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What Muscles Do You Use on the Treadmill?

Perhaps you’re using your treadmill to lose weight or improve your cardiovascular capacity. Treadmills are one of the best pieces of equipment for that. However, you may not realize that the beneficial effect that treadmill workouts can have on your muscles themselves. Following is a rundown one some of main muscles you work and strengthen by running or walking on a treadmill.

Your Heart

The heart is perhaps  the most important muscle involved in cardiovascular exercise. That’s why they call it “cardio.” The heart really is a muscle and its strength contributes not just to overall health, but to the capacity of your other muscles as well. Regularly raising the heart rate both strengthens the heart for immediate use and improves its endurance. This then also improves the “vascular” part - blood flow -as well as the “aerobic” part – lungs. Your blood vessels and lungs may not be muscles, but their health depends partially on a strong heart.


The quadriceps are the large muscles on the front of the thighs. They are involved every time you straighten your leg or move your foot forward. They contribute to your thighs looking either strong or skinny.


You already know your calf muscles are on the back of your leg between the ankle and the knee. Calves are “tightly knit,” with many more muscle cells per area than bigger muscles. This allows them to withstand very high frequency, high repetitions use for prolonged periods. Calf muscles also tend to cramp, especially in older people. Strengthening and stretching them can help prevent these cramps.


The hamstrings are the muscles on the back of your thighs that bring your feet back toward your buttocks. The hamstrings are often overlooked, probably because you can’t see them! Yet they contribute a major portion of the force in your stride. Some people tend to “pull” or strain their hamstrings, but stretching can help prevent his. The latest thinking is that stretching after your workout is more effective than stretching before your workout.


Yes, that’s them. The muscles no one forgets the name of. They keep all the rest of things working well together. Did you notice that these muscles also look much better on people who run or walk a lot?

All the Rest

There are many smaller and less noticeable muscles that are also strengthened and toned by treadmill workouts. These include the adductors and abductors (inside and outside of upper legs) and the many muscles of the feet. Because these muscles are all worked in the natural motions of running and walking, they are exercised in exact proportion to what is needed by those movements. Therefore, the most important thing about them is to just move!



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