Cardio Interval Training for Beginners Level 2 Workout

Cycling. Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Staff / Getty Images

Intervals are a great way to raise your heart rate with a blast of higher intensity. You will take a step up from the Beginner Interval Workout Level 1. This workout takes the intensity up and increases the workout time to 25 minutes.

Interval workouts involve alternating higher intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery periods. By adding higher intensity intervals, you can build endurance and burn more calories. The workout can be done on any cardio machine or outdoor activity. You can use it on the treadmill, elliptical trainer, exercise bike or other gym cardio equipment. Even easier, take it outdoors with running, brisk walking, cycling or skating.

Workout Instructions 

  • For each 'work set', use the settings on your machine (incline, speed, resistance, ramps, etc.) to increase intensity. For outdoors exercise, increase your speed or find a hill or stairs to add. You should be working out of your comfort zone, but not so hard that you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • For each 'rest set', lower those same settings, slow down or go downhill until you're back to a moderate pace. You should be completely recovered before the next work set.
  • Modify the intensity according to your fitness level. If you aren't comfortable yet at level 6 or 7, you can do the intervals at lower exertion levels. Still, keep with the easier/harder sequence.
  • The RPE levels listed (Rate of Perceived Exertion) help you keep track of your intensity on a scale of 1 - 10.  During rest sets, stay around 4-5 RPE.  During work sets, stay around 7 RPE.  There isn't a huge difference between the work and rest sets, you simply want to work a little harder during the work sets. A level 5 is one where you are breathing harder and sweating, and by level 7 you may not want to talk as much are really sweating.

You can also use a Target Heart Rate Calculator to monitor your exercise intensity.

Time Speed/Incline/Resistance Exertion
5 Min. Warm Up 3-4
4 Min. Rest Set: Increase the speed from the warm-up and set the incline to at least 1%. Keep a moderate pace. This is your Baseline. 5
1 Min. Work Set: Increase speed and raise incline, resistance and/or ramps. You should be working harder and find it difficult to talk. 7
4 Min. Rest Set: Back to Baseline 5
1 Min. Work Set: Increase speed and raise incline, resistance and/or ramps. 7
4 Min. Rest Set: Back to Baseline 5
1 Min. Work Set: Increase speed and raise incline, resistance and/or ramps. 7
5 Min. Cool down at a slow, easy pace 3-4


Always discuss starting a new exercise program with your doctor if you have any injuries or chronic medical conditions. In most cases, he or she will cheer you on. But your doctor may want to monitor your responses to medications more closely or have precautions you need to take.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the settings and function of the treadmill, elliptical, or other equipment before you use it. You don't need to be flying off the back and injuring yourself! Outdoors, avoid distracted running or cycling - screens down and be sure you can hear traffic and ambient noise.

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