Burn 300 Calories in 30 Minutes

Put down the magazine and get to work

Woman's Legs Running on Treadmill

Peter Cade / Getty Images

If you're trying to burn calories and lose weight using cardio machines, we have a challenge for you: Put down the magazine, turn off the television, remove the towel from your dashboard, and stop looking at your watch. Okay, you can keep your earbuds in, but everything else has to go. Why the drastic measures?

If you aren't paying attention, you may not be working as hard as you think, and it may also be harder to stay motivated. There's nothing wrong with zoning out from time to time during a workout, but if you do that all the time, it's easy to slack off on your intensity.

Paying close attention to your pace and intensity, on the other hand, can force you to focus on what you're doing and how hard you're working. Incorporating intervals also allows you to get in bursts of higher-intensity activity. This not only keeps you from getting bored, it also helps burn more calories and increases your endurance very quickly.

Use this technique with any cardio activity to keep things interesting and keep burning calories.

Cardio Workouts That Burn More Calories

The following workouts incorporate interval training, a technique that involves alternating short periods of higher-intensity exercise with periods of easier intensity for recovery. They're a great way to help you pay attention to what you're doing by making you change the settings on your machine. And the intervals will burn more calories.

The speeds and inclines listed are only suggestions, so modify each workout according to your fitness level. Feel free to increase or decrease the speed, incline, and/or workout time to fit your needs.

Before each workout, warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio. During the workout, keep track of your perceived exertion scale (RPE), which is how hard you feel you're working on a scale from one to 10, or monitor your heart rate. End with a cool down and stretch.

Before beginning any exercise program, especially if you have any injuries, illnesses, or other conditions, it's important to talk to your doctor about any precautions you should be taking.


After your warmup, start with the incline at zero and set the speed at a pace just outside your comfort zone (walking or jogging).

Treadmill Workout
Time Intensity/Pace/Incline RPE
3 minutes Walk or jog at a moderate pace. 5
1 minute Raise incline 2% every 15 seconds. 6–7
1 minute Reduce the incline 2% every 15 seconds. 6–7
Repeat the above sequence 6 times.
  Approximate Calories Burned: 320 (based on 140 lb. person)  

Elliptical Trainer

Using the manual program, enter the workout time as 30 minutes and choose a pace that takes you just out of your comfort zone.

Elliptical Trainer Workout
Time Intensity/Pace/Incline RPE
6 minutes Hold a steady pace. 6
2 minutes Increase resistance several increments every 30 seconds. 7–8
2 minutes Decrease resistance several increments every 30 seconds. 7–8
Repeat the above sequence 3 times.
  Approximate Calories Burned: 250-300 (based on 140 lb. person)  

Stationary Bike

Using the manual program, enter your workout time as 30 minutes and choose a pace that's just out of your comfort zone.

Stationary Bike Workout
Time Intensity/Pace/Incline RPE
5 minutes Cycle at a moderate pace. 6
2 minutes Raise your resistance two to three increments every 30 seconds. 6–8
2 minutes Lower your resistance two to three increments every 30 seconds. 6–8
1 minute Set resistance at a high level and cycle as fast as you can. 9–10
Repeat the above sequence 3 times.
  Approximate Calories Burned: 245 (based on 140 lb. person)  

Outdoor Walk/Run

Instead of spending time inside a sweaty gym, head outside for a walk/run. It's easy to add intervals to walking or running workouts. You can time your intervals, as suggested in the workout below, or simply pick up the pace several times during your workout.

Outdoor Walk/Run
Time Intensity/Pace RPE
2.5 minutes Run/jog/walk at your typical pace 6
30 seconds Increase the pace as much as you're comfortable. (Alternatively, pick a target like a tree or sign and sprint toward it.) 7-9
Repeat the above sequence 10 times.
  Approximate Calories Burned: 250-320 (based on 140 lb. person)  

A Word From Verywell

Admittedly, cardio workouts can get boring, especially indoors on cardio machines. Intervals are a great way to spice them up and keep them interesting. Not only do intervals burn more calories and make you fitter, they're a fun challenge. And interval workouts tend to fly by, as you constantly adjust settings and count down the time until your next harder effort. Give them a try!

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Foster C, Rodriguez-marroyo JA, De koning JJ. Monitoring training loads: The past, the present, and the future. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2017;12(Suppl 2):S22-S28. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2016-0388

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."