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5 HIIT Workouts You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Incinerate Fat In Under 15 Minutes

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Image: Jennfit

Cardio fiends, welcome to an explosive new world.

It’s called HIIT—or High Intensity Interval Training—and if you’re unaware (you really shouldn’t be at this point), it’s about to rock your naive little definition of cardio. We’ve already covered the magical, body-transforming powers of HIIT in-depth over here. Read that first, especially if you’re new.

But if you need a quick little refresher course, here’s the rundown of its uber-potent benefits.12345678

  • HIIT incinerates body fat. And unlike distance endurance cardio, it effectively preserves muscle tissue.
  • AFTERBURN. HIIT elevates metabolism, increases the rate of fat burn (i.e. fat oxidation), and boosts O2 consumption for up to 48 hours post-workout (otherwise known as EPOC). Your body burns MORE without doing anything extra.
  • It’s a significantly FASTER, more efficient form of cardio. That means less time maniacally glued to a treadmill.
  • Improves VO2 max, which is the predominant marker of cardiovascular fitness. HIIT grooms the body to excel at endurance running, without ever running distance during the training phase.
  • Depending on the mode, it can help build lower body muscle tone and stamina. Both of those are critical for sports and ultra-events like marathons, Spartan Races, and Tough Mudders.  
  • HIIT develops burst, power, and explosiveness.
  • Helps nearly all markers of health, including insulin sensitivity and blood pressure.

And if that bulletin board isn’t enough to convince you, here’s a single fact that’ll suck you in immediately. Interval training produces more than TWICE the fat loss in HALF the time.

In one study that spanned 6 weeks, three 27-minute HIIT workouts per week reduced body fat by an average of 12.4%. Over the same period, anyone who was unlucky enough to do 60 minutes of steady state cardio, 3x per week, only lost a meager 5.8% body fat.9

Point is — you can build and maintain a lean, ripped-up, ab-happy physique without indulging mind-numbing distance cardio. You just need to a little HIIT in your life; for as little as 15 minutes per session, a few times per week. When it comes to zapping stubborn body fat and dipping into the single digits (or mid-teens for women), there’s nothing more effective.

It’s that potent, sans hyperbole.

Ready to get moving? We’ve lined up 5 killer, multi-terrain HIIT cardio workouts to slash body fat and recompose your body from the inside out. Each protocol is designed to be short, brutally intense, and pushed to the max — it doesn’t work otherwise — but you’ll be done before your mind can even catch up with your body. And if you’re bored or underwhelmed, you’re doing it wrong. PUSH HARDER.

Pick your poison.


 

5 HIIT Workouts You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Incinerate Fat


hiit, hiit workouts, interval workouts, hiit workout routines, hiit workout, high intensity interval training, high intensity interval training workouts, sprint interval training, hiit protocols, beach hiit, hill sprints, interval training workouts, high intensity interval training workout, hiit treadmill workout, hiit workout routine

HIIT performs best 3-4x per week, after a resistance training workout. Take 1 day off in between sessions.

For each workout, push yourself as hard as possible. But do it within reason — HIIT is an advanced technique that’s extremely taxing on the body. If something’s in pain or you’re overly winded, stop or slow down.

Just like you would with weights, start off a little conservative and gradually crank up the difficulty. This is power lifting for your heart.

 

HIIT Workout 1 — Treadmill Intervals


Use distance as a guide. During WORK intervals, sprint as fast as you can.

What we’ve laid out is a MODEL to guide you. Pick a sprint speed that’s challenging, but make sure that you’re able to sustain it for the full .15 mile interval duration. Be careful with higher speeds — the treadmill will continue to move with or without you.

We recommend starting off slower and working your way up. Sprint speeds in the 11-12.5 MPH range are ultimately your goal. Altogether it should mirror a pyramid. The middle two intervals will be the fastest, with the first/last 2 slightly slower.

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HIIT Workout 2 — Spin Bike Intervals


For version 2, use a spin bike. It includes 3 cycles, for a total of 13 minutes. Time is your guide. Unlike the treadmill, intervals follow a Tabata style cadence — they’re designed to be short, quick-hitting, and performed at MAX intensity. Longer recovery periods are baked-in between cycles.

During each WORK interval, pedal standing up and max out RPMs. That means pedal as fast as humanly possible. This provides a variable version of HIIT that thrashes the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. You can also add a few turns to the resistance knob to crank it up even further.

If you don’t have access to a spin bike, a stationary bike also works. Adjust the resistance setting if standing isn’t an option.

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HIIT Workout 3 — Beach Wind Sprints


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This seems lovely, right? Wait until after a session.

Doing HIIT on the sand is both a glorious and brutal form of torture. It’s excruciatingly difficult, and your heart will feel like it’s going to palpitate out of your chest. Set-up by finding two landmarks on the beach. They can be flags, steps down to the beach, buildings, lifeguard huts, or palm trees. Cones and beach chairs work, too. This is your interval length.

  • (1) Sprint as fast as possible from one point to the other.
  • (2) Walk back to the opposite side.
  • (3) Continue to repeat. Your workout should run ~ 15 minutes.

An average beach HIIT session includes roughly 10 intervals, but that’ll vary based on your interval distance (and recovery period). Experiment with different lengths to constantly vary your workouts. Floating in the ocean after is highly encouraged.

 

 

HIIT Workout 4 — Track Sprints


A running track is a great outdoor HIIT option that automatically modulates interval times. Timing is simple and baked-in, naturally:

  • (1) Sprint the straightaways as fast as possible.
  • (2) Walk the curves.
  • (3) Continue to repeat the same cadence for a total of 2 miles.

That’s 8 laps, or 16 sprints. Take a walking recovery lap after the 1 mile mark (from 1 – 1.25 miles). Push yourself as hard as possible, but don’t be surprised if your body starts to wilt during mile 2. Completing the workout in a blazing fury is incredibly difficult.

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HIIT Workout 5 — Hill Sprints


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Hills — and bleachers or stadium steps — significantly amp up the difficulty by adding an incline, which helps produce lower body power and acceleration. Just like with the track, hills have a built-in interval cadence:

  • (1) Run up as fast as possible.
  • (2) Walk down.
  • (3) Continue to repeat. Your workout should run ~ 15 minutes.

Bigger hills extend each interval (both work AND rest), whereas shorter hills keep them quick and intense. Experiment with different types to keep your workouts constantly fresh.

Try not to use a mountain, though. Look for a hill that you can ascend in less than 30 seconds.

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.

 
 

References, Notes, Links

  1. Gremeaux VDrigny JNigam AJuneau MGuilbeault VLatour EGayda MLong-term lifestyle intervention with optimized high-intensity interval training improves body composition, cardiometabolic risk, and exercise parameters in patients with abdominal obesity. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 Nov;91(11):941-50. []
  2. Whyte LJGill JMCathcart AJEffect of 2 weeks of sprint interval training on health-related outcomes in sedentary overweight/obese men. Metabolism. 2010 Oct;59(10):1421-8.  []
  3. Perry CG1Heigenhauser GJBonen ASpriet LLHigh-intensity aerobic interval training increases fat and carbohydrate metabolic capacities in human skeletal muscle. Metabolism. 2010 Oct;59(10):1421-8. doi:  []
  4. Melby CScholl CEdwards GBullough REffect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise energy expenditure and resting metabolic rate. J Appl Physiol (1985). 1993 Oct;75(4):1847-53. []
  5. Osterberg KL, Melby CL. Effect of acute resistance exercise on postexercise oxygen consumption and resting metabolic rate in young women. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2000 Mar;10(1):71-81. []
  6. Treuth MSHunter GRWilliams MEffects of exercise intensity on 24-h energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Sep;28(9):1138-43. []
  7. Trapp EGChisholm DJFreund JBoutcher SHThe effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise training on fat loss and fasting insulin levels of young women. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Apr;32(4):684-91. []
  8. Boutcher SHHigh-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. []
  9. Macpherson REHazell TJOlver TDPaterson DHLemon PWRun sprint interval training improves aerobic performance but not maximal cardiac output. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 Jan;43(1):115-22. []

 

  • peter

    You said that a 27 minute HIIT workout would be twice as effective as a 60 minute distance one. Could you provide a 27 minute version?

    • Keep in mind that was just what the study used as a model protocol — the benefits translate over for shorter durations.

      If you’re supplementing HIIT with resistance training, 27 minutes can be excessive (and extremely hard on the body); but if it’s a standalone cardio workout, 27m is a good length to stick with (and a killer workout).

      If you want a longer version, just extend the workouts listed until you hit 27-30 minutes. You might want to A) take an extended recovery period midway through, and B) reduce the sprint speed slightly if you’re using a treadmill (workout 1).

  • Ricky, Bubbles & Julian

    Did the treadmill workout yesterday. Kind of similar to doing tabata except longer. I think the rest periods are a tad too long. I did them at 3.9 and shortened them from .1 miles to .07, just to keep the heart rate up a little higher

    • If you’re working in the 9-10.5 MPH range for your up intervals, the rest spurts can definitely be shortened.

      As you start hitting 11, 12+, you’ll definitely want the full .1 mile to recover.

      Feel free to tweak rest periods—less rest is obviously a harder workout—but don’t do it if it sacrifices speed or intensity during the work intervals.

  • solidhound

    the treadmill exercise sounds great. i’ve been looking for something like this. does this come out to about 150 calories burned for a 17 minute workout?

    also, would it be a good idea to increase the distances of the sprints to 0.2miles or would it be more effective to cut the recovery to a shorter time?

    • You’ll typically burn ~100-120 calories per 10 minutes (so figure closer to 200 for 17 minutes) using that treadmill HIIT protocol. Remember that the afterburn effect is massive as well—and where most of the benefits come from—as your body continues to recover.

      You can, but I wouldn’t — that means dropping the speed, therefore the intensity. I’d prefer that you go harder for shorter bursts, or cut recovery (like you mentioned), that way you REALLY spike your heart rate. Once you’re at 12+ MPH on your up intervals, trust me, you’ll be craving that rest.

  • karen

    the track workout…i can’t get this thing done in less than 24 minutes, let alone 15!!!

  • Abhi

    whats more effective when doing hitt cardio; doing hit cardio on a bike or hiit cardio on a rower?

    • They’re different, but equally awesome workouts.

      The rower will hit your upper body/arms/core more, bike will hit your legs and butt to a higher degree. I’d personally recommend alternating just to keep it fresh.

  • nondas

    could you expain the running tracks a bit more? The only running track near me isnt .25 miles (1 lap) but a lap is .6 miles (1kilometer) so how many meters do i sprint and how many do i run? also i think its straightways and curves are random ( the track’s shape is weird)

    • What kind of track are you running at!? Lol.

      It’s hard for me to break it down without knowing the shape, but perhaps split the track up into quarters (.15 miles each). Alternate sprints with walks. If you do that you’d effectively end up with 2 sprint intervals and 2 walk intervals (rest) per lap, each of which nets to .15 miles.

  • Matt

    Going for the bike, no rest for the wicked! downloaded a timer app to count the seconds for me. Great post Bryan! time to kick it up a notch!

    • You got it Matt. Crush it out there — LMK if you have any questions about it.

  • Damon

    For the treadmill workout, would you recommend keep a consistent incline or increase the incline during the sprint intervals? Thanks.

    • That’s really up to you, your fitness level, and your training goals, but obviously an incline will increase the difficulty and shift the primary muscles that you’re using.

      Generally, I’ll approach incline as a pyramid. Start low and slowly ramp it up throughout the workout. Once you start to fatigue (about halfway through) start to reduce it so that you’re able to maintain a high speed.