The HIIT cardio workout that will boost your fitness

Dan JeffsBy Dan Jeffs

Personal Trainer/Accredited Exercise Physiologist/Exercise and Sport Science Australia full member

HIIT cardio workout

High Intensity Interval Training, better known as HIIT, is one of the single greatest ways you can supercharge your weight loss, improve your fitness and really stick it to your New Year’s Resolution.

HIIT involves working the body at much higher intensity levels but for much shorter intervals than classic aerobic/cardio exercise. It’s thought that the reason it’s so effective is that you getting to much higher intensities that you usually do and so you can a greater use of energy after the workout as well as your body continues to use oxygen at higher rates. And guess what? You need to use oxygen to be able to burn fat!


The simplest way to think about it is like this.

Classic cardio example – do a workout at about 60 – 70% of your maximal work output for 30 – 60 minutes.

So, this might be a slow to moderate paced walk or jog around the block:

HIIT example  – after a 5 – 10min warm up you can then perform 20 seconds of near maximal (80 – 100%) work output followed by 40 seconds recovery at 20 – 30% max output or even nothing at all.

So, this may be a sprint as far as you can go (or you can even use a large set of stairs to sprint/climb up and down) in 20 seconds and then you walk back to the start over 40 seconds or completely rest instead.

Now for the benefits! I love HIIT training for my more accomplished clients for a few really important reasons.

  1. Time effective: If you are really limited for time (like a lot of my mums are) you can burn a lot of calories in a very short time.
  2. Afterburn: Working at higher intensity levels (sprinting, jumping) activates huge amounts of muscle that benefits you long after you have stopped working out. HIIT training will keep your metabolic rate (the calories you burn) elevated for hours! Think about it like training for another few hours after you’ve stopped!
  3. Muscle: Fat loss is great but you need some muscle to give your body shape and tone. Working at a higher intensity will promote lean muscle retention while losing fat for a toned, tight look.

Today’s HIIT workout!

  • The easiest way to start is with a walk/jog sequence.
  • As above, warm up with 5 – 10 minutes of gentle walking moving to a medium pace before moving into your HIIT session.
  • Work through at least 5 – 10 rounds of running as fast as you comfortably can for 20 seconds followed by 40 seconds of recovery at a slow-moderate walk.
  • After 5 or so minutes you may need to increase your rest period to 50 or even 60 seconds but keep yourself accountable and when your watch says run…
  • RUN!

This training is super effective but is also significantly more strenuous than other workouts you may be used to so be sure to get your health in check and reach out to any medical or fitness professionals if you are unsure if HIIT training is suitable for you.

Go for it!

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