HIIT Training: How to Build Your Workout

It seems like everyone is doing HIIT, whether they’re in a workout class or working with a personal trainer, and there’s a good reason for it. HIIT, high-intensity interval training, pushes you to your max for a set period of time, with similarly timed breaks between exercises.

HIIT workouts keep your heart rate up, forcing you to work harder and therefore burn more calories. The benefits don’t stop there; HIIT training:

  • Improves blood pressure
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Reduces abdominal fat

Use this short and simple guide if you’re ready to HIIT the gym, but don’t know where to start.

how to hiit

The HIIT formula is simple:

Perform an exercise for 5 seconds to 8 minutes (most commonly 20, 30, or 60 seconds) at a time, and rest for the same period of time, longer if the exercise is extremely demanding, or less time if you want to push yourself. Repeat this 4 to 8 times. Here are two examples:

HIIT Squats

HIIT Lunges

Depending on how long you want to workout for, and your current fitness endurance level, you can choose 2-10 exercises to perform in this manner. Perform one after the other, only when you’ve completed all rounds of the previous exercise.

What Exercises to Choose

The best part about HIIT is that you can use this format for almost any exercise you like. I recommend choosing explosive, whole-body exercises that recruit a variety of large muscles at one time. This helps you make the most out of every movement, without completely burning out one muscle group.

Some explosive full-body exercises to consider include:

  • Squats, squat jumps, weighted squats, 1-leg squats
  • Jumping jacks
  • Skaters
  • High knees
  • Burpees
  • Lunge jumps
  • Pushups
  • Long jumps
  • Stair jumps
  • Walkouts (Inchworms)
  • Stair jumps

You can use this kind of training to target one specific muscle group or area of the body as well, such as a lower body HIIT workout.

HIIT It Hard

These three workouts are great for both beginner and experienced HIIT-ers; go as fast or slow as is comfortable.

Cardio Queen – 30 minutes: 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off x 4

  • Fast feet/Boxer shuffle
  • Jump rope
  • Yoga ball forward roll
  • Yoga ball modified pike
  • Pushups wide
  • Burpees
  • Jump rope
  • Weighted lunges
  • Plank Up-Downs

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop – 10 minutes: 30 seconds on, 10 seconds off x 4

  • Squat jumps
  • Jumping jacks
  • Spiderman planks
  • Star jumps
  • Burpees

Upper Body Burnout – 12 minutes: 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off x 3

  • Pushups
  • Tricep swing backs
  • Arnolds
  • Close dumbbell row

What’s your favorite HIIT workout? Share with us!