HIIT: More Effective than Steady State Cardio

So you’re in the gym, ready to commit to your fitness journey for the first time in years; but you have no idea where to start. That’s normal. Most people who walk into a gym have no idea what they’re doing, but hey, half the battle is getting there! So, if you’re there in the first place, I commend you for taking those first steps.

The next step would be, shredding some fat so you can start building some serious muscles. There are so many different “fat loss” regimes out there, it can be hard to know which one to choose, but I find the most effective one to be HIIT workouts. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is impeccable for your heart, metabolism, and shredding body fat. During HIIT workouts you perform a number of short bursts of intense exercise with short recovery breaks in between.

Many people argue that HIIT is better than steady state cardio for many reasons. The first being, the time it requires to complete a HIIT routine is estimated to be 3x shorter on average than steady state cardio. HIIT routines make the ‘I don’t have time excuse’ fly out the window, as you only need 15-30 minutes, AT MOST, to complete the routine. Another reason, is even though you burn fewer calories at that specific moment, HIIT fires up your system and causes you to burn more calories in the hours after your workout; this is called the after-burn effect.  

Below I’ve included 3 different kinds of HIIT circuits. One for beginners, one intermediate level routine, and one advanced level routine as well. Find where you’re comfortable, do that specific routine until you feel it becomes easier, then work up to the harder ones! Always challenge yourself, it’s the only way to grow and improve! Good luck!

 TOTAL BODY HIIT ROUTINE: BEGINNER

Knee Highs:

  • Place your elbows by your side and forearms forward, parallel to the ground.

  • Run in place while lifting your knees high to the level of your waist. *Engage your abs as the knee comes up*

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Lunge Jumps:

  • Stand with your feet together and your knees soft. Jump and come into a lunge with your left leg forward.

  • Push off with both feet, then hop into a lunge with your right leg in front. Repeat.

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Burpees:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a squatting position, placing your hands on the floor in front of you.

  • Kick your feet back so that you are in push-up position.

  • Jump back into the squat position, then jump up. Repeat.

Perform each of these exercises 30 seconds, then follow with 30 seconds of rest. Repeat 3 times for each exercise.

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TOTAL BODY HIIT ROUTINE: INTERMEDIATE

If you have a jump rope, that is a great way to get your heart rate up. If not, sprinting will work just as good. Start the routine by doing either one of these exercises for an intense 30 seconds, rest 15 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.

Plank to Plank Dips:

  • Start by laying on your stomach, then prop yourself up into a forearm plank position. Make sure that your elbows are aligned right under your shoulders and are parallel to each other.  Keep your neck in a neutral position and make sure your spine stays straight. Do not let your hips dip down. Hold the pose for 60 seconds, then without resting; begin 30 seconds of plank dips.

    • Plank Dips: Hold the proper plank form but slowly lower your hips to the right and left then back to middle and repeat.

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Squat Jumps:

  • Start with your feet shoulder width apart, lower yourself into a squat then push up through the balls and heels of your feet, thrusting yourself into the air. Make sure to keep your back and neck straight.

    • PRO-TIP: Find one ‘focus point’ in front of you to look at.

Perform this exercise for 30-45 seconds, then take a 20 second rest. Repeat 3-5 times.

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Lunge to Knee High:

  • Start in a low lunge position with right foot forward, left foot back. In one smooth movement, bring left foot forward and, as you stand on right foot, continue to lift left knee toward chest and hop up on right foot. Land lightly on right foot and immediately slide left foot behind you to return to starting position. Repeat then switch to the other side.

Perform this exercise for 30-45 seconds, then take a 20 second rest. Repeat 3-5 times.

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TOTAL BODY HIIT ROUTINE: ADVANCED

Treadmill Sprints (10% incline, 7 mph – whatever you choose):

  • 20-second full force sprint

  • 10-second recovery

  • Perform 8 sprints total

Burpee Tuck Jumps:

  • Just like a normal burpee (hands to the floor, shoulders over wrists) jump feet back into a high plank, jump feet in; and when you jump up, jump and bring your knees up towards your chest for a tuck jump! Try to get those knees up as high as you can! Make sure when you are doing your plank that your core is engaged and you are snapping those knees up and driving through your hips and legs to get power for the tuck jump.

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Roll Outs:

  • Begin on all fours with your knees and hips aligned, then place your hands on a towel (If you have an Ab roller, even better) directly under the center of your chest. Engage your core and slowly slide your arms as far forward as possible. Hold for a brief second, then slide your arms back to start position.

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Mountain Climbers:

  • Get into plank position

  • Pull one knee up and in toward your midsection

  • Repeat the action with your other knee

  • Continue alternating the movement with both knees

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Bicycles:

  • Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground

  • Put your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in towards your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. DO NOT pull on your neck.

  • Straighten your right leg out to about a 45-degree angle to the ground while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow towards the left knee. Make sure your rib cage is moving and not just your elbows.

  • Switch sides and do the same motion on the other side to complete one rep.

Perform these exercises for one minute, resting 30 seconds in between sets. Repeat 3-5 times.


All in all, HIIT routines are a great way to lose weight and get in shape. Among the many health benefits HIIT routines offer,

  • Improves heart health

  • Boosts weight loss

  • Reduces blood pressure

They are also quick and highly customizable; meaning you can always make them a bit more difficult to challenge yourself! However, HIIT workouts are not easy; listen to your body and know your limits. Concentrate on making gradual progress over time. I have the upmost faith in you, you got this! Good luck!

Daniella Passwaters