HIIT workouts are continuing to have their shining moment and for good reason. They cut your workout time in half while delivering some pretty killer results. But if you’re not familiar with this long-lived fitness trend, you may be wondering if HIIT is the right form of exercise for you and, if it is, if you’re doing it correctly.
Ahead, more on what HIIT workouts are, the benefits, and some HIIT workouts for beginners.
What is a HIIT Workout?
HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, is a form of training that alternates between quick, intense bursts of exercise and brief recovery periods. It can be done with little to no equipment since many explosive HIIT exercises, like jump lunges and squats, burpees, and mountain climbers, don’t require any additional resistance. You can also include HIIT training in your cardiovascular sessions by alternating between sprints and active rest while running/jogging, jump roping, cycling, rowing, or even swimming.
Benefits of HIIT Workouts
HIIT training not only cuts your exercise time in half but when done correctly, it has a long list of benefits that will have you incorporating it into your weekly workouts in no time.
Research suggests that HIIT workouts may:
- Support cardiovascular health
- Have a greater effect on fat burning, especially in the abdominal area, than other forms of exercise
- Support cognitive function
- Increase endurance and strength
- Build and sculpt muscle
Common HIIT Workout Mistakes + How to Avoid Them
Now that we have you fired up and ready to sweat, there are a few important things to consider when incorporating HIIT workouts into your routine. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, it’s important to understand how to avoid these common HIIT mistakes to start seeing and feeling all the juicy benefits.
#1 You Do it Too Often
Less is more when it comes to HIIT workouts. Because of its intensity, your body needs more time between sessions to recover (remember, your body is still coming back to status quo even up to 24 hours later). If you are doing HIIT every day, you’re putting yourself at greater risk of burnout and injury.
Take a breather, hotshot. All of your weekly workouts don’t need to be super high intensity. It’s good to have some low-intensity days mixed in between your HIIT workouts — the exact number of HIIT workouts to aim for is going to depend on your current fitness level and goal. Always listen to your body and strive for balance.
#2 Your Form is Incorrect or Sloppy
This is one of the most frequent mistakes seen in HIIT. Because HIIT requires giving all-out effort, many people forget to monitor their form, putting them at risk for some pretty serious injuries and chronic pain.
NEVER compromise your form for intensity or specialty exercises. Instead, choose exercises you know you can properly perform at a quicker pace and start gradually with new variations. If you notice yourself losing form, easy does it and remember to slow it down.
#3 Your Intervals Are Way Too Long
Your intervals of all-out effort are supposed to be short and sweet. There is no extra credit for pushing longer. In fact, you can actually lose the amazing benefits of HIIT workouts by putting unnecessary excess stress on your body if your intervals are too long.
Push/sprint intervals should be no longer than 30 to 60 seconds. After about 30 seconds, your immediate energy stores (ATP) are depleted, and you’re more likely to give less effort and lose form. By giving yourself a minute or less to reach complete fatigue, you’re also more likely to push yourself to maximum effort.
#4 You’re Getting Distracted on Your Phone During Rest Periods
It’s important to give yourself enough rest between exercises and sets to be able to give all-out effort in your next interval. However, if you end up resting for too long, it can hinder your results.
Your rest periods should be between 10 and 60 seconds, and a minute-long break is a luxury. Save the longer breaks for after super high-intensity bursts with complex exercises. Play around with 15 to 30-second breaks and see if you can push yourself to keep them on the shorter side.
#5 You Start HIIT, but Neglect Strength Training
HIIT should not replace your strength training. By including more traditional resistance training, you’re building the strength you need to keep your body healthy during your intense HIIT workouts. Strength training will also help you avoid creating muscular imbalances during your HIIT sessions by conditioning the weaker muscles in your body to work just as hard as your prime movers.
We get it — schedules can get busy. If your days in the gym are limited, combining your HIIT and strength training is a super effective way to burn calories and build muscle simultaneously. In fact, it can be an even more effective and time-saving way to burn fat while reducing the strain on your joints than a strict HIIT routine.
The Best HIIT Workouts at Home
No access to a gym? Busy schedule? HIIT workouts can be done virtually anywhere. They can also be easily adjusted for any fitness level and, since you can get an effective HIIT training session in thirty minutes or less, they can squeeze perfectly into tight schedules. Want some guidance and/or inspiration? We’re sharing our favorite HIIT workouts.
HIIT Workouts For Beginners
HIIT For Beginners
Breanne Mitchell teaches you the basic HIIT workout exercises while sculpting muscles and burning some major calories in this heart-pumping workout.
This 20-minute killer cardio workout with Breanne Mitchell is perfect for newbies wanting to learn the basics of using HIIT to improve cardiovascular health and shed fat.
Sculpt your body from head-to-toe and light up your metabolism in this beginner HIIT workout with Danielle Pascente that takes you through two rounds of eight exercises.
HIIT Cardio Workouts
With exercises like skaters, broad jumps, and jump lunge to squats, Breanne Mitchell gets your heart rate up and lights your booty on fire in this 13-minute interval cardio workout.
Spicy Quick HIIT
Danielle Pascente lights it up in this 22-minute calorie torcher. You may be a sweaty mess after doing multiple rounds of these four total-body exercises, but you’ll thank yourself later.
All HIIT No Quit
Take your workout up a notch with Breanne Mitchell as she leads you through exercises like plank jacks, mountain climbers, and push-ups to spiders that target all your major muscle groups.
10-20 Minute HIIT Workouts
Quick HIIT booty
Sculpt your thighs, hips, and booty in this quick 10-minute workout with Bree Koegel. She hits your lower body from every angle with exercises like glute bridges, hip abductions, and leg raises.
Pilates Cardio HIIT
Yes, you read that correctly. Cassey Ho combines the lengthening and strengthening Pilates with calorie-burning low-impact HIIT exercises to give you an all-in-one workout.
30 Minute HIIT Workouts
Breann Mitchell combines total-body exercises with cardio drills for an intense 26-minute workout that burns major calories and strengthens all your major muscle groups.
In this HIIT workout, Danielle Pascente helps you lose fat and sculpt muscles with exercises like broad jumps to burpees, plyometric donkey kicks, step back lunges, to high knees. Yeehaw! This one is sure to have you working up a sweat!
Get Ready to Sweat!
At the end of the day, what you put into your workouts is what you get out of them. Take a step back and look at where you may be hindering your results. Are you doing too much or not paying enough attention to your form? We’ve all been there. Once you take inventory of where you may need to improve, you have the tools to quickly turn it around and start seeing the results you’ve been working so hard for.