When getting started with HIIT, one of the best ways to find success is to go into your first session with a workout routine already planned, so you don’t become frustrated or confused with what to do.
One thing that should be noted with HIIT is that it is not an exercise routine that you should be performing daily, as it can be too strenuous on the body to involve itself in such intense sessions every day, without a break in between.
This is not to say that your breaks should involve no exercise, but rather that if you are following a 5-6 day a week workout routine, HIIT sessions should be included every other day, or every 3 days for your body’s benefit.
Now on to the sample routine…
HIIT Workout Routine
The great thing about high intensity interval training workouts is that they can be mixed up for every session.
Since it would take a very long blog post to go over every single type of workout that you could substitute, I decided to just list some of my favorites and show you how you can build your own variable, changing HIIT workout routine just by selecting a few of your favorite exercises.
Even better, few of these exercises need equipment in order to be used, so you can get started in interval training workouts with little investment in equipment; you just need yourself and a little motivation.
Below I’ll go over my 5 favorite exercises that I like to sub in for HIIT workout routines. I will also include video instructions when applicable (and when I can find them).
Remember that you can mix and match these as you see fit, and feel free to mix in other workouts to build your own routine!
1. Mountain Climbers
Mountain Climbers are one of the great workouts that you can do that do not require any sort of equipment whatsoever.
Mountain Climbers are also great for your entire body, especially your abdominals, and are an easy way to increase your heart rate while having a very minimal impact on your body (as you’ll see, it manages to be a very intense exercise without an excess burden on your body).
To do the, simply get down on the ground on all fours, holding your arms straight and your head facing downward (looking at the floor) with your glutes facing straight into the air (similar to the downward dog yoga pose, but not quite).
Then, bring up one leg up to about your chest. From this position, you will swap your legs with one another in a shuttle motion, simulating crawling on the ground but without actually moving.
Keep alternating your legs in this motion for the duration of your workout period.
If this sounds confusing (it can be hard to describe without a visual), please watch this video of mountain climbers being demonstrated:
Remember to have a rest period of approximately half the time that you spent on your workout period after each session of mountain climbers.
2. Jump Rope
While this may be one of the few exercises that involves getting some equipment, it is also one of the most fun, in my opinion.
Also, even a professional speed jumprope (which you will probably want for a high intensity jump rope routine) does not even cost very much at all, and they tend to last quite a while.
The basic jumproping technique will be fine for a HIIT jumprope session,what you need to focus on is that this is not double-dutch or a showcase of your jump-roping skills: you should be jump roping like a boxer would, with great speed and a focus on not jumping up too high.
This not only improves your coordination, but keeping the jumprope going fast is an excellent cardio workout that will increase your heart rate and be easy on your body, and even your legs and knees as long as you heed the above advice and jump just barely over the rope each time it swings around.
This will not only make you a better jump-roper, it will save your legs from uncessary impact with the ground.
Remember though that it is simplicity and speed that counts the most here.
3. Up Downs
Up Downs are a popular drill technique for football practices, but they are also a great technique for HIIT workout routines.
The key is has been stated before: the ability to perform this workout at a high intensity without doing a lot of damage to your body.
Given these requirements, Up Downs fit the bill perfectly.
This exercise begins again on all fours, in the position of doing a push-up.
Then, both feet are brought up (so that you look like you are squatting), and then a small jump into the air with both arms to your sides with palms facing forwards.
This small jump adds a bit of intensity to this workout, but is not necessarily required.
Remember to keep the intensity level high, and you will definitely be feeling the effects of an intense Up Down session.
4. High Knees
Another very simplistic workout, involves exactly what you think it does.
Whereas in the jumprope routine I advised that you keep your feet low, in this exercise you will be bringing your knees up to your chest/stomach in a running motion.
This is obviously a standing exercise, and a nice break from the ground exercises mentioned above.
Simply start from a standing formation, go into a quick jog, while bringing your knees up to your mid-stomach and as high as your chest if you are flexible enough.
Remember to try to minimize impact on your feet: don’t slam them down and try to land as lightly as you can, while also keeping your speed up.
5. Running & Treadmill
Who can forget these!
Running is one of the best exercises… period, but it is also a great exercise to implement into a HIIT workout.
The difference here is the length, instead of a distance running pace you are going to be doing more of a “sprint”, as fast as you can go, for about 30 second to 1 minute, with the rest period afterwards.
This is easiest done outside, but can be also done on the treadmill (by setting the treadmill to a very high setting).
I would recommend you do this outside on a track if you are able, with a timed watch to alert you when the time is up.
For some more ideas on using HIIT treadmill exercises check out he video below that includes some additional examples:
Be sure that you are able to commit to running at this speed before you attempt this exercise: your fitness level should be assessed before you begin running at this intensity, and it may be better for you to shed weight by more traditional cardio methods before attempting exercises such as this.
As you can see, this basic HIIT workout routine will help you get started in including high intensity interval training into your fitness regime.
But this is not the end-all routine, remember that you can sub in other routines that you find that fit the mold shown above as long as they are able to be done at a high intensity while having a low harmful impact on your body (you wouldn’t, for example, do high-speed squatting as a HIIT exercise).
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