High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Pilates are two different forms of workout programs. Combining both helps burn fat, tone muscles, improve cardiovascular health, and boost endurance and metabolism.
You’ll see the best HIIT Pilates workout routine, exercises, and the benefits of combining high-intensity interval training and pilates for overall fitness in this article.
For example, I’ve shared a full-body HIIT pilates workout plan for beginners that helps them stay fit and active and fat burning HIIT pilates workout routine to speed up weight loss. So depending on your goal, you can do one of them.
What is High-intensity interval training (HIIT)?
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an efficient workout program designed to work on the entire body. It is fast, intense, and burns plenty of calories throughout the training session. In the HIIT program, you have to perform exercises in intervals.
For example, If you’re doing a circuit of three exercises, squat jump, mountain climbing, and burpees, then you can do them in the following ways:
- 30-seconds squat jump, 30-second rest,
- 30-sec mountain climbing, 30-second of rest,
- 30-second burpees, 30 seconds rest.
- Repeat this pattern as many times as you like.
The high-intensity interval training has myriad health benefits, from increasing fat loss to improving cardiovascular health.1Heydari M, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise on body composition of overweight young males. J Obes. 2012;2012:480467. doi: 10.1155/2012/480467. Epub 2012 Jun 6. PMID: 22720138; PMCID: PMC3375095.
What is Pilates Workout?
Pilates is a form of low-impact workout training, unlike HIIT. The different exercises of pilates work on the entire body, especially the core.
The primary purposes of doing pilates are to strengthen the core muscles and improve posture, mobility, and flexibility.2Kloubec, June A. “Pilates for improvement of muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, and posture.” Journal of strength and conditioning research vol. 24,3 (2010): 661-7. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c277a6
From stretches to cardio, pilates is a mix-up of different exercises. For example, it includes squats, bridges, cat-cow stretches, sit-ups, windshield wipers, etc.
Most Pilates exercises are bodyweight, but you can also add weights or bands for additional resistance.
Best Exercises To Include the HIIT Pilates Workout Program
1. Jumping Jacks
Jumping jacks give you a good warm-up, increases your heart, and allow your lungs to take oxygen efficiently.
Whether you are a beginner or intermediate, male or female, you can do jumping jacks to burn many calories in a short time and boosts endurance.
To perform the jumping jacks,
- Stand in the normal stance with your arms extended straight at your sides. Your palms should be facing your body.
- Jumps quickly jump your feet out to the sides and as you jump, raise your arms overhead until they come close to each other.
- Jump back to return to the start and repeat as many times as possible.
2. Pulse Squat
The squat pulse is a kind of half-squat that helps build lower body strength, primarily the quads. You can do it at a fast pace to burn many calories while strengthening the lower body muscles.
To do this exercise,
- Stand tall in the shoulder-width stance, raise your arms out, and hold them straight.
- Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower down in the squat position.
- Without returning to the standing position, pulse a few inches up and down, as long as possible, and return to the standing position.
- Keep your back straight, chest up, and core engaged during the exercise.
3. Split Jumping Jacks
The split jack is a high-intensity full-body workout that primarily works on the glutes, hamstrings, core, and hips. It pumps your heart, increases blood flow, and sheds many calories in a short moment.
Follow the simple steps to perform the split jacks
- Stand upright with your feet together and arms straight at your sides.
- Jump in the air, and as you jump, bring your feet in the lunges position or split your foot in the air and then land on the ground. Plus, raise your one arm overhead when you jump in the air.
- Reverse and repeat these steps for the maximum number of repetitions.
4. High Knees
The high knee is one of the best exercises for warming up the body. It is good for improving hip mobility and endurance. This move works on the entire body.
How to perform High-knee
- Stand in the normal stance and bend your elbow and hold your hands in front of you at stomach level.
- Lift your one foot off the floor, pull your knee up until it touches your hand, and lower it down.
- As you lower your feet toward the ground, quickly lift your other feet and bring your knee up until it also touches your hand.
- Repeat this move for the desired number of repetitions.
5. Criss Cross
The criss-cross is a famous pilates workout. It helps target the abs and oblique and helps you tone your core.
Stepwise instructions to perform the Criss Cross:
- Lie on your back on the mat with your feet properly on the ground.
- Hold your fingertips beside your ears and lift your legs off the ground, forming a right angle.
- Now bring your right knee and left elbow toward each other until they touch each other.
- And as you draw your right leg out, bring your left knee toward the right elbow and repeat the same steps to complete one repetition.
- You can do as many as you can.
6. Jump Squats
Squat jump is one of the highly effective exercises in the HIIT program that helps improve speed and boost stamina and metabolism.
To perform the jump squat,
- Stand in the shoulder-width stance, hold your arms at your sides and bend your elbows to hold your hands in front of you for support.
- Push your hips back, bend your knees to squat down, push through your heels to jump as high as you can as you jump, and bring your arms to your sides. And then again, go down in the squat position and repeat for the maximum number of repetitions.
7. Bodyweight Man or Power Maker
The man maker is an excellent total body workout that includes various movements, such as push-ups, shoulder taps, squats, and jumps. It builds muscles, increases stamina and power, and helps lose weight.
Steps to perform Man maker exercise:
- Get into a high plank position and perform one standard push-up.
- Next, lift your right hand off the floor and tap the left shoulder.
- Return that hand to the floor, perform a pushup, and tap your right shoulder with your left hand.
- Next, take your hands off the ground, stand on your feet, and jump high, pushing through your heels.
- Finally, land your feet on the ground. That’s your one repetition.
- To do more repetitions, start from the push-up after the jump, and repeat as many times as possible.
8. Leg Raise
Leg raises strengthen and tone core muscles, primarily the lower ab, the most challenging muscle to expose.
It’s pretty simple to execute; here are the steps you can follow:
- First, lie on your back on the floor with your legs straight and arms at your sides.
- Brace your abdominal muscles, lift your legs off the floor, and raise as high as possible while keeping your upper body on the floor.
- Pause for a second, then lower them down on the floor. That is your one repetition.
Crunch solidify your core muscles and helps you build six-pack abs. It is an important exercise for both HIT and Pilates training.
To perform crunches:
- Lay down on the mat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Hold your fingertips behind your head and lift your torso off the floor until you feel the work in your abs. Do it as many times as you like.
10. Double Mountain Climbers
The mountain climber is a fat-burning HIIT pilates workout that increases core stability and helps lower abdominal fat. You can do it at your maximum heart rate to burn the maximum calories.
How to perform double mountain climbers:
- Get into a plank position with your forearms holding the upper body weight.
- Keeping your core tight, bring your knees in toward your elbows alternatively.
- Once you have done this, get yourself in the high plank position with your arms straight below your shoulders.
- Again bring your knees in the same way and complete your first repetition.
Cool Down and Stretching Exercises To Do in Pilates HIIT Workout
Stretching exercises is a part of Pilates training. You can also include them in your Pilates HIIT workout routine.
These exercises are less intense, and you can do them during your recovery period.
1. Cat Cow stretch
The cat-cow pose is primarily done for flexibility and balance. However, it also strengthens your lower back and engages the core muscles.
How to perform Cat-Cow:
- Get on all fours with your knees directly underneath your hips and your hands below your shoulders.
- Keep your core tight, curl your spine, and bring your head and tailbone close to each other. That is the cat pose.
- Hold for a couple of seconds, inhale, and then press your chest to face vertically toward the ceiling. That’s the Cow pose.
- Hold for two to five seconds and repeat for the suggested times.
2. Lower Back and Hip Twist Stretch
It is an excellent mobility exercise, good for the hips and the lower back. It also works on the oblique as you twist from one side to the other.
Steps to do it:
- First, lie on your back on the mat with your right knee bent at 90 degrees and your left leg straight in front of you.
- Brace your core, and twist your hips from right to left.
- Stretching your hips, pause there for a moment, and return to the start.
- Perform equal sets and reps on each side.
The bridge is an efficient lower body workout that mainly works on the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and low back. Moreover, it also strengthens the core and helps improves hip mobility, balance, and posture.
Below are the instructions to perform bridges exercises
- Lie on the mat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Now, lift your pelvis off the floor until your body becomes in line from the knees to the face.
- Pause for a second and then lower it down on the mat. Repeat as many times as you like.
4. Locust Pose
The locust pose enhances lower back health and improves flexibility and body balance. It mainly works on the posterior chain muscles and helps you develop a flexible physique.
It’s easy to do; below are the steps:
- Lay down on your stomach with your legs straight behind you and your arms at your sides.
- Now lift your chest, arms, and leg five to ten inches off the floor.
- Hold in this position for a couple of seconds, then return to the lying position.
- Repeat for the required number of times.
5. Bird Dog Plank
It is an intermediate-level exercise that helps develop strength and mobility. It engages several muscles simultaneously, such as the core, lower back, hamstring and glute.
How to perform bird dog
- Get on all fours with your knees underneath your hips and your hands below your shoulders.
- Lift your right leg and left hand together off the floor until they are parallel to the floor.
- Brace your core and hold in that position for 5 to 10 seconds.
6. Floor Windshield Wiper
The windshield wipers work on multiple muscles, especially the abs, obliques, and hips. It enhances lower body strength and flexibility and builds a sturdy core.
Steps to perform windshield wipers on the floor:
- Lie on the mat with your legs straight on the floor.
- Keep your arms out to the sides for support.
- Brace your abdominal muscles, and lift your legs straight until your heels point toward the ceiling. That is your starting position.
- Now, twist your legs together from left to right and right to left side for the required number of times.
The Benefits of Combining HIIT and Pilates Workouts
You can enjoy several advantages when you combine Pilates with HIIT. For example,
1. HIIT Burn Calories And Pilates Improve Flexibility, Posture, and Balance
HIIT is an excellent way to boost metabolism, burn more calories, and lose fat. Of course, weight loss is a complex process and works differently for different people. However, if you maintain your calorie consumption and follow the HIIT workout consistently, you’ll surely see the positive result in the least amount of time.
On the other hand, pilates helps improves flexibility, posture, and mobility. It is designed to stabilize, mobilize, strengthen and balance the body – an article published by British Heart Foundation suggested. Moreover, it strengthens the entire body, including deep internal muscles that we aren’t aware of.
So, with the combination of pilates and HIIT, you’ll be able to improve your overall fitness.
2. Improve Strength and Tone Muscles
Mixing up Pilates exercises with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) increases muscle strength of the whole body, especially the abdominal muscles, lower back, hips, legs, and buttocks. Pilates also tones your body and gives you a more streamlined physique.
3. Pilates HIIT Workout is Suitable For All Fitness Levels
Pilates HIIT exercises are ideal for everyone from beginner to advanced, male to female, and younger to older. They are efficient and effective and need no equipment. You can do them anywhere you like, at home, in fitness studios, or on playgrounds.
20-Minute Pilates HIIT Workout Plan For Beginners
I have designed a 20-minute Pilates HIIT routine for beginners to help them improve strength, balance, and overall fitness.
- 20-sec Jumping Jacks, 40-sec cat-cow stretches
- 20-sec Pulse Squat, 40-sec rest
- 20-sec High Knees Jumping, 40-sec Bridges
- 20-sec Leg Raise, 40 seconds rest
- 20-sec Man maker, 40-sec Locust Pose
- 20-sec Criss Cross, 40-sec bridges
- 20-sec Split Jumping Jacks, 20-sec lower back twist
- 20-sec Jump Squats, 20-sec Bird Dog, and 20-sec rest
- 20-sec Crunches, 20-sec locust pose, and 20 seconds rest.
- 20-sec Jumping jacks, 20 seconds windshield wipers, and 20 seconds rest.
- Repeat this pattern to complete your 20 minutes.
Recommended frequency: 3 times a week (Preferred time: Morning)
Estimated Calories Burned: 150-200
30-Minute Full Body HIIT Pilates Workout Routine
This routine helps strengthen the total body, increases your endurance, burns many calories, and helps you lose weight. I’ve included both high-intense and stretching exercises to make an effective workout plan.
- 30 seconds of Jumping Jacks, 20 seconds of bridges, and 10 seconds of rest.
- 30 seconds of Jump Squats, 20 seconds of lower back twist, and 10 seconds of rest.
- 30-second Crunches, 20 seconds windshield wipers, and 10 seconds rest.
- 30 seconds Criss Cross, 20 seconds cat-cow stretch, and 10 seconds rest.
- 30 seconds High Knees Jumping, 20 seconds locust pose, and 10 seconds rest.
- 30-second Leg Raise, 20 seconds lower back twist, and 10 seconds rest.
- 30 seconds Split Jumping Jacks, 20 seconds bridges, and 10 seconds rest.
- 30 seconds Pulse Squat, 20 seconds cat-cow stretch, and 10 seconds rest.
- 60-seconds Man maker, 40 seconds windshield wipers, and 20 seconds rest.
- Repeat this pattern two times more to complete your 30-minute HIIT pilates workout routine.
This is just a sample; you can change, include, exclude other exercises, or create your own routine according to your fitness level and goal.
Suggested frequency: 4 times a week (Preferred time: Morning)
You can also follow this routine along with other weightlifting exercises.
Pilates HIIT workout can be efficient if your goal is to increase strength and stamina while improving your posture, mobility, and flexibility. You can follow the workout routine that keeps you fit and flexible while staying at home.
All it’s require your mood and some space in your home. If you have any medical conditions, I suggest you consult your doctor/trainer before starting any training.
- 1Heydari M, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise on body composition of overweight young males. J Obes. 2012;2012:480467. doi: 10.1155/2012/480467. Epub 2012 Jun 6. PMID: 22720138; PMCID: PMC3375095.
- 2Kloubec, June A. “Pilates for improvement of muscle endurance, flexibility, balance, and posture.” Journal of strength and conditioning research vol. 24,3 (2010): 661-7. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c277a6