20 Minute Cardio: My Favorite Way to Burn Calories

turquoise nike running shoe bkr cardio weight loss hiit

turquoise nike running shoe bkr cardio weight loss hiit

If you’re trying to lose the baby weight (ahem, teenager weight?), those last ten pounds, improve your stamina and endurance, or train for a bikini competition, you have to do cardio.  Ugh, dreaded cardio, but if you want to lose weight you just have to do it.  What you don’t have to do is hours of boring, lame, slow, dull cardio.

Whenever people ask me for help losing weight I tell them to do this.  I have been doing this cardio myself for over a decade and I love it.  It’s short (20 minutes), simple, and I think it’s actually fun. Really!  You don’t need any equipment.  You can jog, skip rope, march in place, power walk, stair climb, use the elliptical, swim, dance, walk uphill; whatever you want to do that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat.

Because it’s only 20 minutes, it has to be effective.  Rather than just going at the same slow pace for an hour, you do what’s called High Intensity Interval Training, HIIT.  You alternate going hard and fast with going gentle and resting.  You do this 4 times in the 20 minutes and you’re done before you know it.  This is by far the most effective way to lose weight, plus it’s short and efficient.  I find that because I am counting and paying attention to the time and intensity it goes by really quickly.

However, just know that losing weight isn’t all about cardio.  It’s about 99.999% diet (sorry, that’s the hard truth), and 0.001% workouts—of that you need weights to change your shape; cardio just makes you smaller.  The book where I found this cardio really resonated with me when it explained that if you’re a pear shape and all you do is cardio you’ll just become a smaller pear; if you’re a pear shape and you do weights, you transform yourself into an hourglass (or whatever shape you want to be); but no matter how much cardio or weight training you do, you won’t change the way you look if you’re not eating clean.

This cardio works on a system of self-perceived effort.  What feels hard to you?  What feels easy?  Give yourself a scale of 1-10, with 1 being rest (like savasana at the end of yoga), 5 is walking from the car to the house with groceries, 6 is walking with those groceries up a hill, 7 is jogging with the groceries up the hill and realizing you forgot your phone at the checkout, 8 is jogging with the groceries up the hill and realizing you forgot your phone and your wallet, 9 is running with the groceries up the hill and realizing you forgot your phone, your wallet, and your keys, and 10 is sprinting with the groceries up the hill and realizing you forgot your phone, your wallet, your keys, and your baby at the checkout.

For a more detailed explanation of this cardio and the whole program including weights and diet you can read all about it in this book, Body For Life by Bill Phillips.  It’s truly an awesome program.  The website has this cardio and all the workouts for you to print plus an online community for support.  Amazing, right?  If you already have your weight training program in order and are just looking for a new form of cardio, here it is!

20 Minute HIIT Body For Life Cardio:

Minute:            Intensity:

0-1                   5

1-2                   5

2-3                   6

3-4                   7

4-5                   8

5-6                   9

6-7                   6

7-8                   7

8-9                   8

9-10                 9

10-11               6

11-12               7

12-13               8

13-14               9

14-15               6

15-16               7

16-17               8

17-18               9

18-19               10

19-20               5

When I was pregnant I did this cardio by walking on the treadmill using the incline to change the intensity.  Now I’m keeping the incline flat but adjusting the speed.  Do what feels good to you, but make sure you are reaching your target intensity levels.  Have fun and work hard, it’ll all be over in just 20 minutes.  Try it and let me know how it goes in the comments!


“Body For Life” by Bill Phillips : Amazon

Turquoise Nike Free Run 3.0 Running Shoes: These were a gift a few years ago, but these from Nike and Zappos are similar

BKR 1 Litre Glass Water Bottle in Sunday: BKR

Camera: Olympus O-MD E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm IIR lens


2 thoughts on “20 Minute Cardio: My Favorite Way to Burn Calories

  1. Oh my goodness, funny (now) story. My husband and I decided to walk to the park with baby boy in the stroller. About halfway into our walk on the far side of the park he has a major blowout (we’re talking poonami) and we forgot his diaper bag at the house! Level 10 intensity running all the way back home with baby laughing maniacally at us the whole time and passerbys at the park and on the street looking on bewildered.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s