High-intensity interval training, or simply HIIT, has always been one of my favourite workouts to improve body composition.
Because it brings results fast.
HIIT is a type of workout where you perform intense exercise for a short period of time, usually for 10-30 seconds. This is followed by a period of rest of 1-3 minutes, or longer.
HIIT has been shown to offer many health benefits—especially to people with weight loss goals.  It burns calories, reduces body fat, and improves your physical and mental well-being.  All in a session of 20 minutes or less.
If you’re a healthy person, there really is no excuse not to give HIIT workouts a try. Here are some of the most efficient (both time-wise and weight loss-wise) HIIT exercises to incorporate into your fitness routine.
If I could choose just one HIIT exercise to have in my routine, it would be sprints. Doing them increases your heart rate and breathing rate substantially. Over time, this boosts your aerobic capacity – VO2max – which is how much oxygen your body can use during intense activity.
Sprints will help you burn more fat during exercise and keep your metabolism fired up long after you finished your workout. A 2021 study found that HIIT exercises like sprints increase loss of visceral and total fat mass, offering similar results as other types of exercises in less time.
Uphill sprints are generally better for your joints, the same goes for natural surfaces over asphalt and concrete. With that said, here’s a simple but effective sprint HIIT workout you can start doing next:
- Sprint for 30 seconds. This can be done on the treadmill or track or wherever you prefer.
- Rest 2-3 minutes depending on your fitness levels. Resting longer than that is fine too, but try to keep it below 5 minutes.
- Repeat the process until you have finished 3-10 reps, depending on your physical fitness level. For someone just starting with HIIT, it’s best to keep it on the lower end and gradually let your body adapt over weeks and months.
You may not think of squats as an HIIT workout, but done the right way, they sure can be extremely effective for weight loss.
The key is in proper posture and exercise speed. With your feet width apart and your core engaged, go down with your hips and bend at the knees slowly, and then push up with your feet and add weighs to make it harder.
The HIIT part is this:
- Do this repeatedly for 20 seconds minimum, without any rest.
- Rest for 20 seconds and repeat.
Try it and let me know how it worked for you.
The great thing about HIIT swimming is that you’re activating all the major muscle groups in your body, including:
Naturally this means more calories burned during exercise, and stronger after-burn (the amount of oxygen that is being burned after the exercise is finished).
The type of swimming we’ll be looking at here is either freestyle or breaststroke. The first one is a 10 on a scale of 1-10 of intensity, while the second one is a 7. So choose depending on your fitness level.
15-30 seconds of swimming, followed by 1-2 minutes of rest. Repeat until you have finished at least 20 minutes.
Anything Else to Consider?
As healthy as they can be, HIIT exercises aren’t for everyone. Because they’re so intense, the physical stress that is put on the body is high. This type of stress is good for most people as the body adapts over time and becomes more resilient.
But for those of you who’re suffering from chronic fatigue, lack of sleep, and generally weak adrenal function, avoid doing HIIT, or at the very least, shorten the time of your intervals and prolong resting time.
- Trine Karlsen, Inger-Lise Aamot, Mark Haykowsky, Øivind Rognmo, High Intensity Interval Training for Maximizing Health Outcomes, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 60, Issue 1, 2017, Pages 67-77, ISSN 0033-0620.
- Alansare A, Alford K, Lee S, Church T, Jung HC. The Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training vs. Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training on Heart Rate Variability in Physically Inactive Adults. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Jul 17;15(7):1508. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15071508. PMID: 30018242; PMCID: PMC6069078.