How to lose weight fast in 12 minutes or less

by Caleb Lee on July 24, 2008

A marathon runner and a sprinter. Which one do you want to look more like?

You want to get ripped right? Yesterday, I explained why aerobic training SUCKS for fat loss. Today I’m going to tell you what REALLY works, and what works fast.

It’s really simple too — only two words, here they are…

Interval training!

Interval training is better for your health

Interval training is usually defined as hard-all out intervals (like sprinting) followed by brief, less intense intervals (like jogging). Work periods and rest periods vary depending on the protocol, but that’s the idea. Get it? Intervals — now the name makes sense.

Next you should know that intervals are the best for your health, here’s why:

  • The famous tabata study: Researchers found that guys who used the routine five days a week for six weeks improved their maximum aerobic capacity (a measure of your body’s ability to consume oxygen–the more oxygen you can take in, the longer and harder you’ll be able to run) by 14%. What’s more, it also improved anaerobic capacity (which measures your speed endurance, or the duration you’re able to sprint at full effort) by 28%. Basically you get better all around results with intervals versus steady-state aerobics.
  • Interval training can lower blood sugar by up to 40%. To put it into perspective, the commonly prescribed drug Metformin does so by a paltry 19% while putting users at risk of obesity, if they can tolerate the constant vomiting and diarrhea!
  • Interval training makes your heart and lungs stronger not just bigger. Marathon runners keel over after marathons (look it up) even though their heart and lungs get enlarged — they’re more stressed. Sprinters get strong hearts. Sprinting is better for you
  • Interval training mimics life and is more functional endurance training. You ever picked up a heavy box for a slow steady state over 60 minutes? Hell No! You have to pick up a heavy box quick… change a tire… chase a kid down snatch him up and yell at him for running down the street. Everything you do in your every day life is anaerobic not aerobic. So Interval training is more functional
  • Sprinting increases testosterone while aerobics lowers it. Although not a well designed study, Journal of Sports Sciences, Vol. 23, Issue 2, February 2005, pg. 187-188 (no abstract).  Here they compare testosterone levels among different groups of males: Sprint Trained -   9.11 (ng/l), Endurance Trained -   7.05 (ng/l) and Sedentary -   8.19 (ng/l) Since this data is a cross-section, it does not establish cause-and-effect.  In other words, it’s possible that men with low testosterone self-select into endurance running, and men with high testosterone self-select into sprint running.  However, this data is very suggestive that sprint training may increase testosterone in men. But logic plays a part here, since we know that staying in the gym longer than 45-60 minutes depletes T levels, it makes sense that long, steady-state aerobics would do the same.
  • Sprinting increase Human Growth Hormone: In a new study, researchers compared growth hormone levels in several ways – resting, after a 6 second cycle sprint, and after 30 second cycle sprint. The 6 second sprint method did move HGH some, but didn’t come close to the body’s potential to release this powerful hormone. The 30 second all-out effort sprint experiment increased HGH by 530% over resting baseline and 450% over the lesser intensity sprint. (A summary of this study can be seen at the National Institutes of Health.)

Interval training is key to fast weight loss

Besides being VASTLY better for your health, Interval training burns more fat than aerobics too.

In fact, in the Tabata protocol mentioned above the Japanese scientists discovered that the people following the tabata protocol burned 9 TIMES MORE FAT than the group that exercised for an hour a day. And your metabolism stays revved up and burns more fat for up to 48 hours after the Tabata protocol.

A simple 12 minute program to lose weight fast

Basically you  pick an exercise, I like sprints, but you can do jumping rope, cycling, etc. You have work intervals (sprints) followed by rest intervals (jogging).

Here’s a simple program to use progressivity in the right direction. In the 12-minute program below, you’re going to focus on gradually increasing the challenge as you progress over 4 weeks.

To aid in this effort, and to make your body accept the proper signal to gear up your metabolism, this program also simultaneously decreases the duration of the exercise period. This has synergistic power that will surprise you.

Weeks Warm-up Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
Exertion Recovery Exertion Recovery Exertion Recovery
1 3 min 6 min 3 min
2 2 min 3 min 2 min 3 min 2 min
3 2 min 2 min 2 min 2 min 2 min 2 min 2 min
4 3 min 1 min 2 min 1 min 2 min 1 min 2 min

Notice the progressive feature of this workout. Over time, the duration of each exertion period decreases. You’re going to be building up the intensity of your exertion intervals over the four weeks.

By week five you should be ready to do 1 min all out sprints, with a 1 minute recovery jog, for three sets, that’s what I do now for fat loss 2-3 times a week. It works I’m ripped :)

So stop doing aerobics now and instead do intervals to increase your health and burn more fat, faster than ever before.

Did You Like This Article On How To Lose Weight Fast?

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Henry September 29, 2008 at 12:17 pm

So after week four you are doing a 3 min warm up and then 3 sets of 1 min hard, 1 min easy and that’s the session?


Caleb Lee September 29, 2008 at 12:26 pm

@Henry, Yeah that’s the session. It sounds easy… until you try it :)



tim November 14, 2008 at 2:13 pm

great article. Question could you do this workout after lifting session?


Caleb Lee November 14, 2008 at 3:20 pm

@Tim, Yessir! I often do this type of interval training after a lifting session. And you can get creative with the total time/time of work intervals/time of rest intervals/choice of exercise and do it on your off days too!


Paul December 4, 2008 at 10:33 am

Not sure if you are aware but the athlete you're illustrating as a model of fitness is the UK sprinter, Dwain Chambers who was banned by the BOC for taking performance enhancing drugs.


Caleb Lee December 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm

@ Paul: Nope, I sure didn't know he was taking performance drugs… but the comparison is still very, VERY valid. You can replace his picture with any track and field star who does sprinting.


Andrew R December 4, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Hey Caleb,

I’ll be the first to admit that HIIT is the way to go. It’s faster, more effective and will increase your functional ability, not only with sprinting but with all other types of explosive movements.

However, I believe that you might have fallen into a trap with analyzing the data in the tabata study. This 9 times fat burning figure is a little misleading. I could explain it myself, but Tom Venuto can do a much better job explaining why most people interpret this data to mean that HIIT burns fat 9 times more so than steady state cardio. Check out this article and let me know what you think. I’m a big fan of HIIT and I really enjoyed this article, thanks bud!

All the Best,

Andrew R


Caleb Lee December 5, 2008 at 6:48 am

@ Andrew: Thanks for the link, you’re correct, and I was aware of that… but my purpose in perpetuating the “9x more fat” saying is basically to say “you get better fat loss results with HIIT from the SAME amount of effort”… which was the conclusion the research study came to – “For a given level of energy expenditure, a high intensity training program induces a greater loss of subcutaneous fat compared with a training program of moderate intensity.” :)


Bruce February 15, 2009 at 6:14 pm

I agree with you that intensity is the key once you have a base of conditioning. I like the way the intensity is ramped up over 4 weeks.
I disagree with your characterization of Metformin. Ir yoiu begin with a blood sugar of 450 and lower it 20% you get an actual decrease of 90. If you begin with 105 (normal) and lower it 60% you get 45, way too low. So, if you need Metformin, interval sprints are not where you need to start exercising and if you do exercise and eat normally, you should not drop too low. It may seem like a small thing, but I pass much of your info on to my male patients and I have to take issue with that comment! Sorry, please keep up the good work.


Caleb Lee February 16, 2009 at 2:49 pm

@ Bruce: Thank you for your comment! I appreciate your point about blood sugar :)


Todd February 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm

This workout isnt making sense to me.For the first week I warmup for 3 min,then sprint all out for 6 min with a 3 min recovery?The final week Im only sprinting for 1 minutes but three times in that session.It seems that sprinting for 6 minutes straight would kill me just starting out.What am I missing?


Caleb Lee February 27, 2009 at 8:59 pm

@ Todd: because the first week you’re not really sprinting all out for the six minutes — you’re doing it less intensely — somewhat tough running (heavy breathing when you done).

Each week as you increase the intensity of your exertion periods (growing towards an all out sprint) you decrease the exertion time because as the saying goes “you can workout intensely or you can work out long — but you can’t do both”.

Hope it helps.


Caleb_Lee July 9, 2011 at 3:55 pm



Jason March 7, 2009 at 2:38 am

What exactly does the warm-up consist of? Also, are there any rest periods throughout the interval training or are you constantly sprinting and jogging?


Caleb Lee March 7, 2009 at 6:11 pm

@ Jason: warm up is light jogging or whatever warm up you normally do, something to get you ready and loose enough to sprint. And no rest periods because the jogging IS your rest period — active rest between sprints.


Jack April 15, 2009 at 10:41 am

I can only sprint for 15-20 seconds 80-100 percent at a time for about 4 cycles. This seems hard. Also, what to eat after doing this on off days?


Sara May 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Can you get quicker results if you do this HIIT 5 days per week as opposed to 2-3 times per week? Or are the benefits reduced because there should be some recovery time? My 20-year reunion is this summer, and although my strength has increased over the last year, I can’t seem to get rid of that stubborn mid-section fat despite long hours at the gym. I hope this will be my solution.


Caleb Lee May 8, 2009 at 2:45 am

@ Sara: yeah you could do it 5x per week … but it’d be better to do some strength training 3x per week and do a really short interval training session after that (like tabata — 4 minutes) and then on the other days (2-3x per week) do a longer interval training session.

Diet is the most important factor when it comes to losing weight though … try out my other site:!


dan May 17, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Caleb, I have been working on the Eliptical and doing 1 minute sprints (I raise the resistance during sprinting so its harder and also so i dont fall off by going crazy fast) and then 1 minute jog on it – i used to be really skinny when i was a kid, almost anorexic and now i have alot of muscle mass but alot of body fat (flab) – is this the type of cardio i wanna be doing?


Gregster June 4, 2009 at 9:06 am

Yo Caleb.
I’m 82kg at 1m79 and am totally ripped. However, my cholesterol is a bit high.(and heart and vascular probs run in my family). My diet is ok. Will HIIT take care of the cholesterol?


Craig August 7, 2009 at 10:12 am

Hey Caleb and all visitors to this blog
I would like to bring your attention to a method that I came across from Rusty Moore (he of
It combines both ‘steady state cardio’ and HIIT in one Fat Blasting protocol
Steady State Target Heart Rate Cardio is great for using fat for energy, the problem is that it takes a while for the body to access this stored fat using low intensity cardio alone
High Intensity Interval Training is great at releasing fatty acids into the blood stream, but wont use those fatty acids for energy…so they get re-deposited into the fat cells.
The Answer? Combine both approaches in one workout!
Perform this is in a fasted state, either in the morning, 5 hours after eating or during your fasting window if you follow an intermittent fasting program
1) take 200mg caffeine 30 mins before your workout
2) 5-10 mins of low intensity warm up
3) 10 mins HIIT (using ideally 1min all out and 1 min recovery)
4) Rest for 5 mins to allow fatty acids to be released into bloodstream
5) 20-40 mins of steady state cardio done at medium to low intensity. This is what is going to use those fatty acids as fuel
6) wait 1 hour then eat


Caleb Lee August 10, 2009 at 2:13 pm

@ Craig: Yup! that Works too :)


Rocky September 27, 2009 at 8:02 am

Caleb lee u r really an expert.i would like to thank u for soo much free information on this site.i m male 17 i m doing weight training since i m 13 becoz i m suffering for gynecomastia.i dont train my ab wings well and i havent done any cardio in that many years all i doo is to pump my chest .i train my chest 3 days a weak with many workouts and with many reps and also do training of my other body parts but not abs and tighs but u know chest is the prob it even look worse any guidelines for that plzz lee i know u hav tooo much experinence soo plzz any tips anything plzz.


Rocky September 27, 2009 at 8:07 am

i was never overweight and i also want to know how to get hard but dont get bigger i read ur articles but cant understand u mean i have to do 10 reps of 2 sets or what?


rocky September 30, 2009 at 4:18 pm

i think u should write and article abouyt gyncomastia and pubertal gyncomastia becoz today majority of the adults are suffering from it.ur site will become more popular among young ones.


ruben October 16, 2009 at 6:02 pm

so u mean i have to sprint for 6 mins n then jog for 3 mins? (during the first week)
how many sessions in one day during the first week?


Karson November 4, 2009 at 3:27 am

I can’t really sprint at maximum speed for 6 minutes. So would I just keep practicing and putting effort into training myself? or would I just run a little faster than jogging. Also, would I be able to take little 15 second break every minute , til I get myself to get use to be able to run that good on a daily basis. Two more questions, how many times do I do this a day and week, and would it even max out my work out doing cardio work outs, and doing 10 pound dumbell with 40 reps each arm. Im 13 and want to get a nice ripped look.


Caleb Lee November 5, 2009 at 6:19 pm

@ Karson: Just follow the program for days/week/etc. And yes, for “sprinting” you exert yourself as hard as possible for the time being. Obviously, you can’t go 100% for 6 minutes, that’s why the time length of exertion periods go down as your intensity go up.

And forget that dumbbell crap, strength train, eat a lot of meat and do this sprinting stuff. You’ll be ripped.


Joseph December 4, 2009 at 9:10 am

So are you saying that following your program would let me lose lots and lots of weight. as in somewhere around 30. Or is this just for training endurance and everything.


Caleb Lee December 4, 2009 at 10:55 am

@ Joseph: yes, you’ll lose a lot of fat.


Joseph December 6, 2009 at 3:11 am

Any change in diet or nutrition needed?


Caleb Lee December 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

@ Timothy and Joseph: it’s always best to eat less, search the archives for eating recommendations for fat loss …


Timothy December 7, 2009 at 10:03 am

So what does one do after week 4.? What are the diet reccomendations for maximal fat loss.


Joseph February 8, 2010 at 11:50 pm

I've actually tried this for the full 4 weeks. Started on December 3rd 2009. I did not lose any weight. the only thing I noticed was stronger legs…


Caleb_Lee February 9, 2010 at 12:17 am


The only other thing it could be is your diet. As they say (correctly) "You can't out-train the dinner table".


Joseph February 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm

quite possible. I was on a diet that was low carb and higher in protein. and fasted 1-2 days a week.
hm… well where do I go from here? fitnesswise.


Caleb_Lee February 13, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Joseph, the only other thing I could think of (from experience) is that your fat intake was too high — OR — you really weren't working out as intensely as you thought … still odd there was no weight loss as you say. As for the less fat and more protein thing, Dr. Sears explains it here:


rossi April 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm

Hey I was wondering what you meant for recovery how fast should we be going in that period of time and is this the best for losing weight while trying to build muscle?


Caleb_Lee April 7, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Go slow enough to where it's like a "jog" pace … not too strenuous … and yes, it's the best for your goals.


Arnold July 26, 2010 at 5:39 am

My name is Arnold Segran and I am a 24 year old male.
I have been spinning for about 6 months now.
I spin for about 60 minutes on my bike from the resistance level of 1 -8 and back from 8-1. In this 60 minute duration I complete slightly more than 20 KM(with 6 KM being done at high intensity)
I do this 5 times a week. From Monday to Friday with each workout lasting 60 minutes as explained above.
Additionally I do push ups(Set of 100, 40-30-30) on Mondays and Wednesdays after my cardio.
Although I look good in the mirror my main concern is the flab on my lower stomach. I have a flat stomach but the the flab at the bottom of my stomach still persists.
I have a healthy diet consisting of fruits first thing in the morning, oats, green tea and of course plenty of water.
My question is how do I lose that flab at the bottom of my stomach am I doing something wrong?
Your reply is kindly appreciated.

Arnold Segran


Caleb_Lee July 28, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Arnold, hard to give you any real "on point" diet advice right now, but me thinks it is diet related. Cut back on the carbs I'm thinking (even "whole" carbs), reduce calories a bit, and just be patient … this area of fat is what they call "stubborn". Hope this helps.


bee August 4, 2010 at 1:25 pm

My father was a marathon runner. For as long as I've known him (29 years) he has never looked anywhere near the appearance of the runner on the left. This just looks like you took the worst photo of a marathon runner you could find and the best picture of a sprinter and posted it on your page.


Caleb_Lee August 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Yea pretty much, that's what I did.

But the same "principle" holds true across the board for the most part. I never claimed to be perfect :)


Jimmy August 10, 2010 at 4:26 am

Hey Caleb,

would you recommend doing interval training after a long weight lifting session if i want to cut overall body fat? or would you just skip interval training and go straight to a light 20 min cardio session?


Caleb_Lee August 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Depends. You could try it and see if your legs are still recovering and you don't feel beat up and if you're ook then you're ok … if it's too much to recover from then cut it out.


lco1987 August 21, 2010 at 10:47 am


Its good of you to share this information and taking the time to answer people's questions. I have one of my own actually; The program you have recommended seems quite hard for the first few weeks. I have been jogging for a few months now and have recently started doing HIIT and I don't think I could sprint at full effort for 6 minutes. My routine is more similar to week 4, which to me seems the easiest of the lot. In week 1 you are saying to do 6 minutes exertion with 3 minutes recovery, whereas in week 4 you say to do 3 minutes exertion with 6 minutes recovery, which is surely easier? I'm a little bit confused by this and just wondered if I am missing anything?


Jack August 21, 2010 at 8:46 pm

eh i dont get the workout set so first week do you sprint for 6 mins or something like that n second week sprint 3 mins in each exertion explain please im easily confused but love trying to keep fit. I workout everyday lifting weights and jogs , i also play tennis and all differents sports. I hav a 6 pak but i hav got alot of xtra skin over it how can i make it protrude out wards???


Caleb_Lee September 4, 2010 at 11:56 pm

The length of time of the "Exertion" goes DOWN as the intensity goes UP. Make sense?


cesarreyes November 5, 2010 at 2:52 pm

hi Caleb, thanks for posting this article, im from Peru and was really glad to get some information about burning fat. I've been into bodybuilding for 3 years aproximadetely and i have experienced myself that long cardio sessions aren't the best, i became really thiny. Now i've recovered weight, but i got some extra weight too lol, i'll try the HIIT starting today!!! I'll do it with a bicycle, i guess it will work too. Thank you very much :)


Thanh Hefferon November 16, 2010 at 12:09 am

So I went for a jog to loose weight… and I`m one pound heavier?


Caleb_Lee November 27, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I dunno haha, dehydrated? Stop the jogging–do the intervals on this page!


Haley February 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm

On the chart you listed, next to week one it says to warm up for 3 minutes, exertion for 6 minutes then recovery for 3 minutes…I have a few questions…I'm not sedenary, but have never been much of a runner, exertion (sprinting) for 6 minutes seems pretty crazy to me…I feel like I should start the chart backwards meaning start the intervals like week 4 and work my way up to week 1 then work my way back to week 4 does that make sense? I like the idea of the interval training because I can't run at top speed for very long at all but I guess Im just confused about the chart, hope this makes sense.


haley February 17, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I just read your previous comments and my question was already answered sorry about that!


john kuchac April 19, 2011 at 2:22 am

So im in pretty good condition and have allot of muscle but I have that abb fat and excess fat that I want to get rid of and I tried everything im pretty lost now.


Caleb_Lee April 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Eat less. Sorry, that's really it — 99% of looking good is diet.


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