The Best HIIT Exercises and Workout Plan

You may have heard a lot about HIIT, such as its effectiveness in enhancing cardiovascular health.1 Cardiovascular Health – National Association of Chronic Disease. But do you know what the best workouts you can incorporate in your HIIT workout plan are? Well, in this article, I’m going to hand out some of the best HIIT exercises with a sample of workout routines and their benefits; so you can use them to achieve your desired goal faster.

I’ve included as many research and studies links as possible so you can get accurate info.

Related: Top 10 Gym HIIT Workouts and Plan

What is HIIT?

The full form of HIIT is High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a full-body, fast-paced workout program designed to burn maximum calories throughout the training session while ensuring skeletal muscles2 Skeletal muscle: A review of molecular structure and function, in health and disease – PMC Article growth.

Exercises in the HIIT workout program are designed to perform at a higher intensity, usually at 80 to 90 percent of the maximum heart rate.

You can embrace any workout that can alternate between high-intensity moves followed by rest intervals for a fixed amount of time.

Let’s take the example of HIIT circuit training. A circuit that includes a total of 4 exercises done in intervals.

  1. Do as many High Knees as possible in 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds.
  2. Do Burpees as fast as you can in 30 seconds, then take rest for 30 seconds.
  3. Perform as many Squats as possible in 30 seconds, then take rest for 30 seconds.
  4. Do as many Push-ups as possible in 30-sec, followed by 30 seconds rest.

The above circuit training is just an illustration.

Even if you do only sprinting into two intervals for many rounds is considered as HIIT.

The selection of HIIT exercises entirely depends on your fitness level and choice.

One HIIT workout plan may doesn’t work for all because everyone’s body responds in different ways.

Also, Read: The Best Dumbbell HIIT Workout Plan (With PDF)

However, the HIIT workouts I’ve included in this post may work for all and help you get in shape, and promote better health.


The 7 Best Exercises List You can Add in Your HIIT Workout Program

  1. Running
  2. Jumping Rope
  3. Bicycling
  4. Sprinting
  5. Rowing Machine
  6. Boxing
  7. Bodyweight Exercise

1. Running

Outdoor running and treadmill running both are effective and good for overall fitness in the long run.

You can include running in other HIIT exercises or do HIIT running for 30 minutes into different intervals.

The choice of indoor and outdoor running depends on your lifestyle and what you want to accomplish.

The best things about outdoor running are that you don’t need any equipment and you’ll enjoy fresh air in the morning.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced, you can include running in your overall gym workout routine.

The example of a 30-minute HIIT running workout routine

Do warm-up before doing any high-intense activity.

*Maximum Heart Rate: MHR

DurationIntensity
4-minJog or Walk at a Low Intensity
6-minRun at 70 to 80 percent of your MHR
4-minJogging at a slow pace
6-minRun at a medium pace
4-minWalk at an average speed
2-min Run as fast as you can
4-minCooldown period (Walk)
Related: How To Run Faster And Longer (12 Tips)

20 minutes HIIT running exercise

  • 2-minutes Jog or Walk at a Moderate Speed at 50 to 70 percent of your MHR
  • 5 minutes Run at 70 to 80 percent of your MHR
  • 2 minutes Jog or Walk at a standard speed
  • 2 minutes High-intense Run
  • 5 minutes Jog or Walk
  • 4 Minutes Run at a fast pace

The recovery period is shorter in 20 minutes sessions while more in 30 minutes workout sessions. Because the smaller the session, the briefer the recovery period.

Calories Burned

A 150 pounds person may burn approximately 500 calories in 30 mins and 350 calories in 20 minutes – an article published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research suggested.

The above two high-intensity running sessions are just examples; you can create your HIIT running workout.


Benefits of HIIT Running

High-intensity running improves elasticity and improves coordination between your nervous system and muscles – suggested in an article published on the Runner’s World. 3 The Ultimate Guide to High-Intensity Interval Training for Runners – Runners World

Running regularly also improves heart and brain health and fights with aging hormones, and keeps you young. Many studies have also shown that running is the best exercise for a long and healthy life.

How often should you do High-intensity running?

If you’re a beginner, go at least two times a week, and if you’re an intermediate, go for at least four days a week.

Should you do the above HIIT running routine?

If your goal is body-building or muscle gain, leave it because it will not help you achieve your fitness goal. But if you want to lose weight, build endurance, and improve running speed, it will be the best option for you.

Also, Read: Difference Between Running, Jogging & Sprinting

2. Jumping Rope

The Jumping rope is one of the best fat-burning HIIT workouts. It works on the entire body. The leg muscles help us jump, the arms engage in rotating the rope, and the core engages to keep us balanced during the exercise.

Best HIIT Exercises and Workouts

You can do the jump rope along with other HIIT exercises, or you can only do jumping rope for 15 to 20 minutes or more than that, depending on your endurance.

The good thing about the jumping ropes exercise is that it doesn’t require much space. You can do it at home, on the ground, or sideways.

It is suitable for all, whether you’re overweight or underweight.

Here, I’ve shared two different HIIT jumping rope sessions just for examples.

20 Minutes HIIT Jumping Ropes Routine

Total 7 Rounds

Do as fast as possible in each round.

  • 1-minute work,  1 minute rest
  • 2 minutes work, 2 minutes rest
  • 2 minutes work, 2 minutes rest
  • 3 minutes work, 3 minutes rest
  • 1-minute work,  1 minute rest
  • 1-minute work,  1 minute rest

15 Minutes HIIT Jumping ropes Routine

Total 5 Rounds (Do as many reps as possible in each round)

  • 1-minute jumping then 1-min rest
  • 2 minutes jump rope then 60-sec rest
  • 2 minutes jumping, 2 minutes rest
  • 2 minutes jumping, 2 minutes rest
  • 1-min at a quick pace, 1-min rest

The 20-min High-intensity jumping workout burns approximately 300-400 calories, while the 15-min session burns nearly 200 to 300 calories depending on one’s fitness levels.

Benefits of HIIT jumping ropes workout

  • Burn more calories than other exercises
  • Improve Metabolism Rate
  • Enhance coordination between your nervous system and muscles
  • Increase bone density
  • Improve heart health
  • If you maintain calorie intake it will also help you lose weight. (You may like: Best Low Calories Foods)

3. Bicycling HIIT workout

Do you love cycling? If yes, then you can shed some excess pounds with a HIIT biking workout.

Best HIIT workouts
Photo by John Torcasio

Outdoor bicycling is fun, exciting, and adventurous. You can burn plenty of calories in a quick time with a biking workout.

The only disadvantage of cycling is that you must have access to the cycle, whether an actual bicycle or a stationary one.

If you don’t have access, don’t worry because you still have plenty of HIIT exercises to do at home.

Below I’ve shared two HIIT bicycling routines just for an example. You can do either outdoor or indoor cycling.


20 minutes HIIT Bicycling exercise

DurationIntensity
2 minutesLow-Intensity
3 minutesHigh-intense
3 minutesAt slower speed
2 minutes As fast as possible
2 minutesLow-Intense
3 minutesAs quickly as you can
3 minutesLow-Intense
2 minutesAs quick as possible

15 minutes HIIT Bicycling routine

DurationIntensity
2 minutesLow-Intensity
3 minutesHigh-intense
3 minutesAt slower speed
2 minutesAs fast as possible
2 minutesLow-Intense
3 minutesAs quickly as you can

How often should you do bicycling HIIT?

It depends on your lifestyle and fitness goal. However, twice a week is suitable for beginners but more than that even better.

Sleeping, eating, and resting are all crucial. So don’t force your body because overtraining sometimes causes muscles soreness and injuries.

Should you do high-intensity bicycling?

Yes, bicycling is for all, irrespective of age, gender, and physique. But if you have any illness or disorder, I advise you to consult your doctor before doing this exercise.


4. Sprints Interval Training (One of the Quickest HIIT Exercises)

Sprinting is one of the best anaerobic exercises that boost endurance and metabolism and help you burn more calories than any other exercise.

Sprint
Sprint

It is short and high-intense. You’ll have put all of your energy into the sprinting, leaving nothing else in your gas tank.

You can sprint depending on your fitness levels, such as 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, and a maximum of 500 meters.

It will be a great option to burn many calories in a quick time.

Sprinting is also one of the best ways to lose weight faster while increasing aerobic capacity. 4 Running sprint interval training induces fat loss in women – National Library of Medicine.

Despite the several advantages of sprinting, I would still not recommend it to everyone. Because of its intensity, it may cause problems for some people. That is why I would suggest you consult your doctor before doing this.

Essential points to keep in mind before doing the sprint interval training

  1. Stretch your hamstrings, quads and other body parts so that your body won’t get any cramps.
  2. You’ll have to do a long warm-up, approximately for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. You can do high-knees, jump squats or the moderate jogging before sprinting.

30 Minutes HIIT Sprint Intervals

TimeIntensity/Speed
5 minutesJogging at an easy-moderate pace
5 minutesSlowly increase the intensity of your jog
30-secSprinting (1)
5 minutesIt is your recovery time; you can walk during this time.
30-sec Sprint (2)
5 minutesSlow walk or jog
30-secSprint (3)
5 minutes Slow walk or jog
30-secSprint (4)
3 minutesIt’s time to cool down
This workout is excellent for intermediate and advanced exercisers who love challenges.

5. Rowing (One of the Best HIIT Workouts)

The rowing machine is one of the exercises to burn maximum calories in a quick time. If you’re trying to lose fats, you can include it in your high-intensity workout plan.

Rowing Workout

Rowing works on arms, back, and core and helps you strengthen and tone muscles.

You can burn as many as 500 calories in 30 minutes of a rowing workout.

Here you can see an example of 20-min HIIT rowing.

Activity timeRest time
2 minutes1-min
2 minutes2-min
3 minutes 2-min
2-min1-min

6. Hgh-intensity Boxing Workout

Boxing is another excellent and one of the best fat-burning exercises you can include in your HIIT workout plan.

HIIT Boxing
HIIT Boxing

High-intensity boxing positively impacts obesity and cardiovascular health, as shown in a pilot study published by BMC Sports Science, Medicine And Rehabilitation. 5The feasibility and effectiveness of high-intensity boxing training versus moderate-intensity brisk walking in adults with abdominal obesity: a pilot study – BMC Sports Science, Medicine, And Rehabilitation

So if you’re trying to lose some extra kilos, you can do a high-intensity boxing workout.

Moreover, boxing also boosts metabolism, VO2 max and increases power and strength.

So, whenever you see a punching bag, don’t just leave it without punching it for a couple of minutes.

Related: A Complete Guide To HIIT Boxing Workout

20 Minutes HIIT Boxing Interval:

  • Alternating left/right jab-cross– Hit as many punches as possible in 30 seconds, then take rest for 30 seconds
  • Alternating left/right hook– Hit as many punches as you can in 30 seconds and then take 30-sec rest.
  • Freestyle– Combine any moves you want and do it for 60 seconds at a quick speed and then rest for 60 seconds.
  • Repeat this for 5 times to complete 20 minutes HIIT boxing circuit.

7. Best Bodyweight Workouts for HIIT

1. High Knees

High Knees is one of my favorite bodyweight HIIT workouts that I always do when I work out without equipment.

It increases heart rate and blood flow that helps your lungs to take oxygen efficiently.

How to do High-knees:

  1. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart, keep your hands straight in front of your thighs.
  2. Now Lift your right knee toward your chest, then switch to lift your right knee toward your chest. That’s one rep!

Do as many reps as possible in 30 seconds, then take a rest for 30 seconds. And repeat this for the desired number of times.


2. Burpees

The burpee is one of the best full-body HIIT fat-burning exercises that help you gain strength and lose weight at the same time.

Not only this, but it also improves muscles coordination, endurance, heart health, body balance, stability, and posture.

How to perform Burpee:

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your arms at your sides.
  2. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower yourself into a squat position.
  3. Place your hands on the floor directly in front and below of your feet.
  4. Shift your weight onto your hands. extend your legs back, softly land on the floor.
  5. Your body should be in a plank position.
  6. Now, jump your feet back just outside of your hands.
  7. Extend your arms fully over your head and jump up into the air. That’s one rep!

Complete as many burpees as possible in 60 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds to complete one interval.

Repeat for the desired number/amount of sets and time.


3. HIIT Core Exercises

One of the best examples of HIIIT core workouts is Mountain Climber.

The mountain climber strengthens core and tone stomach muscle and helps you burn a good number of calories.

How to do Mountain Climbers

  1. Position yourself into a plank position and hold your body through hand and feet.
  2. Brace your core and pull your one leg knee into your chest as close as you can.
  3. Follow with another leg, by pulling knee out and bringing the other knee in.
  4. Keep your elbows extended and back flat during the movement.

Along with mountain climbers, you can do crunches and planks.

Crunches and planks are great exercises for core strength. And having a solid core is pretty essential for a muscular physique.

Here’s an example of a 10-min best HIIT core workout

ExerciseDurationRest
Mountain Climbing30-sec30-sec
Sit-ups30-sec30-sec
Standard Plank60-sec30-sec
Reverse Crunches30-sec 30-sec
Side Plank30-sec15-sec
Leg Raises30-sec30-sec
Russian Twist30-sec30-sec
Toe Touching Crunches30-sec30-sec
Heel Touch Crunches30-sec30-sec
Hip Raise30-sec30-sec
Related: 15-Minute HIIT Core Workout

4. HIIT Lower Body Exercises

You can incorporate plenty of lower body workouts in your bodyweight HIIT workout program. For example, squats, lunges, glute bridges, and calf raises.

Let’s take an example of a squat.

Squats will help you increase your lower-body strength and improve running and jumping efficiency.

Steps to do Squats:

  • Stand with your feet should-width apart and keep your back straight.
  • Brace your core, bend your knees and lower your body by bending your hips backwards.
  • Keep your entire body tight during the movement.
  • Do as many as reps you can and then move to another exercise after 15 seconds rest.
Also, Read: A Complete Guide To The HIIT Lower Body Workout

5. HIIT Upper Body Exercises

Push-up is one of the best workouts you can do in your HIIT program. It works on various muscles, such as the chest, arms, shoulders, back, and core.

Doing push-ups consistently increases strength, power and promotes muscles growth.

How to do push-ups

  • Start with keeping your body in the high plank position.
  • Then tighten your abdominal muscles and glutes and keep your body in line from top to bottom.
  • Now bend your elbows and start pushing your chest toward the floor.
  • Then press back up powerfully by extending your arms. That’s one rep!

Here’s an example of 15-min bodyweight HIIT workout routine.

WorkoutDurationInterval
High Knees30-sec15-sec
Burpees1-min30-sec
Mountain Climbing30-sec15-sec
Squats30-sec15-sec
Pushup30-sec15-sec
Sit-ups30-sec15-sec
Squat Jump30-sec15-sec
Pushup30-sec15-sec
Reverse Crunches30-sec15-sec
Glutes Bridge 30-sec 15-sec

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Murshid Akram
I'm a certified personal trainer, fitness blogger, and nature lover. I always learn more about exercise science and human anatomy so that I can provide the best information possible. I share science-based, practical, and logical information that can help you achieve your desired fitness goal.

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