My Favorite Running Interval Workout | Cardio for Fat Loss

Here it is, my favorite cardio interval workout. It is one of the most challenging running workouts that I have ever done! It is so effective at challenging your body and delivering results like weight loss, speed and conditioning. It’s also just a quick way to really feel like you had a good workout.

I first post this blog post in 2012 and have done it religiously ever since at least once a month for the last 6 years. It’s that good! I don’t think I can say that about any of my 500+ workouts on my blog.

Check out the video and workout below.

Running Interval Workout for Fat Loss


  • Interval workouts force your body to tap into fat stores more than steady state cardio helping aid weight loss.
  • It will help you improve your 5K, 10K or half marathon time.
  • Intervals beat boredom! If you get cardio ADD, try interval workouts.

The Workout

  • Warm up for 5 minutes
  • 10-sec SPRINT
  • 20-sec STEADY
  • 30-sec SLOW JOG
  • Repeat the 10, 20, 30 interval 5 times total then walk for 2 minutes
  • Repeat this 7 minute circuit 3-5 times total for a 26-40 minute workout

How To Create An Interval Timer

  • I create an interval timer using RunKeeper on my iPhone, but you can also count in your head, look at your stop watch or use another app. If you use an app that only allows for 2 time limits, I would suggest setting your timer for two 30 second intervals and just try to remember to sprint for the first 10 and then cruise into a fast paced jog for the first 30-second interval.

  • To create the workout on RunKeeper, go to Coaching and at the bottom, select “Create New.” Next, select add new action, select fast and 10-seconds. Click “back.” Select “add new action” again and this time do Steady 20-seconds.  Once more, click “back” and then “add new action.” Finally adding the 30-second Slow interval. Do this 5 times, then add a 2 minute slow interval. At the bottom, select repeat 4 more times. Click to select a 5-minute warm up and you are ready to go.

Edited 2/14/18: I have not idea if you can still do this using RunKeeper!

If you are at all confused, check out the video below for a more detailed explanation. This workout is a killer and really elevates your heart rate for maximum fat loss potential. It also helps increase your speed.

I also love to do this workout with my jogging stroller and also while pregnant. Here are my modifications:

Warm Up for 5 minutes. Instead of sprinting for 10 seconds, I usually just run as fast I can while still being able to carry a conversation. Then I jog slowly for 20 seconds and walk at a brisk pace for 30. I repeat this 5 times before taking a leisure 2 minute walk. I do this 3 times and finish with a 5 minute cool down. I don’t have time for a 40 minute workout when I’m pregnant or using a jogging stroller.


My Favorite Running Interval Workout | Cardio for Fat Loss

About The Author


  • Mel

    Thanks Sarah! Do you have any other tips on how to use the RunKeeper app? I just downloaded it and added this interval workout. Does it do any other cool things I don’t know about?

  • Kristy Doyle

    I remember you talking about this interval workout a while back, maybe on your Tumblr blog, and I LOVED it! It’s also a great workout for the treadmill because it takes out the boredom factor. Thanks for reminding me!

  • Laurie Mackeson

    When I get a running bug, which seems to be once a week, I incorporate random intervals into my training. Running between poles/signs/parked cars with a pre-determined intensity pattern -- slow, med, fast OR fast, walk OR Walk, medium, fast are the most typical speeds. I am also enjoying varying the street track so I don’t run the same course two days in a row. It is usually (a minimum) of 3-5 days between attempts on the same course. In addition, running on paths, grass areas as a way of changing up the surface in order to vary the intensity is something I have enjoyed. Combining hill runs with variable intensity intervals is enjoyable for me. All you need is a uphill street with 1 or more streets off that one. Run from the bottom to each corner and walk/slow jog back to the bottom and repeat until you get to the top- repeat 5-10 “laps”. Finally, “intuitive running” is what I am getting into more and more at the moment. If you want to know what this means, how I do it, just ask 😉

  • Becca

    Thank you for the details on how to set this up on runkeeper! Im a techno idiot so if u have any other tips please post!!! Cant wait to try this workout :)

  • Laura

    running intervals is probably one of the harder workouts i do each week, but they’re always the most rewarding. i’m always super winded and super sweaty and i feel like i’ve definitely gotten a good workout. intervals have DEFINITELY improved my overall ‘pace’ and stamina on long/steady runs. i recommend intervals to all my friends when they ask me what’s the best way to loose weight.

    • Laurie Mackeson

      Running Increases the chances of a calorie balance if you don’t eat more after the activity (than you normally would have). I have found that as my body has become more efficient (better able to handle less calories) I can miss 1-2 sessions a week and cut out the equivalent of 1 meal (1000-2000kJ) each day and lose weight an not have any performance issues. I say performance because exercise mostly is about training the body to be good at that task. Hope this is helpful in some way to you.

  • Cat

    This looks awesome! Do you find that running with your iPhone is a bit of a pain? I’m only asking because I haven’t used my iPhone to run with yet because I’m afraid that it will feel super bulky if I wear it on my arm. Right now I use a super lightweight mp3 player that I love but I really want to switch to my iPhone for running/cardio workouts.

    • Laurie Mackeson

      The main reason I run with my iPhone is because of the GPS tracking app that I use. It is a little issue having it on my am in the ‘brace’ that I bought but tue benefits defineltly outweigh the negatives. Carrying the phone hasnt slowed me down, but I have had to replace the pouch once, after 6-8month (approx) because of the amount of times I use it. If like you I had a sufficient mp3 player and I didn’t care much for tracking my runs, I would easily be happy to run with a mp3 player only, saving my phone battery and “escaping the world” by leaving te phone at home. I live the feeling of no gps, phone, music and running! Hope my long response has been helpful.

  • Ellen @ Wannabe Health Nut

    I did this workout this morning! (Well…3x) I’m helping my bf train for the NYC Marathon and he’s starting to get faster than me so I’m secretly doing intervals so I can stay on top. HA! A little competition never hurt, right?!

  • Pingback: Weekly Training Recap « Kristy's Health Revolution

  • Alyssa

    I love interval training. I feel it’s the best type of workout for your whole body and overall fitness. It definitely helps with improving running times.

  • Natalie

    this interval workout is awesome, thanks Sarah. I get running ADD and this one kept my attention with the speed changes. I am a treadmill runner so I did 8mph:7mph:5mph. My treadmill takes about 6 seconds to get up to speed I timed it accordingly so that I got a full speed 10 second sprint.

    • Sarah

      Me too! I can’t do treadmills for that reason. A few people asked me how to modify for a treadmill so I’m glad you were able to adjust make it work. You’re so fitfluential! lol :) Hope all is well. We need more weddings to play together at!!!

  • Jayme

    Hello Sara
    I have been attempting your workouts, but failed due to an injury. I am having surgery to remove an extra bone in my foot in a couple weeks, and am wondering how I can still try to get in shape when I will be non weight barring for 2-3 weeks and its a 3-6 months recovery, Do you have any suggestions? THanks

  • Jeff

    Found your site on google while looking for interval plans for runkeeper. Thanks for the workout! I’ve added the 2 minute walk as 2 minutes of slow at the end of the program, is that how you do it? I wish they had a 4th speed or the ability to change the 5 minute cooldown to 2 minutes…


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