Best Cardio Workouts

Burn 2,000 Calories on the Treadmill

Stay slim on your treadmill all season with this 7-day plan from Jenny Hadfield, author of Running for Mortals.

Monday

Power walk: 30 minutes

Strength-train: 20 minutes

Total: 50 minutes

Tuesday

Warm up: Walk easily, then briskly: 3 minutes

Power walk: 2 minutes

Run fast (but don’t sprint): 2 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2: 10 times

Cool down: Walk easily: 2 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Wednesday

Warm up: Walk easily: 5 minutes

Do your favorite strength-training move: 12 reps

Power walk at 4% to 6% incline: 3 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2: 6 times

Cool down: Walk easily: 5 minutes

Total: 40 minutes

Thursday

Warm up: Walk easily, then briskly: 3 minutes
Power walk: 2 minutes

Run fast (but don’t sprint): 2 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2: 6 times

Cool down: Walk easily: 3 minutes

Total: 30 minutes

Friday

Repeat Monday’s routine

Saturday

Warm up: Walk easily, then briskly: 5 minutes

Power walk: 2 minutes

Run fast (but don’t sprint): 4 minutes

Repeat Steps 1 & 2: 6 times

Cool Down: Walk easily: 4 minutes

Total: 45 minutes

Sunday

Rest



Get Your Best Body Ever: Cardio Countdown

Total time: 35 minutes

Do the speed bursts here at the fastest pace you can safely maintain (power walking, running, cycling, using the elliptical or stairclimber) for the given duration. Then blast off with short, all-out sprints. Warm up for 5 minutes.

Speed Burst Easy-Pace Recovery
4 minutes 4 minutes
3 minutes 3 minutes
2 minutes 2 minutes
1 minute 1 minute
Blast off!
Speed Burst Easy-Pace Recovery      
30 seconds  1 minute
30 seconds  1 minute
30 seconds  1 minute
30 seconds  1 minute

Cool down for 4 minutes.

Trainer’s tip
Because the highest-intensity intervals are toward the end of the workout, if you run out of energy, do not attempt your max sprint in the “Blast off!” portion. Instead, replace those sprints with a peppy pace.




Get Your Best Body Ever: Quickie Cardio

Total time: 16 (advanced) to 29 (beginner) minutes
It’s easy: Speed up for the number of seconds listed for your level, then go at an easy pace for a minute or two to recover. Repeat 8 times for a complete cardio session.

Warm up for 5 minutes: 3 minutes light walk or jog > 30 seconds at half effort > 30 seconds light walk or jog > 30 seconds at 75 percent of maximum effort > 30 seconds light walk or jog

Choose one of the levels below and repeat 8 times to complete your session.

Level           Sprint          Recovery
Beginner 60-second jog 120-second walk
Intermediate 30-second sprint 60- to 90-second walk
Advanced 20-second all-out 60-second walk

Trainer’s tip
If you’re using a treadmill, there’s a lag of 5 to 10 seconds that it takes the belt to reach your target speed. So the sprint time starts when the belt actually hits your selected MPH, and the recovery starts once the belt returns to a walk speed.






Get Your Best Body Ever: The Reverse Cardio Workout

Start out faster than normal (power walk, run, cycle, use the elliptical or stairclimber at a challenging level) and slow down every 3 minutes until you hit an easy pace. The intensity levels listed are on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is lounging and 10 is an all-out sprint; an 8.5, for example, is 85 percent of your maximum effort. The key is to find your starting speed. If you start out too fast and get fatigued, slow down to recover, then pick up where you left off when ready.

Warm up for 5 minutes.

Intensity level (on a scale of 1 to 10)          Time
8.5 3 minutes
8 3 minutes
7.5 3 minutes
7 3 minutes
6.5 3 minutes
6 3 minutes
5.5 3 minutes
5 3 minutes

Cool down for 5 minutes.




60-Minute Cycling Hill Workout

Don’t just coast — make your next ride a fitness experience with this strength- and stamina-building workout designed by Lance Leener, a cycling and triathlon coach at TriLife in New York City.

  • Find a hill that takes about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to climb. Warm up for 15 minutes, moderate effort (RPE 5).
  • Hill climb 1: Stay seated, use moderate resistance (RPE 6). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 2: Stay seated, increase resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 3: Sit halfway up the hill, then stand, using moderate resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 4: Sit halfway up the hill, then stand using hard resistance (RPE 8). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 5: Stand the entire way using moderate resistance (RPE 7). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Hill climb 6: Stand the entire way using hard resistance (RPE 9). Recover by pedaling downhill in easy gear (RPE 2).
  • Ride at a moderate effort for about a half hour (RPE 5), then cool down for 5 minutes at easy effort (RPE 3).

Calories burned: 635

Beginner option: Do four repeats: one seated, one half-seated, one standing (moderate resistance), one standing (hard resistance).

Tip: When climbing a hill, push all the way back on the seat to gain extra leverage.




35-Minute Cycling Speed Workout

Build up your cycling speed with this workout designed by Lance Leener, a cycling and triathlon coach at TriLife in New York City.

    • Warm up for 15 minutes, moderate effort (RPE 5).
    • Pedal hard for 10 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8).

Recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).

    • Pedal hard for 20 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8).

Recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).

  • Pedal hard for 30 seconds, remain seated (RPE 8). Recover for 2 minutes (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 10 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 15 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 1 minute (RPE 3).
  • Pedal hard for 20 seconds, standing up (RPE 8). Sit back down and recover for 2 minutes (RPE 3).
  • Ride 5 minutes at RPE 5, then cool down for 5 minutes at RPE 3.

Calories burned: 370






The 20-Minute, 300-Calorie Treadmill Challenge

To get your best body in less time, try this 20-minute run-walk from Aundrea Hasselbach, founder of tread20.com. You’ll blast fat and calories and tone your lower body.

Minutes: 0:00-3:00 Miles Per Hour: 3.0 Incline: 1
Minutes: 3:00-3:30 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 2
Minutes: 3:30-4:00 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 4
Minutes: 4:00-4:30 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 6
Minutes: 4:30-5:00 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 7
Minutes: 5:00-6:00 MPH: 4.0 Incline: 1
Minutes: 7:00-7:30 MPH: 4.5 Incline: 2
Minutes: 7:30-8:00 MPH: 4.5 Incline: 4
Minutes: 8:00-8:30 MPH: 4.5 Incline: 6
Minutes: 8:30-9:00 MPH: 4.5 Incline: 7
Minutes: 9:00-10:00 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 1
Minutes: 10:00-11:00 MPH: 6.0 Incline: 1
Minutes: 11:00-12:00 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 1
Minutes: 12:00-12:30 MPH: 5.0 Incline: 2
Minutes: 12:30-13:00 MPH: 5.0 Incline: 4
Minutes: 13:00-13:30 MPH: 5.0 Incline: 6
Minutes: 13:30-14:00 MPH: 5.0 Incline: 7
Minutes: 14:00-16:00 MPH: 3.5 Incline: 1
Minutes: 16:00-17:00 MPH: 6.0 Incline: 1
Minutes: 17:00-20:00 MPH: 3.0 Incline: 1




Burn 400 Calories Without Getting Bored

Your workout will fly by if you switch up the machines you use, says Diana Maitland, training manager for Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City. To get the best results, pay attention to your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard you’re working on a scale of 1 to 10.

Bike
Minutes What to Do RPE
0:00-5:00 Warm up gradually. 5
5:00-7:00 Pedal steadily at about 85 RPM (level 7-10). 5-7
7:00-8:00 Speed up to 100 RPM (level 7-10). 7-9
8:00-14:00 Repeat minutes 5 to 8 twice more, going 2 minutes moderate and 1 minute fast. 5-9
14:00-15:00 Recover for 1 minute. 5
Elliptical
Minutes What to Do RPE
15:00-18:00 Move at a moderate level (level 6-9). 5-7
18:00-20:00 Increase setting (level 14-16). 7-9
20:00-25:00 Repeat minutes 15 to 20, gradually slowing in last 30 seconds to a moderate intensity. 5
 

Treadmill

Minutes What to Do RPE
25:00-27:00 Walk briskly or jog (3.5 or 5.8 MPH). 5-7
27:00-29:00 Run at a quicker pace (5.8-7.0 MPH). 7-9
29:00-33:00 Repeat minutes 25-29. 5-9
33:00-35:00 Walk briskly or jog (3.5 or 5.8 MPH). 5-7
35:00-40:00 Cool down (3.0-4.5 MPH). 4




The Glute-Sculpting Treadmill Workout

To sculpt your glutes and burn a fast 150 calories, try this cardio hill-walking workout from Diana Maitland, personal training manager at Equinox Fitness Clubs in New York City. Do this workout three or four times a week to build strength and endurance.

Minutes Speed (MPH) Incline (%) RPE*
0:00-5:00 4 3-3.5 5
5:00-7:00 4 8-10 7
7:00-8:00 4 4-6 6
8:00-10:00 4 10 8
10:00-11:00 4 5-7 7
11:00-13:00 4 12 9
13:00-14:00 4 10 8
14:00-15:00 4 12 9
15:00-20:00 4 2-4 5
Tip: Beginners should start with a speed of 3.5 MPH; advanced exercisers can go up to 5.






Burn 500 Calories on the Bike

Spin away calories with this stationary-bike workout from Orest Ludwig, a personal trainer at the Sports Center at Chelsea Piers in New York City.

Minutes RPM* RPE
0:00-5:00 80 5
5:00-10:00 80 7
10:00-12:00 80 8
12:00-13:00 85 6
13:00-15:00 90 8
15:00-16:00 85 6
16:00-18:00 95 8
18:00-19:00 85 6
19:00-21:00 95 8
21:00-25:00 90 6
25:00-26:00 100 8
26:00-27:00 90 6
27:00-28:00 100 8
28:00-29:00 90 6
29:00-30:00 100 8
30:00-33:00 90 6
33:00-35:00 95 8
35:00-40:00 80 6

*RPM: The number of times you turn (Rotate) the pedals Per Minute. Check by holding your hand above your knee and counting the number of times your knee strikes your hand in one minute.




Burn 500 Calories on the Stairclimber

If you consider yourself the queen of the stairclimbing machine, try this boredom-busting calorie burner from Keli Roberts, the group fitness manager at Equinox Fitness Club in Pasadena, California. To avoid cheating on the calorie burn, remember to stand upright with your abdominals firm, and don’t lean into the side rails. To get an even better workout, go hands-free and pump your arms, as if you were running.

Minutes                        RPE
0:00-5:00 Warm up, RPE 4-5.
5:00-10:00 Pick it up, RPE 5-6.
10:00-15:00 Getting warmer, RPE 6-7.
15:00-18:00 Go all out, RPE 8-9.
18:00-21:00 Recover, RPE 5-6.
21:00-51:00 Repeat minutes 15:00-21:00 five more times.
51:00-60:00 Cool down, RPE 3.




Burn 500 Calories on the Stairclimber

If you consider yourself the queen of the stairclimbing machine, try this boredom-busting calorie burner from Keli Roberts, the group fitness manager at Equinox Fitness Club in Pasadena, California. To avoid cheating on the calorie burn, remember to stand upright with your abdominals firm, and don’t lean into the side rails. To get an even better workout, go hands-free and pump your arms, as if you were running.

Minutes                        RPE
0:00-5:00 Warm up, RPE 4-5.
5:00-10:00 Pick it up, RPE 5-6.
10:00-15:00 Getting warmer, RPE 6-7.
15:00-18:00 Go all out, RPE 8-9.
18:00-21:00 Recover, RPE 5-6.
21:00-51:00 Repeat minutes 15:00-21:00 five more times.
51:00-60:00 Cool down, RPE 3.






Burn 500 Calories with Treadmill Intervals

Try this running workout from Robert Pennino, a certified USA triathlon coach. Be sure to keep the incline of your treadmill at 1 percent throughout the workout. If the pace seems too fast, modify to suit your fitness level.

Minutes Pace
0:00-10:00 Warm-up jog; 5.0 MPH.
10:00-10:20 Sprint at 7.5 MPH.
10:20-11:20 Jog at 5.0 MPH.
11:20-14:00 Repeat minutes 10:00-11:20 twice.
14:00-17:00 Jog at 5.0 MPH.
17:00-27:00 Run at 6.5 MPH.
27:00-31:00 Jog at 5.0 MPH.
31:00-35:00 Run at 6.5 MPH.
35:00-39:00 Jog at 5.0 MPH.
39:00-55:00 Repeat minutes 31:00-39:00 twice.
55:00-60:00 Gradually slow pace to cool down at jog/walk.




Lindsay Price’s Treadmill Workout

Minutes Speed Incline
Warm up 2 4.0 MPH 0
Speed up 5 4.5-6.0 0 Increase speed by 0.5 each MPH minute until you reach 6.0 MPH; maintain for 2 minutes.
Climb 7 4.0-4.5 2.0 Increase incline by 2.0 each minute until you reach 10.0 MPH; stay there for 3 minutes.
Descend 1 6.0 2.0
Sprint 4 Varied 2.0 Sprint (your best effort) for 1 minute, then jog (4.5 MPH); repeat combo, trying to sprint faster the second time.
Climb 1 5.0-6.0 4.0
Climb 4 6.0-7.0 4.0
Recover 1 4.0-4.5 0
Jog 1 5.0-6.0 0
Sprint 2 Best effort 0
Cool down 2 2.0-3.0 0




Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks: Rev Up Results Cardio

Burn fat walking, running, or on the elliptical with this cardio routine.

Zap flab in 25 minutes!
5 minutes: Warm up at an easy pace you could sing at (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is lounging and 10 is sprinting, this is a Rate of Perceived Exertion of 3 or 4), working up to a moderate I-can-talk pace (RPE 5).
2 minutes: Take it up a notch (RPE 6).
1 minute: RPE 5
2 minutes: Take it up to RPE 7, where speech gets choppy.
1 minute: RPE 5
3 minutes: Go at a fast pace (RPE 8).
Next: Reverse order, returning to RPE 5 for 1 minute and so on.
Calories burned: 107 (walk) to 278 (run)*
*Calorie burns are based on a 140-pound woman.






Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks: Slim with Intervals

Do this routine on the treadmill or elliptical, or walk or run outside.
Try 35 minutes of longer bursts.
5 minutes: Warm up at an easy RPE 4 pace.
2 minutes: Go at a moderate RPE 5 pace.
3 minutes: Pick it up to a brisk RPE 7 pace.
2 minutes: Back to RPE 5.
4 minutes: Speed up to RPE 7.
2 minutes: RPE 5
5 minutes: RPE 7
2 minutes: RPE 5
6 minutes: RPE 7
4 minutes: Cool down at an easy RPE 4.
Calories burned: 153 (walk) to 373 (run)




Get a Bikini Body in 4 Weeks: Mix and Melt Cardio

Walk, run, or hop on the elliptical for this fat-burning workout.

Play off pounds in 40 minutes.
5 minutes: Warm up at an easy pace, reaching RPE 5.
30 minutes: Complete eight 1-minute faster-paced sprints (RPE 8 or 9) over 30 minutes, returning to RPE 6 between the bursts.
5 minutes: RPE 3
Calories burned: 177 (walk) to 441 (run)




The Ultimate Lunch-Hour Cardio Workout

Hit the treadmill for a 10-minute interval pyramid to kick-start the fat burning and keep it humming. You’ll alternate 1 minute at a steady pace with varying 1-minute bursts. (The plan also works for the elliptical or stairclimber.) Do the highest level you can.

Beginner
Minute MPH
1 3.0
2 4.0
3 3.0
4 4.5
5 3.0
6 5.0
7 3.0
8 4.5
9 3.0
10 4.0
Calories burned = 50
Intermediate
Minute MPH
1 4.0
2 5.0
3 4.0
4 6.0
5 4.0
6 7.0
7 4.0
8 6.0
9 4.0
10 5.0
Calories burned = 77
Advanced
Minute MPH
1 5.0
2 6.0
3 5.0
4 7.0
5 5.0
6 8.0
7 5.0
8 7.0
9 5.0
10 6.0
Calories burned = 103






Drop a Jeans Size: 20-Minute At-Home Cardio Circuit

This series of 1-minute PE classics packs almost the calorie burn of Spinning — ideal for living-room exercisers.

  • March in place for 3 minutes (360 steps)
  • 60 Jumping Jacks
  • March 1 minute (120 steps)
  • 60 Jumping Jacks
  • March 1 minute
  • 30 Squat-Thrusts*
  • March 1 minute
  • 30 Squat-Thrusts
  • March 1 minute
  • 30 Squat-Thrusts
  • March 1 minute
  • 30 Squat-Thrusts
  • March 1 minute
  • 60 Jumping Jacks
  • March 1 minute
  • 60 Jumping Jacks
  • March in place 2 minutes to cool down

Calories burned: 145
Calorie burns are based on a 140-pound woman.

*From standing, crouch down, place palms on floor, jump legs back into full push-up position, then jump legs back to crouch pose and stand up. Repeat.




Drop a Jeans Size: 30-Minute Run/Walk Workout

It’s simple: Walk or jog, then hit the gas for a minute. Hate to clock it? Sing six choruses of “99 Bottles of Beer,” then return to your walk or jog.

  • Walk 3 minutes (warm-up)
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Walk 2 minutes
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Walk 1 minute
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Walk 1 minute
  • Run 1 minute, alternating run/walk or run/jog (depending on your level) intervals for 12 minutes — that’s six sprints total.
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Walk 1 minute
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Walk 1 minute
  • Jog 1 minute
  • Walk 3 minutes

Calories burned: 188 (walk/run), 215 (jog/run)