How to burn more calories and not be so bored during cardio sessions

Disclaimer: I am just a normal person who has read some things and done some things. I am not a doctor or a certified trainer. I just have an opinion and some experience.


One of my major issues with working out has been how bored I would get. Doing just 10 minutes on a treadmill was mental torture to me. No matter what I was watching or listening to while doing it. So how will I be able to make it through 30 minutes without changing how my brain works. Sure I could learn to push through it but boredom is my kryptonite so it would be really tough. Getting up at 5am is the easy part walking at the same pace from 5:15 – 5:25 is the hard part.

Enter HIIT

I needed a way to get past this or I would not ever hit my goals of losing weight. Because I would lose motivation really quickly. That is when I discovered HIIT. HIIT is High Intensity Interval Training and basically, it is varying your effort in intervals. You would work at a normal pace for a certain amount of time and then ramp it up for a certain amount of time and do that until your workout is complete.

I have found this to be a life saver and it has really changed the game for me as I am not bored while doing it because you have to pay attention to the clock and just as you are done with one thing you have to prepare for another. It just makes the time fly by. It also allows me to hit highs that I could not sustain so I can push myself a little more during the sprint sessions.

My Protocol

When I hit the gym, I hop on an elliptical and do the following protocol.

  1. Normal pace for 3:59 seconds. This is the time that I use to warm up a bit and get my electronics all set (fitbit, phone, headphones, heart rate monitor). My heart rate is about 120 – 135 here.
  2. At 4:00 I sprint for 30 seconds. If I am at a 5 on a normal pace, I am at about an 8 on the sprint. I am not trying to kill myself but I am trying to get my heart pumping much faster during this time. My heart rate is about 145 – 155 here.
  3. From 4:30 – 5:59, I am at a 5 again and lowering my heart rate.
  4. I then sprint on every even minute for 30 seconds. So 6 – 6:30, 8 – 8:30…
  5. I stop when I have hit my calorie goals for that workout. Which is 500 – 600 and takes me about 45 minutes. This will take longer as I lose more weight so that is why I pay attention to calories and not time.

45 minutes just screams by while I am doing this and I feel great afterward. It is also widely accepted that you calorie burn does not end when your workout ends.

Plus, just as your body burns fat for 24-48 hours after interval training, you’ll also burn more calories during the time post HIIT as well.

Do I have to go to the gym?

The beauty of HIIT is that you do not have to use any equipment to do it. You can do shadow boxing, burpees, running in place, jump rope, jog outside, swim. Basically any cardio that you can safely do for 20 – 45 minutes at a slow pace and a fast pace will work.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and burn those calories!

I have placed a table below that may help you (you can end at 20 or keep going if you are feeling good:

Time Mark Action
0:00 – 3:59 Normal pace
4:00 – 4:30 Work
4:31 – 5:59 Normal Pace
6:00 – 6:30 Work
6:31 – 7:59 Normal Pace
8:00 – 8:30 Work
8:31 – 9:59 Normal Pace
10:00 – 10:30 Work
10:31 – 11:59 Normal Pace
12:00 – 12:30 Work
12:31 – 13:59 Normal Pace
14:00 – 14:30 Work
14:31 – 15:59 Normal Pace
16:00 – 16:30 Work
16:31 – 17:59 Normal Pace
18:00 – 18:30 Work
18:31 – 19:59 Normal Pace

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When the scale is not being your friend

The expectation

Last week was week 2 of my effort to lose around 80 lbs. Week 1 was great, I lost 4.5 lbs and I thought that I could probably lose another 3 lbs in week 2. I did everything correctly. I kept my calories in check and averaged about 1800 per day. I also did 2 workouts a day averaging about 800 cals burned (500 in the morning and 300 in the evening).

The math

So assuming that my TDEE ( is 2312 and I am eating 1800, I should have a 3500 calorie deficit from eating alone. If we add in 800 cal workouts each day, I will be at a 9100 calorie deficit ((7 * 800) + 3500 = 9100.). We know that a 3500 calorie deficit should equal one pound of weight loss. So I should be roughly 3 pounds lighter when I hit the scale.

The reality

I stepped up on my scale after that great week of hitting it hard and found that I had only lost 1lb. I was expecting to weigh around 271.5 but saw 273.5. Sure. I was happy that I lost a pound but I will admit that I was pretty disappointed. Even 2 pounds would have been nice. What do I have to do to lose this weight?

The response

There are 3 ways that I can respond to this.

I could change my diet and try a low carb or clean eating diet. I could also lower my calories. I really can’t add too much more exercise because I am about at the time limit that I can take without sacrificing work and family life. This is something that I have done many times in the past and I think we know how that turned out.

I could just quit… Perhaps I am just destined to be fat? This is something else that I would have done in the past. But when I start all over again in a few months or next new years, I will probably wish that I just kept going.

I can push through and keep going. This is probably the last thing that any of us want to do. But it is the best thing given that the math is supposed to work out and it is something that I feel that I can stick to for a long time. I could eat healthier and I will eventually but the best diet is the one that you can stick to and this is mine, for now.

Final thoughts

The fact is that we just can’t predict how our bodies are going to respond each week to our workload and food intake. All we can control is how much and what we eat and how much we workout. 80lbs didn’t just magically appear and it will not just magically disappear. We just have to know that we are doing the right thing and keep going. I can almost guarantee that I will look back at this in a few months and be very happy that I did not give up or make any snap decisions. So we will see in a few weeks how this is going and if it doesn’t change by then I will make a decision on where to go next. But I need to give it time.

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