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The Best HIIT Routine | Outlaw Fitness

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The Best HIIT Routine

Article by JoshVales Josh is an Expert Trainer and Best-Selling Fitness Author. His mission is to cut through all the B.S. about losing fat and gaining muscle that's spread by so-called 'gurus' and broscience. He wants to help people reach their fitness goals through truth and knowledge. Josh has written 71 awesome articles for us at Outlaw Fitness Twitter: @laststopfatloss TweetLike 11 people like this.

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The Advantages of a HIIT RoutineFor many of us, the idea of doing long, boring cardio sessions is a daunting thought. Luckily, there is an alternative. Its called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT for short. Its a kind of training that will give you a body like those you see above. It involves alternating between periods of low or moderate intensity and periods of extremely high intensity, and you can do it in a fraction of the time of a normal cardio workout. The problem with HIIT is that many people dont really know where to start, in this post Im going to share with you what is, in my opinion, the best HIIT routine. On top of losing fat, HIIT routines have a whole slew of things that it does better than regular cardio: Increases your V02 max much more than steady-state cardio. This means it increases the amount of oxygen your body can take in during exercise. Translation? Youll be in better shape when you go play ball with the guys. Doesnt cause you to lose precious muscle mass like traditional steady-state cardio does. When you engage in long, slow cardio sessions, your body can enter a catabolic (or muscle wasting) state. This means your body literally starts to consume its own muscle for energy. This wont happen during a HIIT training routine. Combined with a slight increase in calories above your maintenance level, HIIT workouts can actually be anabolic, meaning theyll help you gain muscle. This is certainly something you cant get from normal cardio. Of all the slight variations amongst HIIT routines, the one that works this best is the 30 second/90-120 second split. Lets break it down for you.

The Best HIIT workout routine:1. Maximum intensity for 30 seconds. 2. Recovery for 90-120 seconds (only rest as long as you have to). -Repeat this cycle 6-10 times, depending on your level of fitness. Before your HIIT routine, its best to start with a 5 minute warm up at a comfortable intensity. After your HIIT workout, finish with a 5 minute cool-down period before you stop moving completely. Even the longest HIIT workouts can be completed in about half an hour.

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As time goes on, you will be able to perform this routine without difficulty. At such time, you need to start introducing changes to keep your body stimulated and to keep progressing. The best way to do this would be to either shorten your rest periods, or increase the length of your maximum intensity periods. For example: Maximum intensity for 45 seconds. Recovery for 90-120 seconds. or Maximum intensity for 30 seconds. Recovery for 60-90 seconds. Continue with this until again, you find yourself unchallenged. At that point, do the same thing, either shorten your recovery period, or increase your maximum intensity period (or both, if you think youre hardcore enough). The important thing here is to always progress. If you do the same thing over and over, sooner or later your body will stop being challenged and your fat loss will grind to a screeching halt.

Do I have to run when doing HIIT? HIIT training routines can be done with any kind of cardio. Whether running outdoors, on a treadmill, on an elliptical, a bike, or a rower, HIIT is a great option. How often should I do HIIT? HIIT is very intense. It should be eased into your weekly exercise regime and only performed 3-4 times a week. Due to its high intensity, you should never do it more often than this because youll risk overtraining and injury. Are there any variations of HIIT? There sure are! In fact, theres a great little infographic that explains HIIT and the most popular varieties of it. Check it out here. Thats all there is to it. Get out there an have fun! - Josh You may also like -

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{ 99 comments read them below or add one }

Dave Bilden November 17, 2011 at 8:07 am man your a beast you just took my trx training to a whole new level thanks this was really helpfull Reply

weight loss tips December 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm Great site. A lot of useful information here. I am sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thanks for your effort! Reply

bonny December 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm Thanks josh. The truth will always set you free.kudos Reply

Austin Alers December 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm Awesome post! I will keep an on eye on your blog. Reply

Kiril January 2, 2012 at 3:08 am Hi, Ive heard that this training is only effective if you have are at 90% of your maximum heart rate. I dont see anything here about the heart rate Can anyone tell me more about this? Thnx Kiril Reply

JoshVales January 3, 2012 at 1:53 am Hey Kiril, Generally speaking all HIIT workouts should be done at 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. If your hearts not going that fast youre not doing HIIT. Thats not to say that working out less intensely is a waste of time, its simply not HIIT. Remember though, if youre working out below 80% of your maximum heart rate, you should be doing it in a sustained matter, lasting at least 20 minutes. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

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Derrick January 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm I am going to start doing this but I was curious about the recovery phase. Should I be walking at a quick pace or jogging? I have tried doing variations of this before and I am usually needing to walk during the recovery phase. I think I am in good enough shape to really work hard at this but I want to be very specific in what I am doing. Thanks for the help! Reply

JoshVales January 4, 2012 at 1:47 am Derrick, Thats a good question actually. As long as youre giving it your absolutely maximum during the high intensity sprints, you can walk if you need to during the low intensity phase. Only do this for as long as you need to. Over time, as you find yourself better able to recover, begin shortening your recovery periods. After a little while, then extend the low intensity period again, but this time do a slow jog. Its ok if this period is very long, do it for as long as it takes to catch your breath. Basically what Im trying to say is to do it in baby steps. Start slow, walk until you catch your breath. When that becomes very easy, introduce the jogging. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Derrick January 4, 2012 at 7:47 pm Josh, thank you so much for the information. I was able to complete my first HIIT workout tonight. I wanted to make sure I am on the right track before I continue however. I did this all on a treadmill. I did 5 minutes at about 6MPH to sttart, then I did 10 MPH for 30 second, 90 seconds at 6MPH. I did about 7 intervals. I was pretty dead after this and at about 17 minutes. I had no choice but the walk at about 3.8MPH for 5 minute cool down. It seems like a rather short workout but I was dead. I typically am dead after my cardio workouts. Should I be doing anything after this workout or this is it 3 times a week for cardio? I did some stretching and now I am having my protein drink as I always do. I am trying to lose the extra 10 lbs around my belly. Hopefully this is the right start in the right direction! Thanks again for any help you provide! Great advice! Reply

JoshVales January 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm For your first time, getting through 17 minutes is awesome! HIIT workouts are short by nature, especially when compared to their longer, low intensity counterpart. In addition to your HIIT workouts 3 time a week, Id recommend doing weight training on another 3 days. That is, one day HIIT Cardio, one day weight training, one day HIIT Cardio, one day weight training. Take the 7th day off every week. Youll lose fat much faster when doing cardio and weight training in combination then you will by doing only one of these activities. Youre off to a good start, keep it up! Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Kelly January 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm I joined a bootcamp style class that does HIIT for one hour classes for 8 weeks. They recommend going 3-4 times per week. My goal is to lose 16 20 lbs and tone up. Im down 2 lbs in the first week and hope that continues. However, I dont know if I want to join up for the next 8 week session as it is expensive and wonder if I should invest in weights instead to keep up the muscle toning and just do cardio on my elliptical at home or running outside to keep the weight off? Reply

JoshVales January 11, 2012 at 5:37 pm Id recommend the weights. They will stay with you forever, the classes and its benefits will be over in 8 weeks. You can do HIIT on your own on your elliptical or, even better, outside while running. Do cardio (whether it be normal or HIIT) 3-4 times a week. Do weights on the other 3-4 days a week. As long as you watch your diet, youll reach your goal of 16-20lbs. Hope this helps!

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Josh Reply

Alf January 13, 2012 at 8:00 am Josh, thank you for the info! Would swimming work for this routine, do you think? If yes, would you say its ok to do a longer cool-down (leasurely laps with some breaks)? I ask because I love being in the water, and would rather not get out right away after anexcercise routine. Any thought on this are appreciated. Reply

JoshVales January 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm Alf, I dont see any reason why you cant perform HIIT while swimming. Just make sure you can catch your breath adequately on the low intensity portions of your workout. Also, feel free to do as long a cool-down as youd like. The more youre moving, the better. Hope this helps! Josh Reply

Derrick January 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm Josh, I have been at my HIIT workouts for about 2 weeks now. I think I am doing pretty good at it. I had a follow-up question however. Since I have started this training I seem to be getting stomach craps mid-way through the workout. Do you have any tips or tricks to avoiding them? Thank you for all your help. Do you do private emails? Or provide training of some sort? Thank you. Reply

JoshVales January 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm Whenever I get stomach cramps, it means that Ive eaten too soon before my workout, or I simply havent had enough water and Im quite dehydrated. Water makes a really big difference with stamina and cramps. Also, the potassium in a banana helps with cramps a fair bit. A banana a day will go a long way in eliminating stomach cramps. At the moment I dont do private training, but Im happy to answer any questions you have in the comment sections of this website. Hope this helps! Josh Reply

Perder peso January 22, 2012 at 7:42 am Very good tips, I will start tomorrow to do HIIT, I just want to ask something I will do exactly Insanity Workout 20 min and do not know if you have the same results as running, the two are exercises for time intervals of high intensity. What do you recommend?? Thank you very much! Reply

JoshVales January 24, 2012 at 5:12 pm Hey Perder, Im not sure what Insanity Workout that youre talking about is. Could you explain what it entails so I can answer your question more clearly? Josh Reply

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Jesse R March 4, 2012 at 8:33 pm Perder is probably referring to Shaun Ts workouts. Reply

JoshVales March 6, 2012 at 2:53 am Ah, thank you for clearing that up! Josh Reply

Colin Brown January 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm Hi. Ive been doing HIIT training on a treadmill. Ive been running at 11.5 mph for 45 seconds then resting for 1 min. I do this between 10-12 times a session. Ive noticed that, when Im running at 11.5, my heart rate is up at 181. Should I rest until my heart rate comes down to certain level before picking the pace up again? And would I see better results if I did? Reply

JoshVales January 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm You should rest only until you have caught your breath. Dont worry too much about your exact heart rate. As you get more fit, you will be able to continue with the higher intensity portion of the workout with increasingly higher heart rates, while still feeling rested. You wont get better results by sticking to a particular heart rate just go by feel. 181 beats per minute is perfectly normal during a high intensity portion of a HIIT workout. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Keeon February 4, 2012 at 11:19 am I did a HIIT workout the other day. It went something like this. I did pushups, squats, burpees, mountain climbers and lunges. Each exercise for 30 seconds for 4 rounds. Reply

JoshVales March 6, 2012 at 2:29 am Awesome, many people dont realize that they can use body workouts for a variation of HIIT. Reply

Cray February 7, 2012 at 2:23 pm Josh, I love this stuff and finally the general public agrees with us. Live Well, TBF Trainer Reply

JoshVales March 6, 2012 at 2:38 am

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Thanks for the comment, I agree, HIIT is great! Reply

Chris Youster February 16, 2012 at 4:18 am Hi Josh, I have been going to the gym for nearly 6 years so I have quite a lot of muscle and have been playing Volleyabll for the last 11 months so I no longer need to be big and just want to get my six pack showing more and look a bit more athletic. I have been doing HIIT on/off for a while but have been getting back into it the last fortnight on the treadmill for 20 minutes, 30 seconds sprint 90 seconds jog then doing some weights of around 80% max 3 times a week. Can my body cope with that as at the moment I still feel ok but with 2 sessions of Volleyball training on top of that I dont have time to split my cardio and weights like I used to. Thanks, Chris Reply

JoshVales March 6, 2012 at 2:46 am Yup, that schedule sounds good to me, as long as you feel ok. Always listen to your body, if your body cant handle your schedule, youll know it. But on paper, it definitely looks A-OK with me. Josh Reply

Jack February 19, 2012 at 11:26 am I am doing this for the last few years. I now do 12 by 30 seconds flat out sprints out doors,and I just stop and focus on the recovery but, which I have got down to 25 seconds. The 25 seconds feels like 10 seconds while recovering and the 30 seconds flat out feels like 60 seconds. But the gut wrenching part of this session is just 10 minutes. This training is mentally hard, but its of such a short duration its very doable, and combined with (HIT)strength training every other day one should have a good program. The HIT strength training is psychologically similar to the HIIT, short sessions with single sets to failure. Reply

JoshVales March 6, 2012 at 2:47 am Thanks for the comment. It is difficult its meant to be. No pain, no gain Josh Reply But yes, its definitely do-able.

Emma March 19, 2012 at 7:46 am Hiya, I want to lose weight NOT build muscle. Im a model and was unwell for a while so i have gained 20lbs. This is purely in fat though. I was very skinny with extremely lean muscle (not much though!!!) I need to get back to this shape, however i am worried that i will build too much muscle, stay the same size i am but become more solid not sure if that makes any sense! Basically i am not very big by any means, but need to lose weight but not gain muscle, im worried because im quite slim i will build muscle instead of lose the fat!! I do not want the bulky look. Im going more Karlie Kloss/Rosie Huntington Whiteley than J-Lo/Rihanna who are both very thin but very muscular! Would you recommend HIIT for this? As i have read it is great for fat loss and not building muscle. Hope that makes sense! Thanks Reply

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JoshVales March 19, 2012 at 7:44 pm I wouldnt recommend HIIT for this, as it will promote some muscle growth in the legs. Instead, Id recommend marathon cardio, that is, running sessions of 45 minute to 60 minutes. This will help you lose size all over, and wont cause you to gain size. Have a look at this article on how to lose weight in your thighs: and this one on how to lose muscle: Also, make sure youre not eating too much during this time. Whether you gain or lose weight is heavily depended on your eating habits. If youre eating less than your body needs on a daily basis, you will lose weight. If youre eating more than it needs on a daily basis, then it is easier to gain unwanted body muscle/fat. Have a look at this article for more information: Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Jackson March 22, 2012 at 9:58 am Hey Josh, Is a glass of low-fat Chocolate Milk good for your body in terms of post-recovery after a HIIT session? I do take into consideration about the calories involved in the glass of low-fat Choco Milk as well, thank you! Reply

JoshVales March 22, 2012 at 5:27 pm Sure is, in fact, Ive written a post on that very topic. You can read it here if youd like: Josh Reply

Jackson March 23, 2012 at 1:57 am Thank you Josh, that was indeed a great article to read. Reply

LEO March 24, 2012 at 5:59 am WOW!! Thanks a Lot!! i have only a question, you said that i must perform it 3 times a week, for example: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. can i make a 2.5Mph walk for 20mins on the remaining days that must spend for rest? Reply

JoshVales March 24, 2012 at 6:02 pm Absolutely, in fact I encourage long, low intensity cardio on your off days. It really complements HIIT well, and it will improve your fat loss results. Stay well, Josh Reply

joe April 2, 2012 at 7:34 pm Hey, i am very muscular but have some fat around my stomach. About 13 or 15% body fat.I have been doing hiit every second day for a couple of

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weeks and have been watching my diet pretty closely. I am just wondering how long it will take before i see significant reults. Thanks Reply

JoshVales April 3, 2012 at 2:59 pm Significant results will take 6-8 weeks. You should see the first real differences in the mirror after about 3 weeks. Try throwing in some low intensity long distance cardio in with the HIIT. This will speed up your results. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Jin April 4, 2012 at 7:31 am I want to lose weight overall and become more defined. I have been doing more marathon running with weight training but I want faster results in losing weight and becoming more defined. Would HIIT along with my current weight training give me these results quicker? I want to lose about 15-20 lbs in about 2 month time frame. I want to do this naturally but I am considering protein drinks, if I do would it also help me produce results quicker? Reply

JoshVales April 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm Yes, HIIT would absolutely get results quicker when added to marathon running and weight training. The more variety, the more your body is stimulated, the better the results. Protein shakes wont get you results any quicker than eating normal, whole protein. In fact, Id argue that they are worse then whole food protein because shakes lack the thermogenic effect of real food. That said, protein shakes are better than no protein at all, so its really dependent on your diet. Reply

jalpesh bhanushali April 4, 2012 at 10:46 am I do treadmill 5 sets at 3 min each set at high intensity,cyclng 5 sets 2 min each,walk 5 sets 1 min each,I m doing in correct manner or no ,let me know,I want 2 lose 25 kgs weight! Reply

JoshVales April 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm Sounds like a pretty basic cardio circuit. Its not quite the same as HIIT, as HIIT you wont be able to sustain 100% intensity for 3 minutes. Try adding long distance steady state cardio and true HIIT into your routine as well. This should have the pounds falling off. Reply

Dixie April 5, 2012 at 6:02 am Thank you for this article Josh, I love it! For a while Ive been doing some circuit training that incorporated body weight exercises such as burpees and mountain climbers with light weights. After losing a good bit of post pregnancy weight, I feel like Im ready to intensify my workouts with heavy weights and HIIT, but I get bored easily. I was thinking of using several different exercises in a single HIIT routinewill some something like this be as effective? 5 min warm-up 30 sec sprint with 90-120 recovery 30 sec mountain climbers with 90-120 recovery 30 sec burpees with 90-120 recovery and repeat all three a second time. 5 min cool down I would like to alternate 3 days of weight training with 2 days of HIIT. ! day of steady cardio and 1 day of rest or walking. The goal is to build crazy lean muscle. Sound like a good plan? Reply

JoshVales April 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm Sounds like a great plan. In general, the more variation, the better!

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Rob Brown April 10, 2012 at 8:45 am Josh, My first HIIT was today, just to see what you think this is what I did, 5 minute warm up at 5.0 mph 30 seconds at 9.1mph 90 seconds @ 5.0 mph (did that for ten minutes) 5 minute cool down.. 20 minutes total. This sound like going in the right direction? Reply

JoshVales April 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm Sounds good. Definitely the right direction. Just remember to go as fast as you possibly can in the high intensity portions. This is key to getting the most out of HIIT. Keep it up. Reply

steve April 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm Hey Josh, I am just wondering if you could give me a few diet tips. What not to eat, what not to eat etc.. Thanks Reply

JoshVales April 18, 2012 at 3:33 pm In short, Eat: Lean Protein Complex Carbohydrates Healthy Fats Water Stay Away From: Processed Carbohydrates Alcohol Excess/Added Sugar Soda/Juices Reply

Mozelle Hayden May 21, 2012 at 8:36 am Hi I am 188pds 52 and just found out that my body fat is 45.s%. Need to get that down quickly? Please Help me!! I also have high bp/chlorlestorol/hypothyroid I have been on hctz diet/carb diet etc and very disappointed. I am now take spin class monday/wed/frid or sat and tues/wed both strength and zumba. I was told to drink a protien shake (water/powder) w each meal yet I am not sure what my calorie intake should be I am 55 yrs old. I dont like how I look at ALL!!! Not happy Reply

JoshVales June 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm Mozelle, No need to add a protein shake with each meal, thats probably way too much protein for you, anyways. Id suggest reading this: Get your diet under control, continue regular weight loss, and the pounds will fall off. If youre having serious issues with your hypothyroidism, your doctor should be the next place to visit.

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Josh Reply

Tom April 14, 2012 at 1:50 pm Hi Josh, I did my first hiit today, consisting of 10 reps of 1 minute jump rope and 30 second rest (not doing anything). Am I doing it the right way around? Your advice suggests less high intensity time than rest, whereas I am using a 2:1 ratio in the opposite direction. Tom Reply

JoshVales April 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm Its usually the other way around because when doing HIIT, the high intensity portion is done at an extreme level. For example, if you were running, you should be running like you were running away from a cougar that is chasing you. At that pace, its hard to keep it up for longer periods of time, and you need the extra time. Are you able to get the required intensity up while jumping rope? If not, it may be best to switch to something else. Just dont cheat yourself make sure youre working at 100% capacity during that high intensity phase. Josh Reply

Tom April 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm Thank you. Reply

JoshVales April 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm Youre very welcome. Reply

jen April 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm hey great article! ive been doing hiit for a few weeks now. i used to sprint outdoors 2xs a week, but i have kids and blah blah blah.its very hard for me to be able to run. so, i have started a new routine and would love your opinion: tabata time (20 work/10 rest) for 8 rounds: burpees mountain climbers high knees jumping jacks or fast jump roping then i rest 1 minute and perform these exercises 3 xs through: 50 jumping jacks/rope skips 5 push-ups 20 mountain climbers 20 crunches/ab exercise 7 burpees 30 second plank i usually extend the last plank to 2 minutes, doing side planks instead. i have a pretty clean diet 90/10.maybe 80/20 sometimes. does this sound okay? i have a very limited amount of time so HIIT has been a lifesaver. again, id love your insight/feedback. ive lost 20 pounds doing kickboxing, but its taken me 8 months. i have 10-15 stubborn pounds to lose. thanks!

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JoshVales April 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm Sounds great! Nice amount of variety and itll definitely hit your aerobic system hard. If youre eating right, you shouldnt have too much trouble losing those last 10-15lbs with this routine. I understand you dont have much time, but doing long duration cardio one or twice a week might really help in addition to HIIT if youre having trouble with the last super stubborn 5 or so pounds. Josh Reply

Waleed April 22, 2012 at 4:54 am Hey josh, First of all thanks for this great article. Really impressive tips. I just want to ask you if i can combine the HIIT with weightlifting iam working my body muscles separately like this( saturday chest, sunday back, monday biceps & triceps and on tuesday shoulders) after this i will rest on wednesday then go again with the same cycle. So my question is can i do the HIIT training along with my scheduale ? If my body can take should i do it or i will lose muscles? Note: basically iam performing 1 min fast jogging and 30 sec fast walking for around 20 min (is this considered HIIT?) Reply

JoshVales April 23, 2012 at 4:08 pm Hey Waleed, HIIT wont cause you to lose your muscles not at all. You can safely perform HIIT 3 or 4 times per week along with your weight training routine for added fat loss without fearing any muscle loss. What you describe is definitely interval training, but HIIT is slightly higher intensity. You should be at an all out sprint (pretend youre being chased by a cheetah) for 30-45 seconds, and then recovering for 60-90 seconds after by walking or jogging slowly. Give that a try! Josh Reply

Maarten Prins April 24, 2012 at 11:55 am Ive done years of regular interval training not knowing the difference between it and real HIIT so real significant results were lacking. Started doing HIIT few weeks back and seen some good results, just wondering what the differences are in 30, 45 or 60 sec interval lapses? Reply

JoshVales April 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm Hey Maarten, There is definitely a major difference in results when it comes to weight loss between normal interval training and HIIT workouts. The difference in time lapses can be attributed mainly to your personal level of fitness. As you progress in HIIT, you can add time to your high intensity period, and/or decrease the time in your rest period. The whole idea is to simply have multiple periods of time where youre working out at maximum intensity. Naturally, its impossible to keep that amount of intensity up for too long, and thats where the rest periods come in. - Josh Reply

Rony April 24, 2012 at 1:45 pm

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Just tried HIIT for the first time this week! IT IS GREAT! I feel really well after! One question I got in mind.what about the incline of the treadmill? Should it be flat zero? or like 1-2 Incline? My routine : I do 5/6 MPH for 5 minute warm up, then I start sprint at 9MPH (30 second).and then I do 90 3-4 MPH for 90 secondthose 6-7 times. Should I go more than 3-4 MPH I feel like I can jog at 5 like in the warm up. Thank you this is great stuff! Reply

JoshVales April 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm Rony, Awesome! HIIT really does give you a great feeling afterwards. As for the incline, its really up to you. An incline will tend to put more focus on the muscles of the legs, promoting some muscle growth. Flat doesnt do that to the same extent. If you feel like you can do more on the low intensity period, this means youre not putting in enough effort in your high intensity period. Run faster than 9mph, you should really be at an all out sprint like your life depended on getting away from something. If youre doing that properly, you will probably not feel like the 90 second rest period is too easy. However, if you really feel like youre at your max in the high intensity phase, then you may simply be at a level of fitness which either allows you to decrease the 90 second low intensity period (maybe down to 60 second), or to increase the speed of the low intensity period. Your choice. Josh Reply

Jenn May 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm Hey, thanks for the great info. Ive recently been getting back to the gym and have heard a lot of great things about HIIT. I was wondering if you could answer a few quick questions for me though. I want to do strength training too, because Ive heard that will help me lose the weight I need to even faster, and I want to get toned as well. I guess after reading all the comments on here, Im thinking Ill do HIIT 3 days a week and then 45 min of low intensity cardio 3 days a week and rotate days with those. Does that seem okay? But then also Im wondering, when would be the best times to do my strength training, on my HIIT days or cardio days? Ive broken it down to 3 days a week, back/biceps, legs/shoulders, and chest/triceps, but am not sure when would be ideal to do them. And one more thing, I was reading your article on making my thighs smaller, because I do have that problem, I have some weight to get off them right now, but even back when I was slim Im always had more larger, muscular thighs, so I guess my question is, would you recommend me cutting out my legs as far as strength training goes? I appreciate you time and help. Reply

JoshVales May 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm Hey Jenn, glad I could help. 3 days of low intensity cardio rotated with 3 days of HIIT is an awesome plan. If you want to switch it up a bit, you can even do 10-15 mins of HIIT, followed by 20-30 mins of low intensity cardio on the same day. That combination has given me pretty wicked results in the past. Strength training would best be done on low intensity days, HIIT is simply too draining. Id say if youre trying to lose the absolute most amount of body fat in the least amount of time possible, then keep doing your leg exercises. If at such a time you get to a point where youre happy with the level of fat on your body, and your legs are still larger then youd like, only then would I cut leg exercises, and maybe even HIIT, and focus on low intensity cardio for a little while. Its best to focus on your most important goals first. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

jen westcott May 8, 2012 at 7:55 am hey josh, im starting to feel discouraged! ive been doing hiit mixed with a day of lower-level cardio for about 5 weeks now. my diet has been very clean i do indulge in small amounts every once in awhile, but i use a calorie tracker and never blow my caloric intake. if i have a treat, i exercise to balance it out. i thought by doing hiit and some weight training that the weight would come off faster. its hard to push myself so hard to workout 4-5 days a week when i am not seeing results. i know it takes time, but how long?

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thanks! jen Reply

JoshVales May 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm Jen, Are you not seeing results on the scale, or in the mirror? They are two very different things because muscle weighs a lot more than fat. If youre not seeing any kind of results, it will boil down to your calorie intake. Have a read: Get this under control, weigh out your foods if you have to as your calorie counter could be off a bit. All in all, it probably takes a good 2-3 months to see good results. Josh Reply

David May 10, 2012 at 7:53 am Hi Josh, Great article! After years of low intensity cardio workouts (running and cycling) with little success, considering the amount of time I was putting into it, Ive finally decided to give HIIT a go. Im 35 and medium build and my objective is to reduce overall fat specially around mid section. I do exercise lightly on a regular basis so Im in ok condition. My plan is to do 3 days of HIIT + strength training and alternate with 3 days of low intensity cardio workouts. During the 3 HIIT days my plan is to do 30 minutes of strength training followed by 15-20 minute outdoor hill cycling (high intensity uphill and recovery downhill). During the alternate 3 days my plan is to do 1 hour of low intensity outdoor cycling. Does this sound like a good plan to achieve my objective of belly fat reduction? And, would you suggest I change my diet depending on whether its a HIIT day or not? If so, any recommendations? Thanks a million for your help!! David Reply

JoshVales May 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm David, That sounds like a great plan, without doubt. If youre looking for a little extra fat burning, you may want to give running a try as well, maybe sub it in for one or two of your cardio workouts when youre feeling bored. Running is really unparalleled at reducing the overall size of your body mass. As for your diet, make sure you have your calorie intake under control. Refer to this post: For now, I wouldnt worry about changing your diet at all from day to day. Just make sure youre eating at or below your TDEE (youll find out what that is in that article), and youll be fine with the amount of exercise youre doing. Keep me updated with your progress and let me know if you have any questions. Josh Reply

David May 11, 2012 at 12:52 am Thanks for the response Josh. Yes, will exchange one of the cycling days for running. Will keep you posted with progress and will surely ask for some additional advice further down the line. Thanks again. Reply

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JoshVales May 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm No worries! Look forward to hearing from you. Reply

Jen Westcott May 10, 2012 at 10:00 am Thanks for responding! I see very slight changes in the mirror, but I want to crank it up. I do count calories and usually eat 100 less than the counter says just in case its off. Question: should I be eating back my exercise calories? In other words, I do the BMR test and found out how many I should eat to lose weight (about 1500/day). If I do hiit, I calculate that I burned 150 calories. Then my counter says I earned those towards food (since I already took 500 calls off previously). Is that ok? Hope that makes sense?!? Jen Reply

Jen Westcott May 10, 2012 at 10:01 am Also, if I go over one day as a cheat meal, am I ruining my efforts? I follow the 80/20 rule most of the time. Reply

alex May 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm Hey josh, I have been doing hiit for nearly 2 months now and have seen pretty good results. I do 8-10 sets of 20 seconds sprinting and 20-30 seconds resting. I do this every second day. I am just wondering if at some point or right now if it is necessary to change up my routine and if so how should I change it? Thanks Reply

JoshVales June 1, 2012 at 3:55 am You can do steady state cardio for a few weeks. You can do a combination of say 15 minutes of HIIT, and 25 minutes of steady state cardio. You can alternate HIIT days with steady state days. There is an almost unlimited number of variations, and there isnt one that is right. Just changing your routine every 2-3 months is enough to keep your results steady and predictable, while avoiding plateaus. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

mike monsil May 23, 2012 at 8:40 pm heyi want to do HITT with burpees. What should I be doing on the other days when im not doing HITT> Reply

JoshVales June 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm Mike, You can do weight training, you can do long distance low intensity cardio, or you can take a day off. Its completely up to you! Josh Reply

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Mike M. May 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm Hi JoshGreat site and great advice here. I wonder if you could answer my question. Im 44 years old and looking to get lean muscle and stay at a healthy weight. Im 64, 208lbs. Ive started eating lo-carb. I, like some of the folks here think body movement exercises (burpees specifcallywith all their variations) are great for HIIT. They also seem like a time saver as you are strengthening your musces. My question is: You recommend incorporating weight training on the off-days. Since I am doing burpees, can or should I still be doing weight training? Is that too much strength training for a week? To be honest with you I sometimes feel that I could just workout doing various types of burpees. Im just confused when people say alternate HIIT with weight-training. Thanks Reply

JoshVales June 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm Mike, Burpees for the most part are not strenuous enough on your muscles to warrant taking time off of weight training. I say keep going with both. Theres nothing wrong with doing HIIT with different types of burpees, if you feel that is enough for you and youre happy with your results, theres no need to do anything else. When people talk about alternating HIIT with weight training, theyre usually running or doing some form of cardio as their HIIT. Therefore it makes sense to put weight training on the opposing days. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Erik May 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm Josh, I am going to give HIIT a try but also like to lift weights as well. I came across some articles talking about multi-joint exercises for building muscle and wanted to give that a try as well. I am trying to lose about 10-15 more pounds of fat. If I do that I should be nice and lean. A few questions for you. - What are your thoughts on multi-joint exercises vs. isolation excercises for building muscle? -If I were to rotate multi-joint exercises one day and HIIT the next, 6 days a week would this be a good way to lose fat and gain muscle? -Would I lose more fat doing 2 days of HIIT per week with 1 day of low intensity cardio? Thanks for your help! Erik Reply

JoshVales June 3, 2012 at 12:23 am Hey Erik, Multi-joint exercises (compound exercises) are definitely the way to go when it comes to building muscle. Isolation exercises have their place, but you should definitely focus on compound exercises. Heres an article I wrote on compound exercises: /the-best-compound-exercises Rotating compound multi-joint exercises and HIIT 6 days a week sounds like a great plan to gain muscle. Its hard to say if youd lose more fat doing one day a week of low intensity cardio instead of an extra day of HIIT. I dont think itll make much difference one way or another, but for the sake of variety and preventing boredom, doing that might be a good idea.

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Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Ali June 1, 2012 at 10:40 am hey josh, im a beginner and ive been skipping for almost a monthi skip for a minute at about 140-160 times per minute then rest for 120 secsrepeating it 6-10 this HTTP?? can i do weight training with a single pair of non adjustable dumbells weighing 15 lbs??coz dats all i have right now thanx a lot for info Reply

JoshVales June 3, 2012 at 12:56 am That is definitely HIIT, though you could reduce your rest time if you wish! You can weight train with those weights for sure, though after a while youll probably want to increase the weight in order to progress. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Inam June 3, 2012 at 1:35 am Hey Josh, Really nice information, thanks for that. I have two questions, I hope you can help. Well I am a beginner in HIIT and now I am doing 1 minute at 8.5 MPH and 2 minutes rest at 3.5-4 MPH ,five sets, three times a week. Doing this for 4 weeks but I GAINED 3 pounds ! Why? I want to lose 25 pounds or so, do you think I keep doing or change something? My diet is quite healthy and I have not changed portion size because of exercise. Also, I am aiming to make harder part up to 11 MPH in next 3-4 weeks slowly. Do you think it is fine or I make harder part even higher? What is your recommendation? Thanks Reply

JoshVales June 5, 2012 at 1:07 am Inam, HIIT tends to promote muscle, so your results could very well be the results of that. Muscle weighs more than fat, and thats exactly why you may weigh more on a scale, but actually look smaller. Due to this, I dont suggest using a scale to track fat loss success. I would add steady state cardio in as well, as well as weight training. This will dramatically increase your results. As far as the HIIT intensity, theres no limit. Take it as high and as hard as you can. Josh Reply

Inam June 11, 2012 at 5:52 am Thanks Josh for the reply. Can I jog 30-40 minutes on my off days from HIIT? Say if I am doing 3 HIITs alternate days, can I jog on the rest days on a slow pace for 30-45 minutes? Dont I need rest from HIIT training? Just curious, if it is not gona over-tain or something. Also , can I do weights on the days when I do HIITs? Or preferably on the days when I do slow jogging? Thanks for your help

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Inam Reply

JoshVales June 13, 2012 at 2:08 am Absolutely Inam, take a day off once a week. That can be your break. Then, every 8 or 9 weeks, take a full week off of training completely. I myself do weights on days where I do HIIT, simply because HIIT workouts are shorter than long distance workouts, but it really just comes down to personal preference. Josh Reply

Ali June 3, 2012 at 6:32 am sorryit was supposed to be HIITmy bad n thanx a lot Reply

Ali June 3, 2012 at 6:33 am sorryit was supposed to be HIIT not HTTPmy bad anyways thanx a lot Reply

Jay June 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm hay thanks so much for explaining this for me I only just tripped up on this HIIT thing and didnt really understand it until now.. Ok atm im doin about 40 mins on a treadmill on a high incline to try and lose weight every other day Kinda like speed heart rate reaches around 150 mark (im 40) to integrate HIIT into my tredmill routine would this mean i should do an intense sprint for say 45 seconds and then kool down for 90~120 second and repeat tis 6 ~10 times would that help me lose fat? Also how can i work out my max heart rate Thank again for the info Reply

JoshVales June 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm Jay, You got it, and you can do it on a flat level on the treadmill too. Your max heart rate can be determined if you use a heart rate monitor on the treadmill, or have one of your own. Your heart rate will naturally rise and fall with the intervals. This is normal, and part of the reason that HIIT works so well when it comes to fat loss. HIIT mimics real life sports activities that burn lots of fat. Hope this helps, Josh Reply

Jay June 17, 2012 at 7:05 am Hi Josh Thanks for taking the time to reply

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Ok about the max heart rate thing I remember when i use to work out there was a formula to work out your maximum heart rate based on your age example (uk) Male athletes MHR = 202 (0.55 x age) Female athletes MHR = 216 (1.09 x age) So for me based on this formula my max heart rate is 180 as HIIT involves intense training methods, there can be a little confusion to determin what your level of intensity is. But I read somewhere not sure if it was here that you should aim for 90% of your Max Heart Rate (MHR), when reaching the intense stage. So if i get my heart rate up to this level on my treadmil for 45 seconds and then cool down as mentioned before and repeat 6 ~10 times would that be a good place to start? Cheers again Reply

Jay June 17, 2012 at 7:30 am ooops .. sorry i meant to say 80% of my MHR not 90%


Carlos June 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm Hi Josh, thanks for this great information. i tried doing my 1st HIIT last night just to see if i can handle it and i dont know if i do it right. Treadmill: as warm-up: 5 mins walk @ 5mph then after my 5 mins mark, i crank the speed to as fast as i can handle, vary from 12~14mph for 1 min then walk 2mins walk(rest) @ 3~6mph (is that ok?) i did all(6) of my High Intensity and Rest inside 20mins.. total of 30mins with warmup and cooldown.. after the training i still have energy left but i dont know what to do(actually after catching my breath, i feel great that i think i can run more) . so i just go home, eat then sleep. i dont know if i do it right because i dont know how to monitor my heart rate. thanks again.. Reply

JoshVales July 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm Sounds like youre doing it right. Just remember to give it 100% intensity when youre in the high intensity phase. Its ok if you can only keep it up for 20-30 seconds. On the low intensity portion, make sure to recover and bring your heart rate down (so youre not out of breath anymore), before doing another high intensity interval. Keep up the good work! Josh Reply

Paul June 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm Hi this is a great article ! I need some help though on something which i cant find a decent answer anywhere. Basically I am a skinny build but i have lots a belly fat. I want to loss that belly fat but I really want to bulk up some what. Will heavy weightlifting 3 days a week and HIIT on 3 other days that I am not weightlifting help me achieve fat loss and also to build muscle? I have read that building muscle mass and losing fat is extremely difficult. So I was hoping if u think lifting heavy and HIIT will help me achieve my goal? Thanks I look forward to your reply.

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JoshVales July 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm Paul, Thats a great plan for losing fat while building muscle. In general, its hard to do both, and its better to focus on a single goal. Beginners however can usually manage to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time for the first few months. If anything can do it though, its weight lifting and HIIT. If youre not seeing the result you want, try to focus on one goal at a time, build muscle, then cut down after a few months. Let me know if theres anything else I can do to help. Josh Reply

Paul July 1, 2012 at 8:03 am Hi Josh, I posted a comment about over a week ago now and Im wondering if you could please answer my question, its just that I am really stuck on the problem I posted to you. Thanks Reply

JoshVales July 2, 2012 at 11:16 pm Hey Paul, Sorry Ive been backed up due to the huge number of comments! I did get back to you though. Hope it helps, Josh Reply Leave a Comment Name * E-mail * Website

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