12 Weeks to Weight Loss - Day 1 Cardio Intervals

Day 1 - All About the Intensity

Man in a gym running on a treadmill.
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Get Started

In the introduction, you learned some of the basics for getting started with your 12-week program. Now, it's time to walk the walk.

Step one:

If you haven't already done so, use the following forms to set your goals and get your vital statistics recorded so you can track your progress. You might want to use a fitness and health journal to keep track of your workouts and eating.

Step two:

Take a deep breath and get ready for your first cardio workout. Just think how good you'll feel when you're done!

Cardio Focus: Intensity

Today's cardio workout involves interval training. This method of training is a great way to burn calories in a short period of time. With interval training, you add short high energy 'spurts' where you raise the intensity and then fully recover, alternating work sets and rest sets for the length of the workout. Interval training helps quickly increase endurance which allows you to workout harder and longer. If you're a beginner, please modify according to your fitness level. If you can only go for 10 minutes then, by all means, go for it. It's all about where you are now, not where you want to be.

Choose one of the options below and get moving.



    • Option 1: Intermediate Interval Workout - This 30-minute workout involves working for 1 minute at a harder pace and recovering for 3 minutes. This can be done on any cardio machine.
    • Option 2: 45-Minute Boredom Buster Treadmill Workout - For 45 minutes, you'll change speed and incline for a challenging interval workout.
    • Option 3: Make Your Own Workout
      Make your own interval workout: Begin by choosing an activity--walking, running, swimming, cardio machines, etc. then doing the following:
      1. Warm up with about 5-10 minutes of light cardio
      2. Increase the intensity for 2-3 minutes so that you're working at a Perceived Exertion (RPE) at Level 5
      3. For 1 minute, increase intensity (speed walking, running, hill-walking, etc.) to a Level 7-8
      4. Recover at a lower intensity for 2-3 minutes
      5. Alternate high intensity with low intensity for 20 or more minutes if you're a beginner, more if you're intermediate/advanced.

    Strength and Flexibility Focus: Flexibility

    Do this flexibility workout after you've cooled down from the cardio.

    Hold each stretch for at least 10-15 seconds (more if you have time). This part of your workout should feel good, so enjoy it.

    Nutrition Focus: Food Diary

    Starting today, keep track of everything you eat in a food diary. You can use something like DietMinder, a printed food diary, or use an online diary. Don't change your habits just yet--eat normally and record what and how much you eat each day. Use a food database to find nutritional content of what you're eating. Record the number of calories you've eaten at the end of each day.


    Motivation can be hard to come by when you're starting out with exercise. Check out these easy tips for getting started with exercise.

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