What is HIIT Workout – 7 HIIT Workouts [High Intensity Interval Training]

HIIT Workout 1 – Running

Running 15 Benefits of HIIT Workouts

Equipment Needed – None (treadmill optional)
Main Muscles Developed – Legs = Quadriceps (front thighs), Hamstrings (back thighs), Glutes (buttocks) & Calves
Best For (in addition all of the benefits mentioned) – 
As part of any running training plan (from 5ks to marathons) and for any sport that requires you to run (NFL / Basketball / Hockey / Rugby / Football / etc)
Method –  This method can be done anywhere, whether you’ve been dropped off in the middle of a city whilst travelling, or you’re in the middle of nowhere with only cows for company, there is always place to run.If you’re out in the open (I’d recommend finding a nearby park if you’re in a big city, otherwise you may get a few strange looks from passers by), simply start off at a very light jog for a minute or two, before breaking into an all out sprint for approximately 30 seconds.

Once you’ve completed your first all out sprint, you should be gasping for air ad slightly fatigued (otherwise you’ve not sprinted fast enough!), give yourself a minute or two of gentle jogging to regain your composure, then do another 30 second sprint.

You may want to consider identifying some nearby landmarks to measure your distance covered during sprinting sessions, for example a nearby bin or a park bench.

Rinse and repeat this process 6-10 times depending on your fitness.  If you’ve got a hill nearby this would be a great place to do it (If you’re in London – Primrose Hill is a personal favorite for hill sprints, the view of London always distracts me from the burning sensation in my legs).

All in all this should give you a great workout in less than 20 minutes, allowing you to carry on with the rest of your day, feel free to take it easy.

Need more of a challenge? – Up your sprint times to 40 seconds whilst reducing your rest times to less than a minute whilst completing a full 10 sprints.

15 Benefits of HIIT Workouts Running

Method – 
If you’re on a treadmill, the workout will be slightly different as an all out sprint isn’t possible as quickly as if you’re running out in the open.Most treadmills have a “speed interval” setting, allowing you to enter in both your jogging speed and sprinting speed.For example, if your jog speed (the speed at which you can recover fairly easily) is maybe 8KMph and sprint speed is potentially 19KMph, due to the mechanics of the treadmill, the speed may not reach your sprint speed for maybe 15 seconds or so. Because of this delay, you have two options.Option a) jump onto the side steps whilst the treadmill speeds up, jumping back on once it is at your desired speed (not personally recommended as going from stationary to an all out sprint on a fast moving treadmill sounds like a recipe for falling off, injuring yourself and being so embarrassed you have to change gyms).Option b) simply increase the length of your sprinting portion of your workout to be maybe 50 seconds or 75 seconds, this will ensure you get the sprint duration you need whilst also accounting for the time it takes for the treadmill to adjust its speed.

(This, in my opinion, is preferred as the chances of injury / embarrassment are minimized, you can always jump and straddle the treadmill track when you’re sprinting interval is over).

Need more of a challenge? – Up the incline during your sprint intervals, giving you a greater cardiovascular challenge and developing your thighs and glutes even more.

HIIT Workout 2 – Rowing

Rowing 15 Benefits of HIIT Workouts

Equipment Needed – Rowing machine (or an actual rowboat if you have one!)
Main Muscles Developed – Quads (top of thigh), Hamstrings (back of thigh), Back, Biceps, Rear Shoulders & Core Muscles.
Best For (in addition to all of the benefits mentioned) – 
Rowing preparation, muscle development, functional strength, a great back & legs
Method – This method is fairly simple, just ensure that your form is correct through the motion as follows:1. Start with your knees bent and your body angled forward with arms fully extended. Make sure to relax your shoulder and engage your abdominal muscles.
2. Begin the row by pushing off powerfully with your legs. As your legs straighten, your body will open into a wide V.
3. As your legs are just about to reach a straight position, pull the handle with your arms until it reaches your chest.
4. Allow the handle to pull your body forward until your arms are straight again then bend your knees back into the starting position.
5. Repeat! [17]
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Now that your form is correct, here’s how to complete HIIT using a rowing machine. Start off with a gentle row, you may even wish to put the resistance down during this period, do this for roughly 1-2 minutes and get familiar with the motion.

After warming up it’s time for a 30 second row as fast as you can (whilst maintaining correct form), whilst completing your intense interval section, ensure that the resistance is at the maximum setting.

Once you’ve done 30 seconds or so of rowing as fast as you can, it’s time for a 1-2 minute rest, feel free to lower the resistance and row at a gentle pace to catch your breath. After you’ve rested, it’s time for another 30 seconds of mind blowing intensity.

Rinse and repeat this process for 6-10 rounds, 2-3 times a week and you’ll be showing your local rowing team how it’s done before you know it.

Need more of a challenge? – Keep the resistance at maximum throughout the workout and up your sprint times to 45 seconds whilst reducing your rest times to less than a minute in addition to completing a full 10 sprints.

HIIT Workout 3 – Cycling

HIIT Workout 3 - Cycling

Equipment Needed –  Bicycle or static cycling machine
Main Muscles Developed – Legs (Quadriceps, Hamstrings & Calves)
Best For (in addition to all of the benefits mentioned) – Developing amazing legs, as part of triathlon training, for any cycling based event or race.
Method – If you’re on a bicycle this will be slightly different to using a machine, make sure you’ve got plenty of space to play with as you don’t want to have to turn a corner or avoid pedestrians whilst cycling at full speed.An unused path in a large park is best here, attempting to cycle super fast in a city environment is neither safe nor clever as you become a danger not only to yourself, but also to those around you.

Now that we’ve got the health and safety lesson out of the way, you want to begin cycling gently around your chosen area for a couple of minutes, then (once you have sufficient space in front of you) begin cycling incredibly hard with your gears on the hardest setting as if you’re going for first place in the Tour de France.

Your legs should be on fire (metaphorically – stop drop and roll if you’ve actually caught fire somehow), after a 30-40 second sprint resume your gentle cycling and catch your breath for 1-2 minutes.

Repeat this process for 6-10 intervals, 2-3 times per week to give you the best set of legs you’ve ever had.

Need more of a challenge? – Find a nearby incline to do your sprints on, if you’re feeling extra tough, find a nearby hill to get your legs pumping.

HIIT Workout 3 - Cycling

Method – 
If your on a static cycling machine found at the gym, you’ve got a bit more flexibility in terms of difficulty as you can manipulate the resistance on the machine at any time.Begin gently with the resistance fairly low for 1-2 minutes, after which it’s time to up the intensity, crank up the resistance on the bike and pedal forward as fast as you can.Your machine should also give you some useful information such as speed or calories burnt per hour, use this to benchmark your intensity, keeping above a specific speed or number of calories burnt per hour.After you’ve pedaled as fast as you can for 30-40 seconds, give yourself a breather and reduce the resistance, pedaling gently again for 1-2 minutes. Rinse & repeat this ‘cycle’ between six and ten times, 2-3 times a week.Need more of a challenge? – Up the resistance, as your on a machine, you should always be able to up the resistance to ensure you’re challenged throughout the sprint sections of the workout.

HIIT Workout 4 – Swimming

HIIT Workout 4 - Swimming

Equipment Needed – Water (goggles optional)
Main Muscles Developed – Entire body (different stroke types will work slightly different muscle groups, for more detail, see the image below)
Best For (in addition to all of the benefits mentioned) – Developing total body muscle and in preparation for any upcoming swimming event.
Method – Whether you’re in open water or in the local swimming pool, the structure of your workout will be very similar.If you’re in a swimming pool, you start by swimming a couple of lengths in your chosen stroke at an easy pace, after a couple of laps, complete a length going as fast as you possibly can.

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It may help to check the clock on the wall (if there is one) to try to consistently beat your time.

As always, allow yourself a couple of laps to catch your breath before completing another length at top speed.

Need more of a challenge? – Rather than completing 1 length at top speed, increase your high intensity interval to 2 lengths, additionally you may wish to use hand paddles to increase the force per arm movement.

Ensure you’re sprint intervals are no more than a minute and a half long as the key here is intensity intervals rather than trying to last as long as possible.

HIIT Workout 4 - Swimming

Method – 
If you’re in open waters, swim along at a casual pace for 1-2 minutes, then swim as fast as physically possible for 30-40 seconds, if it helps, imagine a great white shark behind you in the water and your only chance at survival is swimming away (this is the type of intensity you need!).Once you’ve completed the high intensity section, swim gently for another couple of minutes before starting again.When in open waters don’t swim too far from shore unless you’re particularly confident, the idea of this workout is to drain your energy quickly and if you’re not an incredible swimmer, you’re alone and you’re far away from land, you’re asking for trouble.Need more of a challenge? – Simply increase the duration of your sprint interval whilst reducing your rest interval.

HIIT Workout 5 – Burpees

HIIT Workout 5 - Burpees

Equipment Needed – None
Main Muscles Developed – The entire body
Best For (in addition to all of the benefits mentioned) – Building a very agile physique & whole body definition
Method – One of the most talked about exercises in the fitness world, loved and hated by military participants and athletes alike. It’s a very demanding exercise that works your entire body.To perform a burpee check out the how-to below or check out the video to the right (there is a basic version of a burpee without the push-up element, but this is HIIT, not “take it easy-land”):

  • Stand straight, then lower into a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Kick your feet back into a push-up position and immediately drop your chest to the floor.
  • Bow your chest up as you return your feet back to the squat position as fast as possible.
  • Jump up into the air as high as you can.
  • Clap your hands above your head and repeat.

The great benefit about using burpees for a HIIT workout is that is requires barely any space, no equipment and is extremely effective.

To create a whole workout from burpees, simply complete as many burpees as possible in 45 seconds, then give yourself a minute to grab a quick drink of water and catch your breath.

HIIT Workout 5 - Burpees

During the second high intensity interval (i.e. the next 45 second period of all out burpees) your goal should be to try and meet or exceed the amount of burpees you completed in your first 45 seconds.

Carry this on till you’ve completed at least 6 sets of burpees. Record how many you completed, give yourself a pat on the back, and use this number as your target to beat for next time. The more you do, the more you’ll love them, like some sort of crazy variation of Stockholm syndrome.

Need more of a challenge? – (first of all, that’s impressive) If you want to make this harder, increase the duration of your intense interval and reduce the time of your rest interval or carry hand-weights whilst you complete the exercise. But if you’re really desperate for even more burpees, try the “prison burpee workout” whereby you start with a set of 20 burpees, then 19 burpees, then all the way down to 1 with as little rest as possible.

HIIT Workout 6 – Blood Switching

HIIT Workout 6 - Blood Switching

Equipment Needed – Equipment optional (pull up bar / box)
Main Muscles Developed – Full body (a selection of exercises available)
Best For (in addition to all of the benefits mentioned) – Developing functional strength, building muscle
Method – With whatever equipment is available, or if you want to go equipment free, there’s a variety of options available to give you a great full body workout.Combining an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise during alternative high intensity intervals will give you the best results due to a phenomenon we like to call “blood switching”.

Blood switching just refers to alternating between sets of upper and lower body exercises, meaning that your blood switches from one hemisphere of the body to the other, so whilst you’re doing press ups, your legs will be allowed to take a breather from the squats you did just earlier.

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Blood switching, or alternating between upper and lower body exercises produces high levels of lactate, burns lots of calories and ultimately improves recovery and performance further [18].

To set up your blood switching HIIT circuit, simply pick 1 upper body exercise and 1 lower body exercise from the selection below, for the best results make sure you incorporate compound exercises into your sessions.

Upper Body Exercises

Pull Ups
Press Ups
Bodyweight Row
Military Press

HIIT Workout 6 - Blood Switching

Lower Body Exercises

Squat Jumps
Box Jumps
Plyometric (jumping) Lunges

HIIT Workout 6 - Blood Switching

Although any upper body or lower body exercises can really be used in this circuit, it’s best to use minimal equipment as it ensures the changeover from resting to high intensity will be as fluid as possible rather than doing a few pulls ups, then running over to the bench, grabbing a pair of dumbbells, lying back then beginning to bench press.

An ideal combination would be Box Jumps and Press Ups or Pull Ups and Plyometric Lunges.

If you do want to use equipment, use the same piece of equipment for both your exercises, for example if you want to use a barbell, you could do barbell squats combined with bent over rows, or if you wanted to use dumbbells you could do a standing shoulder press combined with lunges.

For the workout itself, begin by completing as many explosive repetitions of your upper body exercise as you can in 45 seconds, then give yourself 45 seconds rest before completing as many explosive repetitions of your lower body exercise as you can in 45 seconds.

The switching of your blood from upper to lower body should enable your body to endure more than you would be doing all of your lower body exercises followed by all of your upper body exercises, leading to an increase in workout volume and even greater results, no needles necessary.

Need more of a challenge? – Go weighted – consider wearing a weighted vest or holding dumbbells during your exercises.

HIIT Workout 7 – Kettlebell Frenzy

HIIT Workout 7 - Kettlebell Frenzy

Equipment Needed – Kettlebells (of course)
Main Muscles Developed – Full Body
Best For (in addition to all of the benefits mentioned) – Developing total body muscle and functional strength and stability.
Method – Kettlebells were the weapon of choice for Russian lifters of times-gone-by. They are ball shaped weights with thick handles where the weight is positioned away from the handle itself, challenging your grip and your core simultaneously, think of them as dumbbells with attitude.To create your own HIIT Kettlebell workout, simply grab a kettlebell and pick any 3 exercises from below (or any other kettlebell exercises you fancy).

Complete as many reps as possible of your first exercise in a 45 second period, rest for 30-90 seconds then complete as many reps as possible for your second exercise in a 45 second period, rest for 30-90 seconds before finally completing as many reps as possible for your third exercise.

Utilising alternative muscles used in each exercise you should also benefit from blood switching again (where by certain muscles can recover whilst other muscles are being used).

Potential Kettlebell Exercises
Goblet Squat
Weighted Lunge
Kettlebell Swing
Kettlebell Row
Kettlebell Figure-8 (between your legs)
Military Press
High Pull
Russian Twist
Kettlebell Deadlift

With the versatility of kettlebells the list is almost endless. Simply pick 3 exercises (ideally using different muscles) – go into a frenzy for 9 rounds in total (3 of each) and watch yourself develop a physique a Russian athlete would be proud of.

Need more of a challenge? – Simply pick up heavier kettlebells!


So there we are, your ultimate guide to HIIT workouts and supercharging your heart and fitness in less than 30 mintues, including 15 reasons to do HIIT and at least 7 ways to try it. Give a few of them to try and tell us what your favorite is. Naturally, if you want to use HIIT to increase muscle size too, you’ll need to know the 3 absolute essentials of building muscle.

Have any friends who don’t know about the magic of HIIT yet? Share this article  on Facebook and spread the knowledge! 🙂

Have any more questions? We’d love to hear from you, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

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