HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training): Short Workouts, Fast Results

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is one of the most time efficient ways to exercise. It’s also incredibly effective at improving cardiovascular health, speeding up metabolism, and burning fat.

If you’re not familiar with HIIT, that’s OK. In this post, I’m going to explain what HIIT is, how it works, why it’s good for you, and share some sample workouts that you can try (if you dare).

What Is HIIT?

HIIT is an umbrella term for workouts that alternate between short bursts of high-intensity exercise (10 to 60 second) and low to moderate intensity recovery periods (10 to 60+ seconds).

It seems pretty simple, but there is a caveat. In order for a high-intensity interval training workout to be effective, it has to truly be intense: so intense that you shouldn’t be able to talk to someone while you’re doing it. During these bouts of extreme work, the goal is to reach 80-90% of your max heart rate. That number drops to about 40-50% during the recovery period.

Because HIIT workouts can be so physically challenging, they tend to be much shorter in duration than traditional “cardio”. A typical workout lasts between 10 and 30 minutes, though it’s possible to get a full workout in just 1 minute.

How HIIT Affects the Body

HIIT is a great workout because it’s both aerobic and anaerobic.

High-intensity exercise (like sprinting, running up stairs, or jumping rope) is anaerobic exercise. That’s because your body can’t get enough oxygen to break down carbohydrates and fat for energy. However, low-intensity exercise (like walking, sit-ups, or lunges), is aerobic exercise. In this case, your body has the oxygen it needs to efficiently convert carbs and fat into fuel.

This interplay between high and low intensity (anaerobic and aerobic exercise) is what ultimately makes high-intensity interval training so effective at burning both calories and fat.

Health Benefits of HIIT

The health benefits surrounding HIIT are nothing short of impressive.

HIIT improves heart health.

According to a meta-analysis of 28 controlled trials, HIIT is more effective than endurance training at increasing VO2max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body consumes during exercise). This is important because a higher VO2max translates to better cardiovascular health.

Another comprehensive review of 65 interventional studies found that HIIT improves several risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, waist circumference, body fat, heart rate and blood pressure.

HIIT boosts weight loss.

A number of research studies found that HIIT increases the size and density of mitochondria (the energy powerhouse of your cells). This is important because mitochondria use oxygen to break down carbs and fat into the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The more mitochondria you have, the more efficiently you’re able to break down food for fuel. (Check out this video with functional medicine doctor Dan Kalish, DC, to find out more about how mitochondria affect your health.)

Additionally, HIIT increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). EPOC refers to the amount of oxygen your cells consume in order to restore your body to its pre-exercise state. High-intensity interval training requires a high level of exertion. As a result, your cells needs a larger amount of oxygen to get your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature back down. This translates to a higher caloric burn.

Since your EPOC remains elevated for several hours after HIIT, you continue burning calories even AFTER you’re done exercising (it’s called the afterburn effect).

Studies also show that HIIT increases human growth hormone (HGH), significantly reduces body fat and visceral fat (fat around your mid-section) and burns more calories than continuous forms of exercise (like running for a straight 30 minutes).

HIIT improves blood sugar.

A 50-study meta-analysis found that high-intensity interval training reduces blood glucose and insulin resistance, making HIIT particularly beneficial for those at risk of, or struggling with type 2 diabetes.

How to Get Started with HIIT

One thing in particular that I like about HIIT is that it’s very individualized. You can choose the equipment you want to use (or no equipment at all), the length of the high intensity and recovery intervals (like 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, or 20 seconds on 10 seconds off), and how long you want the workout to last (how many rounds you want to complete).

If you’re new to HIIT you might choose to do a high-intensity interval of 10 or 20 seconds followed by a recovery period of as much as a minute or more, and repeat for 3 or 4 rounds. If you’re in really great shape you might push yourself to the max for 30 seconds or even a minute followed by a recovery of 10 or 20 seconds, and repeat for as many as 8 rounds.

You can choose to use equipment like a rowing machine, treadmill, bike, elliptical, dumbbells, medicine balls, or kettlebells (just to name a few). Or, you can opt for no equipment and incorporate things like mountain climbers, skaters, high knees, jumping jacks, burpees, and jump squats to spike your heart rate. Basically, you can completely tailor your workout to what works best for you and your fitness level.

Sample HIIT Workouts

Ready to give HIIT a try? Check out some sample workouts below to get started.

You’ll want to do each workout 2 to 3 times a week for optimal results. (I don’t recommend high-intensity interval training every day because it’s so taxing on the body.)

Beginner HIIT Circuit

20 seconds on, 20 seconds off


  • TRX band


  • Warm up 2-3 minutes at a moderate pace on treadmill or upright bike

  • 20 seconds squats

  • 20 seconds rest

  • 20 seconds push-ups

  • 20 seconds hip extensions

  • 20 seconds TRX rows

  • 1-minute rest

  • Repeat for 3 to 5 rounds

Moderate HIIT Circuit

30 seconds on, 30 seconds off

  • Dumbbells

  • Kettlebell

  • 30 seconds alternating lunges (hold dumbbells if possible)

  • 30 seconds rest

  • 30 seconds renegade rows

  • 30 seconds kettlebell swings

  • 30 seconds mountain climbers

Advanced HIIT Circuit

20 seconds on, 20 seconds off

  • Anchored barbell

  • 20 seconds split jump

  • 20 seconds squat jumps

  • 20 seconds inverted rows

4-Minute Treadmill Tabata Sprints

20 seconds on, 10 seconds 0ff

For this workout, I set my treadmill to a 10% incline at 7 mph, but you can choose an incline and speed that makes it challenging for you. This is very difficult and can be dangerous because the level of fatigue can increase your chances of tripping or falling.

If you’re worried about injuring yourself, you can mimic this workout using an upright bike or elliptical machine.

  • Treadmill (10% incline, 7 mph – whatever you choose)

  • 20-second sprint

  • 10-second recovery

  • Perform 8 sprints total

In addition to sprinting for 20 seconds and recovering for 10, you can also do 20 seconds on, 20 seconds off for 6 rounds (still 4 minutes). This is great to use as a “finisher” at the end of a tough leg workout when you’re really pressed for time.

If you are new to HIIT and are not ready for either of the treadmill workouts mentioned above, try using short bursts of intensity followed by a slightly longer rest period. For example, jog for 30 seconds and then walk/rest/recover for 60-90 seconds. This is a great introduction to HIIT training by allowing for a 2:1 or 3:1 rest to work ratio.

Rowing HIIT Workout

20 seconds on, 20 seconds off

  • Rowing machine

  • 20 seconds max effort “sprint” row

  • 20 seconds row recovery

  • Repeat for 5 to 10 sets

Another option is to row for 300 meters and then rest (or row at a slow pace) for 90 seconds between sets. As the weeks pass, aim to rest for shorter periods of time. For example, during week 2 rest for 90 seconds, week 3 rest for 75 seconds, and week 4 rest for 60 seconds between sets.

My Take-Away

HIIT is a fantastic workout for burning calories and promoting fat loss. It’s also extremely time-efficient, which is particularly helpful if you’re pressed for time (busy moms, work longs hours, etc.). HIIT allows you to get the same benefits of an hour-long cardio workout in significantly less time.

Additionally, I really like the fact that HIIT is highly customizable. You can pick the exercises and equipment you want to use, choose your interval ratios and ultimately decide the length of your workout.

Just remember to start slow and work your way up. If you’re new to exercising, you don’t want to push yourself to the max for a full minute. That could end up causing more harm than good. Be smart and start small. Think 10-second max and 1-minute+ recovery.

I also want to stress that while HIIT can help you lose weight and get in shape, it’s still vitally important to eat a nutritious diet of whole foods, get adequate sleep, and mitigate stress in order to reach optimal health and fitness.

Additional Resources:

How to get the most out of your exercise time, according to science

Modern life has a way of making us feel time-crunched and pressured to find the most efficient ways of using the precious hours when we’re not sleeping. The trendy fitness regimen high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, epitomizes this feeling.

HIIT promises the best workout in the least amount of time. Runners have used interval training for more than 100 years, alternating between sprints and jogging to improve their endurance. But HIIT didn’t really go mainstream until about a decade ago, when exercise physiologists started to come out with study after study demonstrating that intervals could deliver the biggest health improvement for your exercise time. In 2013, the seven-minute workout, popularized by the New York Times, appeared on the scene, and by 2016, the one-minute workout.

Recently, fitness professionals voted HIIT one of the top fitness trends for 2020 in a survey by the American College of Sports Medicine. And interval-based workouts are now popping up seemingly everywhere: at chains like Shred415 and Orangetheory, in group classes at YMCAs, on apps and YouTube, even in the routines outlined in Oprah’s O magazine. Often they promise to burn fat and “metabolically charge the body,” as Orangetheory puts it, in a short time period.

But there are some important nuances scientists have learned about HIIT that have gotten lost in the hype. The proven benefits of these workouts relate to a very particular type of interval training, and they’ve got nothing to do with weight loss. Here are six basic questions about HIIT, answered.

1) First things first: What is HIIT?

HIIT workouts generally combine short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. At fitness studios and online, these workouts often mix aerobic and resistance training.

To be clear, most of the interval workouts researchers have studied focus solely on aerobic exercise. Which means the scientific understanding of interval training is based on a more specific routine than what’s appearing in most gyms, videos, and magazines. And the researchers’ definition matters because when we’re talking about the evidence of benefits, we need to be specific about the kinds of workouts that science was based on.

When researchers talk about HIIT, they’re referring to workouts that alternate hard-charging intervals, during which a person’s heart rate reaches at least 80 percent of its maximum capacity usually for one to five minutes, with periods of rest or less intense exercise. (It’s not easy to know that you’re working at 80 percent, but a Fitbit or heart rate monitor can help.)

“There’s a strict definition of HIIT in terms of heart rate,” explained Todd Astorino, a professor in the department of kinesiology at California State University San Marcos.

There are also SIT studies, which include all-out bouts of intensity (working at 100 percent of your heart’s capacity). The SIT research, also focused on intervals, reveals similar benefits, so I’ll draw on it too.

2) What does a HIIT routine look like?

What differentiates HIIT (or SIT) from the steady-state, continuous types of exercise — jogging at an even pace or walking, for example — is the intervals, those periods of heart-pounding intensity. If you want to try it, you can simply take a HIIT class, or run or even walk in a way that involves higher-speed and higher-incline bursts.

If you want a routine that’s been lab-tested, there’s the 4-by-4 from Norway. It involves a warmup, followed by four four-minute intervals (again, where your heart rate reaches past 80 percent of its maximum capacity), each interspersed with a three-minute recovery period, and finished off with a cool-down.

So, for example, you’d jog for 10 minutes to warm up, then do four four-minute intervals of faster running, with three three-minute intervals of moderate jogging or brisk walking in between, and a five-minute cool down at the end. And you can substitute jogging with other aerobic exercises, such as biking or swimming. The whole routine should take 40 minutes.

A shorter, and also heavily studied, example of an interval routine is the 10-by-1, which involves 10 one-minute bursts of exercise each followed by one minute of recovery.

Again, these routines look pretty different from what’s on offer at chains like Orangetheory, CrossFit, or even the seven-minute workout. Even though they’re often referred to as HIIT, they combine cardiovascular exercise with strength training.

3) What are the benefits of interval training?

The single most well-established benefit of interval training has to do with heart health. Intervals can boost cardio-respiratory health with a smaller time investment compared to continuous forms of exercise. So we’re not talking about superior fat-burning capacity (more on that later) or bigger muscles. We’re talking about improved VO2 max, a measure of endurance that calculates the maximum volume of oxygen the body can use.

“Scientists have found that is one of the best predictors of overall health,” according to the recent interval training book The One Minute Workout, co-authored by Martin Gibala, one of the world’s leading interval training experts, who’s based at McMaster University in Canada. “The more aerobically fit you are, the better your heart can pump blood, the longer it takes you to get out of breath, and the farther and faster you’re able to bike or run or swim.” And that, in turn, can help prevent heart disease.

Consider this 2016 SIT study, in which Gibala and his co-authors followed two groups of participants for 12 weeks: One group worked out for 10 minutes (including several intervals that added up to one minute), and the other for 50 minutes (at a continuous pace).

The most remarkable finding in the study was that the two groups of exercisers saw the same improvement in their oxygen uptake, despite their varying time commitments.

In a 2014 study, Gibala and his fellow researchers got a group of overweight and obese sedentary adults to do three workouts per week, for a total of 30 minutes of exercise. Each workout included three 20-second intervals of fast pedaling on an exercise bike. Even in that short period of time, the study participants saw improvements in their VO2 max.

Reviews of the research have come to similar conclusions: Interval routines lead to greater gains in VO2 max compared with other forms of training in a shorter period of time.

“HIIT is a time-efficient strategy to get the benefits typically associated with longer bouts of traditional cardio,” Gibala told Vox.

Of course, the more you put into a HIIT workout, the more heart health benefits you get out. In this 2013 meta-analysis, researchers evaluated the effects of high-intensity interval training studies, separating out nine studies that showed the largest improvements in VO2 max and nine studies that reported the smallest gains.

The findings were telling: Less intense training programs with shorter intervals carried the least health benefits, while interval training studies reporting the greatest increases typically used longer (three- to five-minute) intervals.

For this reason, athletes have long used the interval technique to up their game, Mayo Clinic exercise researcher Michael Joyner told Vox in 2016. “There’s observational data in athletes going back almost 100 years showing the benefits of a few bouts of really high-intensity exercise in people.” He added: “If you want to get people to their biological maximum, they need to be doing four to five times of three- to five-minute intervals.”

Orangetheory encourages the use of a heart rate monitor to track cardio fitness in its workouts. Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Orangetheory Fitness

4) Why does HIIT improve cardio health?

Researchers still haven’t figured out exactly why HIIT works to improve aerobic fitness more than continuous types of exercise. But one key hypothesis, Gibala explained, has to do with the heart’s ability to pump blood.

One measure for blood pumping is something called stroke volume, or the volume of blood that comes out when the heart contracts. And a major determinant of VO2 max is stroke volume.

“The maximum amount of blood that comes out of the heart is improved by exercise training,” said Gibala, “and there’s evidence that when you do interval exercise training, the stroke volume increases even more.”

5) Is HIIT the best exercise regimen for weight loss?

There’s no doubt that interval training can be a time-efficient way to burn calories. Researchers have repeatedly shown that people can burn comparable amounts of calories in HIIT routines lasting, say, 20 minutes, compared to longer continuous exercise routines lasting, say, 50 minutes. The reason for that, Gibala said, is that higher-intensity exercise, like intervals, results in a greater disturbance of the body’s homeostasis, “and it literally takes more energy and oxygen to return it to normal basal levels.” (We’ll get to the related “afterburn” effect in a moment.)

But the question is whether that calorie burn translates into weight loss, and that’s where HIIT falls short. A 2019 systematic review of the trials comparing HIIT and SIT with moderate-intensity continuous training found all workouts performed about the same on fat loss. (Side note: The journal hyped the review’s findings, leading one of the study authors to put them in context in this Twitter thread.)

“Many people overstate the potential for interval training to cause you to lose weight,” said Gibala. But that’s a problem with exercise in general, not HIIT specifically. As we’ve explained, it’s much easier to lose weight by cutting calories in your diet than trying to burn excess calories.

That’s especially true if your workout is only 20 minutes long, said Jeffrey Horowitz, a kinesiology professor at the University of Michigan. To burn a lot of calories, “you need to exercise a more prolonged period of time. HIIT routines, by definition, tend to be shorter. So if your goal is weight loss, you might consider a longer interval routine, and you definitely want to look at your diet.”

Gibala summed up, “In terms of the overall magnitude of calorie burning, it tends to be small relative to what you can achieve by dietary changes.”

6) What about the “afterburn” effect?

Many HIIT gyms tout exercise programs that will lead to an “afterburn” or “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” — a period of elevated calorie burn after you exercise.

“This revs your metabolism and makes you burn calories long after your workout is over,” Orangetheory claims.

“The afterburn effect is real — but it’s often overstated,” Gibala said. “When we’ve measured it in a lab, we’ve shown that a 20-minute session of intervals can result in same calorie burn over 24 hours as a 50-minute bout of continuous exercise. So that means the afterburn effect is greater after the intervals — but it peters out after a while.”

It’s also marginal, he added, not the kind of calorie loss that would lead to lasting weight loss. (I saw the same effect when I entered a metabolic chamber to measure my metabolism. In the periods after I hit the exercise bike, my metabolic rate ramped up — but only by a few more calories each minute, and the effect wore off within half an hour of exercising.)

Building more muscles, however, can be a little more helpful for the afterburn. Here’s why: One of the variables that affects your resting metabolic rate is the amount of lean muscle you have. At any given weight, the more muscle on your body, and the less fat, the higher your metabolic rate. That’s because muscle uses a lot more energy than fat while at rest.

So the logic is if you can build up your muscle and reduce your body fat, you’ll have a higher resting metabolism and more quickly burn the fuel in your body. But that takes work — a lot more work than a short aerobic HIIT workout. And even a short HIIT workout may not be for everyone.

“Intervals can be demanding mentally and physically, so some steady-state continuous is nice once in a while,” Gibala said. “ for those who truly are super time-pressed and can tolerate intervals almost exclusively, it’s the most efficient way to train.”

HIIT Ratios and How to Use Them

As you probably know by now, our theme at Myzone during the month of February is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is currently ranked as the number one fitness trend in the world, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

This blog post is dedicated to explaining HIIT ratios and providing you with sample HIIT workouts for beginners and advanced exercisers.

HIIT Definition:

HIIT consists of phases of high intensity work, followed by phases of moderate or low intensity recovery. Relative to Myzone, the work phase would take place in the YELLOW or RED zones, and the recovery phase would take place in the GREEN or BLUE zones.

The duration and number of your work and recovery phases you perform will depend on your fitness level and training goals. When performing HIIT, research suggests that the range of work and recovery for each interval be 15 seconds up to 2-3 minutes in duration (depending on the ratio of work-to-recovery used).

The total duration of a HIIT session should be about 30-60 minutes in length, with warm up and cool down included in that time.

HIIT Ratios:

As written above, each high intensity interval consists of a work phase and recovery phase. The HIIT ratio is the amount of time spent working vs the amount of time spent recovering, also known as the work-to-recovery ratio. For example, when you perform 60 seconds of work followed by 60 seconds of recovery, your HIIT ratio is 1-to-1.

When starting a HIIT program, we recommend using HIIT ratios with longer recovery phases than work phases. For example, a 1-to-3 work-to-recovery ratio is a good starting point.

The goal in HIIT is to push hard during the work phase and recover as much as possible during the recovery phase. When you’re developing your fitness, it’s beneficial to have a longer recovery period so you can work as hard as possible during the work phase of each interval.

As your fitness level improves, you can increase the work-to-recovery ratio and aim for a 1-to-1 ratio. Eventually, you can extend the work phase for a longer duration than the recovery phase; advanced HIIT participants can aim for ratios of 3-to-1 work-to-recovery.

Make sure you’re hitting your target zones during the work and recovery phase before you progress your ratios. For example, if your goals is to be in YELLOW on the work phase and GREEN on the recovery phase using a 1-to-3 ratio, make sure you reach those goals before you progress your ratio to a 1-to-2 work-to-recovery.

Choose the number of interval sets performed based on your ability to hit your target work and recovery zones. In general, 8 to 12 interval sets is sufficient, depending on the duration of each interval.

Below is a sample progression of work-to-recovery HIIT ratios over 5 months:

Week 1 through 4: 1-to-3 Ratios

Week 1: 15 seconds work: 45 seconds recovery

Week 2: 20 seconds work: 60 seconds recovery

Week 3: 30 seconds work: 90 seconds recovery

Week 4: 30 seconds work: 90 seconds recovery

Week 5 through 8: 1-to-2 Ratios

Week 5: 15 seconds work: 30 seconds recovery

Week 6: 20 seconds work: 40 seconds recovery

Week 7: 30 seconds work: 60 seconds recovery

Week 8: 30 seconds work: 60 seconds recovery

Weeks 9 through 12: 1-to-1 Ratios

Week 9: 15 seconds work: 15 seconds recovery

Week 10: 20 seconds work: 20 seconds recovery

Week 11: 30 seconds work: 30 seconds recovery

Week 12: 45 seconds work: 45 seconds recovery

Weeks 13 through 16: 2-to-1 Ratios

Week 13: 30 seconds work: 15 seconds recovery

Week 14: 40 seconds work: 20 seconds recovery

Week 15: 60 seconds work: 30 seconds recovery

Week 16: 90 seconds work: 45 seconds recovery

Weeks 17 through 20: 3-to-1 Ratios

Week 17: 30 seconds work: 10 seconds recovery

Week 18: 45 seconds work: 15 seconds recovery

Week 19: 60 seconds work: 20 seconds recovery

Week 20: 90 seconds work: 30 seconds recovery

HIIT Sessions:

Here are sample HIIT sessions for beginner (less than 3 months of consistent fitness training), intermediate (~6 months of fitness training), and advanced exercisers (>6 months of fitness training).

Beginner HIIT Session: 1-to-3 Ratio

The total duration of this workout is 24 to 31 minutes, including the warm up and cool down.

Warm Up: Start with a 5-10 minute warm up in the BLUE and GREEN zones.

Conditioning Period: Using a cardio or muscular exercise of your choice, perform 8 intervals of 30 seconds of work and 90 seconds of recovery. Aim for YELLOW or RED during the work phase and GREEN during the recovery phase.

Intervals: 30 seconds YELLOW or RED; 90 seconds GREEN

Cool Down: Cool down for 3-5 minutes in the BLUE and GRAY zones.

Intermediate HIIT Session: 1-to-1 Ratio

The total duration of this workout is 23 to 30 minutes, including the warm up and cool down.

Warm Up: Start with a 5-10 minute warm up in the BLUE and GREEN zones.

Conditioning Period: Using a cardio or muscular exercise of your choice, perform 5 intervals of 60 seconds of work and 60 seconds of recovery, and 5 intervals of 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of recovery. Aim for YELLOW or RED during the work phase and GREEN during the recovery phase.

Intervals 1-5: 60 seconds YELLOW or RED; 60 seconds GREEN

Intervals 6-10: 30 seconds YELLOW or RED; 30 seconds GREEN

Cool Down: Cool down for 3-5 minutes in the BLUE and GRAY zones.

Advanced HIIT Session: 2-to-1 Ratio

The total duration of this workout is 21 to 28 minutes, including the warm up and cool down.

Warm Up: Start with a 5-10 minute warm up in the BLUE and GREEN zones.

Conditioning Period: Using a cardio or muscular exercise of your choice, perform 4 intervals of 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of recovery, 4 intervals of 60 seconds of work and 30 seconds of recovery, and 4 intervals of 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of recovery. Aim for YELLOW or RED during the work phase and GREEN during the recovery phase.

Intervals 1-4: 40 seconds YELLOW or RED; 20 seconds GREEN

Intervals 5-8: 60 seconds YELLOW or RED; 30 seconds GREEN

Intervals 9-12: 30 seconds YELLOW or RED; 15 seconds GREEN

Cool Down: Cool down for 3-5 minutes in the BLUE and GRAY zones.

Have a blast putting together your own HIIT ratios and sessions!

Keep moving forward!

Remember to use the hashtags #effortrewarded and #myzonemoves when you post your workout pics, and don’t forget to add your workout pics with your moves in your Activity Calendar!

For more tips on how to use the Myzone® heart rate monitor and App, follow us during Fitness Fridays on Facebook Live (subscribe on Myzone’s Facebook Page) – 8 am PT, 11 am ET, and check out our Myzone® Moves Podcast on iTunes or Google Play.

HIIT or Circuit Training? Differences, Benefits, and 3 Bonus Workouts

Your workout doesn’t always have to be the same old routine. You can switch things up by changing the way you do it. HIIT (= High Intensity Interval Training) and circuit training are two great ways to keep things interesting. Here you decide whether you’d rather do a time-based training (HIIT) or work out with a set number of repetitions (circuit training).

We’ll present two workouts with different levels that you can do both ways. Plus, we’ve got a third version that will help you push yourself even harder!

Before you get started…

You don’t need any equipment for the workouts, because the exercises use your own bodyweight. You can do these bodyweight exercises at home, in the office, at the park, or in a hotel room while you’re traveling.

Try it with HIIT:

What is HIIT?

The basic principle behind HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is to work out at the highest possible intensity at a maximum heart rate in a relatively short time period. After this comes the recovery phase. This kind of workout originated in the field of endurance sports and has become a regular component in strength-endurance bodyweight training. Many studies have documented the success of this training method, especially when it comes to losing weight.(1) What makes HIIT different is that you do as many exercises as possible during a defined time period.

What are the benefits of HIIT?

  • You save time with HIIT. This training is great as a quick workout with a lot of benefits when you’re short on time. In 15 to 20 minutes you can do an entire workout. Training two or three times a week is enough. Always allow yourself the time to cool down after every workout.
  • HIIT boosts your endurance. Your body requires more oxygen and your metabolism kicks into gear when you switch from intense effort to active recovery phases. Your VO2 max increases, through which your body learns to use oxygen more effectively during exercise.
  • HIIT boosts fat burning. Since your body continues working after the workout to return to its resting state, it still needs energy and burns calories and body fat. This afterburn effect can last a few hours. The high level of exertion during the training burns additional fat.

How do I do a HIIT workout?

Start with a warm-up (e.g. active stretching) followed by 20 seconds of high effort with a short recovery phase of 10 seconds. Repeat this 8 times. You can, of course, also mix things up. Increase the exercise time to 30 seconds and stretch out the breaks to 15 seconds. Keep in mind that your entire workout shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes. This is called Tabata Interval Training. You push yourself to the limit with every exercise. The number of repetitions is irrelevant here. At the end of each exercise you should have the feeling that you’ve given everything you’ve got.

  • The following exercises are included in this workout: cat-cow, jog in place, squats, sit-ups, high knees.
  • For each exercise: 20 seconds of effort, 10 second break. Do 2 to 3 sets and take 10 second breaks after each set, too.

Try circuit training:

What is circuit training?

In traditional circuit training you move from one station to the next. You alternate between a predefined number of repetitions and breaks, and then a longer break after each set. You can also do this without equipment in the fitness center. Circuit training often includes classic exercises like push-ups and squats that work different muscle groups through the set.

What are the benefits of circuit training?

  • Circuit training is great for beginners and advanced athletes. As you get stronger, you can increase the number of repetitions.
  • It builds strength, endurance, flexibility, and speed. You perform the exercises in a controlled, consistent manner.
  • You don’t go to your limits in circuit training. Nevertheless, you stimulate fat burning.
  • A sophisticated circuit training works many different muscle groups. This way you strengthen different target areas in one workout.

How do I do circuit training?

Choose 8 to 12 exercises for circuit training. Start with 10 to 15 repetitions and 2 to 3 sets. If you are up to it, you can do up to 5 sets in this workout. Take a 10 second break after each exercise. After one set, walk around for one minute to rest. This way you can recover while keeping your circulation flowing.

  • This workout includes the following exercises: hip openers, lunge to high knee left & right, knee commander push-ups, squatting quick feet.
  • For each exercise: Do 15 repetitions of each exercise. Take a 10 second break between each set. Do a total of 3 sets.

Combine the two types of workouts into one

  • Alternate repetitions with duration in your workouts. This way you will challenge your body, circulation, and oxygen uptake even more. Static positions like planks or endurance exercises like high knees can be done as duration-based. Other exercises like squats or push-ups are usually done in repetitions. Mix things up: count to 25 while holding a position, or do squats for 45 seconds. Variety will make your training more fun!
  • Take time to warm up. This will protect your tendons, muscles, and joints from injuries.
  • It’s advisable to plan time to cool down. This brings your circulation and the muscles you worked back to a normal state.

  • This workout includes the following exercises:

Lunge to front kick left: 12 to 15 repetitions per side

Commander push-ups: 45 seconds

Lunge to front kick right: 12 to 15 repetitions per side

Reverse plank: 45 seconds

Prone X: 12 to 15 repetitions

Alternate between duration and number of reps and take a 10 second break after each exercise. If you want more of a challenge, skip the breaks.


You can do any of these workouts as a HIIT training, a circuit training, or combine the two. Static positions are better suited to duration.

Have we piqued your interest? Find a great variety of workouts to do at home in the new Active & Energized Training Plan in the adidas Training app. Try it now!


30 second interval training

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