What is a HIIT Workout

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

A HIIT workout can be an effective, but notably, challenging way to improve your health and fitness fast, but before you start that extreme workout habit, there are some things you need to know.

What is a HIIT Workout?

A HIIT workout is a high-intensity interval training approach to fitness, a cardio-oriented strategy that delivers maximum results in condensed amounts of time. Essentially, a high-intensity workout consists of periods of maximum-intensity exercise, followed by brief periods of low-intensity exercise, or rest. For example, a HIIT routine may include 6 sets of 20 push-ups, with 10 seconds of rest in between each set. Design your own high-intensity training style, or follow any of the countless HIIT workout plans that have been published. [1]

High-intensity interval training has become popular with both, men and women, in recent years as people have less time for lengthy workouts, not to mention the on-demand expectation of the modern world. With a HIIT routine, you exercise at a very high level of intensity until you are exhausted. Most HIIT workout sessions don’t last more than 30 minutes, due to the physical rigor they require.

A phone that says HIIT on the screen lying on a table next to earphones, water bottle, dumbbells, shoes, and skipping rope

High-intensity interval training is a cardiovascular exercise strategy. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

HIIT Workout Benefits

The top benefits of a HIIT workout include building endurance, weight loss, managing blood sugar and increasing your metabolic rate, among others.


The brief moments of rest you get during HIIT workouts will gradually increase your endurance and stamina while exercising, allowing you to work out harder and longer, leading to better results! [2]


The intense cardio aspects of this exercise strategy mean that your metabolism will be perpetually stimulated, leading to more efficient functioning in the body, as well as increased weight loss and fat-burning potential. [3]

Heart Health

When you increase your heart rate in concentrated bursts of effort, you effectively flush out your blood vessels and arteries, thus improving cardiovascular function. The rush of endorphins during a workout can also lower your risk of heart disease. [4]

Weight Loss

This approach to fitness allows you to burn hundreds of calories per hour, when done correctly, making this one of the best workouts if you are looking to create a calorie deficit and lose weight. [5]

Blood Sugar

Studies have found that this type of intense exercise can help to keep hormones balanced and your blood sugar levels in check. [6]


Exercise releases endorphins and other beneficial hormones, as well as certain antioxidants that can stimulate circulation and prevent the signs of premature aging. [7]

As Effective As Regular Exercise

Studies say that short workouts like HIIT or circuit training are as effective as regular heavy exercise when it comes to reducing the risk of diseases and death. [8]

HIIT Workout Plan

Doing a HIIT workout routine at home is quite easy, as many of the most common exercises require nothing more than your body to complete. This is why HIIT workouts are done by both men and women. Depending on what type of fitness goals you have, your exercise strategy may be different. Fortunately, there are fat-burning HIIT workouts, muscle gain workouts, general toning exercises and many more, including some of the following workout plans.

Core/Upper Body

  • Do as many pull-ups as possible in 30 seconds
  • Do 60 jumping jacks
  • Do 20 burpees
  • Repeat this circuit 4-5 times, with 1 minute of rest between each set

Lower Body

  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Do 20 squat lunges
  • Repeat this circuit 5-6 times with 1 minute of rest between each set

Ab Workout

  • 50 crunches
  • 15 situps
  • 1 minute of bicycle crunches
  • 20 Oblique crunches
  • 20 half-burpees
  • Repeat this circuit 3 times, resting for 1-2 minutes between each set


  • Sprint 5 yards, immediately change direction, sprint 5 yards back
  • Sprint 10 yards, change direction, sprint 10 yards back
  • Sprint 15 yards, change direction, sprint 15 yards back
  • Sprint 10 yards, change direction, sprint 10 yards back
  • Sprint 5 yards, change direction, sprint 5 yards back
  • Repeat this circuit 4 times, with 2 minutes of rest between each set

Side Effects

The intense nature of this exercise strategy can increase your risk of injury while exercising, so be careful and work out only within your limitations. Some of the potential risks include:

  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Fatigue
  • Slower recovery time

Note: You shouldn’t do HIIT workout routines every day; 3-4 times per week should be your maximum, as your body requires time to heal itself and build muscle.

DMCA.com Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

Rate this article
Average rating 3.0 out of 5.0 based on 1 user(s).