Find out how you can combine high intensity interval training while using your treadmill desk for computer work.

I have done interval training while doing computer work on my treadmill desk, and I’m going to explain how HIIT is possible on this device while doing computer activity.

I’m a personal trainer and often have clients doing HIIT at the gym. HIIT consists of very brief bursts of all-out, or nearly all-out, effort.

HIIT and a Treadmill Desk

“Interval training” (not the high intensity kind) consists of brief efforts of a moderate level to a medium-high level.

If you’re in pretty good shape, the limited speed on a treadmill desk (usually they only go up to 4 mph) will prevent actual HIIT, but you’ll still be able to do “interval training.”

However, many people find that walking just 3 mph at 15 percent incline (without holding onto the machine) is exhausting within 30 seconds.

Some will find that it’s impossible to walk for longer than 30 seconds, at 15 percent incline, even at only 2.5 mph.

DO NOT HOLD ON during the work intervals, whether they’re in the HIIT range or “interval training” range.

How to do HIIT on a Treadmill Desk

Whether you can achieve a HIIT range or only an interval training range, here is what you do:

Set the machine at the highest incline (hopefully, your treadmill desk goes up to 15 percent).

Set the speed at slow enough where you can actually do computer work. This can be anywhere from one-half mph to 1.5 mph, depending on your fitness level and what kind of computer work you’re doing.

Every time the clock’s minute time on your computer (after you’ve warmed up) hits a multiple of five, increase the speed.

For example, at 1:35, increase the speed; at 1:40, increase the speed, at 1:45, and so on. If your fitness level means that you can exhaust yourself within 30 seconds with the treadmill desk’s highest speed or slower, then set that speed.

For example, at 1:35, go from 0.8 mph to 2.5 mph. If 2.5 mph doesn’t leave you heaving at the end of 30 seconds, then go faster.

Fitter people will find that at 4 mph, they can still walk for longer than 30 seconds. They’ll have to settle for “interval training.”

When it’s time to increase the speed, you stop doing your computer work. Focus on the interval work, and keep track of time lapse, because it’s supposed to be for 30 seconds.

If you’re able to do any computer work during the interval segment, you’re not going fast enough! The segment should be too difficult to even read about Rihanna being dopey enough to get back together with Chris Brown.

If you catch yourself continuing to read celebrity gossip or e-mails while doing your work interval, the speed is not fast enough.

Furthermore, keep your hands off the machine. There is no reason whatsoever to clutch onto the rails or anywhere else on the treadmill desk while performing the work interval. Otherwise, you defeat the entire purpose!

In fact, do not hold on even during the recovery segment. If your arms/hands must make contact with the unit in order for you to use the keyboard or mouse, that’s perfectly fine. But when you can swing the arms, you swing them.

At 1:35 and 30 seconds, return the speed back to 0.8 mph or whatever your baseline is.

NOW you can return to reading about Rihanna or some other over-rated recording artist, checking your e-mails, composing e-mails or whatever computer tasks you were doing.

At 1:40, again crank up the speed and abandon computer activity for 30 seconds to concentrate on the walking.

If keeping track of when 30 seconds are up is too tedious, then do one-minute intervals. However, a one-minute interval, technically, does not qualify as HIIT.

Nevertheless, a one-minute interval that’s challenging will induce a great training effect.

Again, if you can perform computer tasks, even if it’s just reading and no keyboard/mouse activity, during that work interval, you’re not going fast enough.

I don’t recommend jogging for the training interval because a treadmill desk is not designed for jogging, and you don’t want to risk damaging the machine.

Do eight to 12 training intervals, with the baseline walking in between (during which you’re doing computer tasks).

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.