It’s a love-hate relationship, working out.
And if you’re like most people, spending hours on end at the gym for just a few perceived benefit will suck big time. Hence the increasing popularity of high intensity training (HIIT) amongst fitness gurus.
But what IS the best HIIT workout? Go big or go home right?
The answer, unsurprisingly, depends on whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain, increased athletic performance or simply full body transformation. The HIIT program you pick should ensure you reach your goal faster (though not easier) and with more visible results.
It’s simply following a “smarter” cardio workout routine.
In this article, I’ll be showing you a complete HIIT program for each goal type, and towards the end, you’ll learn how you should be eating to complement your training. Because the two usually go hand in hand.
High Intensity Interval Training Basics
First get the definition right. Any good high intensity workout is designed to get your heart rate as close to it’s max (90 – 95%), as fast as possible. You then take a break for a bit and do it all over again. So it’s high intensity, rest (for what seems like the blink of an eye) and more training.
Try using a heart rate monitor to keep things in check so you don’t over exert yourself.
Work:rest ratio varies, so you can either make the high intensity and resting period equal in a 1:1 ratio (e.g 20 sec intense workout, 20 secs rest). Or make them unequal, e.g 3:1 ratio (30 sec workout, 10 secs rest).
To see results, you’ll need to increase the number of reps per rounds as weeks go by.
Alright now that you know this, you’ll get why I recommend cardio for HIIT instead of just weights and squats.
Hence your focus should be on cardio like sprinting (notice how sprinters, like Usain Bolt, tend to be well defined) or liberally using the cardio machine. Of course you can throw in a few squats here and there (cause leg day), but the idea is to treat HIIT like it’s definition – intense cardio.
Here are some great HIIT cardio workouts you can do:
It’s really easy to get a sprain or pull a muscle if you jump right into cardio. So do your due diligence first.
A five minute pre-workout stretch should keep those muscles from doing zombie impressions the next day. Do a full body scan for tight muscles during your warm up, then attack said tight muscles.
You can throw your heel on a bench and reach forward towards your toes to stretch your hamstrings before a particularly tough lower body HIIT.
For an upper body stretch, you can attach a resistance band to a chin-up bar and pull. 20 reps each should suffice. For a full body stretch, try side to side trunk twists. Hopefully you get the gist by now. Stretches or stitches.
8 Week HIIT Program For Fat Loss
Sadly there are no overnight remedies for fat or weight Loss. But a high intensity interval training can get you there fast (https://dc.etsu.edu/etd/123/) because it helps you burn more fat even when in a resting metabolic rate. At least way faster than other steady state exercises like jogging will.
This program will be divided into three stages, in increasing level of skill; amateur, intermediate and guru. Note that you’ll mostly use full body training workout exclusively during HIIT for fat loss.
Stage 1: Amateur (first two weeks)
Stage 2: Intermediate (week 2 – 5)
Stage 3: Guru (5-8 weeks)
HIIT For Muscle Gain
To gain muscle, your training will need to alternate, daily, between lower and upper body workouts.
Best HIIT Cardio Machines
Funny enough, the best HIIT workouts like sprinting, do not need machines. Just good old mother nature, or a track field.
Most gyms, however, come equipped with various HIIT cardio machines like;
How You Should Eat To See HIIT Results
HIIT Fat Loss Diet
Just because you’re trying to loose body fat doesn’t mean you get to skip meals. What do you think fuels your exercise?
Since the recommended daily calorie intake is 2000 (for women) and 2500 (for men), you should cut down 500 calories from your daily intake if you want to see some results.
Note that cutting down more than 500 calories while performing HIIT can harm you.
That said, your meals should contain at least
Muscle Gain Diet For HIIT
Starve your body of enough food, and it will just convert your hard earned muscles into energy. You’d probably get jitters if you don’t eat well anyhow, so you’ll probably put anything you come accross into your mouth.
Right now you should try to remember how to eat properly. You’ll need at least 500 calories more than your normal calorie intake, comprising of
Your normal diet. Stick with the 2000 daily calories (35% protein, 40% carbs and 25% fats). Develop a habit of eating whole foods.
What to Reasonably Expect From HIIT
HIIT is a proven faster, though not easier, way of achieving your goals. So be prepared to have visions of your lungs and heart giving out. This is only common when you’re just starting out.
As you follow through with your program, especially with anaerobic and aerobic HIIT, your body should gradually develop some resistance to death visions (fatigue).
Athletes aren’t superhuman after all, they’re just people with more body building secrets than the average population.
While I can’t promise with certainty that you’ll have achieved your fitness goal after completing an eight week high intensity interval training program, you can be sure that if you follow through with your plan religiously, you will notice some changes in your physique.
Getting the answer to “what is the best HIIT workout?” begins with you asking yourself, “what do I want my body to look like?” Because workout routines are a dime a dozen.
Ever heard of people complaining about becoming muscular when they just wanted to loose weight?
Not following instructions can do that.
To loose some body fat, try sprinting with short rests in between. Building muscles requires lower and upper body workouts with full body workouts sparsely thrown in.
Lastly, gaining endurance and maintaining your muscle with HIIT requires mixing up full body weights with HIIT workouts every other day.
If there’s a lesson to learn in HIIT it’s this; someone got tired of doing the same old standard workouts with little results and followed their instincts.
My name is Matt Anderson. I’ve been doing professional bodybuilding since I was 16.
About The Authors
A 25 Year Veteran of the Group Fitness Industry, Erika currently teaches Kickboxing, Step, and H.I.I.T. classes at Guilford Parks & Rec.
An Avid Runner, Lisa began her running career about 10 Years Ago.