All About Efficiency: The Best Cardio Workout in 30 Minutes

I'm all about efficiency, which includes how I approach my workouts. While I make a concerted effort to be active in some form every day, I certainly don't have a ton of spare time (or any, ever). Nonetheless, it's a commitment to both my physical and mental wellbeing that I get in a good sweat more often than not. So, that said, I'm a strong believer in high intensity interval training (HIIT) to really get my heart rate up and burn more calories in less time.

I'll give you two versions of the pyramids (or hills) that I do, in case you're not accustomed to HIIT, or running on the treadmill at all--stick with version 1. But, before doing anything, a note on frequency. Treadmills and even trails outdoors are not easy on our bodies and bones--especially our knees. I've been a runner of both distance and intervals for years now, and, boy, let me tell you, I can feel it in my knees, some days more than others. Moderation and balance is the key to success (like, in all things in life). While I run, typically, four times a week, I stagger the days with Pilates or yoga--low impact workouts. That's not to say they're any less of a challenge, especially heated flow classes (my favorite!), just simply an alternative form of cardio.

All that aside, let's get to it.

Column 3 is the RPM, or speed!

Column 3 is the RPM, or speed!


Sometimes, if I'm feelin' it, I'll go up to 9.5 on the last pyramid or tack on another interval before cooling down. You can always challenge yourself with incline, too. Runners' choice! I incline anywhere between 0.5 and 2.5, but, fair warning, shin splints are a possibility with higher inclines. Not fun.

To round out this routine, I'll follow up with either a weighted arm series, some floor core work, or TRX--if you've never worked with the TRX, I highly recommend. My total time spent on the workout is about one hour, which is totally doable and, honestly, necessary.

The benefits of HIIT are apparent: everything from efficiency (obviously), to a "slow burn" of calories post-workout, to endurance, to heart health. And the best part is that you can customize your workout to meet your needs and do it just about anywhere, considering equipment is not always necessary. But, if you give this one a go, be sure to let me know what you think.

Happy HIIT-ing!