damage it. 

Can I do deadmills as a beginner? 

We would recommend growing your fitness level before jumping into deadmills as they are extremely taxing on the body and need a lot of endurance, you can try with our beginner workouts above to ease yourself into them. 

Will deadmills help with muscle growth? 

Yes, deadmills give you a great lower body workout and can help develop/tone muscles such as your hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves. 

How do I keep the incline on my treadmill when turning it off to do deadmills? 

If the incline on your treadmill automatically lowers when you switch it off then you can just unplug the machine straight from the wall instead. 

Can I do deadmills at the gym? 

Before trying out deadmills on gym equipment it is best to get permission from the gym first, as they could potentially damage the treadmill machine and many gyms have banned them because of this. 

Are deadmills a form of HIIT? 

Yes, technically deadmills are a form of HIIT as you are doing high-intensity intervals of sprinting and walking while the machine is off which gets your heart rate up quickly. 

Last Words 

Overall, deadmills should be avoided on brand new treadmills which you care about, as they can hurt the motor of the machine potentially and also cause the belt to become out of position. 

Instead, try out deadmills on non-motorised treadmills or old treadmills where it doesn’t matter if the motor gets damaged or not. Always be careful doing deadmills as a beginner or if you have joint problems as this exercise can be very intense on the lower body. 


Randy Lucas

Randy here - Fitness enthusiast and avid runner - besides running I also love playing with my two German Shepherds Peter and Bruce - oh and I love cooking. I am the Webmaster over at where I ramble about all things fitness in an effort to make the world a healthier place.