Short duration (16-20 minutes), high intensity cardio is a key element in the fat burning equation. A.K.A. Max-OT cardio.

Max-OT style cardio will have a bigger elevating effect on your metabolism and keep it elevated longer after exercise compared to long duration moderate intensity cardio. Plus Max-OT style cardio has less of any negative impact on the muscle building process.

Why 16 Minutes?

There is noting magic about the number 16. Your sessions could fall anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes. We settled on 16 because that seems to be a good time frame where you can keep maximum intensity and focus. The closer you get to 20 minutes the harder it is to maintain that high level of output. That’s not to say 15 or 17 minutes wouldn’t accomplish the task so don’t over-analyze that number. The idea is to keep it between 15 and 20 and work your tail off every single minute!

How do I gauge intensity?

The best way I can describe it is you need to be “huffing and puffing” throughout the session and you need to be working out out of your comfort zone.

One tangible way to gauge this is to set distance goals and try to beat it. For example, if you travel 4.2 miles in 16 minutes on a recumbent bike then your next session you try to beat 4.2 miles with all settings being equal. Working to exceed your distance every time will quickly ensure you are working at the level necessary for maximum results.

How Often?

If fat loss is a primary goal then I’d say you should be doing Max-OT style cardio 5-6 days a week.

If you are in a maximum muscle building phase and looking to maintain condition then I think 2-3 days a week is good.

What makes you so sure?

I was just like all of you and early in my career I did the customary long duration/moderate intensity cardio because that is what the magazines said to do. I achieved good results doing more traditional style cardio, in fact, I won many contests doing cardio that way. However, I always had a hard time getting that razor sharp condition until I implemented Max-OT style cardio. Results went from good to GREAT!

Max-OT style cardio was one of the biggest factors in the outstanding condition I achieved in 2003. It was without a doubt the greatest condition of my career and that is why I am so confident in Max-OT style cardio.

Believe. Achieve.


  1. Jeff, question about food and cardio. I've heard that if you do any kind of cardio on an empty stomach, first thing in the a.m., and maybe especially high intense cardio, it can burn muscle stores.

    This being due to your body not finding any sugar to burn in your body, so it starts burning muscle

    Do you think it's necessary to wake up 30 min earlier to eat something small before Max-OT style cardio?

  2. avatar
    Jeff Willet

    Yes! DO NOT do cardio on an empty stomach!

  3. Is sprinting/walking considered a max-ot cardio routine?For example 10sec sprinting-120sec walking for 16 minutes total time.Every time i will try to increase the duration of sprints or decrease the walking time so as to inrease the routine intensity.

    • I think as long as you are “huffing and puffing” while working out of your comfort zone any mode of cardio can be effective.

  4. Hi Jeff ! I am from Germany and I admire you! Your one of my Role Models in terms of Motivation because you achieved all in the Natural way ! I train now about 7 years with ups and downs my highest weight was about 190 pounds i was a little bit stronger with the barbells and bench press and all that stuff but my belly fat i have now about 11 jears ! I am getting big with muscles but my fat also getting big with my weight! Now I lost 18 pounds with no training cause i had the flu and no appetize and so on!

    I watched your DVD ! I train now since 3 days my muscles working but one fact is different after my workout i make cardio 16-20 ! I will try this until july and i hope my belly fat is going in the area of nevercoming!!!

    Thanks man !!!!

  5. Hi Jeff. Just wondering what % of Heart Rate Max you would personally define as being “High Intensity?”

    • Good question. I don’t monitor heart rate. I go by rate of perceived exertion and work out of my “comfort zone.”

  6. Jeff,

    I’m sure you get this question a lot, Is there an easier diet eating plan for us working Man working 10 Hr days. Just checking if u have any ideas?

    Thanks Bro.. MAX -OT is KING P.S. My son is also doing it.

    • There really isn’t an easier “plan”. The same basic nutrition principles I outline are what you will want to follow. I have always felt that a good meal replacement supplement is very helpful for everyone but especially those with a challenging schedule.

  7. Thanks for reply Jeff…

    One more question if you dont mind…. Is MAX-OT a good workout for Baseball. My son is in High School Baseball and he Loves MAX-OT… Just want to make sure Im giving him the right training. Thanks Jeff.. …….MAX-OT For Life…

    • I do think it is great for athletes because it builds great core strength and power. Then you can take that strength and power and direct it with sports specific drills etc but I believe you always want the basic Max-OT principles in the plan.

  8. Hi Jeff, If weight loss is your goal should you do cardio more than once a day ? Example in the morning and evening ? Or before and after weight training ?


    • I think one session daily some time after weight training makes sense. Start by doing sessions daily then at some point late into the process you can consider cardio 2 times a day but I wouldn’t start the process that way.

  9. Hey I’ve been doing some of this myself and it is great! You just feel a lot better afterwards and endurance also increases. I do have one question that I have not been able to find an answer to. Is it beneficial to do high intensity cardio for longer than 20 minutes? Part of my training always has me pushing myself beyond my mental limitations.

    • From a fat loss perspective I think there are diminishing returns for going longer duration with your cardio sessions. I prefer to keep them 16-20 minutes. I think it is more beneficial to try and go harder rather than longer.

  10. Hi Jeff

    I enjoy following your content and am executing your Max OT weight training program and am just a little unsure about the max OT cardio. My goal is to get large muscles (with time/diet/sleep and consistency of course) but I also carry around just a few extra kg so I want some fat loss too. Nothing major just get it tighter and cut. But anyway to my question. When i’m weight training can my cardio sessions just be covered with my 16 minute (out of comfort zone, huffing and puffing) warm up to my weights session and my 16 minutes cool down after my weights session. Or should I not be mixing these two types of training up at once and doing basically two cardios in that one training session along with weight training?

    • Best if you don’t mix the two. I would have the specific weight training session and then then specific cardio session. That will make them both most effective.

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