High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, is one of the hottest training methods in the fitness world today. As the name suggests, it’s intense and burns calories crazy fast.
You’ve probably heard your girlfriends talking about lots of sweat and everyone’s favorite: burpees. Lots and lots of burpees. While they’re not totally off base, it’s important to know how to execute high-intensity workouts properly in order to get the body composition changes and fitness results you want.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about this super popular way to burn calories and torch fat with a shorter time commitment than steady-state cardio methods. Let’s HIIT it!
So What Is HIIT?
HIIT workouts are structured into short bursts of all-out work alternating with active rest periods. In order to qualify as a true HIIT workout – amping up your intensity level is key. If you need help determining if your effort level is where it needs to be during active bursts, check out this rate of perceived exertion scale (RPE). On a scale of 1-10, you want to aim for an 8/9. Test your RPE rating by the “talk test.” If you are breathing heavy and conversation requires maximum effort then you are in the zone. Because you are expected to work at such a high level of exertion, active bursts are usually short and typically last anywhere between 20-90 seconds depending on the difficulty level of the workout. Sound exhausting? Not to worry! Rest periods between each active set also plays an important role in an effective HIIT workout. When the body works to adapt from higher intensity periods into the lower intensity recovery periods that HIIT cardio requires, a high caloric expenditure occurs which leads to greater fat loss. Active rest periods are also needed to enable the body to continue to perform at max capacity during high-intensity bursts.
Why Choose HIIT?
Is going back to your walk on the treadmill starting to sound more appealing than ever? HIIT workouts can be intimidating at first because it truly does push you to the limit, but that is exactly the point! Remember that crazy calorie burn I mentioned earlier? Working at higher levels of exertion during HIIT increases your metabolic rate through the “Afterburn Effect” or EPOC. Several studies have shown that triggering the afterburn effect through HIIT allows you to continue to burn calories as much as six to fifteen percent more. This can last for up to 3-24 hours after your session ends. Now you might be thinking, “Awesome! I’m going to do HIIT every day!” But whoa, hold up! While HIIT is an amazing workout with many benefits, overtraining is very possible and counterproductive to your weight loss goals. To allow your body to perform at maximum capacity, HIIT workout plans should consist of three days per week with another two days of moderate steady-state cardio.
How to Structure HIIT Workouts
You don’t need a fancy gym or any equipment to totally rock your HIIT workouts, it’s totally possible to get phenomenal results in the comfort of your own home. All you need is any activity that gets your heart rate up and applying it to the following format: For beginners, start with a 1:2 ratio of work to rest. Example: 30 seconds of all-out work followed by 60 seconds of active rest. As your endurance improves, you can transition into a 1:1 work to rest ratio. A typical HIIT session lasts about 20-45 minutes of continuous alternating work and rest periods.
If you’re someone who would rather trust the experts to the details, below are three different
HIIT workouts written by our triple certified LadyBossⓇ Personal Results Coaches! Side note here: if you want one-on-one help with your fitness, our coaches are health experts who are wonderful at helping you reach your goals. Anyway, back to HIIT. All you need for these workouts is your fierce LadyBossⓇ attitude and a commitment to push yourself to the max.
Go all out for 40 seconds, making sure to get a rest period in before moving on to the next exercise. Use a 1:2 or 1:1 work to rest ratio depending on your fitness level. Perform for 1-2 rounds.
- Wall Burpees: This variation is the perfect introduction to the standard burpee. Start by placing your hands on a wall and pushing away (like a standing pushup). After the full extension of the “pushup” jump straight up into the air.
- Wall Sit: This movement will have you feeling the burn in no time. Push your back up against a wall and walk out until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your weight in your heels and keep your back up against the wall. Hold the position for the allotted time.
- Prisoner Squats: Don’t be scurred, prisoner squats get their name from the unique hand placement behind the head which helps stabilize the muscles in your core, back and, shoulders. This exercise is only guilty of helping you craft a killer bod. Stand with your legs slightly wider than hip-width apart, keeping your feet parallel. Lift up arms and place both of your hands behind your head. Making sure your elbows are pulled back and your chest is lifted, bend from your hips and bend your knees, lowering down to a sitting position. Drive back up through the heels into a standing position.
- Standing Crunch: Engage your core with this standing version of the classic crunch. Start by standing straight and placing your hands behind your head. Continue the movement by pulling your opposite elbow to your opposite knee. Example: Right knee to left elbow; switching back and forth.
- High Knees: Execute this simple but effective move by running in place and bringing your knees up as high as you can for the time.
- Butt Kicks: Opposite of the high knees, run in place keeping knees low and trying your best to kick your own butt!
- Side-Lying Leg Raises: This move is a triple threat as it helps strengthen your hips and glutes while working your core. Perform this exercise by laying on your side and lifting your leg up and down. Make sure you hit each side for 20 seconds each.
This unique workout puts a fun twist on some classic movements–make sure to grab a chair! Go all out for 45 seconds, making sure to rest in between each exercise. Use a 1:2 or 1:1 work to rest ratio depending on your fitness level. Perform for 2-3 rounds.
- Elevated Plank Hold: Plank like a boss – a LadyBossⓇ of course! Place your feet on a chair, keeping your back flat and body in a straight line. Keep your arms and core tight. Hold.
- Elevated Mountain Climbers: This modified version of the mountain climber helps alleviate some of the pressure typically felt in the wrists while performing this exercise. Start by placing your hands wide on your chair. Begin in a plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Drive your knees toward your chest in a running motion.
- Elevated Plank Mogul Jumps: These unique jumps will really work your core while keeping your heart rate in the HIIT zone. Place your forearms on your chair shoulder-width apart. Keeping your feet together, step your feet back behind you and hop from side to side. Get the full benefit of this move by making sure to keep your core in tight.
- Elevated Pushups: A variation of the standard pushup, place both hands on your chair while maintaining plank position. Bend your elbows and lower your body down until your chest touches the front edge of your chair. Push back up into starting position.
- Elevated Plank Swimmer: Who says you need a pool to reap the benefits of a good swim? Start this movement by placing your hands shoulder-width apart on your chair, assuming a plank position. Lift right arm into a swimmer’s circle. Replace hand and repeat on the left side.
- Elevated Seated Plyo Jumps: A fun introduction to the jump squat. Start in a seated position, feet a little more than shoulder-width apart. Stand up and jump!
- Elevated Plank Shoulder Taps: Place hands shoulder-width apart on your chair, keeping plank position. Touch your right hand to your left shoulder then your left hand to your right shoulder. Repeat.
- Elevated Burpee: The next step in the progression to the classic burpee. Start by placing hands wide on your chair. Hinge at your hips and jump feet back. Return feet under hips and raise hands over your head.
Go all out for 1 minute, making sure to rest before moving on to the next exercise. Use a 1:2 or 1:1 work to rest ratio depending on your fitness level. Perform for 2-3 rounds.
- Squats: The go-to movement for a sculpted booty. Stand with your head facing forward and your chest held up and out placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back and down like you’re sitting into an imaginary chair. Keep your head facing forward as your upper body bends forward a bit. Rather than allowing your back to round, let your lower back arch slightly as you descend. Lower down so your thighs are parallel to the floor, keeping your knees over your ankles. Press your weight back into your heels, and push through your heels to bring yourself back to the starting position.
- High Knees: Execute this simple but effective move by running in place and bringing your knees up as high as you can for the allotted time.
- Scissor Jumps: This move adds a cardiovascular element to the popular lower body-centric lunge. Start by getting down into a standard lunge stance. As you jump up, switch legs making sure to land softly on each side. Coaches tip: Apply all your weight in the heel of your front foot; making sure to keep a 90-degree angle in your front leg.
- Jumping Jacks: A classic full-body movement that keeps the heart pumping. Jump your legs out as you bring your hands overhead, then jump back to standing position. Be conscious of your breathing while performing this move: exhale as you jump out and inhale as you bring your hands down and feet together.
- Total Body Extensions: Did I mention that this would be a full-body workout?! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat position while focusing on keeping your weight shifted into your heels. As you lower down, extend your arms out and touch the floor. Finally, come up out of the squat while extending your arms into the sky and extending up onto your tip-toes for a calf raise.
- Prisoner Squat Jumps: A twist on the prisoner squats from the beginner’s workout above. This slightly more challenging version adds a jump to the end of the movement.
- Burpees: As you’ve read, there are several ways to perform this full-body movement. Even the classic burpee can be modified depending on your fitness level. For this workout, choose the version that enables you to perform maximum reps in the allotted time, but still challenges you. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your weight in your heels and your arms at your sides. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower into a squat. As you put your hands on the floor, jump your feet back to land in a plank position. Keep your body in a strong straight line. (If you’re up for the challenge, add a push-up here) From there, jump your feet forward to land right outside of your hands, and then stand (or jump) up.
Ready to HIIT it? It’s always a great idea to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. Understand the basics but still not sure where to start? Get a coach! LadyBossⓇ Personal Results Coaches each have over 10 years of experience in the health and wellness industry and can help you customize your workouts to your individual needs.