All About HIIT: How to Build a HIIT Workout

Happy Friday, friends! I’m jumping for joy, introducing you to Les, my lovely friend over at The Balanced Berry. As I travel out of town this weekend, I figured it would be the perfect time to ask Les to share her expertise on all things HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Enjoy today’s guest post, and welcome, Les!

Greetings Hello to Fit readers! My name is Les and I’m the personal trainer, nutrition nerd and self-care junkie behind The Balanced Berry. I love sharing fun, effective workouts, healthy recipes, and practical wellness tips that are easy to implement into your everyday life. Jess is a dear friend, and I have been a huge Hello to Fit fan for years, so I’m really excited to be guest posting and chatting with you about all things HIIT.

In case you aren’t familiar with the term, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and has grown increasingly popular in the fitness world over the last several years because they don’t take a lot of time to complete, and help improve cardiovascular health, anaerobic and aerobic fitness, and can help burn excess body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass (source).

HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by a brief recovery period. The high-intensity intervals can be done with bodyweight plyometric exercises, running, jump roping, biking, stair running, or on cardio machines at the gym.

Alright, now that you know what the benefits of HIIT are, and what counts as HIIT, let’s talk more about application (i.e. how to build a HIIT workout and how often to include it in your routine).

HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of high-intensity exercise, followed by a brief recovery period. The high-intensity intervals can be done with bodyweight plyometric exercises, running, jump roping, biking, stair running, or on cardio machines at the gym.

All About HIIT

Ratios

When it comes to HIIT, there are a few high-intensity vs. low-intensity intervals I like to use with my clients and during my own workouts:

1-1: A one-to-one ratio means you’re performing your high-intensity burst for a specific period of time, followed by a rest period that is the same amount of time. For example, if you sprint for 60 seconds followed by 60 seconds of rest, that is a one-to-one HIIT interval.

2-1: Performing a two-to-one HIIT ratio means you’re performing your high-intensity interval for twice as long as your rest period. For example, if you perform burpees for 60 seconds followed by a 30 second period of rest, that is a two-to-one HIIT interval.

Tabata-Style: Tabatas are a popular form of HIIT that consist of 20 seconds of high-intensity intervals followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. While this form of HIIT training is really popular, most folks are not performing true tabatas. The point of a tabata is to work so hard during your 20-second intervals that you physically cannot go longer than 20 seconds. Since intensity levels vary for many of us, I like to call these types of intervals “tabata-style” to signify 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off.

Those are just a few examples of timing intervals, but you can also come up with your own time ratios depending on how much time you have to workout, and what feels good for your body.

Intensity

During the high-intensity intervals, you should be going hard. The goals is to get your heart rate up through a quick burst of movement, then recover with just enough time to do it again. So make sure you’re really pushing it during your high-intensity intervals, and taking it easy during your recovery periods.

Duration

By design, HIIT workouts should be short. I usually program HIIT workouts to be between 10-30 minutes. If you are truly going hard during your high-intensity periods, you really shouldn’t be able to go much longer than that.

Frequency

A trap many people fall into is the urge to do all the HIIT, all the time. But friends, that is a one way ticket to overtraining city. Performing high-intensity cardio intervals is like strength training for your heart. Your heart is a muscle, and needs time to recover. To allow ample recovery, I recommend doing HIIT no more than three days per week, and on nonconsecutive days.

Building a HIIT Workout

My favorite HIIT workouts consist of bodyweight exercises because you can do them anytime, anywhere without needing any special equipment. Some of my favorite exercises to perform during HIIT workouts include:

Burpees

Squat Jumps

Plank Jacks

Squat Jacks

High Knees

Side to Side Shuffles

Dynamic Planks

Mountain Climbers

Tuck Jumps (Work up to these!)

Now, let’s put it all together and build a HIIT Workout! Pick five exercises from the list above (or any other bodyweight exercise you love) and perform each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes.

Bonus tip: I love using the Gymboss Interval Timer App to time my HIIT intervals.

Your Turn:

Do you include HIIT training in your fitness routine?

What are some of your favorite HIIT workouts?

 

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HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and has grown increasingly popular in the fitness world over the last several years because they don’t take a lot of time to complete, and help improve cardiovascular health, anaerobic and aerobic fitness, and can help burn excess body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.

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By Jess

Jess is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and yoga teacher. She enjoys sharing her passion and enthusiasm for health and fitness with friends, family, clients, and readers.

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3 comments

  • Susie @ Suzlyfe

    April 20, 2017 at 6:45 am

    At some point (when my legs aren’t completely toasted like they are currently) I need to get back to HIIT. I just need someone else to make me do it! Les, get over here!

  • Jamie King

    April 20, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Great post, I’m ALL about the HIIT workouts! You’ve gotta come try our FFY HIIT Yoga, you’ll LOVE it!
    Jamie King recently posted…The sweatiest workout of your life…is finally here!My Profile

  • Emily

    April 22, 2017 at 10:27 am

    LOVE HIIT workouts. They are so fun, and they really invigorate me after I’m done! 🙂
    Emily recently posted…Choosing Your Tribe on Social Media (The Ups and Downs)My Profile

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