HIIT Workouts: The Most Popular Fitness Trend Of 2018

I was reading an article on SELF magazine’s website earlier this week about the most popular fitness trends of the year.  HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, was number one. It got me thinking about how I incorporate HIIT into my weekly workouts, and I figured I would share my current favorite HIIT routines with y’all: both happen to be done on the treadmill, and both are running-based, but these can be easily modified for walkers or joggers. But before we get down to the workouts, let’s talk a bit about HIIT.

So what does HIIT mean?

HIIT workouts are basically shorter workouts (usually 20-30 minutes, though they can be longer) that feature bursts of energy followed by periods of rest/active recovery. So, a simple treadmill HIIT workout might have 30 second sprints followed by 60 second rests with a warm up and cool down on the front and back ends. During the sprints, you run as fast as you can, and during the recovery, you catch your breath so that you can do the high intensity interval again…and again and again. If you’ve ever tried Orange Theory, you’re familiar with the model.

What’s so great about HIIT?

Most people think of HIIT as a fat-burning workout, and that’s definitely one of its major benefits, but these workouts do more than just burn fat: they’ve been shown to increase your VO2 max (your body’s ability to consume oxygen – the higher it is, the better) and improve cardiovascular fitness even better than something like straight-up endurance training (the days of spending an hour on the elliptical to burn cals are long gone, my friends). Additionally, these types of workouts have been shown to improve things like metabolism (yasss) and even brain power (cognition and memory). Basically, this style of workout can improve your performance across all areas of not only training, but also your day-to-day, because it’s helping your body work more efficiently.


OK, those are the very basic basics. Let’s get in to the workouts. As I mentioned, both of these workouts are treadmill workouts (because it’s Arizona in August and I’m sure as hell not runnin’ outside), and they really get your heart pumpin’. The first treadmill workout is a slightly less traditional HIIT variation due to the fact that there’s an extended period of high intensity work on the front-end before a more difficult recovery period on the back-end. This is an advanced workout, but it’s easily adaptable as a beginner or intermediate workout (just reduce the speed or the incline) and can also be used by walkers or joggers. The second workout is more traditional, and can also be adapted for non-runners.

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{ Advanced Treadmill HIIT Workout 1: The Hill HIIT }

5 minute warm-up at “base pace” and 0.0 incline

◊ To find your base pace, pick a pace at which you can run a very heavy hill while still challenging yourself. It will feel slow at first, but as you climb, you’ll be achin’ for a break.

Minutes 0:00 – 2:00:
Base pace/2.0 incline

Minutes 2:00 – 4:00:
Base pace/4.0 incline

Minutes 4:00 – 6:00:
Base pace/6.0 incline

Minutes 6:00 – 8:00:
Base pace + 15 seconds/8.0 incline
This is where you start to slow your pace. Base pace + 15 simply means slow your pace by 15 seconds. If you began at a 10 min/mile pace, you’d slow to a 10:15 min/mile pace.

Minutes 8:00 – 10:00:
Base pace + 30 seconds/10.0 incline
Some days, I can stay at base pace + 30 and run at a 10.0 incline for 2 minutes; some days, I gotta slow down a bit. Just keep things moving as steadily as you can. 

Minutes 10:00 – 12:00:
Base pace + 15 seconds/8.0 incline

Minutes 12:00 – 14:00:
Base pace/6.0 incline

…and work your way down the hill by increments of 2.0 every two minutes (this time with speed increases as the incline decreases) in the same manner you worked your way up the hill during the first 10 minutes.

5 minute walking cool down.


{ Advanced Treadmill HIIT Workout 2: The Ladder HIIT }

5 minute warm-up at a comfortable pace with no incline.

Run .2 miles
◊ Choose a pace slightly faster than your 5k race pace or, if you’re not sure what your 5k race pace is/would be, choose a pace at which you could run one mile, but not two (without stopping). You should be able to complete all of these intervals at the same pace, but it should be pretty friggin’ hard.

Rest for 30 seconds
◊ You can rest by reducing the speed on the treadmill to a slow jog, or you can simply stand on the sides of the treadmill during rest periods. I typically slow it to a jog for the 60 and 90 second rests, and stand on the sides for the 30 second rests.

Run .4 miles
Rest for 30 seconds

Run .6 miles
Rest for 60 seconds

Run .8 miles
Rest for 60 seconds

Run 1.0 mile
Rest for 90 seconds

Run .8 miles
Rest for 60 seconds

Run .6 miles
Rest for 60 seconds

…and work your way back down the “ladder,” decreasing distance, maintaining speed and decreasing rest until you’ve completed the workout.

5 minute walking cool down.
This workout can be adapted so that it’s slightly shorter by re-working your “ladder” so that the intervals are 1/4 mile intervals (.25, .50, .75 and 1.0) instead of 1/5 mile intervals (.2, .4, .6, .8, 1.0), which will reduce the amount of intervals by one interval.

HIIT squat


When should I do HIIT workouts?

If I’m doing one of these workouts with a weight-lifting routine (maybe I’m working out my shoulders that day also, for example) I usually like to do my HIIT workout after my weight workout. I like to burn through my body’s stores of energy (mostly glycogen) for my weight workout so that the only thing left for it to burn during HIIT is fat!

How often should I do HIIT workouts?

It depends on your goals (burn fat, gain muscle, re-composition, etc.) and your schedule, but I usually incorporate 2 solid HIIT workouts into my training routine each week. That’s in addition to a few other (non-interval) cardio sessions that include endurance training and steady-state cardio.

Can I do HIIT workouts without a treadmill/stairmaster/elliptical?

Yup. There are plenty of weight-based and body weight-based HIIT workouts out there. I typically incorporate a non-treadmill HIIT session into my leg day routines, and it’s a phenomenal workout.

At the end of the day, all you gotta do is figure out a way to get your heart rate way, way up for a minute or two at a time for about 20 minutes – you don’t need a treadmill for that. Burpees, weighted step-ups on a bench, split squats on an aerobics step, jumping lunges or even sprints up and down your street can all get your heart rate up. Pair those high intensity intervals with periods of active recovery, and you’ve got yourself a homemade HIIT workout without any big, bulky equipment.


Happy HIIT-ing, guys!


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