9 HIIT Workouts That Really Work
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Originally Posted On: https://www.westonfit.com/hiit-workouts/
High intensity interval training took the world by storm, and even after the health trend slowed down, people were still going nuts for it.
Do you know why?
Because it was working. Because for once, it was a science-backed health trend that stuck because it changed people’s lives.
As you progress through HIIT, you’ll see waistline changes, muscle improvement, and overall energy levels soaring while your endurance levels allow you to take on more in a day than you ever thought possible before.
With any earth-shattering breakthrough in physical fitness, there are those who are quick to jump on the bandwagon and misinform people.
There are some HIIT workouts out there that don’t benefit you the way they should, which is why I’ve made this detailed list.
You should be able to hit the ground running, and see results as soon as possible.
HIIT workouts can take a lot out of you, but that’s the point: the intensity, which brings results.
We’ve outlined some of the best HIIT workouts that put the pedal to the metal, and help you transform your body into what you’ve always wanted it to be.
If you’d like to see a graphical breakdown of the HIIT workouts, we got you covered:
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What Exactly Is HIIT?
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.
What this means is you expunge a lot of energy in a short amount of time, generally in a 1-2-3 rule, and then immediately rest for a short amount of time.
HIIT includes many dynamic movements and fat-burning cardio exercises, each of which will contribute to your overall weight loss.
If you remember the popular P90X commercials from way back in the day, that was considered the world’s first commercialized look at HIIT.
With HIIT workouts, you’re required to rapidly accelerate your heart rate and put your muscles through high intensity movements, followed by a short-term period where you then lower that immediate need for oxygen by resting.
It’s like turning something on, then off, then on again on a repeated basis.
The beautiful thing about high intensity interval training is that you don’t need to use specific equipment for it, although some equipment use definitely helps.
Because most cardio and strength machines really rely on proper form to not only give you benefits, but to prevent injury, a lot of HIIT is done through calisthenic workouts, where you only use your own bodyweight again you as a form of resistance training.
HIIT can be done just about anywhere, at any time, if you master the right techniques.
We’re about to break some of the best HIIT workouts down to their most basic, fundamental elements in a moment, so you can start conditioning your body and increasing your endurance at the same time.
Benefits Of HIIT Workouts
Before we get into the HIIT workout plans, let’s talk about why you should be doing them in the first place.
About the benefits and health rewards you get.
Because HIIT combines calisthenics, which is using your own bodyweight as a tool, and cardio together in one classification, it’s important that you know what it can do for you.
REDUCE HEART DISEASE RISK
Heart disease affects millions of people every single year, and leads to over half-a-million deaths, roughly 30% of those being people under the age of 65.
Heart disease is a big deal, and HIIT reduces your cholesterol and blood pressure at once, at a rapid rate, which can quickly bring your risk factors down to normal and eventually health levels.
HELPS BOOST CONFIDENCE
You ever scroll through Instagram and think, “Wow, they must be so confident because of their body.” Well, how do you think a lot of them got there?
They took the HIIT route to slim down, bulk up, and create an aesthetic body.
HIIT is used by Hollywood actors and trainers, so why shouldn’t you be using it?
While many exercise methods don’t work for certain people, HIIT has proven time and time again to be one of the most reliable forms of strength and cardio exercise all wrapped up into one. It will get you shredded.
HELPS TREAT SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
Notice that I said treat symptoms, and not the disease itself. Depression can be seasonal, it can be clinical, but it doesn’t go away by waving a magic wand over it. I wish it did.
However, HIIT has been proven to help boost serotonin levels in the brain, which is your feel-good hormone.
According to the Harvard Medical School, exercise can be as effective as taking antidepressant drugs in some instances.
Depression can affect your sleep, appetite, it can cause aching and lead to reduced energy.
Those are all symptoms of it, and since exercise in general can help with those things on their own, it all leads back to aiding with your depression.
You most likely will still have depression, but it will have less things to take away from you.
REDUCES STRESS ON ORGANS
Nothing is easy, and any exercise you begin with high levels of intensity are going to come with their challenges.
They might be challenging to do, and at first, they might cause massive aching and soreness. It’s all part of the bodily healing process.
When you’re living a sedentary lifestyle, you’re not using your body to its full potential, and shedding even a few pounds here and there can put less stress on your vital organs, effectively increasing their efficiency and stalling any damage you may be doing to your body.
9 HIIT Workouts That Really Work
Not only do these work well, but you don’t need any equipment to get started with them.
This follows the principles of calisthenics: an area of physical fitness and exercise that uses your own bodyweight as the only tool or piece of gear that you’re going to need.
By using your own body weight—a weight that you can already clearly support—you train your muscles in a different manner than using machinery.
Last but not least, these are individual components of HIIT workouts. You cannot just do #1, #4 and #7 for a randomized length of time.
Designate one minute to do one workout, two minutes for another, three minutes for another, and then a one minute break.
This is known as the 3-7 rule. Use this, even if you’re switching up the workouts that you’re including in it, and you’ll go farther than you ever thought possible.
Leg raises are one of the simplest things you could possibly do. Y’know, after the first few of them.
That’s when your calves start feeling the burn, and you can feel where the exercise is targeting your body.
To perform a leg raise, you simply need to lay on your back, keep your arms by your sides, and raise one leg in the air.
You want to stick your thigh 90° degrees straight up, and gently lower your calf to a 45° angle.
Hold it there for as long as possible, whether that’s five seconds or ten, and then gently release, lowering it back down to its original position.
This might not seem like it does a lot at first, but doing this for three straight minutes will give you a serious workout.
Form is always going to matter more than speed, but with knee highs, you want to nail them both down at the same time.
As the title suggests, you’re going to raise your knee high, stepping up and down rapidly.
I don’t want you to stop your foot back down or put too much into your leg motions—they’re supposed to come naturally, and even though that may be difficult at first, it’s going to get easier.
Try to aim for your knee coming level with the top of your abdomen. You want to perform these for about one straight minute at a time when you’re starting out.
Keep your core engaged by locking those abdominal muscles, and you’ll see results.
We’re talking about high intensity here, but I know you’re going to hate me for this one.
Russian twists have a very specific range of motion, and when I first started out, I could only do them for about twenty seconds at a time before needing to rest.
Take your time with these, but understand that they’re one of the best HIIT exercises that you can possibly utilize.
Sit on the floor and raise your knees slightly in front of you. Interlock your fingers in front of you, and hold your double-handed fist to the top of your abdomen.
Now gently lean back and raise your heels off the ground, still keeping those knees raised as they were.
Turn both legs to the left, and your double-handed fist to the right. Then alternate. Do this properly for as long as you possibly can.
If you thought Russian Twists were bad, then you should know that I’m just getting started.
Burpees are a nightmare at first, but again, we’re going for high intensity here.
For a burpee, you hold your hands together in front of you, hovering just above your abdomen and out from your body.
With a step in front of you, you’re going to jump up with both feet, keeping your core engaged, and land on the step.
You can use a 12” tall wooden crate and flip it upside-down, you can use concrete stairs, whatever is going to work for you.
Just be safe. Jump back down, and repeat in good form for as long as possible.
This is all about your core. While it looks like you’re not doing much of anything, you’re going to feel it for hours after you do three minutes of planking.
You want to get into a push-up position, and instead of pushing up with your arms and flexing those biceps, you’re going to lean on your forearms.
Make sure they’re going straight forward in front of you.
Raise yourself up on your tiptoes, and imagine that from a third-party perspective, you need to look like a straight line from your ankles up to your shoulders.
This is planking: keeping your body straight in a push-up style format, while keeping your core engaged.
You’re going to feel it tomorrow, but you’re also going to see the benefits before too long.
Hold these for as long as possible, but remember to breathe the entire time.
While this may seem like a mundane revisit to your old primary school days of gym class, jumping jacks are a huge part of the cardio elements in HIIT Jumping jacks get your blood flowing, your heart pumping, and work better than static stretches to loosen everything up that you’re going to use during your HIIT workout.
One minute of jumping jacks, right as you start your training, can be the perfect beginning to a successful workout session.
It sounds silly, but hear me out.
These are generally done with weights, but I am committed to making this list equipment-free, so you can simply hold your hands in a similar fashion to a standard goblet squat, and you should do just fine.
Start by putting your elbows out, and joining your hands together in a fist right out in front of you. Think about six to eight inches out from your chest.
Now hold your hands steady, and go into a full squat, bending your knees and keeping your core engaged.
Keep your shoulders squared, and come up with good posture before raising back up.
You do not want to do any type of squat quickly; form really matters here, because you’re using your lower lumbar in your back, as well as your calf muscles and core. It’s important to get it done right.
When you lunge forward, with your hands on your hips and your legs moving in perfect harmony, you’re engaging your core, your calf muscles, your lower lumbar, your shoulders, and so many more muscle groups.
It’s insane to see just how effective these are, but trust me, you’re going to feel it. Position your hands like handles on your hips, and lean forward into a full lunge.
The reason these are called running lunges, is because I want you to have about fifty to a hundred feet of clearance in front of you.
You’re going to come up from your lunge, and go right back into another one, but this time you’ll be using your other leg to go down.
Repeat these until you run out of room or you get to three minutes.
Another trip down memory lane, except now, we’re not calling them crunches.
It’s a bit of an abrasive term, because it makes it sound like you’re crunching your body in half.
We don’t want any of that. Keep your knees up in a triangle, your feet planted, and your arms crossed over your chest.
When you put them behind your head, you end up pulling your neck forward, which can cause some serious injuries down the line in your discsc.
With your arms crossed over, make sure that the bottom of your arm X has enough room for your abdominal muscles to curl upwards.
Pull up as much as you can, not all the way to your knees at first, and you will progressively get better with these.
HIIT Is Your Best Bet
HIIT has been proven time and time again to provide the best results, both in your health and in your aesthetics.
I would say that due to its effectiveness, even if you just want to perform these workouts for the sheer weight loss alone and not for the long-term cardiovascular and muscle benefits, you can still succeed.
Use this list of HIIT workouts to your advantage, and you’ll be able to push your body’s limits to new heights.
While these types of exercise routines are always evolving, these exercises stick to the fundamentals that are proven to work.
Now all that’s left to do is get out there, get sweaty, and start changing your life.