HIIT Workout – Benefits of Adding It to Your Fitness Routine

In the last few years, HIIT workouts have become increasingly popular, but unlike many other fitness fads, there is solid scientific research to support the many benefits of HIIT.

While there are numerous benefits to HIIT, for many individuals, what first piques their interest is the less-is-more approach to HIIT workouts. You can achieve amazing results in a shorter amount of time by working at a higher intensity.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll explain what HIIT is, how it can benefit your fitness routine, and give you some sample workouts to get started.

The best place to start is with the basics, so let’s define what HIIT is.

What Is HIIT?

HIIT is an acronym for High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a form of workout that alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise combined with less-intense recovery periods.

Initially, HIIT training was associated with cardio exercises like running, biking, or swimming, but it has since been expanded, and its versatility makes it a popular choice for both cardio and strength-training workouts.

A HIIT workout can be performed using many different types of equipment or even with no equipment at all.

How HIIT Works

HIIT workouts are usually shorter than traditional workouts because they are more intense. A HIIT workout might last 30 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down. During the workout, you would alternate between periods of all-out effort; sprinting is a good example, and active rest would be walking.

The key to HIIT is intensity; you should be working at near-maximum effort during the active intervals.

This high level of intensity is not sustainable for long periods of time, which is why HIIT workouts are, for the most part, shorter. The other important factor in HIIT is the ratio of active to rest periods.

This can vary depending on your fitness level, but a good starting point is a 1:2 ratio; for every minute of activity, you take two minutes of rest.

HIIT vs. Steady-State Cardio

One of the most common questions about HIIT is how it differs from more traditional forms of cardio, like jogging or biking at a moderate pace for an extended period of time.

The key difference is that steady-state cardio keeps your heart rate in the same general range throughout the workout, while HIIT alternates between high and low-intensity periods.

I should also point out it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. Steady-state cardio still has its place, especially regarding endurance training.

Why It Works – The Science Behind HIIT

Now that we know what HIIT is and how it works, let’s take a look at some of the science behind why HIIT training is so effective.

EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, is a scientific term that describes the body’s oxygen debt after strenuous activity. When you work out at a high intensity, your body needs more oxygen to recover. This elevated oxygen demand can last for hours after your workout is over.

EPOC is one of the fundamental mechanisms that makes HIIT so effective. By creating a large oxygen debt, HIIT forces your body to continue working even after you’ve stopped exercising. This results in increased calorie burn and improved cardiovascular fitness.

In other words, HIIT helps you get more bang for your buck!

Benefits of HIIT

I’m always amazed at how numerous the benefits of HIIT are, considering the workouts are so short. I could write a similar length article to this one on just the benefits alone, but here are some of the most noteworthy.

Weight Loss

HIIT’s ability to torch stubborn belly fat is one of the main reasons it has become so popular in recent years.

A recent Korean study found that HIIT was more effective than moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) at reducing subcutaneous and visceral fat in obese women. Also, compared to the MICT group, the participants who did HIIT workouts had a more significant decrease in stress, improved insulin resistance, and increased grip strength.

Burns Calories Without Trying

I discussed EPOC earlier, but in case you missed it, it is the afterburn effect you get from HIIT workouts. Long after your workout, your body keeps burning calories. HIIT workouts help you burn calories passively!

This is excellent news if you’re trying to lose weight or get in shape because it means you can continue to see results even when you’re not working out. Just by adding a couple of HIIT workouts to your week, you can start seeing changes in your body without spending hours at the gym.


One of the many advantages of HIIT is its simplicity; you don’t need any fancy equipment or a gym membership to do it. All you need is a little space and your own body weight. This makes HIIT the perfect workout to do at home or when traveling.

There are no long lists of exercises to memorize or complicated sequences to follow. All you need to do is choose a few basic exercises and put them together into a circuit.


In our frantic, fast-paced world, taking the time to work out can be a challenge. But HIIT is the perfect solution for busy people who want to make the most of their limited time. Because HIIT is so efficient, you can get a great workout in just 20-30 minutes, including a warm-up.

Committing to two or three short workouts a week is much less challenging than long workouts at the gym. You’re also less likely to make excuses not to work out when the sessions are so short. And you’re still getting all the benefits of a longer workout, just in a fraction of the time.

Improved Oxygen and Blood Flow

An increase in VO2 max, the amount of oxygen your body can use during exercise, is one of the primary benefits of HIIT. This improved oxygen and blood flow helps to improve your overall fitness level and makes it easier for your heart and lungs to function during exercise.


Whether you are looking to lose weight, improve sporting performance, or just improve overall fitness, HIIT can help. It is a versatile workout that can be adapted to suit any goal.

There are many ways to do HIIT, from just using your body weight to introducing equipment such as jump ropes, kettlebells, or medicine balls. You can also choose to do your HIIT sessions in a place that suits you be it at home, a gym, or in the great outdoors.

And if you haven’t worked out in a while, you can set a pace that suits your fitness level, just ensure that you make your HIIT workout challenging enough so that you can see results.

What Are the Disadvantages?

Overall, HIIT is an excellent workout for most people, but it is not suitable for some. People with certain health conditions, such as heart disease or asthma, may not be able to participate safely in HIIT. If you have any health concerns or injuries, it’s best to check with your doctor before starting a HIIT program.

If you aren’t used to exercising at high intensity, you can over-exert yourself, which might lead to muscle soreness and even injuries. With HIIT, there’s a fine line between going hard enough to get results and going too hard.

If you have the opportunity, consulting a personal trainer to help design a HIIT program that is specific to your fitness level and goals is recommended.

Additionally, HIIT can be very intense, and some people may find it challenging to complete an entire session. If you are just starting out, it’s best to ease into HIIT, listening to your body, starting with shorter intervals and gradually working up to longer ones.

If you have joint problems, some HIIT workouts can exasperate the issue so ensure that you look for low-impact options.

Finally, HIIT workouts can be very challenging, both mentally and physically. If you are not motivated or disciplined, it is easy to fall off the HIIT bandwagon.

However, this isn’t unique to HIIT; how many people do you know that have started an exercise program or joined a gym with good intentions but have given up after a few weeks?

Consistency is key to any workout routine, and HIIT is no different. If you can stick with it, HIIT can produce amazing results in a relatively short amount of time. And once you’ve built a routine, you’ll miss it when you don’t do it!

HIIT Workout Tips

If you’ve decided that HIIT is right for you and are itching to start your first session, the tips below will ensure you get the best results possible.

Warm Up First

Whether you are weightlifting, preparing to play a sport, or going for a run, you should always warm up first. This cannot be emphasized enough when it comes to HIIT, too – you need to get your muscles moving, and your heart rate up before you start pushing yourself hard.

Start with some light cardio and dynamic stretching to prepare your body for the intensity of HIIT.

Correct Form

When you are exercising at high intensity, it’s very easy for your form to suffer. Be sure to focus on good form, even when you are exhausted. Poorly executed exercises will be less effective and also put you at risk of injury. I’d suggest starting with exercises you are familiar with. If an exercise feels too difficult or causes pain, look for alternatives or regressions that you can do with proper form.


Staying hydrated is important for many reasons, especially when exercising at a high intensity. HIIT can cause you to sweat a lot, so make sure you drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.

Don’t Forget to Cool Down

After a HIIT workout, it’s essential to cool down gradually and bring your heart rate back to normal. Do some light cardio and static stretching before taking a shower or going about your day as usual. This will help your body recover from the intensity of the workout and reduce muscle soreness.


A HIIT session puts a lot of strain on your body and can be quite taxing on your nervous system. It’s crucial to pay attention to your body’s needs and give it the rest it requires. I recommend doing HIIT at most three times per week, with at least one day of complete rest between workouts.

Track Your Progress

You can track your HIIT workout progress in a few different ways. One way is to use a heart rate monitor to help you keep a check on how hard you’re working during your intervals.

If you spend even a little time on social media, you’re bound to have seen people sharing their before and after photos. While I’m not suggesting that you have to share your photos on Instagram, it can be motivating to see the changes in your body, even if you keep them to yourself.

The simplest way is a good old pen and paper. Keep a workout journal and record your sessions, how you felt during and after, any changes or improvements you made, etc.

HIIT Workout Session Examples

Now that you know all there is to know about HIIT, it’s time to get stuck in and try out some HIIT workouts for yourself!

Below are some examples of HIIT workouts that you can do at home with minimal or no equipment.

For beginners, start with shorter intervals (30 seconds on, 30 seconds off) and work your way up as you become more comfortable with the format.

Stationery or Spin Bike HIIT Workout

This is a very simple HIIT routine but does require access to more expensive equipment. However, most gyms are usually equipped with a few spin bikes.

Warm up for 5 minutes

HIIT section:

  1. 30 seconds sprinting as fast as you can
  2. 30 seconds rest
  3. Repeat 8 times
  4. Cool down for 5 minutes

Treadmill HIIT Workout

This is another reasonably simple HIIT routine that only requires access to a treadmill. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, you can do this same workout outdoors by running for the ‘on’ intervals and walking for the ‘off’ intervals.

Warm up for 5 minutes

HIIT section:

  1. 1 minute running at a fast pace
  2. 1-minute walking
  3. Repeat 8 times
  4. Cool down for 5 minutes

HIIT Total Body Workout

This simple HIIT session can be performed at home with no equipment required.

Warm up for 5 minutes with some light stretching

HIIT section:

  1. 30 seconds high knees
  2. 30 seconds rest
  3. 30 seconds butt kicks
  4. 30 seconds rest
  5. 30 seconds jumping jacks
  6. 30 seconds rest
  7. 30 seconds mountain climbers
  8. 30 seconds rest
  9. Repeat the HIIT circuit 3-5 times, depending on your fitness level
  10. Cool down

HIIT Kettlebell Workout

This HIIT kettlebell workout is a great way to get your heart rate up while working on strength and power. All you need is one kettlebell.

Warm up for 5 minutes

HIIT section:

  1. 30 seconds kettlebell swings
  2. 30 seconds rest
  3. 30 seconds goblet squats
  4. 30 seconds rest
  5. 30 seconds push-ups
  6. 30 seconds rest
  7. 30 seconds kettlebell rows
  8. 30 seconds rest
  9. Repeat the HIIT circuit 3-5 times, depending on your fitness level
  10. Cool down

HIIT Core Workout

This routine targets the core muscles specifically; it also allows you to add an extra HIIT session into your week if you feel like you need it!

Warm up for 5 minutes

HIIT section:

  1. 30 seconds sit-ups
  2. 30 seconds rest
  3. 30 seconds Russian twists
  4. 30 seconds rest
  5. 30 seconds flutter kicks
  6. 30 seconds rest
  7. 30 seconds plank
  8. 30 seconds rest
  9. Repeat the HIIT circuit 3-5 times, depending on your fitness level
  10. Cool down for 5 minutes

In Conclusion

Short but sweet, this deceptively simple type of workout is scientifically proven to be one of the most effective ways to burn fat and improve fitness.

HIIT workouts are perfect if you’re short on time and can be done with or without equipment. There are endless possibilities for exercises and routines, so you’ll never get bored.

HIIT is not for the faint-hearted – but if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded for your hard work.


How long do HIIT workouts take to deliver results?

In general, you can expect to start seeing results within 2-4 weeks if you are consistent with your HIIT workouts.

If you want to see more significant changes, then you need to increase the frequency and/or intensity of your workouts and ensure that you eat a healthy diet.

Remember that losing fat and building muscle takes time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see major changes overnight. If you just keep at it and stay consistent, I can pretty much guarantee you will see positive results.

What is SIT (Sprint Interval Training)?

Sprint Interval Training is a type of high-intensity interval training. As the name suggests, SIT involves sprinting at full speed for a short time, followed by a period of rest.

SIT is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness and burn fat, and it can be done with minimal equipment. All that’s needed is a good pair of running shoes and a stopwatch.

How can I make my HIIT workout more challenging?

If you find that your HIIT workouts are getting easy, you can:

  • Increase the intensity of your intervals
  • Increase the duration of your intervals
  • Decrease the time of your rest period

About the Author

, Celebrity Personal Trainer and Fitness & Nutrition Expert headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ. He specializes in helping men and women achieve weight loss, muscle building, toning and other customized fitness & nutrition programs to create a Healthy Lifestyle. James offers private luxury personal training, 12-week custom workout plans, and personalized nutrition meal plans. Follow on Google+.

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