Hannah Durbin

How To Build An Effective HIIT Workout

Hannah Durbin
How To Build An Effective HIIT Workout

Doing High Intensity Interval Training The Right Way

If you're bored of running endless miles on the treadmill or peddling for hours on the stationary bike, but are still looking for a way to squeeze some cardio into your workouts, you've come to the right place.

Rather than doing an aerobic activity that you maintain at a steady pace for the duration of your workout - about 30 minutes or so - I challenge you to give HIIT a shot. High intensity interval training is a circuit of alternating between fast periods in which you work all-out (100% maximum effort) with slower recovery intervals. This not only helps to rev your metabolism during the workout, but also for 24 hours after. Pretty cool, huh?

The Basics to Effective HIIT Training

  1. Ease yourself in - You want to have a baseline of aerobic fitness before you start adding intervals. If you have done at least one month of cardio work for at least 20 minutes three times per week, you are good to go. When getting started, it's best to begin with an abbreviated version of your regular steady-state cardio session, and then simply add 2-3 intervals of about 30 seconds each to the end of your workout. As you become more comfortable and your fitness level improves, you can begin to cut back on the steady-state cardio segment of your workout and add HIIT intervals in its place. As your conditioning improves, you'll be able to go for longer intervals and higher intensity. Keep working!
  2. Start with a 1:2 ratio of work to rest - This means that you will exert maximum effort for an exercise of your choosing for 30, 60, or 90 seconds, and then rest for twice as long before starting on the next set. As you improve, you can transition to a 1:1 ratio, or even a 2:1 ratio once you're feeling up to it. 
  3. All you need is 20 minutes - Rather than spending an hour on the dreaded elliptical, get the same results in more than half the time! A typical HIIT session is about 20-45 minutes of working and resting, depending on your individual fitness level. 

A Sample Workout (ADVANCED)

Part 1: Do each of these moves for 45 seconds, resting for 15 seconds after each exercise. Repeat this circuit twice. (If you are just beginning, do each move for 30 seconds and rest for 30-60 seconds)

  • Butt kicks - 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds
  • Jump squats - 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds
  • Burpees - 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds
  • Mountain climbers - 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds
  • Alternating side lunges - 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds
  • Jumping lunges - 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds

Part 2: Do each of these moves for 40 seconds, then drop into a forearm plank for 20 seconds after each exercise. Rest for one minute after each set. Repeat this circuit twice. (If you are just beginning, do each move for 30 seconds, plank for 15 seconds, and rest for 45-90 seconds)

  • Mountain climbers - 40 seconds
  • Forearm plank - 20 seconds
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Plank jacks - 40 seconds
  • Forearm plank - 20 seconds
  • Rest 1 minute
  • Lateral plank walks - 40 seconds
  • Forearm plank - 20 seconds
  • Rest 1 minute

Happy training!