Exercise, for some people, starts out as a way to manage weight and sculpt beach bodies. But as most people move forward, the progress can become addicting. This often leads to a search for the most effective, sometimes, most intense form of exercise like the famous HIIT (high-intensity interval training).

As the name suggests, this mode of training is intense. Maybe some pictures of intense workout come to your mind. Yes, that is good. Now multiply that intensity to ten! Yes, these are a killer mode exercise, and this is not for the faint of heart! (and that includes the anatomically faint heart!)

More…

What Is HIIT?

Best HIIT Workout

High-intensity interval training, or simply HIIT (pronounced as “hit,” or you can spell it, whichever you want) is an intermittent form of exercise where you do powerful bursting muscular contractions for a short period and resting for another short period.

While doing regular exercise, we often do it at a comfortable pace we can maintain for long periods. In an exertion scale of 1-10 with ten being the highest, we often workout around 5-7. That’s normal, and that is okay. This intensity of exercise has given many people good results.

But with HIIT, the intensity is pushed to the limits. Maybe we could safely assume that your resting phase should be around 5. But as you progress, your natural resistance will increase naturally. Your intense phase should somehow feel like you are being chased by a rabid animal from a post-apocalyptic movie!

To easily grasp the nature and modality of the exercise, let’s picture it this way. You jog for 100 yards then sprint for 100 yards then walk again for 100 yards. Easy, right? Now do this for ten more cycles or until you run out of breath.

Here’s another example, you do as many squat jumps as you can for 1minute, then catch your breath in the next minute. I think you already get the point. So, there is a period of maxed up exercise, then a period of light exercise or rest.

How Does HIIT Work?

Best HIIT Workout

HIIT dares to revolutionize training methods and eliminate wimpy excuses about having no time. High- intensity workouts can last as little as 20 minutes and burn twice as much when you go for a jog. The usual range is around 30 minutes, but no more than that.

So, How does High-Intensity Interval Training work? Let’s look at our basic physiology. We breathe around 20 breaths per minute. That is to maintain the oxygen level in our blood and keep up with our passive calorie burn. Just enough to maintain our daily activities.

Intense Phase

During exercise, I know you know this, we catch our breath. Yes, this is common knowledge, but, why do we catch it? Well, it is because when we workout, our muscles burn more oxygen than usual. So, to catch up with that, we need to fill our lungs with more air quickly.

While performing the intense workout, our heart rate spikes up to around 180 beats per minute for a healthy active adult. This is the optimum zone for maximum caloric burn. This is what we are aiming for when doing HIIT (a heart rate monitor can come in handy).

Rest Phase

During the short resting period, our heart rate never really drops dramatically. There is just not enough time to recover and bring our heart rate down. On this short rest period, our heart rate drops around 30bpm. That is about 150bpm.

As you can see, and if you have already experimented with trying it, the short rest period is not enough to catch your breath! Even while resting, our body is still pumped to the red zone where all the fat burning happens!

This means that the average heart rate we have for the whole duration of the training is about 165bpm. Ultimately, you never get out of that red zone until you stop.

How is this better than running and other cardio? Because we often jog maintaining a heart rate around 120bpm. That is just too shy from 165bpm, won’t you agree?

What Is HIIT For?

Yes, it may seem like HIIT is not for everyone. To be honest, it is ill-advised for beginners to max everything as they begin. This may lead to injuries and work against your goals.

TIP: Starters should begin with a comfortable pace and work your way gradually increasing the intensity.

1. Losing Weight

Best HIIT Workout

HIIT is a good way to lose weight quickly. Hitting the fat burning zone burns you double the calories than what you would get on a regular exercise. This can be a better alternative for your cardio especially if you don’t have much time.

2. Strength And Endurance

Best HIIT Workout

Exercises are meant to train your body and adapt to strain and hard work. HIIT is one recommended mode of exercise to increase your physical capability. HIIT can increase your endurance, strength, agility, and add some flexibility too.

3. Increased Performance In Sports

Best HIIT Workout

We may all agree that there are mainstream contact sports that do not require continuous unending sprint laps. Even the famous basketball game does not require players to run off at their top speed all the time.

In that light, HIIT mimics the way you move in the court, arena, or whatever sports venue you are at. One minute you are on a comfortable pace, the next minute, you are running like crazy! High-intensity interval training can prepare you for these kinds of maneuvers.

4. Contest Preparation

Best HIIT Workout

Doing HIIT a few days before a competition can help you bring your leanest body possible. This is a good way to bring your body fat percentage to almost nothing! Just take caution and augment your diet with some carbs to keep up with the routine.

5. HIIT Improves Both Energy Systems For Endurance

It may seem that most people engage on the high-intensity interval to effectively manage weight and get a beach body. But truthfully, even some athletes incorporate this method into their routines to make the most out of each workout.

As you progress and become better, you will start to notice how much you are not strained by climbing some flight of stairs. It would take a lot more time before you feel the strain. And I’m sorry for this but, you might find your routine regular cardio phase a little boring.

Benefits Of High-Intensity Interval Training

Any form of exercise is better than a total lack of it. Light exercise and even improper exercise can make your heart pump faster than usual and increase your caloric burn. Improper may be ill-advised, but you get my point.

However, when you exercise properly,  and use proper gear, you are less likely to get an injury. You might hate the difficulty of HIIT but doing so will open greater and better things for you.

1. Cranks Up The Challenge

Best HIIT Workout

For most hobbyists and fitness enthusiasts, your regular cardio might have become boring over the years. Doing a different routine, high-intensity interval training can spice up your same old workout.

Whatever choice of exercise you prefer, there is always a safe way to make it a few notches more difficult than the default pace you do. An easy and famous example is alternating sprints and walking. That is the easy concept of it.

2. Do It Anywhere

Best HIIT Workout

HIIT requires no special place to be effective. You can do burpees and rest on 2 square yards! No fancy preparations required to do so. All you need is stock on is a huge can of motivation. This mode of intense training eliminates some of your excuses!

Parks, warehouses, abandoned buildings, garage, and anywhere you can freely move without bumping your head can already be a good training ground.

3. No Gym Required

Don’t want to go to the gym? A lot of people have managed to recreate their bodies without going to the gym. HIIT is one way to do this with minimal to no equipment at all. The least you need to have is a good pair of training shoes and a towel.

4. Saves You Time

Best HIIT Workout

Unlike leisurely jogging which often takes about 30 minutes to an hour to feel a good burn in your workout, HIIT can save you as much as half of that time! If you run for an average of 3-4 hours every week, you could essentially cut that time to 1 and ½ hour to 2 hours!

It may seem like a too little time to be much worried about. But if you sum it up, that is 12-16 hours a month. That is almost a day’s worth! Now, if we zoom out a little more, you spend your year sweating 144hrs to 192 hours! That is 6-8 straight days of your year!

I know, when it hits you in the head, it’s a huge amount of time. This only accounts to your routine jogging. If you add up your other fitness activities and sports, how much time are you losing? Now, HIIT can spare you some of those precious minutes.

5. Double Up

Best HIIT Workout

The good things don’t end up there. Inevitably, you burn as much as twice as fast with half the time. Yes, it’s a great bargain. It may seem a little too good to be true, but, that is how our physiology is programmed.

The heavy demands of HIIT force our heart to go on overdrive and keep up with your routine. The heart pumps up to 180bpm to supply your body with the nutrients and the oxygen you need to perform the exercise.

This results to entering the fat burning zone and staying there for the whole short duration of your training. This leads to more calories burnt for every exercise minute!

6. Healthy Heart

Best HIIT Workout

Have you ever wondered about the size of your heart? Approximately, it is the size of your closed fist. But, athletes have bigger hearts than most. And in fact, the resting heart rate of your favorite sports person may be around 40-60bpm!

It may seem like it is way too slow to supply enough nutrients and oxygen to the whole body. But, because of consistent training, the heart has become so strong that it can supply our bodily needs with a few lesser pumps than your average Joe.

Maybe 40-60 bpm is on the end of the spectrum and maybe a little exclusive for the extreme athletes. We may not be able to reach that, but, it sure will make our heart a lot stronger than sitting on the couch!

7. Spiked Metabolism

Best HIIT Workout

Any form of adequate exercise can increase your metabolic rate. Have you ever noticed how much hungrier you get the following day after an intense workout? This is your body telling you to take extra food to sustain your energy requirement of the day.

This means that even after you have finished your routine, your body still burns a little more than your regular lazy day.

Reasons To Try High-Intensity Interval Training

You may be skeptical about the efficacy and benefits of adding HIIT to your regular training regimen. First of all, it may seem like too little time is not effective in burning most calories.

But, as we have discussed, and as experts have proven, HIIT can give you more caloric burn per minute than a comfortable, steady pace cardio.

1. Strengthens Major Muscle Groups

Most HIIT training requires little to no equipment at all. This means that you will be dealing with your own weight most of the time. Exercises such as jump squats, plyometric push-ups, and pull ups are your best friends.

These exercises are using the large muscle groups of the body. It requires you to perform the exercise involving almost all of your skeletal muscles!

Imagine your jump squats. It requires the whole lower body to lift from the ground while using your core to maintain good posture. A pull up requires your arms and your back while keeping your core engaged.

Same goes with plyometric pushups. Every explosive push lifts you off the ground while your abdominal muscle is tight to keep your spine in alignment. Plyo pushups strengthen your arms and chest like no other exercise!

2. Sugar Level Management

If you are in an unfortunate genetic line of diabetes, exercise is one of the best ways to manage your sugar and avoid catching this chronic illness. Regular exercise and commitment to your diet can help you sustain optimal blood sugar levels and manage your diabetes, or avoid it.

3. Define Your Level of Exercise

The absence of equipment during HIIT can help you easily adjust your workout depending on your level of fitness. This is a good way to start your journey to HIIT. In essence, you need to cycle between intense and rest phase.

Now, according to your ability, you can gradually increase the difficulty of your workout. Don’t worry about the calories you burn. Here is why.

If you are a beginner, let’s say you can only do about 20 or 30 pushups in each minute. Your main concern is if you could reach high heart rate with just the basic exercise. Right? It may not seem intense (because we see monsters on youtube doing thousands of push-ups with ease), but, your body is not accustomed to the exercise yet!

This means that your heart will still pump at a high rate because this is hard for your current state! Eventually, you will gain strength by the day, and you can gradually increase the intensity of your workout.

How Does HIIT Work?

There is no magic in witchcraft in HIIT. Simply put it this way. You can jog for one hour and not get much exhausted. You can Swim numerous laps and feel like you could do a few more. But in a 20 minute HIIT routine, you feel the burn after a few minutes. You may even feel like giving in the few minutes left!

Why is this? Because the intensity of your 20 minute HIIT (when done in proper intensity) consumes nearly an hours’ worth of your regular cardio exercise. This is what happens when you put your body on overdrive.

Your heart compensates and pumps more blood while you continually burn energy.

How To Do HIIT

You can easily convert your regular cardio exercise to an HIIT regimen. The simplest way to do it is by timing yourself while you are jogging. Start off by jogging for a minute, then sprint for the next 30 seconds. Brisk walk for 1 minute and burst for another thirty seconds.

This is the general idea of doing HIIT. Let me show you some examples. For beginners, it is advised that you start with lower intensity. Starters don’t require the max intensity to bring the heart rate up. Here is an example of gradually increasing HIIT difficulty.

Weeks 1-2

  • Start off with a good warm up to prime the muscles for the intense workout.
  • 15-second intense phase.
  • 60-second rest.
  • Do this for ten cycles, and you will be done in around 13 minutes then cool down.

Tip: If you find that ten cycles are a too easy, do five more cycles before cooling down.

I know this may seem too little even for beginners. But try to stick to it for the first half and notice that along the middle of your workout, you will start to catch your breath. Nobody wants to cut progress because you need to nurse a strained foot.


Week 3-4

This is the right time to double the intense phase of your workout. Yes, that would be 30 seconds of intense phase and1 minute of rest. By this time, I think you are already getting the hang of it.

  • Do your warm up routine.
  • 30-second intense phase.
  • 60-second rest.
  • Repeat for ten cycles. Then cool down. Do some more if you are not exhausted yet.

Since the intense phase was doubled, essentially, your total time will be extended by about 2 and a half minute. You will be done in about 15 minutes.


Week 4-6

I can tell that by this time, you will have a mixed feeling of dread and excitement. After training for a month and getting accustomed to your routine, this time, we will double it again. The effective ratio is 1:1.

  • Warm up. Do not skip this.
  • 60-second intense phase.
  • 60-second rest.
  • Repeat ten times.

Tip: Taking too much water while working out can make you uncomfortable. Try limiting your rehydration during the workout to a few sips.

This is the serious part. This will take you around 20 minutes to finish. One full minute of the intense workout is extreme already. The rest phase may seem to be insufficient for all the action. But this is exactly what you want!

This is where all the optimal burning happens. The body is not able to supply all the oxygen needs while working out and is forced to metabolize energy anaerobically leading to more fat burnt by the minute.

The 1:1 ratio is the most common routine of HIIT. Most people engage on HIIT up to this level and maintain at this rate. This is a great pace. It can help you manage your weight with little time. But for some extremists, this is not the end of the hall.


Week 7-8

You can still increase the difficulty of HIIT by doubling your time on the intense phase.

  • Warm up.
  • 30-second intense phase.
  • 15-second rest.
  • Do this for 25 times, and you will curse the world why you even started it (if you have managed to finish at all!). Then rest.

During the whole duration of exercise, you may naturally feel like drowning as if you can’t get enough air. Be careful and be sensitive about what you feel. It is always best to be safe. Discontinue the workout whenever you feel like something is amiss.

Create Your Own HIIT Routine

An HIIT routine of 3 times a week is a good way to start and maintain a healthy weight. Many others can do it up to 5 times a week. Yes, this is possible since the workout time is dramatically shortened.

Now, the important thing is how you make the most out of each workout. In 3 days a week program, burpees alone can get you through every workout. But if you prefer to do it every day during the weekdays, then burpees may become boring.

Not only that the routine can be monotonous, but your working muscles will not have enough time to repair and recuperate from the previous days’ beating. So, it is advised to mix and match exercises to change the target muscles.

You can cycle from upper body dominant moves, and do a lower body dominant moves the next day. To make it fun and interesting, here are some examples of exercises you can mix and match with your preferences.

Upper Body Dominant Exercises

1. Pushup

2. Hand Touch Pushups

3. Diamond pushups

4. Alternating staggered pushups

5. Prison Cell Pushup

6. Spiderman Pushup

7. Handstand Pushups

8. Plyometric Pushup

9. Toe-touch Pushup

10. Handstand Pushups

11. Pullups and Chins

As you have noticed, these are different variations of pushups. This only proves how wonderful pushups are. There are many other variations you can find on the internet. Feel free to experiment but be careful not to rip your rotator muscle!

Lower Body Dominant Exercises

1. Squats

2. Squat jumps

3. Burpees

4. Lunges

5. Pistol Squats

6. Single Leg Hip Raise

7. Box Jump

8. Kneel Jump

Yes, most of these are variations of squats. The key is explosive movements!

Beginner Sample Schedule

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Do as many pushups as you can in 15 seconds

Do as many squats as you can in 15 seconds

Do as many hand touch pushup in 15 seconds

Do as many lunges in 15 seconds

Do as many prison cell pushups in 15 seconds

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Intermediate Sample Schedule

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Do as many alternating staggered pushups as you can in 30 seconds

Do as many squat jumps in 30 seconds

Do as many spiderman pushups in 30 seconds

Do as many burpees in 30 seconds

Do as many plyometric pushups in 30 seconds

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Advanced Sample Schedule

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Do as many diamond pushups in 60 seconds

Do as many pistol squats in 60 seconds

Do as many plyometric pushups in 60 seconds

Do as many box jumps in 60 seconds

Do as many handstand pushups in 60 seconds

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

1 minute rest (jog in place)

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Repeat 10 times

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Insane Sample Schedule

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Warm Up (3 mins)

Do as many plyometric pushups in 30 seconds

Do as many burpees in 30 seconds

Do as many handstand pushups in 30 seconds

Do as many kneel jumps in 30 seconds

Do as many toe touch pushups in 30 seconds

15 second rest (jog in place)

15 second rest (jog in place)

15 second rest (jog in place)

15 second rest (jog in place)

15 second rest (jog in place)

Repeat 20 times

Repeat 20 times

Repeat 20 times

Repeat 20 times

Repeat 20 times

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Cooldown

Feel free to use this example in your actual workout sessions. However, you can mix, match, and modify whichever you want.

Mistakes When Doing HIIT

High-intensity interval training is a great mode of exercise. The design and routine are simple, but sometimes, we tend to overlook some little things in the process. Here are the most common mistakes we tend to make.

1. Too Much

Best HIIT Workout

When you are gaining a lot of strength and endurance, it is easy to overlook the fact that you should spend time mending your sore muscles. This mistake is not exclusive to HIIT, but usual in exercise.

When the habit kicks in, it is difficult to let go of the days allotted for rest. But be wary about this. Too much will be counter-productive for you. Our muscle needs time to rest and heal to regain its optimal strength.

Dealing with it:

Take rest on rest days. In the first place, it’s called rest day for you to rest. Enjoy this time to chill and try some healthy recipe. Drink lots of fluids and eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and protein.

2. Overtime

Best HIIT Workout

Sometimes, it just feels like it’s not enough and that you should add more. But, in high-intensity interval training, wanting more minutes on overdrive means that you haven’t reached overdrive!

This workout is designed to do more in less time. This may mean that you haven’t maxed out your pumps. Maybe, you haven’t put much intensity in your workout.

This mode of training is exhausting, so it is not hard to tell if you are doing it right.

Dealing with it:

Try to increase your effort in every pump. Keep in mind that the quality of the exercise is the essence and not how many lousy squats you can do. Feel the burn in your muscles as you move explosively.

3. Rest Phase Too Long

Best HIIT Workout

Yes, it is very tempting to increase your rest duration. I know this because as you reach the middle part to the end of the routine, each movement becomes more difficult, and sometimes it’s hard to hit a certain number of repetition.

Dealing with it:

Don’t worry about the number of repetition. The key is to maintain your heart rate around 70% of your maximum to get that continuous fat burning state. Take in mind that even if you don’t hit the number of repetitions in your mind, you still get to have your heart rate high because of exhaustion.

4. Inconsistency

Good results need good discipline. Some people skip some days and eventually lose track of their goals. Skipping a day is alright. Just don’t make a habit of making excuses, not to workout.

Dealing with it:

Having an HIIT buddy can help you bring that motivation back. A fitness coach can help you reach your goals too. It may be a bit expensive, but if you can afford it, health is a worthy investment.

5. Diet

Best HIIT Workout

Fitness is not just about explosive movements. Exercise is half of the equation. The other half is eating the right type of food to fuel your workouts and keep your energy high. Eating junk food will not make the cut.

Dealing with it:

If you are a fan of cheesy poofs and twinkies, you may find this advice offensive. Stay away from junk food. If it is available in your kitchen, chances are, you are going to eat it. Don’t buy it. D does not restock your pantry with unhealthy food.

6. Alcohol

Best HIIT Workout

Alcohol will not make the cut either. Hangover is your number one demotivator. We don’t feel like doing anything physical when we are hungover.

Dealing with it:

Stop drinking alcohol. If you can’t, try limiting it to special occasions only.

Expert Tips

High-intensity interval training is an effective way to boost your fitness level. To skip some blunders along the way, let’s hear what experts say.

Laura M. Miele-Pascoe

Laura is a fitness expert who specializes in sports psychology. She is immensely involved in numerous sports and training methodology.

One of her tips to upscale and intensify low impact exercise such as stationary bike is by turning it to HIIT.

First, define your comfortable pace, take a mental note of it, and ride for a few minutes until you are warmed up. Pump up as fast as you can for the next 45 seconds and return to your comfortable pace. Pedal for up to 90 seconds and proceed to the intense phase.

Do this for 20 minutes, and you get yourself a good HIIT workout with just a stationary bike.


Crosstown Fitness Expert Ross Bradley and Stacy Spurgeon

Certified experts from crosstown fitness Ross Bradley and Stacy Spurgeon brings us a list of tips that we can follow to make our routine workouts more effective.

According to them, we must let our bodies get gradually accustomed to the intensity of the workout. Especially for beginners, too much and too fast can expose us to potential injuries.

Allocating rest days and enjoying the rest days for recovery is key to reaching your goals fast.


Tabata Method

Izumi Tabata is a Japanese Fitness guru who pioneered the Tabata Training Method. This started out as an experiment and proved, in the end, its superiority over conventional training method.

The methodology revolves on a 20 second all out intense phase and a 10-second rest. This is done in 8 cycles, and you are finished in just four minutes!


Michael Mosley

Michael is an established journalist who had documented exercise in one of his programs and decided to take on an experiment on himself to find the truth about HIIT.

His findings, it can lower your insulin sensitivity by 24% in a four-week regimen. This is a remarkable figure especially for those who have a genetic predisposition to diabetes.

HIIT Workouts

The intense workout has proven many times to be more superior than most exercises routines you can engage with. It is also fairly easy to convert your favorite exercise to an HIIT routine. It’s just a matter of mixing up the intensity to reach the fat burning heart rate.

Beginners can refer to this site for more information, especially on how to begin and progress with the exercise. We have established that, and I know you would agree, injuries is counter-productive to your goals. Let’s make sure that we are always on the safe side.

Feel free to visit this site for a few advanced routines; You could try out.

Aside from working out without equipment, having some can boost and widen your selection of exercise routines. A few kettle bells, battle ropes, and some weights can boost your workout and add variety while you are at it.

You can find some kettle bell routines you might want to try here.

Conclusion

In this world where we want everything fast, HIIT can be a great companion to lose weight, or sculpt your body, or maintain a healthy lifestyle. But aside from all this information that we have, I know, one thing remains in our mind. What is the best HIIT workout?

The best HIIT workout is the one you start and stick to with discipline. There is no point in doing it and stopping at the first sign of fatigue or distress. This exercise routine is not easy, especially for those who have not been living a healthy lifestyle for a long.

The key is, set a goal and finish it. Along the way, there will be challenges and triumphs. On periods of victory, challenge yourself and set the bar high. Work your way to it and reap the benefits of your hard work.

Emily Brathen
 

Hi there! I'm Emily Brathen. I am a fitness and yoga instructor and a mom of one. Despite my hectic schedule, I still find time for doing the thing I love most - fitness and yoga. I love doing and teaching fitness and yoga because in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health and fitness back into their own hands.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments