Build Your Own HIIT Routine at the Gym


Short on time to work out? When it comes to burning fat, that’s OK!

What is HIIT?

High intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating between high and low intensities, and only requires a handful of minutes to reap the benefits. That makes it an especially effective exercise option for anyone short on time—but it’s beneficial for us all. Interval training encourages the development of lean body mass—required for a healthy metabolism. Though HIIT has been around a lot time, it’s all the rage lately, with new studios opening up everywhere. But good news: You can accomplish the same activities and fat burn in your local gym! Try group training sessions if available, or build your own workout (more on that below).

How Does it Work?

The best part of incorporating HIIT actually comes after your workout. High intensity interval training raises your resting metabolic rate anywhere between 24-48 hours after you’ve finished your workout. This means you’ll be burning more fat just walking around being you than you would without HIIT in your routine.

This occurs because biologically, we are meant to move two ways: aerobically (traveling long distance on foot) and anaerobically (like sprinting away from danger). Anaerobic training, like HIIT, recruits fat for fuel, leaving us with strong, lean bodies that have healthy hearts, speed, and power.

You don’t need a formal class to put this HIIT training into practice. There are endless timed routines online you can use, or fashion your own featuring many exercises that involve little-to-no equipment.

How to Build Your Own HIIT Routine

  • Always use a dynamic warm-up. This athletic-based warm-up primes the body for movement and helps correct faulty movement patterns.
  • If you plan on doing HIIT on a day you also lift weights, do it at the end of your workout to maximize that fat-burning window. This will also allow you to maintain high energy and good form while lifting.
  • High intensity means high for you. HIIT is meant to push you past your anaerobic threshold, but everyone has to start somewhere. As you near your threshold, you will be out of breathe and unable to carry on a conversation. Your muscles and lungs may feel uncomfortable, but that’s OK. It’s working! If you’re new or concerned, just “touch” on that feeling as opposed to maxing out every time to reap the benefits of regular interval training. Then push yourself more toward HIIT.
  • Make sure to incorporate resistance training using compound movements like push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and kettlebell swings. You’ll get more bang for your buck as these recruit the most muscles and burn the most calories.
  • Varying your intensity on cardio equipment works really well. For example:
    • Stairclimber – 60 sec high speed/60 sec low speed, repeat
    • Bike “Tabata” – 20 sec sprint/10 sec rest, repeat
    • Treadmill Sprints – 40/20 walk/incline walk, walk/jog, or run/sprint
  • Download a HIIT timer on your phone to ping you when it’s time to work, and time to rest!

Example HIIT Workouts

Learn more about High Intensity Interval Training.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Rachel Prairie is ride-or-die trainer chick. From Director of Training to entrepreneur, Rachel now leads a double-life training Anytime Fitness trainers and as Corporate Trainer at Self Esteem Brands in Woodbury, MN. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and she expects the same from her clients: “We hustle harder!” Rachel is a NASM certified personal trainer with a BA in Rhetoric, as well as ACE Kettlebell Level I and Functional Movement Systems (FMS) certified. She is well-versed in empathy, high-fives, eating, lifting weights, hugs, and exploring the great outdoors.