The 30-30 HIIT Cardio Workout. A Great “Go-to” HIIT Workout.

August 3, 2011

I roughly remember my first HIIT cardio workout. I had read an article in Muscle Media 2000, written by Shawn Phillips (in 1993 I think) describing a way to do cardio to burn fat like crazy. When I went to my gym and performed HIIT on the treadmill, people gave me some crazy looks. I’ve been experimenting and studying up on HIIT cardio ever since…and after close to 20 years, I’m still in learning mode. In this post I’m going to break apart a study that compares short 30 seconds intervals with longer 3 minute intervals. This study found that the 30 second intervals could be more effective than 3 minute intervals. I’d like to give you some practical ways on how to use the findings in this study.

HIIT Cardio Workout

[Rugby is an example of the effect that sprint intervals have on the body. Obviously these guys train in a number of ways, but the tempo of the game contributes to low body fat levels displayed by all of the players.]

Greater Calorie Burning With Less Pain?

Let’s be honest…if you are willing to kill yourself, you can burn a lot of calories and eventually get super lean. Ever see the movie 300? That movie is an example of people who lived and breathed fitness and tortured themselves for months to get lean. The “brute force” method of fitness works, but who wants to live like that? I think training should be enjoyable and something that you want to do for life. Luckily a study found that 30-30 HIIT Intervals, done properly, felt easier and actually burned more calories than a longer more painful work-to-rest ratio.

Link to Study: Physiological Responses During Interval Training With Different Intensities and Duration of Exercise

“In conclusion, this study revealed that IT duration of 30 seconds in comparison to 3 minutes allowed the athlete to perform a longer session with a higher total VO2, mean VO2, and HR yet at a lower BLC. The study also indicated that a submaximal intensity of 90% of MPO allowed the athlete to perform a longer session with a higher total than IT duration performed at 100% MPO.”

[I’ll try to make these findings of the study easier to digest.]

4 Different Types of HIIT Intervals Were Compared:

1. 30-30 HIIT Interval @ 90% Maximum Power Output:
30 seconds of effort at 90% alternated with 30 seconds of recovery at 50%. This was to be done for 30 minutes or until the subject couldn’t maintain the required Maximal Power Output.

2. 30-30 HIIT Intervals @ 100% Maximum Power Output:
30 seconds of effort at 100% alternated with 30 seconds of recovery at 50%. This was to be done for 30 minutes or until the subject couldn’t maintain the required Maximal Power Output.

3. 3min-3min HIIT Intervals @ 90% Maximum Power Output:
3 minutes of effort at 90% alternated with 3 minutes of recovery at 50%. This was to be done for 30 minutes or until the subject couldn’t maintain the required Maximal Power Output.

4. 3min-3min HIIT Intervals @ 100% Maximum Power Output:
3 minutes of effort at 100% alternated with 3 minutes of recovery at 50%. This was to be done for 30 minutes or until the subject couldn’t maintain the required Maximal Power Output.

Intervals Allow Hard Work With Lower Blood Lactate

Let’s discuss why intervals are effective in the first place compared to just training hard at a steady rate. Intervals allow you to spend a greater amount of time doing intense exercise at lower blood lactate levels than simply “running hard”. The active rest is what prevents lactic acid buildup in the muscles. HIIT cardio allows you to spend more total time at high intensity levels without feeling it as much as simply training hard non-stop.

Less Pain & Fatigue With the Same Total Time at High Levels

Let’s say that you do intervals of 30 seconds walking and 30 seconds running. Your average running speed is 10.5 mile per hour and you do intervals for 20 minutes. That is 10 total minutes of running at 10.5 miles per hour. If you ran at that pace for 10 minutes straight, you would be gasping for air as well as feel a burn in your legs after a minute or two. Alternating running with walking is what allows you to get this same amount of higher intensity exercise in without the pain and fatigue caused by lactic acid buildup. Same amount of work with less of a perceived effort.

Shorter Intervals Created a Larger “Oxygen Debt”

The shorter intervals had a 90% greater oxygen uptake than the longer intervals. This created a larger oxygen debt. Why is oxygen debt important? When you train at an intense level, like sprinting, your body can’t supply oxygen at a fast enough rate to fuel the muscles. After the intense effort is completed, your body has to basically repay that “borrowed energy”…it owes oxygen to get those muscles back to their normal state. The more energy your body borrowed during an intense effort the more oxygen it owes…this is called Oxygen Debt. The larger the oxygen debt created by your workout the longer it will take to repay it…with the benefit of more calories burned for a longer period of time after you are done exercising.

90% Intensity Got Better Results Than 100% Intensity

The problem with training all out is that lactic acid buildup can shut the muscles down. You obviously want to train hard, but not to the point where you can’t complete the next interval. So the finding here is that hard intervals are better than pushing your limit each and every sprint. How hard is 90%? Well you can use heart rate to kind of give you an estimate if you are pushing hard enough. It looks like the average heart rate of the 30-30 intervals at 90% was 171 beats per minute. Although using heart rate is not an exact measurement of effort, if you are in the 170 range at least part of the time doing your intervals…you will be close to the right intensity level.

Short Intervals Are An Efficient Way to Burn Calories

The 30-30 interval protocol is a good one for burning calories without feeling it as much as longer intervals. I’d consider this a good “go-to” interval routine. This 30-30 HIIT cardio workout is one you could do without risking over-training and you would get decent results, but you will get better overall results if you mix in longer intervals.

Why Do Longer Intervals At All?

Longer intervals increase your VO2 max. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen in milliliters someone can use in 1 minute, per kilogram of body weight. Simply put, it is how much oxygen can you use per minute. Fit people can use more oxygen per minute than people who are out of shape. It has been shown that people with a higher VO2 max will burn more calories doing the same activity as someone with a lower VO2 max. Longer intervals improve VO2 max better than shorter intervals. My post on that: Brief Exercise Found to Be Much More Effective for “Fit” People

Long Intervals Allow the Short Intervals to Work Better

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I have studied the heck out of HIIT cardio workouts for close to 20 years now. What I have found is that longer intervals hurt more, but get you in better shape (improve VO2 max). This allows you to get more out of the shorter intervals, which don’t hurt as much. I recommend cycling longer intervals with shorter intervals (I have a whole HIIT cardio course that I’m rewriting this fall and releasing in 2012 that will cover this in detail).

A Real Example of an Easy 30-30 Workout

I like to do my toughest HIIT cardio workouts early in the week and save the 30-30 stuff for the last few days of the week. I don’t worry too much about hitting 90% intensity exactly…I simply track heart rate to give me an estimate. Here is one of my “go-to” 30-30 hiit workouts on an Elliptical.

  • 30 seconds on level 11.
  • 30 seconds on level 15.
  • Alternated for 15-20 minutes.
  • Try to get heart rate to 175-180 by the last minute or two.
  • Steady state at level 12 for 15 minutes.
  • Keep heart rate at 165+ during steady state portion.

Note: In my free ebook and Video Course, Abs Blueprint, I cover exactly what I do to get the most fat burning effects out of my cardio sessions. Make sure and read that ebook and watch the videos if you haven’t already.

My Practical Advice from The Findings of This Study?

Adjust your intervals based on your fatigue levels. If you have physically demanding job, or simply don’t want to feel worn down, then shorter intervals are the way to go. If you want to push hard, improve your VO2 max and don’t mind a little more fatigue…then mix in the longer intervals into your HIIT cardio workout routine.

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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert August 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I have been doing 20/20 (seconds) intervals for two years. I used to do 60/30(seconds), but it was killing me. If one is looking to get fit, and look good as well, 30/30 or 20/20 for 15-20 minutes is more than enough, especially if you want to be able to walk in a straight line, and feel good, when you are done.

Ahmed-LivingNotSurviving August 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Very interesting to see the benefits of 30-30 over standard or longer high intensity intervals, especially considering the amount of effort often put into longer intervals. Great write-up Rusty!

Chris August 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I agree with you on the length of intervals and how to pick which to do. You have to go by how you feel overall and especially how your overall fatigue and stamina are. There are times I feel much better and just need to don some longer interval sessions, and other times that I am really fatigued and tired so I just do the 30 seconds – 30 seconds ones. Overall though they work really well to help burn fat! I have dropped more than 28 pounds (almost 30 now) using these and strength training, all on advice from your site! Thanks.

Anna @ Path to Fat Loss August 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Hey Rusty, nice post on HIIT. You’re very detailed and you explain all the reasons HIIT works better than steady state specifically the 30/30 interval.

I have your Fat Torching Cardio manual that came with Visual Impact and I love the variety you designed into it. First, it gives me the variety I need to keep my interest level and my body never adapts to the type of cardio I am doing.

I appreciate your informational posts and thank you for all that you do!

Anna D.

Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips August 3, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Great review of the study. I like doing 20 seconds of sprinting with 40 seconds of recovery followed by steady state cardio and then close with longer, but less intense intervals (60/60). The insight on sprinting at 100% vs. 90% was very interesting.

Srdjan P - Bloom to Fit August 3, 2011 at 4:26 pm

This is an awesome article and I’m happy to see that the research outline supports all of the interval training I’ve been doing over the years.

I have found best results from doing 30-30 or 30-60 intervals. For example, during my sprint training I’ll perform 30 seconds of sprinting at 85-90% and 60 seconds of light jogging at ~50%. This drives up my heart rate and does wonders for my EPOC levels.

Thanks again for the great post Rusty. August 3, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I do 45 second intervals in the pool as my HIIT. One there and back, catch my breath for 15 seconds and do it again for 20 minutes. As well as the great fat burning, the swimming really shapes the shoulders giving you a youthful v-taper.

Raymond- ZenMyFitness August 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I agree that shorter intervals like 30-30 is a better way to train to burn calories if that’s the goal.
I run a lot and do everything from long distances, hill sprints and just plain sprinting. And I found shorter shuttle type running gives me the best result and it’s very stimulating as well.
It’s sort of like a TABATA type training.
My own rules for fitness and leaning out are in this priority 1) Consistent 2) Intense 3) Duration and it works for me!
BTW the GOOGLE shortner doesn’t seem to work ?

joe August 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Cool article Rusty, my cardio has been 60-60 for a while only because it is tough enough to make me push each interval but doesn’t burn me out. 60 second sprint and 60 second walk 10-12X. It is also a hell of alot easier on these 52 year old knees. Alot less pounding. I kinda got into this style of training after reading many articles on the pitfalls of Chronic Cardio. Seems to work for me and you as well.

Mikey August 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

In your Abs Blueprint videos you said walk on 3.5 and run on 7 on the treadmill and go up .5 on running each interval, what would you recommend the treadmill speed for this? I’m not a big elliptical fan and I don’t know what level 11 and level 15 is speed or difficulty wise.

Brandon August 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm

I end virtually all my workouts with a 10-min session of kettlebell swings done 30/30 style.

Michele August 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Thanks for this post! I have really been reading a lot about HIIT lately, it is nice to see some science based comparisons. I used to just run, 30 minutes daily, on the treadmill. Same speed. Boring and never really gave me the body I was looking for. And I have several injuries to boot. I have switched to heavy lifting and toned up nicely. This is the piece I still need to add consistently. I don’t know if 30 seconds is long enough a recovery for me but I can give it a try tomorrow!

Mark - Look Sharp Fitness August 3, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Great article Rusty!

I was surprised that you get better results at 90% versus 100%. I am going to try out that elliptical workout if you don’t mind πŸ™‚

I haven’t been doing many longer intervals lately, just shorter ones. But I will be sure to start doing longer intervals to increase my max VO2.

Adam August 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I too am not a fan of the elliptical and was wondering the same thing. I have done the “30-30 HIIT Interval @ 90% Maximum Power Output” for sprinting on the track and have had great success with it.
I do like how Rusty pointed out a very important detail about intervals “The active rest is what prevents lactic acid buildup in the muscles.” This is how I am able to do intense cardio day after day without being sore in the morning.

Skinny Fitness August 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

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scott August 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm

It makes sense from a practical standpoint to exercise at 90% maximal heart rate versus 100 %. Most people can’t sustain 100% for very long and therefore the workout would be effectively cut short which could preclude trainees from getting the results they want.

Intensity is not the only variable that matters. Duration is also important. You can only burn so many calories in a short period of time regardless of intensity or type of exercise. There has to be some duration involved as well. A slight reduction in intensity coupled with longer duration is what Tom Venuto refers to as ” the exercise sweet spot.”

Maximum calorie burn is a byproduct of intensity x duration x frequency. If you’re sore all the time or not training long enough your results will suffer.

Jordan - The Healthy Teacher August 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm

This is an interesting study. I am just so dejected with my recent knee injury. HIIT is such a big part of my routine. I guess it’s time to hop on the bike and get to 170 beats!

Hope this works. Not being able to work at a high intensity is killing me!

Awesome post. Thanks for providing clear guidelines for an complex system.


Troy - Cube.Dweller.Fitness August 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm


Great post. I couldn’t agree more when you said, “training should be enjoyable and something that you want to do for life.”

Make exercise fun. For me it is all about the intervals. Some of that bias comes from the activities that I enjoy and train for. The reasons why we train sometimes are more important than how we train. I’m an ex-hockey player and currently love snowboarding. Both of those sports demand high intensity with periods of recovery.

I love 40/20 intervals with kettlebells, jump rope, or bodyweight.

When I run I tend to push longer intervals, based on some of the V02Max research you cited. Lately, I’ve been doing 120/60 interval run/walks. Makes running … bearable.

Keep it up!


Wood August 4, 2011 at 2:40 am

I would see someone to sprint 30 sec on the field all out. Or at 90%? WTF is 90%? How can you allocate the 90%?

Sam- Look Like An Athlete August 4, 2011 at 3:22 am

You really broke it down! I have played around with intervals in different combinations and I do agree that shorter, intense bursts work better. I have never gone as high as 3 minutes sprint, 3 minutes slow as this does seem like it would be much tougher.
Shorter bursts definitely are challenging without burning out, thus making it better to complete intervals in that 15 minutes. Lately I have been switching between 60 seconds sprints and 60 seconds rest/walk, sometimes 30-60.

I think I will go down to a 30-30 session soon. Btw, your GO TO method sounds really impressive.


Pr3ssPl4y August 4, 2011 at 4:06 am

I just want to thank you Rusty for you hard work and visual impact material. It has opened my eyes to a whole new way of working out.

I will try the 30/30 second interval training the next time I’m at the gym. I work as a chef which is physically demanding so I will probably stick with this routine.

I’ve been doing the 30/90 routine at the gym, and people probably have know idea as to why I’m pumping so hard, but I don’t care. I feel fantastic at the end of the day and my fat stores are shredding away.

Keep up the great work and post some more info. I’d love to here about it.

Pr3ssPl4y August 4, 2011 at 4:07 am


ross August 4, 2011 at 4:16 am

Hi Rusty,
Im currently in the Bonus phase of Visual Impact, I only found your site(its awesome!) about 3 months before my holiday(vacation for all my american cousins) so I had to do a tweak on the 6 months so dived in at phase 3(I intend to do the full course from september) I’ve combined visual impact with eat stop eat and whilst im not as low BF as I’d like, I have lost 18 pounds in 2 months and look a lot lot better than I probably ever have before.
Anywho enough waffle, my question is this: I have been doing HIIT for 45 mins (3 times a week) for the past 2 months ( 5 min warm up, 10 mins short HIIT, 20 mins steady state followed by 10 mins of long intervals) Im now in the bonus phase of visual impact and noticed it recommends full days off in between weights days. I know it says to do optional 15 mins HIIT on weights days but Im pretty toasted after lifting so do I need to do any cardio during this 3 week period or can I lay off all together given that Im still doing ESE? My biggest concern is that if I lay off cardio, then have 2 weeks on holiday, return and do 2 months of phase 1 with no cardio, that by the time I come to do phase 2 I wont have done cardio for getting on 4 months and will have lost any fitness I’ve built up in the last couple of months…Help me Rusty..your’e my only hope!

Thanks for everything!!


Rudulis Brownas August 4, 2011 at 4:36 am

Input #1: FTW! πŸ™‚
Input #2: this study and the results it shows looks like something straight out of “Viking Warrior Conditioning”. It mostly deals with 15:15 and 36:36 intervals, but it talks about increasing VO2 max etc. I haven’t noticed you mention it on your website, so you might want to look into it as further info (or an alternative take) on intervals πŸ™‚ Not advertising really, but I used to do VWC before breaking my thumb, now that it’s still healing I’ll probably experiment with your new findings, thanks πŸ™‚

Kat August 4, 2011 at 9:36 am

I use a HIIT protocol of 10/50 for about 12/15 min. duration 6 days a week and hike a long and challenging trek once a week (longer interval training, basically). I also stick to a clean diet and have found that I am stronger and fitter most dudes half my age. A couple of days ago I went on a four hour hike that required us to climb 1200 ft of waterfalls, seven total, and I flew up those ropes! Fitter and fitter. Love interval training.

m August 4, 2011 at 10:55 am

The key with HIIT is that the work to recovery numbers are not picked out of the air or randomly. This is a common mistake people who design their own programs make. The key is the relation or per centage recovery based on work.

A very good book to read if you are interested in VO2 max or HIIT is Kenneth Jay’s “Viking Warrior Conditioning” purchased at Jay uses Kettlebell snatches as his basic exercise. He begins with 15sec work to 15 sec rest repeating untill the subject can perform 80 sets or 40 minutes. The subject can then increase the size of the kettlebell or perform 32sec: 32sec untill 32 sets are performed. Warning after the 32 sets the program gets rough.

I have been using the 15:15 with a jump rope. I have seen noticable improvement with BMI, BP, resting pulse, and VO2 Max. I have only been preforming the program one month.

Vaclav Gregor August 4, 2011 at 3:33 pm

This makes perfect sence, more rest will get you better results. Thanks for the tip, I will try this as a part of my preparation for my next photoshoot.

Natalie De Leon August 4, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Hey I wasn’t sure where to leave this comment, after watching the video of Fasted vs. Fueled training. Hopefully you see it and comment back.. Well I’m not totally sure about the concept of fasting. How many hours do you recommend.. What, you don’t eat breakfast and then train..? You skip all meals until you train? I’m clueless and don’t want to ask Google. Thanks for your time!
Natalie D.

Natalie De Leon August 4, 2011 at 7:58 pm

Btw I absolutely love your beach tweak on the Abs Blueprint! πŸ™‚

Alykhan - Fitness Breakout August 4, 2011 at 10:41 pm


I’m a big fan of HIIT because it is the most time-efficient way to burn fat through cardio. Lately, I’ve been doing some resistance HIIT with full-body moves which I feel gives me just as good if not better afterburn than sprints with an even shorter workout duration.


Seth August 5, 2011 at 10:23 am


I was wondering is teh 30-30 HITT also the best option for conditioning ones heart also? I assume it would be if it is better for the VO2

Howard - Energia Fitness August 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Hi Rusty

Very informative article on HIIT, I hope you have converted any doubters on this subject. I like the 30/30 workout on the stationary bike going 30 secs at about level 16 and recovering on level 10. Apart from the fat loss benefits also give my legs a great workout too.



Jason - Fitness Muscle Building Workouts August 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Great article Rusty. Trying to find that 90% mark is difficult, that is why I go full tilt and tell my clients to do so too.

I also find that no one really goes full tilt when they know they have more reps to do so I find this keeps them out of that 100% range.

alan August 7, 2011 at 7:07 am

I do 30/30 or 30/20 or 40/20 intervals with kettlebell ballistic lifts. I sometimes do the exercise 1 side at a time or do 1 side then have the rest interval, then do the other side. for example

30 seconds Mil press (right) rest 20, mil press left 30 secs

30 secs snatch (R) rest 20 secs, Snatch (l) 30 secs

front squat (Kb racked on the right) 30 secs, rest 20 secs

add as many exercises as desired and a couple of circuits, you have a great workout in 10-15 minutes.

it’s one of my favourite ways to train.

South Charlotte Orthodontist August 7, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I like to do the the cardio in the pool. Warm up and stretch for ten minutes and then seven minute repetitions with a three minute break. Can do this for 345 minutes and so without hurting my knees or shoulders

simon August 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

I normally practice for 30 minutes and rest for 3 minutes before start for next interval. Great for me:)


Chris Cannon @ Free Muscle Building Tips August 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm


I just started experimenting with 30:30 HIIT. At first the rest interval was kinda short, but you get used to it quickly.

I’ve been doing it for about 2 weeks and already seeing good results. Nice to see that there is scientific evidence behind the method.


Luke M-Davies August 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

So great to see you still giving HIIT the attention it deserves. I remember first reading of HIIT on your site Rusty and it revolutionised my training…

My staple HIIT session comes from running with my local triathlon club where we do loops of about 1 mile at a local park with running sets of 80-90% race pace followed by a short recovery period…traditional HIIT really.

But I agree that I train to race, not race to train and so go hard in your HIIT but with the exception of the odd super-hard session keep that around 80-90% effort. Using a heart rate monitor is a great way to enforce this.


Brad Pitt Workout August 16, 2011 at 12:39 pm


thats awesome to got some powerful aspects about HIIT Intervals.

thats truly nice and well versed information.

Thanks for post. πŸ™‚

Matt August 17, 2011 at 6:12 am

Google Tabata Protocol. Better results in less time

Bob August 19, 2011 at 12:37 am

Hi, I’m 21 years old, 6 feet tall, and 140 lbs. Is there a way I can achieve the lean hollywood look without gaining a lot of weight and then cutting?

I would greatly appreciate anybody’s help!

Rob Sulaver August 19, 2011 at 8:22 am

I LOVE Tabata but I find negative rest to be too demanding for all but the most highly trained anaerobic lactic power athletes. Modified Tabata protocols work well (10 on, 20 off…11 on, 19 off…etc.) as a regression. Also, WHAT you choose to do (the modality) affects your interval choice – Force Treadmill Intervals are going to be require a different protocol than a recumbent bike.

Solid post Rusty.

rachid August 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Hi Rusty
great article and this paragraphe is woderfull
” Let’s be honest…if you are willing to kill yourself, you can burn a lot of calories and eventually get super lean. Ever see the movie 300? That movie is an example of people who lived and breathed fitness and tortured themselves for months to get lean. The “brute force” method of fitness works, but who wants to live like that? I think training should be enjoyable and something that you want to do for life. Luckily a study found that 30-30 HIIT Intervals, done properly, felt easier and actually burned more calories than a longer more painful work-to-rest ratio.”

Beachbody Coach Missy August 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I’m a big fan of HIIT, as it makes up the foundation of a few of our workout programs. I have found that the calorie burn is the most intense I’ve ever experienced. This article confirms what I have been preaching to my clients for 2 years now. Thank you!

Charlotte August 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I really like the idea of doing my interval training outside, especially as I don’t have a gym membership at the moment –
I was just wondering would it work as well using steps/ uphills for the intervals? Or would this bulk my legs up more/ less proportionately than sprints?

Jen - Personal Trainer Miami Beach August 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

I personally love HIIT training methods. It’s not as boring as “regular” training and gives – if done right – great results.
Thumbs up for HIIT! πŸ˜‰


Tom August 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

Great information Rusty, I have not had a lot of experience with this type of training.
The concept behind it makes sense as the higher intensity but lower duration should allow you to minimise the build up of lactate and allow you to maintain the intensity for longer.
I will give it a go!

Noe August 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Hi Rusty. Another really helpful post! With all your posts on HIIT over the years you’ve build an amazing resource on the subject. Can’t find this stuff anywhere else. It has helped me lots and lots. Thanks so much! Noe

April @ September 4, 2011 at 10:06 am

After getting sick and tired of running marathons and depressed thinking that was the only way for me to control my weigh, I discovered Hiit and have not looked back! Since I just gave birth to my 2nd child about three months ago and am constantly running after my 6 year ol, I can’t always summon up the energy to do longer intervals. The 30-30 sounds like a great way for me to get my Hiit in, and have time to recover. I’ll do the hiit protocol with something other than running though. After running dozens upon dozens of races….I think I’ll do what someone suggested above, kettlebell snatches or the jumprope.

Obra September 8, 2011 at 5:14 am

Anyway you can’t starve, otherwise you make your body sick. It needs vitamins and all the microelements… if you want to lose some weight, just eat a bit less.
Obra from mobile app development

Danial September 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm


I just came across this site and spent a hour reading it. My question is where can i find a long term HIT schedule. Do you do long and short intervals on the same day each week. What days would you incorporate jump rope, pushups and AB workouts. I just don’t wanna push myself too hard and get a equal balance of all of them. Thank You and awesome site.

Bob Burns September 11, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Terrific post Rusty!!

HIIT is a very important component of my workout routine. I usually do 60/60, because it is an automatic set interval program, and I don’t have to worry about changing it every minute.

I am yet to try 30/30 interval. What I’m thinking about is that this will be a bit inconvenient from a standpoint of trying to change the interval every 30 seconds. How do you set up your cardio machine to do 30/30? Do you start with manual setting and set it up this way? Or you have some other way? Please share.





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Bob @ September 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm


I wouldn’t worry about steps and uphills bulking up your legs. Remember you DO NOT have as much testosterone as males do. You will only tone your quads and they will look more defined.

Honestly I have been doing uphill walking for HIIT for a while now and I gotta say it’s one of my favorite exercises. My quads started to look a lot more defined. What makes them big are me doing heavy squats, but of course you don’t have to do heavy squats πŸ™‚

Hope this helps answer your question!




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Bob @ September 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm


There are several ways you can achieve a lean holywood look without bulking up.

One way is to get your hands on Rusty’s Visual Impact. It will get the job done perfectly for you.

Other way is to do your research on internet. This will be much harder for you. There are just so many programs out there.

From what I see you are already super skinny if you’re 6 ft tall and weigh 140lbs. That means you must have a high metabolism rate.

If you want to get a hollywood look then you need to gain some solid lean muscle mass. There’s no question about it.

Get yourself a solid workout routine. Your lift rep ranges should be anywhere between 6-12 for a good muscle growth.

It really depends on what your level is.

Another tip:
– EAT CLEAN. That means no junk food, and no one big meals at the end of the day. Eat about 5-6 high protein meals a day (you really need a good proten to carb to fat ratio). This will ensure a solid muscle growth without gaining any fat.

Hope this helps answering your question.




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Bob @ September 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm


It all depends on what time of the day you workout.
If you workout at night let’s @ about 5pm, then make your lunch a last meal before you workout.

If you workout in the morning then naturally don’t eat anything before the workout.

The reason of fasting Rusty is referencing to is to obtain a better calorie deficit. Remember you will be burning fat more efficiently when you create that calorie deficit.




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Danielle September 19, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I’m sure you’ve heard of INSANITY, the same creators that put out P90X. That is a great HIIT program! I’ve completed the program a couple of times. I used to prefer running as my choice of cardio but now it’s INSANITY or Turbofire (also by Beachbody).

charlotte October 4, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Hi Bob,
I carried on with the uphill/ stair sprints and it didn’t seem to be adding any unwanted bulk to my thighs, unfortunately I think its given me a bit of an it band niggle so I might have to find something else to do for the time being anyway! Thanks very much though

nicolas November 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for posting this great content! I really like reading and I am continually looking for informative information like this!

Emily Stubler November 26, 2011 at 7:12 pm

This a very interesting post. I have been doing Tabata training recently which seems to have the same basis of theories. I am anxious to try this too because they are a bit longer intervals rather than the 20 second ones in Tabata training. I would, however, be interested in seeing the real effects of these types of workouts if you didn’t train any other way. It is hard for me to believe these theories in their entirety because, like most people, I train other ways as well. Hopefully the founders isolated these workouts before publishing their findings!Thanks again for sharing! I can’t wait to try it out.

David @ The Natural Health Service December 8, 2011 at 11:54 am

I used to do 30-30 intervals pushing to the max, but soon found I burned out and my fitness decreased. But that’s what all the articles I read said to do. It’s good to find that you advocate the more sensible approach of training at around 90% effort.

It’s also fascinating to learn that longer intervals make the shorter ones work better. Something I didn’t know. Thanks.

Chad Anderson January 2, 2012 at 10:33 am

I’ve used this approach myself with great results. However, with clients it’s hard to get them to work at a high enough intensity. They can do it with me around, but usually not on their own. Nonetheless, still a method I use quite often.

bella January 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

Hi Rusty,
i have been doing the hiit carido 30-30
30 sec on 3.5 and then 30 sec i change from 8.0 – 8.5 and 9.0 towards the end for 20 min.and i walk on 3.0 for the last 1 minutes. I had a problem with big bulky cheerleading thighs. they have gone down a lot but i dont want them to get big, will this make them bigger? The reason i enjoy this is beause its only 30 min and doesnt take up too much time. Thankyou!

Niko - noeXcusefitness January 21, 2012 at 4:04 am


It’s not an exact science but you could try and work out your 90% by monitoring your heart rate with a heart rate monitor. Using a heart rate monitor determine your resting heart rate, then do some runs at 100% and check your heart rate. Take the 2 figures and work out what 90% of your 100% effort heart rate is. Then when you are trying to exercise at 90% try and aim for that heart rate. After doing it a few times, you should be able to figure out what speed 90% is.

Niko - noeXcusefitness January 21, 2012 at 4:10 am


This form of HIIT training should not add bulk to your thighs. Was it this form of HIIT that has made your thigh shrink in size? Ultimately nutrition is going to play a vital role in the size of every part of your body. If you are in a calorie deficit, then there is no way that you can add size to your thighs, or any other part of your body for that matter. I hope this helps.

Keeon January 28, 2012 at 11:18 am

HIIT is definitely a results oriented workout. You will definitely burn fat. I know there are different types of HIIT workout. What is an ideal length of time to do a HIIT workout?

Suzanne January 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm

This is awesome! I’ve been trying out different workouts at home, instead of just relying on my fitness class. Thanks for your advice!

Pensamentos vida February 2, 2012 at 10:04 pm



bulkyguy43 March 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Rusty, I found this information to be very helpful. I am just starting out with some structured HIIT sessions of my own. I do mostly elliptical and bike stuff with the occasional tabatta sprint in their. I have a question though, is 30secs the optimal time to be running? Or are shorter work even better or they to short? Also do you want to have a 1-to-1 ration of work to rest? Just wondering if you have read any research on this topics!

Brad - Six Pack Insanity Healthy Meal Plan March 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Hey Rusty this looks like a bad ass workout. Good stuff.

Charlene March 22, 2012 at 7:30 am

This is a great article with valuable research. My workouts often involve HIIT training and Crossfit exercises. I believe it’s a great way to shake things up within a workout routine especially when one feels they have hit a plateau in their training.

Trainer April 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

True HIIT should last no more than 10 minutes tops. If you’re working hard enough, 10 minutes if that is all you should be able to do. If you’re up to 15+ minutes, then you’re not working hard enough = not true HIIT.

Trainer April 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

If you’re going 90+%, you’re not going to be able to last 20 or even 30 seconds. You might last 10 secs. Of course everyone has their own different view of what 90% is

Melbourne Personal Trainer May 1, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Trainer I agree. It’s called going at 90% because your trying to exhaust the muscle/fibers. The CP energy system only allow 10-15sec of energy. If you are going for longer then you aren’t hitting that energy system!

Kelsey May 22, 2012 at 9:45 am

There are so many opinions on the “Best” workout to do to see the best results. It’s hard to know what to listen to and what to do. I have basically tried it all and I definitely see and feel the best when I am doing HIIT workouts. Thanks for the post!

Gary May 23, 2012 at 2:38 am

Good information. Hard cardio exercises are the only way to go if you want to get super lean and show off those honed abdominal muscles.

Zulu July 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I am concerned about the effects on my CNS, because I am also in training to gain strength. I am currently on Wendler’s 5/3/1 strength program and I want to add in a cardio/ fat burning workout on my off days (Tuesday & Thursday). The strength program itself is very taxing, being that the reps are low and the weight is high. I am afraid that I will run down my CNS if i add in HIIT training, but i dont want to be so out of shape and cant even run a mile. Is there a way that I can find a happy medium with my strength and conditioning (greater strength AND Vo2Max)… I want to be mighty strong as possible, but also be well conditioned and not extremely fat like some guys I see on world strongest man competitions. Please offer some advice, thank you

SHADES September 8, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Thanks for the blog Rusty. Im wondering if doing 30 mins of HIIT can be constituted as being a true HIIT workout. Being relatively new to it I find 15mins of 30s sprint at about 80-90% and 1min rest (8intervals) a struggle. I dont’t have mad popping muscles and was never the athlete type but I enjoy working out. 15mins of HIIT is ideal but also a killer workout leaving me looking silly gasping for huge mouthfuls of air.
Oh yeah…one more thing. Do you think Usain Bolt could do HIIT at 100% for 30 mins?

argy November 24, 2012 at 11:51 pm

very very good job and research..

Jason February 9, 2013 at 5:52 am

Great workout.
In order to increase my stamina before tough trainings I am taking nutritional supplement – Navy Seal Formula. It gives me intense boost of energy and really improves my workouts. Natural compounds, like Siberian Ginseng, Ginko Biloba make it safe to take in a long run. I would definitely recommend this product.

James March 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Here’s a program I use in my martial arts class. 30 sec. Bodyweight exercise followed by a 30 sec. active rest jumping jacks, light run or some type of footwork). This is a 16 minute workout. Starting with an upper body exercise. Then a lower body exercise and then an an exercise. Then we repeat that sequence for 16 minutes. After two weeks we we add five seconds to the work portion. Two weeks later we do the same thing, and then add five more seconds again. By the sixth week you’re doing 45 sec. of work and 15 sec. of active rest. At the two month mark we change exercises and start all over. We do a light warm up and stretch first and end the workout with a slightly more involved stretching routine. Makes for a total of about 25-27 minute workout.

oussama May 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Hi Rusty,
I was wondering if cardio kickboxing has the same effects as a HIIT workout. Depleting glycogen.

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