Beginner 25-Minute Cardio Workout

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This basic cardio workout is a progression from this 20-Minute Cardio Workout, adding more time and more intensity to the previous workout. You'll alternate between a baseline, moderate level and a slightly higher level by changing your settings and using this Perceived Exertion chart to match how you feel to the suggested Perceived Exertion levels (learn more about how to monitor your intensity).

This workout can be done on any cardio machine or other activities.

Precautions for this Workout:

See your doctor before trying this workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or other conditions.

Equipment Needed for this Workout:

Any cardio machine or activity can be used. You can use a treadmill, elliptical machine, stairstepper, stationary cycle, rowing machine, skiing machine. Or you can use any moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing, or cross-country skiing.

How to Do the Cardio 25-Minute Workout

  • Complete each segment of the workout, setting speed, incline, resistance or ramps to match the suggested Perceived Exertion Levels
  • Modify the workout as needed to fit your fitness level, preferences and goals
  • Slow down or stop the workout if you feel any pain, dizziness or shortness of breath 

Beginner Cardio - 25-Minute Workout

TimeIntensity, Speed, Incline or ResistancePerceived Exertion Level
5 min.

Warm up at an easy-moderate pace.  You should feel comfortable and be able to talk easily.  Allow your heart rate to rise gradually by slowly increasing your pace, resistance or incline throughout the warm up.

5 min.Baseline: Increase speed, incline or resistance (or use a combination) to find your baseline.  In this phase, you should be just a little out of your comfort zone and feel that you're working, but able to talk5
2 min.Increase your incline, resistance or ramps until you feel you're working  a little harder than baseline.  Start with 1-2 increments at a time and go from there.6
3 min.Reduce your incline, resistance, ramps or speed to get back to your baseline level.5
1 min.Increase your incline, resistance or ramps to work harder than baseline.6
3 min.Back to baseline5
1 min.Increase your speed to work at a higher intensity - you should find it difficult to talk7
5 min.Reduce incline, resistance, ramps and/or speed until you're working at a comfortable level.4

25 Minutes


Perceived Exertion Levels Used in this Workout:

4: Easy effort, you are breathing a little heavier than normal.

5: Beginning to sweat, now feel some effort, can still carry on a conversation.

6: Noticeable effort, sweating, beginning to get hard to speak full sentence easily.

7: Harder to talk, sweating.

With this workout you are almost at the recommended level of daily moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity that will reduce your health risks. You are on your way to a healthy lifestyle.

Progressing: Bump it up with another round of 3 minutes at level 5 and 1 minute at level 7 before your cool down and you will be there. Stay at this length of workout for a week. You can extend your exercise by these increments each week once you know you are tolerating it well. The rule of thumb is to change it no more than 10% per week to avoid injury or strain.

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