High intensity interval training has gained in popularity as our time has become increasingly encroached upon, by modern stressors and demands. For those who may not know what HIIT exactly consists of, I’ll explain. A standard workout used to consist of maybe a jog, followed by a bodybuilding style weight training circuit. Whether it consisted of free weights or machines, the actual progression and design of the workout never really differed all that much. With CrossFit and metabolic conditioning switching things up a bit, these workouts have become slightly less popular, but only slightly. For the majority of exercisers out there, they still fall back on the “jog then lift weights” routine.
What is HIIT?
High intensity interval training turns that notion on its head. Basically designed to get you in and out of the gym as fast as possible, HIIT gets your heart rate close to its max and then lets you rest briefly before you do it all again. By alternating between low/moderate intensity exercises and high intensity ones, you are able to accomplish a lot more in a briefer time period. Ideally, you’ll be able to increase your anaerobic capacity, which actually increases your aerobic capacity as well.
This is why sprinting for short periods of time is generally more beneficial than jogging for a long period of time. Jogging will increase your aerobic capacity, sure, but it does nothing for your anaerobic endurance. The distinction may seem small, but in total health, both capacities are equally important. Some sources also report than HIIT may be better for fat loss, as well as possibly benefiting your metabolism. So what kind of workouts can one perform, exactly? Here are 10 effective HIIT workouts for you to try.
01. Walk and Sprint
This one is as simple as the name implies. Usually most people do best with a 30 second walk, followed by a 30 second sprint. Repeat this about 8-10 times, and you should be feeling the burn. By the time you get to sprint number 3 or 4, you will very likely be feeling like death. Push through this period, and you’ll reap the benefits. As you progress, you can increase the number of rounds, or you can sprint and walk up a steep hill. This is a time tested, simple, but effective, workout. It works just as well whether you’re 15 years old, or 50. It works for high level athletes, as well as for everyday Joe’s. Try it!
02. Jog and Sprint
As you progress your fitness, you may be able to pull off this workout. This is just like our first workout, but here you will jog, instead of walk. If this sounds exhausting just reading it, perhaps it is best to start with the first workout. There is always room to progress! You could also shorten the number of rounds to 4-5, if you feel more comfortable starting there. Once you’ve mastered this workout, your aerobic and anaerobic capacities should both be fantastic.
03. Infinite Pushups
This one is about as fun as it sounds. You will be performing 10 pushups at a time. Rest for 30 seconds, and then do 10 more. To increase the difficulty, rest for 15 seconds instead of 30. If you’re feeling really frisky, you can cut the rest time down to 10 seconds, though I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you really know what you’re doing. You can perform as many rounds as you like, though I’ve found that most clients feel challenged just doing 10 rounds. Your experience may vary. The advantages of this workout are that it’s easy, simple and is an excellent strength training workout that can be done anywhere. Especially good for traveling.
04. Infinite Squats
Everyone – and I do mean everyone – hates this one. However, if you’re brave enough to try it, you will find just how beneficial this workout can be. Air squats are not terrible on their own. But when you are doing infinite rounds, and only resting 30 seconds between rounds, it is not so ideal. Make sure you are able to squat first, and then check your form, either with a partner or in a mirror. Make sure you are going ‘below parallel’ (you can Google that term) and that your mechanics are exactly correct. Squats are very commonly performed incorrectly, and you don’t want to be doing them wrong – trust me. The setup is similar to our previous exercises here – 10 repetitions, wait 30 seconds, repeat ad nauseam. Women – pay close attention to this workout. It is possibly the single best thing you can do, to get a better butt.
05. Push and Squat
Combining our fourth and fifth exercises, we get the ‘push and squat’ routine. 10 pushups, followed by 10 air squats. Rest 30 seconds, and then repeat again. For extra difficulty, perform one pushup, followed by one squat, until you get to 10 of each. It sounds easy, but I promise you’ll be hating me in the middle of it! If you are on the road and need a total body workout, this is one of your best choices. Exercising when jet lagged can have benefits, in order to help you get acquainted to the current time zone. I like to do this one when I’ve been cooped up in a car all day, maybe followed by some sprints. Gets all your frustration out, costs you nothing, and works most of your body.
06. Sit Up and Jump
This one will be familiar to athletes. You will perform 10 sit ups, stand up, and perform 10 vertical leaps. Try and reach as high as you can each time, as well as to go all the way down, each time you prepare your jump. Think of yourself as one big spring, and you want to get everything out of each repetition. You will then rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To make this one harder, add in a round of 10 pushups, after your vertical leaps.
07. Infinite Burpees
I’m sorry in advance. No one likes burpees. If you recall squat thrusts from gym class, you already know what a burpee is. If not, you can find many instructional videos which will show you the correct form (such as the one listed below).
Doesn’t that look like tons of fun?! 10 burpees, followed by 30-60 seconds of rest, and then repeat. Stop when you think you may throw up. I wish there was a way to make this easier for you, but unfortunately, burpees never get easier – no matter how long you’ve been doing them. As far as increasing the difficulty – trust me, you won’t want to make this routine any harder than it already is.
08. Prison Workout
Again – it’s all in the name. We will be doing 5 pull ups, 10 prisoner squats and 15 pushups. Rest for 1 minute, and do it again. You will need a pull up bar for this one, but otherwise it’s all just bodyweight exercises. Hopefully you aren’t in solitary confinement when you perform this workout!
09. Seal Jumps
Seal jumps are not a common exercise that you may see in the gym. The below video will help describe them to you, but if you feel a little silly, you can replace the seal jumps with jumping jacks. You’ll be performing 50 jumps, resting for 1 minute, and then continuing. To these as fast as possible, while still maintaining good form. Not as easy as it sounds.
10. Sprint, Push and Squat
For our last routine, we combine 3 of our earlier exercises. You’ll start by performing a 15 second sprint. From there, drop down and do 10 pushups, followed by 10 squats. Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then repeat. This hits all of our target areas, and is relatively simple to do. It is – however – not easy by any means. You can continue for as many rounds as you like, but it is not a routine that you will be able to do for long periods of time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these routines, as HIIT workouts are very good for traveling, or when time-pressed. You can easily create your own, of course, as well. Exercising doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. Just get creative and mix things up. Chances are, you’ll find an infinite number of solutions to getting in shape. Don’t let the old gym traditions and stale routines hold you back!