Tag Archives: hiit

Hate to run? You can still hit these high intensity interval workouts.

i dont run

Get more for less. I like that a whole lot. How about you? If that’s the case, try high intensity interval workouts, aka HIIT. They’ll give you a ton of bang for your buck. You’ll not only torch fat, you’ll make your heart and lungs stronger, improve your cardiovascular health, and even help yourself build and retain muscle. So read on with me if you want some workouts that’ll get you all that good stuff.

And why no running?

Because you don’t need it. If you like to run, rock on with that. But I don’t very often these days. Not because I hate it. I actually miss the zen-like vibe I got while doing long runs. But I hate how my hip feels every time I get sucked back into trying.

Yet even if you aren’t able to pound the pavement or jogging just isn’t your jam, you’re in luck: because there are about eleventy billion ways to get HIIT into your life, so choose what lets you work hard and have fun. But I’ve got some workouts to get you started.

What to know first.
HIIT is nothing complicated – you’ll just alternate periods of insanely hard work and easier work, or sometimes even complete rest. Take those easy intervals seriously– they refuel your energy stores so you can pour every bit of energy you have in you into your work. And then reap those delicious perks of HIIT conditioning.

So let’s do dis.

3-2-1 intervals work well on just about any piece of machinery. And the idea is easy to remember. I love that on days when I workout at 5 am and am still too sleepy to come up with a crazy, creative workout.

It just looks like this: do 30 seconds of “easy” work, 20 seconds of “moderately hard” work, and then 10 seconds of all out effort. You’ll do 5 rounds. Then rest a few minutes, and repeat. That’s it.

Try this on a bike, stair master, or rower. Just use resistance, speed, or a combination of both to get the job done.

Row Your Boat


photo credit: Richard Greenspan


Have an ergometer? Then try this workout. Of course you could use the same idea for miles on a bike or treadmill, but chasing meters on the erg is fast, fun, and a full body blast. Try this descending ladder set:


Repeat once more if you’re up for it, or use it as a fast finisher after a strength workout.

Ride Like an Egyptian
Back in the day, I banked a ton of miles on my bike. When doing interval work, it helped my mental focus to play around with my intervals, especially during the winter when I was stuck on a trainer or spin bike. This set uses equal amounts of work and rest. If you’re a cyclist needing more saddle time, you can also sandwich this with some easy warm up and cool down miles.

This ride is a pyramid set: meaning you’ll work up in your timed intervals and then back down.


The Hills Are Alive

Use a treadmill to crank up your heart rate without jogging. Just do a steep mountain hike and take advantage of the incline setting. Here’s a leg killer to take to the gym. Feel free to change speeds or incline levels. They’re just a starting place. The steep climbs will be your high intensity segments – so choose an incline that makes your heart rate skyrocket. And then crank it down for an easy walk as you catch your breath.  


Mighty Metcons

photo credit: Tom Britt

photo credit: Tom Britt

Metabolic conditioning workouts use full body, “big” movements that crank up your heart rate quickly and use large muscle groups to build your work capacity, torch fat, and groove the same patterns you’ll use in your strength workouts. What’s not to love? They don’t always use timed intervals, but they can. Here are two to try. One uses active recovery moves peppered with high intensity metabolic moves. The other uses timed intervals.

Black Widow
Try this badass set. It uses only 2 exercises and takes only 10 minutes.

Instructions:  set an interval timer for 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest. Cycle between the following moves 4 times. Rest 2 minutes, then repeat once more.

The circuit:

Goblet squat to reverse lunge (alternate legs for time)
Spider pushups (alternating legs)

Bonus – Baller
Have a med ball? You’re set. Don’t go too heavy in your weight. You want to be explosive during your work.

Instructions: each med ball move requires focused, intense work. Complete your reps as quickly as you can. Your “recovery” isn’t total rest – it just lets your heart rate come back down so you’ll be ready to work hard again.

Complete 2-4 rounds, taking rest only when absolutely necessary and preferably at the bottom of a round. Rest 2 minutes between each round.

The circuit:
Med ball pushups x 12 (6 per side)
20 med ball glute bridges
Med ball rotational slams x 12/side
20 med ball glute bridges
Med ball squat thrusters x 12
20 med ball glute bridges
Med ball SHELCs x 12

There you have it. 5+ ways to fuel your fitness, fat loss, and fun at the gym. Have your own favorite HIIT workout? Head over to my Facebook community page and share that up, yo. We’d love to hear about it!

High end rewards for high intensity training

Photo Credit: Jenni C, Flickr.

Photo Credit: Jenni C, Flickr.

High intensity training has the potential to bring lots to your own training table aside from making you feel like a badass. But understanding how, when, and why to put it into our workout weeks can be a little confusing. So let’s clear that right up. 
There are approximately a bajillion articles that explain the science behind this and how your energy systems work. It’s pretty cool stuff, actually, but for today’s purposes I just want to show you how to start doing it safely and effectively while making it easier to work on your own goals. 
Why do we need high intensity training?
First of all, It does a hell of a job burning fat because it takes advantage of the “afterburn” effect, when our bodies scramble to repay the oxygen debt it incurred during really hard work. 
It also makes all the other workouts we do feel easier by improving our ability to use oxygen. We become better conditioned and can perform better. They offer more opportunities to move often because they take very little time to do. Plus you can find ways to do high intensity work with little to no equipment at all. 
Training in this way can look differently depending on the kind of workout: metabolic conditioning, high intensity interval training, sprinting, sled pushes and pulls… there are small differences in the characteristics of various high intensity workouts, but we really just need to know a few basic things to get going. 
jumpandstuffTo reap the benefits of high intensity workouts you need to know a few things:-Give a really hard effort. Then be willing to really rest when it’s time to rest.

-If you’re doing a 45 minute high intensity interval workout that you’re not actually doing high intensity work. You’re doing cardio, and that’s fine too. But we’re working different energy systems and producing different training effects. I want everyone to know exactly what they’re getting when they choose what to do.

-It’s not a substitute for strength training: but it’s a killer way to have more opportunities to build and retain some muscle as you work on fat loss.

It’s also helpful for “greasing the groove” of movement when you do sessions like metabolic conditioning, which use lighter loads of strength moves to produce that good stuff I’ve been talking about.


The cons of high intensity training.
Here’s my one caveat to promoting high intensity work: I have nothing against training this way, only in how it gets used.
Many people have become so accustomed to doing these very demanding workouts that we begin to believe that if we’re not completely breathless and exhausted that we’re not getting anything out of the workout. This simply isn’t true. 

Yes, sometimes you’ll be pooped after your workout and it can be fine. Sometimes you’ll leave feeling glowy and energized. I’m for working hard  – but only to accomplish what I think you want too: to improve. 

It can feel exhilarating to come away feeling like we just got thoroughly worked – but it’s not always an indication that we made ourselves better.


And in reality, if you’re so wiped out after every session that you can hardly walk around for the rest of the day, you likely are overdoing it. Chase better, not tired. 

Precisely because these workouts are so taxing, you shouldn’t be doing them all the time. 1-2 times per week is plenty and will allow your body time to both reap the benefits and recover. 

So are we gonna work out or what?
Here are 3 ways out of many that I like to program high intensity training for myself and my clients.

1. Sprinting
Sprinting is great for so many reasons. It will greatly enhance your power in your legs. It can be done just about anywhere; you can smoke your legs and glutes in under 10 minutes; and it’s really fun to go so fast you can pretend you’re running from the law.  

For beginners, it can actually feel easier on joints to run up a hill, and it forces you into a more athletic position as you lean forward a bit and drive those elbows back while sailing up the hill. Just don’t lean TOO much. You want to be upright enough to be powerful. 

Hill sprints also help build more muscular, powerful legs and glutes. They give you tons of bang for your buck. 

How long?
I like to keep the time increment very, very short and just go as fast as I can, then recover fully. 
How hard?
Remember – a true sprint is an all out effort. If you’re really giving that, you will need rest – a minute or two. 

Where though and how do I do it?
Treadmills, hills, your own street… wherever you choose, you’ll crank your heart rate up like crazy and make you feel and perform more like an athlete. Try this sprinting workout – it works well for seasoned sprinters and new kids too. 


The Hills are Alive (for Sprinting)
Instructions: Find a steep hill. Warm up a bit first. I really like this one for beginners because it’s more intuitive than timed intervals. Instead of counting seconds or distance, you’re going to go as hard as you can until you feel that dramatic slow down course through your body.  If you’re someone who really wants a time to shoot for, try around 8-10 seconds as your work goal at first.   1. Look around you. How far up the hill are you? I usually do these on a steep hill in a nearby neighborhood.2. Choose a landmark near where you stopped. Now walk back down the hill, catch your breath. You’ll be resting for a minute or two total.

3. This is where it becomes challenging. You’ll do this anywhere from 8-10 times, and by around set 5 to 6 it’ll be tougher to push yourself.

4. Keep at it. This part of sprinting trains our mental toughness and we can take that with us into not only workouts but life. 


So you want to go to the gym? Try a metabolic conditioning workout to get some extra muscle building work in while torching fat. Here’s a quick and dirty one to take on:

The Complex (a Metcon)
Instructions: grab a bar (or dumbbells, if you prefer). Now, without stopping between movements, you’re going to complete everything in the set for the indicated reps. You’ll rest for 2 minutes, and then do it again, each time working the number of reps listed. Notice how the reps go down each set? You’ll need that to happen as you progress through the workout.

Front squat x 8
Overhead Press x 8
Single Leg Deadlift x 8/side
Bent over row x 8


No equipment? No space? No problem. I gotchoo, boo. Give this one a go:

The Do-Anywhere HIIT
This high intensity interval workout is easy to remember, simple to learn, and can be done just about anywhere. 

Instructions: set a timer for 30 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest. Alternate between these 2 movements. for a total of between 6 and 8 rounds – 3-4 for each movement. 

Squats (bodyweight or add load for a goblet squat if you have it)
Spider pushups


What’s your favorite way to HIIT it? Leave a comment and share!