5 Great Reasons For Getting H.I.I.T. On! And A Sample For You To Try

If you are bored with the workout routine you have been doing for a while now, and looking for something more interesting, more productive and more fun, try H.I.I.T: High Intensity Interval Training. Here are 5 top benefits of H.I.I.T and a sample session to try out.

Many people are attracted to steady-state cardio, such as jogging, cycling, and elliptical machines, but I never found myself able to stick to a steady-state cardio routine for more than a year.

Suddenly I had cardio workouts with as much variety and stimulation as my weight and yoga workout;

I have always found steady-state cardio to be drudgery, despite trying many motivations like watching T.V. while jogging, moving the activity outside for fresh air and better scenery, or setting my alarm early to make sure I got up to do it. I always found myself dropping off the cardio entirely after a few months to a year, while still faithfully continuing my more interesting weight training and yoga workouts.

And then I discovered H.I.I.T., or High-Intensity Interval Training. Suddenly I had cardio workouts with as much variety and stimulation as my weight and yoga workout; I finally found a cardio workout that wasn’t a chore for me

H.I.I.T. is a high-intensity cardio and bodyweight workout based on short, alternating periods of all-out effort and rest. A basic format is as follows:

5 minutes: warm-up
30 seconds: high-intensity activity
30 seconds: rest/low-intensity activity
Do the alternating 30 seconds high intensity/30 seconds rest sequence a total of 8 times
5 minutes: cool-down

Total workout time: about 17 minutes.

Besides being much more interesting and engaging, H.I.I.T. has many other benefits:

1. You work out to your max cardio effort. Unlike steady state cardio, you are pushing your cardiovascular system to the max. Generally in a steady state workout your heart rate and breath are elevated, but not as high as in H.I.I.T. You are more able to get into the anaerobic zone (gasping for breath) doing H.I.I.T. as you know you will have a rest period immediately after the high intensity exercise.

2. Build endurance. A regular H.I.I.T. workout can build your endurance for ANY activity, including weight training and steady state cardio. Once I started doing H.I.I.T I noticed that I was having an easier time on strenuous hikes; I wouldn’t get labored breathing or have to take a break on uphill portions.

3. All you need is your bodyweight. You can get an awesome workout with no equipment or gym membership required! The high-intensity portions are all bodyweight work, and the warm-up, rest/low intensity, and cool-down portions you can march in place, do slow jumping jacks, take a walk or easy jog, etc. I use a treadmill for the warm-up, low-intensity, and cool-down because it is handy, but it is definitely not required!

4. Burn fat, not muscle. As someone who has a tendency to lose muscle easily with a steady-state cardio and diet combination, I noticed a huge difference when I switched to H.I.I.T. My shoulders and legs, the areas that shrank when I was doing jogging plus a diet, now have the muscle tone I expect from 4 days a week of weight training. H.I.I.T. is still a form of weight training, as all the moves use your own body weight. H.I.I.T. is more effective cardio for those who want to lose body fat but not muscle.

5. It is faster and more effective than steady state. 15 minutes of H.I.I.T. can burn more calories than an hour of steady state cardio!

Have I intrigued you yet? If so, here are some options for what you can do for the 30 second high-intensity portions. I mix and match, depending on how I feel on a given day. Repeat each of these moves as quickly and energetically as possible for the full 30 seconds of the high intensity interval. I usually alternate doing an exercise in a plank and an exercise standing.

1. Lunge jumps. Start in a high lunge with the right leg forward, then jump to switch legs.

2. Fast jacks. Do jumping jacks as fast as you possibly can.

3. Burpees. Start standing. Jump in the air and raise your arms, then place your hands on the floor beside your feet and jump back to a plank position, and jump right back to feet beside hands. You can also jump to a pushup position to make these more challenging.

4. Squat thrusts. Start standing. Squat down to around hips at your knee height and swing your arms back behind your hips, then swing your arms up overhead as you straighten the legs.

5. Hill climbers. In a plank position, run with your feet as fast as you can.

6. Sprint in place. Run in place as fast as you can.

7. Pencil jumps. Start standing with your feet a bit wider than shoulder width apart. Keeping your weight in your heels, squat down and touch the floor, then jump in the air and bring your legs together and your arms overhead and shoulder width apart. Land in the starting position.

8. High knee running. Run in place, bringing your knees at least to the height of your hips, or higher.

9. Cardio boxing. Pick your favorite punch, and throw it alternating arms as fast as you can. I like uppercuts; they are great for the core!

10. Wall climbers. Run with high knees, while reaching alternate arms high. I.e. if the right knee is high, the left arm reaches to the ceiling.

11. Plank ski jumps. Start in a plank position, jump feet toward hands to the right, then jump back to plank, then to the left toward the hands, then back.

12. Ladder jumps. Start in a plank position. Jump feet forward 12 inches, then back to plank, then jump 24 inches forward, then back to plank, then jump almost all the way to the hands, then back to plank. Think of jumping between rungs of a ladder.

13. X jumps. Start standing with your feet hip width apart. Squat down, then jump up and splay your arms and legs wide in an X shape. Land in the starting position.

So as an example, here was my most recent H.I.I.T. workout in its entirety.

5 minutes treadmill running warm-up 6.5 mph
30 seconds Burpees
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Wall Climbers
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Hill Climbers
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Cardio boxing
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Sprint in place
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Ladder jumps
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Squat thrusts
30 seconds power walking on treadmill for low-intensity 4.5 mph
30 seconds Fast jacks
5 minutes walking on the treadmill for cool-down 4 mph


1. To avoid messing with a stopwatch or having to stare at the secondhand of a clock, which makes those 30 seconds of high intensity feel LONG, a workout timer app for your phone can provide the timing of the intervals. I use Seconds Pro, which allows me to program in the exact intervals I want, and it even comes with some built in H.I.I.T. timers!

2. If you are new to H.I.I.T., you may want to extend the rest/low-intensity periods to 45 seconds or a minute to start out, then gradually decrease to 30 seconds. You can also stand still for the rest periods as you start, then work into a low-intensity activity.



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