Insanely effective 20-minute cardio workouts

Monday 21 May 2018
  • Treadmill running
    Get more from your runs with a simple change of pace

Only got 20 minutes to spare for your treadmill session?

Believe it or not, that’s all you need for an insanely efficient and effective cardio workout.

No more slogging it out for hours running your butt off each week. Burn more calories, more fat and get fitter faster with a simple change of pace.

All you have to do is use those 20 minutes wisely with a HIIT workout.


What is HIIT? 

No, it’s not a typo of the word ‘hit’.

It actually stands for High Intensity Interval Training. And it may sound like a form of physical torture but it’s worth every bead of hard-earned sweat.

High intensity interval training is a form of cardiovascular training involving repetitions of high intensity intervals (max-speed sprinting), with lower intensity recovery periods in between (jogging or running at a moderate pace). You can apply this same method to cycling, rowing, swimming, boxing and more.

It’s the constant change of pace and intensity that makes HIIT a challenge. But one that’s well worth the effort.

Why should I do HIIT?

Unless you’re a long distance runner, you’re probably like the majority of gym-goers who want to spend as little time as possible on the conveyor belt of pain… I mean... treadmill. 

HIIT can actually mean you run less, but gain just as much, if not more, than you do from longer running workouts.

Not only do you burn more calories in a shorter period of time, but you actually keep burning calories for up to 16 hours after your session – 16 hours!! 

This is due to EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) or ‘the after-burn effect’. EPOC is where your body keeps working hard to restore things to their ‘resting state’ (which in a nutshell means replenishing fuel in your muscles to the levels they were at before you smashed them in your session!) and to adapt to the exercise you’ve just done (repairing cells, growing muscle… all the good stuff!).

HIIT’s the fun way to run

HIIT is also great if you find running BOOOORRRIIINNNNGGGG. If you think running for an hour sounds like a massive yawn fest, then HIIT is the way to go. 

Don’t get me wrong, some people LOVE running. But for those of you out there that get a feeling of dread when stepping onto the treadmill, knowing you’ve got a long stretch of (non-existent) road ahead, just don’t do it. 

Instead, halve your running time and make it more exciting by pushing yourself to the limit* with HIIT. 

Your body may hate you tomorrow, but it'll thank you later.

*WARNING! If you’re new to running, please only attempt high intensity interval training once you’ve found your feet on the treadmill and built up your running ability. Safety first!

Here’s how to HIIT 

Now over to our awesome PT, Chelsea Waters, for a demo so you can try it out for yourself:


Chelsea’s top 20-minute HIIT workouts

Just starting out:        
  • 1 minute jogging at 7km/hr for girls or 9km/hr for guys
  • 1 minute running at 9km/hr or 11km/hr
  • 30 seconds sprinting at 13km/hr or 15km/hr

Repeat eight times.

Picking up the pace:
  • 45 seconds jogging at 8km/hr for girls or 10km/hr for guys
  • 1 minute running at 10km/hr or 12km/hr
  • 45 seconds sprinting at 14km/hr or 16km/hr

Repeat eight times.

HIITing it to the max:
  • 1 minute running at 10km/hr for girls or 12km/hr for guys
  • 1 minute sprinting at 14km/hr or 16km/hr

Repeat ten times.

Happy HIITing!

Original article published 21 May, 2015.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via E'Lisa Campbell.

Amy Cox

Amy is UQ Sport’s resident blogger. She’s a peanut-butter loving Brit, who exercises to eat whatever she wants. You’ll find Amy either in the gym, playing badminton or doing the wrong moves in group fitness classes.