HIIT is a type of training where you get out of it what you put into it.  If you are moderately experienced in training and you are looking to kick it up a notch or two, you might want to give HIIT a try.  HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, is a multi-modal training designed to work your body to the extreme in both aerobic and anaerobic ways. In a study published by Tabata, Nishimura, Kouzaki, and others, they found that exercise completed at 70% of VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake) was significantly increased in those subjects that participated in high intensity workouts compared to those subjects who completed a moderate intensity program (I Tabata, et al 10/96).

In another study done by Stephen Boutcher, it was found that High Intensity Interval Training had a greater effect on visceral fat loss than slow to moderate paced aerobic exercise did. He also believes that there is a strong connection between regular high intensity exercise and lowered insulin rates/improved glucose tolerance (Boucher, 06/10).

Jogger #1

Jogger #1 (Photo credit: Ed Yourdon)

Overall, Hiit is the best way to supercharge your fitness routine for faster fat loss or get off of a plateau.  Most of the studies cited above were done with the participants either running on a treadmill or using a stationary bike, however, there are many routines you can do outside of a gym using the general principles of the studies cited.

The question then becomes how do we integrate HIIT into an exercise program that is on one hand able to be done by ‘regular’ people and not just elite athletes; and secondly, will keep people focused and motivated to complete it more than one time.

These two sample routines have been designed with HIIT in mind and they can be modified and used in any order.  The primary rule to remember is that you must keep your intensity level extremely high during the short period of time that these routines take. It will be uncomfortable aerobically as you will be exercising at 80-90 percent of your total capacity.  The easiest way to explain this is as follows. In a running-based HIIT program, moderate capacity is the amount of energy you would spend running or playing with your dog at the park. High intensity is sprinting 100 yards quickly.  Extremely high intensity (the level you need to achieve) is like running for your life from a lion or tiger.  Extremely high intensity is all out, nothing held back.

The beauty of it is that the intense periods only last 30-45 seconds.  You then get a minute of low intensity (ex: walking) to recover before round two of high intensity.  Complete four of these and your HIIT workout is done for the day.

There are some differences between a running based HIIT routine and an exercise based HIIT routine.  The main difference is the amount of time you will need to do each exercise.  Exercise-based HIIT tends to occur in 45 second intervals with only 60 seconds of rest in between sets.  Also, you should increase sets from 4 to 6 in total.  This routine will probably take about ½ hour to complete.


HIIT Routines

Do each of the routines with 45 second sets, and complete 6 sets.  Allow for 60 seconds of rest in between each set.  Watch your form as you do these-the more tired you become the harder it will be to maintain good form!


HIIT with Resistance Band Set 1

an exercise of shoulders

an exercise of shoulders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Resistance Band Squats:

Step on your resistance band and hold one handle in each hand. Squat down making sure to keep your back straight and your core tight- your knees should never go beyond the line of your toes.  As you stand, pull your resistance bands to hip level with your palms up.  Repeat as many times, and as quickly as possible for 45 seconds.  Rest for 60 seconds and repeat at least 6 more times.

Resistance Band Lunges:

Place the resistance band under your left foot and hold one handle in each hand at about waist level.  Place your right foot behind you far enough so that when you lunge down, your front knee remains in a line behind your toes.  Bend your right knee down as you lunge in place.  As you bend your knees, bend your arms up toward your shoulders; as you return to upright, move your arms back down to their start position as well.  Do as many as these as possible in 45 seconds on the left side and then quickly switch to complete the same for the right side. When you complete both sides, you have completed one set.  Rest for 60 seconds and do at least 6 more sets.

Resistance Band Reverse Crunches:

Lie on the floor with the resistance band attached to a strong unmovable object behind your head.  Raise your knees up and place your feet on the ground, shoulder width apart.  Your arms should be crossed in front of you with the handles of the resistance band held in both hands.  Tighten the resistance band up so that you feel a pull from this position.  Crunch up and return to start for one crunch.  Do as many as possible in 45 seconds.  As with the other exercises, 6 sets are optimal.


HIIT with Kettlebells Set 2


Kettlebells (Photo credit: Cajie)

A kettlebell is one of the finest pieces of weight training equipment out there today.  For those that have never seen one they look like bowling balls with handles on them.  They weigh in starting at about 8 pounds and go up to 75 pounds.  Most people usually use 12-20 lb kettlebells to start.  Go slowly to get the moves down before going HIIT with these exercises.


Kettlebell Swing (Two-Handed):

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent slightly.  Bend at your waist and grab the kettlebell by its handle with both hands.  Keep your arms straight as you swing the kettlebell slightly behind you and between your legs and then stand straight and swing it up over your head, and then back down to between your feet again. This entire move should be done in one smooth motion making sure that your knees are bent slightly and your core is engaged.  Continue with this exercise, doing as many as possible in 45 seconds.  Make sure that you keep in control of your motions at all times.  After 45 seconds set the kettlebell down and rest for 60 seconds.  Do six sets in total.


Kettlebell Cleans:

With your feet shoulder width apart, bend over at the waist and hold a kettlebell in each hand. As you raise the kettlebell to shoulder level, bend your arms with your elbows out at each side of your body.  Lower the kettlebells and repeat as many as possible while keeping good form, in 45 seconds.


Turkish Half Raise Up

Lie on the floor with your left knee bent and a kettlebell next to your left shoulder.  Grab the kettlebell in your left hand and slowly raise it up toward the ceiling.  Use your right hand to push yourself up off the floor as you tighten your abs.  From the seated position, lower back down to start and repeat as many as possible in 45 seconds.


There are numerous other ways to incorporate HIIT into your workout-get creative with it and you will never be bored again.


Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1327-30. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Tabata INishimura KKouzaki MHirai YOgita FMiyachi MYamamoto K. SourceDepartment of Physiology and Biomechanics, National Institute of Fitness and Sports, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. Accessed 12 May 2012


J Obes. 2011; 2011: 868305.Published online 2010 November 24. doi:  10.1155/2011/868305 PMCID: PMC2991639

Copyright © 2011 Stephen H. Boutcher.

High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss

Stephen H. Boutcher*

School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

*Stephen H. Boutcher: Email: s.boutcher@unsw.edu.au

Academic Editor: Eric Doucet

Received June 3, 2010; Accepted October 5, 2010. Accessed 12 May 2012


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