When we think about creating a killer cardio workout, we often turn to INTERVAL TRAINING!

And it’s because interval workout designs are not only a great way to get your blood pumping, but also improve your conditioning and even build strength!

Plus they are very EFFICIENT workouts that allow you to pack in more to less time.

So if you’ve got a busy schedule? Interval workouts are a great way to go!

Plus, the results you get from your interval workouts can dramatically differ depending on the interval set up you use and the moves you include.

This means you can adjust not only the time you work, but also the time you rest to get exactly the results you want from your workouts!

(And you can adjust the intervals to fit your current fitness level and progress as you get stronger!)

Below are 3 of my favorite interval workout designs and how you can use them to get the lean, strong body you’ve always wanted!

And if you want not only some killer interval cardio workouts, but also some fun Density Set and Timed Circuit cardio workouts (or some workouts for those of us that may prefer weight training OVER cardio even hehe), check out my Cardio Burner cards!

(P.S. TRAINERS: If you want to learn more about using intervals and designing your own workouts, check out my Strong Smart Certification and Mastermind!)

3 Killer Interval Workout Designs:

The 20/20/20 Set Up:

I love this interval set up because it is so versatile and has seriously killer fat burning benefits because you end up working hard for 40 seconds followed by 20 seconds of rest!

It also has shorter intervals of work which, no matter what variation of the set up you do, allow you to really be more explosive when you work!

With this interval set up, you’ll work for two intervals of 20 seconds and rest for 20 seconds between each round.

This workout can use two types of rest (both full and active), depending on the moves you select.

For instance…You’ll get active rest by alternating the areas that work in the back to back intervals before fully resting between rounds. This can be great way to improve your recover times and even lactic acid tolerance.

By working two different areas or muscle groups back to back, one gets to rest while the other works so you can pack in more work to a shorter time, BUT also get more rest to be able to go harder each work interval.

It can almost make the workout feel more like a 1:2 ratio of work to rest, especially if you also cycle the intensity of those two moves back to back.

20 seconds Squat Jumps
20 seconds Plyo Push Ups
20 seconds Rest

However, you can also make this 20/20/20 design feel like a 2:1 ratio of work to rest by working the same areas back to back (or even doing two full body moves back to back) before resting.

This can be a great a great way to improve your work output and even start to work on your speed endurance (aka pushing to maintain a higher intensity for longer).

20 seconds Burpees
20 seconds Spiderman Mountain Climbers
20 seconds Rest

And then you can change up the interval set up even further, by eliminating full rest altogether and include “active” rest for that third 20 second interval.

This active rest should allow your heart rate to come down, but you won’t as fully recover. So it should be a lower intensity movement or at least one you do at a lower intensity.

Sometimes even using isometric holds as active rest can be a good option as it will still make your body work but allow you to bring your heart rate down.

It turns this interval design into more of a tempo workout, especially if you cycle from a super intense move, to a moderate to intense move to a recovery move.

And is great to improve your endurance and even your recovery!

20 seconds Burpees
20 seconds Skater Hops
20 seconds Jumping Jacks “Active Rest”

The 30s Set Up:

This workout can not only be a full-body killer, but it can help you improve your recovery times and even build your endurance.

By cycling the intensity of moves and areas worked, it can even help you improve your work capacity as you blast fat and even build strength!

With this workout design, you’ll work for 30 seconds on each move with no rest between moves. Your “rest” between rounds will be an active rest move.

It will improve your endurance and recovery times as you don’t get a full break between rounds. This will mean though that your intensity and output may DECREASE over the rounds of work.

However, the more you cycle the areas worked, and even the intensity of moves you use (maybe even including an isolation exercise for the core after a few more intense moves) on top of the active rest interval, the more you can work at a higher intensity for those full-body hybrid or compound movements earlier in the circuit.

(You’ll see in the example below even the use of an isometric for active rest, which I mentioned earlier.)

30 seconds Burpee
30 seconds T Push Ups
30 seconds Skater Hops
30 seconds Cherry Bombs (aka isolated ab move)
30 seconds Wall Sit “Active Rest”

Beginners can even include a full 30 second interval of rest while alternating exercise intensity over the round itself. There may be more ups and downs in the movement intensity so that they don’t have to rest extra during the intervals of work.

30 seconds Burpee
30 seconds March in Place
30 seconds Squat Jumps
30 seconds Crunch
30 seconds Rest

The key with these intervals is to pick a move that challenges you and makes you want to stop, BUT that you can continue to do the entire 30 seconds, even if you have to regress.

You do not want to rest during the intervals of work, but you also want to recognize that these moves won’t be as explosive as shorter intervals of work with longer rest periods!

The 40/20 Set Up:

This is a killer interval set up that will really make you feel the burn as you challenge your lactic threshold while improving your endurance and work capacity.

You won’t be near as explosive the entire interval of work as you could if you worked for only 20 seconds. You may be pushing at more like 80% so that you can make sure you work consistently throughout the 40 seconds.

And your work output WILL decrease over the rounds as 20 seconds is far from enough time to recover.

But this is the point of this workout and, depending on the way you use the interval set up, you can even mitigate some of the decrease in output.

The key is to select moves that make you work hard the entire 40 seconds, but that you don’t max out on so much, you can continue to work the next round through.

You can also adjust this 40/20 set up in two main ways.

  1. You can do a circuit where you alternate areas that are working to keep your output higher (areas will then get more rest than just the 20 seconds as another area works).
  2. You can do all rounds on one exercise with only 20 seconds of rest between rounds. This will lead to a quicker decrease in work output as you’ll be working the same muscles over and over again with only half the time to recover!

Both though have benefit, it just depends on your goals.

If you want to work on pushing through fatigue to even improve your recovery time (which could be great if you’re training for a race), you may want to use the second set up.

This can also be great if you’re working to build strength endurance.

For that set up, you would just an exercise, say the Rower and stay on it for 5 rounds of 40/20 then go to another exercise after those 5 rounds to do intervals of 40 on, 20 off.

However, if you use the first design, you would create more of a circuit, with 20 seconds between moves.

You could then cycle areas worked and even the intensity of the moves so that areas get more rest so the intense moves you can go harder on.

40 seconds Side Shuffle with Down Up
20 seconds Rest
40 seconds Climber Push Ups
20 seconds Rest
40 seconds Split Squat Jumps
20 seconds Rest
40 seconds Sit Ups
20 seconds Rest

This would allow areas to rest and recover a bit as other muscle groups worked more. It would allow you to have a higher work output throughout (which you can even track by recording reps each round!).

The great part about all 3 of these interval set ups is you can build strength and burn fat without having to spend hours in the gym. AND you can tweak them to match your needs and specific goals!

And one final shameless plug….If you want more killer cardio workouts, check out my Cardio Burner Cards!