Before you begin: When you are completely new to HIIT, the best bet is to start with a short workout and intervals which result in brief exercises and long recovery phases. Be ready to activate your inner personal trainer and highly motivate yourself throughout the intensive intervals. If you’d rather leave that to someone else, why not practice together with a friend who counts down the last seconds and encourages you when it gets tough? Find the balance between pushing yourself and knowing your body’s limits. HIIT exercises have a large impact on your joints, connective tissue, muscles and nervous system, therefore, leaving enough time between two sessions in order for your body to recover is essential to a safe practice. Beginners risk over-exercising and getting muscle injuries. Instead of focusing on speed, try to perform each exercise correctly. Make sure you have an adequate caloric intake in order to have the necessary energy for your workout. In general, listen to your intuition and be ready to adjust your HIIT workout routine at any given time.
HIIT workout structure Your workout should always be composed of three parts:
• interval training
Do not underestimate the importance of the warm-up and cool-down. As you are moving your body very fast, the warm-up phase helps to prevent injuries. The cool-down phase slows down your heart rate and stretches your muscles.
HIIT ratio between exercise and recovery Choosing a ratio which best reflects your current fitness level and still brings you forward is key to staying motivated and without injuring your muscles. The ratio applies for the phase of the interval training.
• HIIT beginner workout ratio: 1:3 or 1:4 For beginners, it is recommended to start with a ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 meaning you multiply your recovery time by 3 or 4. Example: exercise: 30 seconds, recovery: 90 seconds (1:3) or 120 seconds (1:4)
• HIIT intermediate workout ratio: 1:2 During your intermediate workout, you double your recovery time.
Example: exercise: 30 seconds, recovery: 60 seconds
• HIIT advanced workout ratio: 1:1 or 2:1 For the advanced workout, you either have the same amount of time for both, exercise and recovery or you even cut your recovery time in half. Example: exercise: 30 seconds, recovery: 30 seconds (1:1) or 15 seconds (2:1)
Lengths of your HIIT Workout Whereas there is no set time limit for your HIIT workout, the typical workouts vary between 4 and 30 minutes with 20 minutes being the average. The time is highly deoenden on your current fitness level and should be extended as you progress over time. It’s key to start with a short one and slowly build up the length of your workout in order to avoid injuries and sore muscles. Over time you can also increase the exercise time and reduce the recovery time. The following length recommendations apply for the interval training.
• Beginner workout length: 4-6 minutes
• Intermediate workout length: 6-15 minutes
• Advanced workout length: 15-20 minutes
How to time your intervals You might have realized that HIIT takes timing quite seriously, but how to keep up with all those intervals and not having to fumble with your watch all the time? If you don’t want to worry about setting constant new timers, download one of the many time interval apps where you can set all your intervals beforehand.
HIIT training workouts Now, let’s get started with your individual HIIT session. You are the master of your own HIIT workout and therefore are free to choose between the ratio of exercise and recovery, the length of your training and a pick from the following exercises. When choosing the exercises, take into consideration whether you are exercising at home, in the gym or outside.
• Warm-up (4-5 minutes)
◦ 4-5 minutes of slow jogging or bicycle (outside)
◦ 4-5 minutes of slow treadmill, bicycle, step master, eclipse (gym)
◦ 1-2 minute of marching or jogging in place (inside)
◦ 1 minute of slow walking lunges
Step forward into a low lunge. Your forward knee is in a 90-degree angle between shin and upper thigh. Make sure your knee is not further away than your ankle. Your backward leg is slightly bent. Alternate your legs slowly.
◦ 1 minute of shoulder circles
Place your left arm on the right side of your chest and rotate your right arm slowly forward and then backward. Switch sides.
◦ 1 minute of side bend
Stand firm on the ground with your legs hip wide apart. Place your arms straight next to your body. Start by slowly bending your upper body towards the right side while your right arm pulls downward. Slowly raise your body and continue with the left side.
◦ 1 minute of trunk bend
Stand firm on the ground with your legs hip-width apart. Bend your upper body towards the right side and back while your arms follow the motion smoothly. Move back to center and switch sides.
• Interval training (4-20 minutes)
Sprint by foot or with the help of an exercise machine as fast as you can. When using a machine sprint with the highest resistance.
◦ Jumping jacks
Open your feet hip-width apart and lift your straight arms up to chest-level on the left and right side of your body. Jump while closing your feet and hands above your head together. Repeat as fast as you can.
◦ Low lunges
Step forward into a low lunge. Your forward knee is in a 90-degree angle between shin and upper thigh. Make sure your knee is not further away than your ankle and is in alignment with the center of your front foot. Your backward leg is only slightly bent. Alternate your legs as fast as possible.
◦ High knees
Jump in place bringing your right leg and knee up as high as possible followed by the left leg and knee. Alternate as fast as possible.
◦ Up & over hop
Place an object such as your towel next to you. Jump over your object left and right while bringing your knees to your chest. Repeat as fast as possible.
Begin standing. Move down into a squat position placing your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back into a plank position with your body straight and parallel to the ground. Return your feet immediately into a squat position and stand up. Combine it to a flowing movement and repeat it as fast as possible.
Lay down on your back and put your hands under your bottom. Lift your head, upper body and legs from the ground. Keep your legs straight and lift your right leg straight to the ceiling and down followed by the left leg up and down. Alternate between the right and left leg in a moderate speed while keeping both legs in the air.
Start in a plank position. Your body is straight and parallel to the ground. Place your hands under your shoulders. Lower your body while bending your elbows to the sides, hold for a second and raise up again. Lower and lift yourself in a moderate speed.
Find a bench, stepper, or other object which stands firm on the ground. Step first with your right foot on the object followed by the left foot. Bring down the right foot to the ground, followed by the left foot. Do it as fast as possible.
Lay down on your back. Bend your knees and lift them in the air. Put your arms and palms behind your head and during your exhale lift your upper body towards the ceiling. With your inhale you lower your upper body and knees while staying in the air.
• Cool-down (4-5 minutes)
◦ 2-3 minutes of slow jogging or bicycle (outside)
◦ 2-3 minutes of slow treadmill, bicycle, step master, eclipse (gym)
◦ 1-2 minute of marching or jogging in place (inside)
◦ Inside thigh stretch
Place your feet widely apart and move down to your right side and bend your right knee while your left leg is straight. Switch to the left side and repeat several times.
◦ Chest stretch on the wall
Place your right arm on a wall with your palm facing the wall creating a 90-degree angle with your body. Turn your upper body slowly away from the wall. Hold. Switch to the left side.
◦ Quad stretch
Stand with your feet on the ground and grab your right ankle and pull your leg to your bottom. Hold. Switch to the left side.
◦ Forward bend
Your feet are hip wide apart. You slowly bend your upper back down, you grab your elbows with your hands and let the arms swing from left to right.