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HIIT: 2 Examples to Get Your Started

Yiwen Lu, MS, RD
December 15, 2023
January 15, 2024

Already learned about the benefits of HIIT but don't know where to start? We've got you covered with two different HIIT workout routines. No more excuses – let's get pumped up and start sweating!

What is HIIT?

There are various ways to structure HIIT workouts. During your session, you can focus on cardio, strength training, or a combination of both. Aim to push yourself to approximately 70% to 85% of your maximum heart rate during the high-intensity intervals. At this level, your heart should be pumping rapidly, and it should be challenging to hold a conversation without pausing to catch your breath. Remember, there's no magic trick to HIIT; as long as you give your all during the intense periods and allow yourself recovery breaks in between, you're doing HIIT!

2 Examples of HIIT To Get Your Started

If you're ready to try HIIT, here are two examples to kickstart your training:

Cardio Machine HIIT Circuit:

  1. Begin by choosing your favorite cardio machine, such as the elliptical, stair climber, treadmill, or stationary bike.
  2. Let's take the elliptical as an example. Start with 30 seconds of intense pedaling on the machine, using high resistance and giving it your all.
  3. Follow this up with 60 seconds of active recovery, pedaling slowly with low resistance. Consider this your active recovery phase.
  4. Repeat this work and rest pattern, referred to as a "round," for 4 to 6 rounds to complete a single HIIT session.

Cardio and Strength Training Combination HIIT Circuit:

  1. If you're new to this, it might be easier to start with follow-along videos to familiarize yourself with different exercises.
  2. For more advanced individuals, you likely have a library of movements in mind. In this case, you can create your own cardio and strength training combination circuit.
  3. For example, do 30 seconds of sprinting (cardio movement), followed by 60 seconds of rest.
  4. Then, perform 30 seconds of squats (strength training movement), followed by 60 seconds of rest.
  5. Next, try 30 seconds of jump rope (cardio movement), followed by 60 seconds of rest.
  6. Continue with 30 seconds of shoulder press (strength training movement), followed by 60 seconds of rest.
  7. Rotate between cardio and strength training movements, repeating this sequence until you complete the desired number of rounds.
  8. The possibilities are endless - embrace the variety and make it your own!

Recommended Duration of HIIT

The duration of HIIT sessions can vary, with typical ranges from 4 minutes (e.g., Tabata workout) to 15 minutes. It's crucial to strike a balance and avoid overly extended workouts to minimize the risk of strain or injury due to repetitive stress on the body. Start with these examples and gradually tailor your HIIT routines to match your fitness level and goals.

Advancing with the HIIT Ratio

The HIIT ratio, also known as the work-to-recovery ratio, is a crucial factor in tailoring your workouts to your fitness level. For instance, in the example above, if you perform 30 seconds of work followed by 60 seconds of recovery, your HIIT ratio is 1-to-2. Starting with a 1-to-3 ratio can serve as a good entry point. As your fitness level improves, you can progress to a 1-to-1 ratio, where the work and recovery times are equal. Pushing further, you can challenge yourself with a work phase longer than the recovery phase, aiming for ratios like 2-to-1 or even 3-to-1 for more advanced participants.

By adjusting the HIIT ratio as you advance, you will continuously challenge your body and witness ongoing improvements in your fitness journey.


The key takeaway is that there are countless combinations of HIIT exercises, and you have the freedom to get creative with it! Whether at home, in the gym, or outdoors, HIIT can be done anywhere. So, personalize your HIIT workouts to suit your preferences and fitness level, and keep challenging yourself!

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