Reader’s Request: “HIIT Me Baby…

One more time!

My cardiooooo is killin’ meeee

I must confess I need a new routine

(new routine)”

Ok I’ll stop now. But you should have seen the dance moves 😉

For today’s reader’s request, I thought it would be fun to focus on HIIT training, because they thing is, a LOT of people know what it is, but finding a way to incorporate it into your schedule and use if effectively can be the tricky part.

A quick HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) review:

HIIT training consists of short blasts of maximum effort, followed by recovery periods. You can perform HIIT on a variety of cardio equipment at the gym, or through plyometrics at home (such as jumping). HIIT training has been shown to quickly burn fat (shrink fat cells) more quickly than low-intensity cardio and increases aerobic and anaerobic endurance.


Anaerobic Energy System

    Anaerobic literally means "Without oxygen." The anaerobic energy system is what provides energy in all out efforts of up to 1 minute. For the first ~10-15 seconds, the phosphate pool is used up and after that, glycolysis and lactic acid are involved in the effort.

    During 10-15 second bursts, there is a very small amount of lactic acid produced and rest periods of 30 seconds to a minute will provide complete recovery of the Adenosine Triphosphate-Creatine Phosphate (ATP-CP) system. During efforts of more than 10-15 seconds, a large amount of lactic acid is produced and such efforts are extremely taxing on both the athlete’s muscles and their Central Nervous System (CNS).

 Aerobic Energy System

    Aerobic literally means "with oxygen." This energy system is utilized during prolonged exercise over a period of at least 3-4 minutes. As long as there is enough oxygen to provide energy, the fatigue that you experience will remain at a low level.

    This is the reason why many track and field athletes train at higher altitudes where there is less oxygen. By training at high altitudes, they can increase the number of red blood cells which will help them to perform for a longer period of time with little to no fatigue throughout.


HIIT training also has a high afterburn effect, so you burn more calories throughout the day.

Bella is a HUGE fan of HIIT!

(Sorry for the poor video quality- it was taken via iPhone at the dog park)

She loves to sprint with the big dogs, recover and repeat 🙂

Around 4 years ago, when I first learned the glory of HIIT, my trainer made the mistake of failing to tell me how often to incorporate it into my routine. So naturally, I did it every day. My body was sore and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting stronger. A quick Google search let me know that HIIT should NOT be done every day, but rather a few times (max) each week.

-Frequency: HIIT only needs to be done 2-3 times a week, on non-consecutive days. While cardio can be performed every day, it’s important to remember that we’re using our heart to maximum capacity. Our heart is the most important muscle in our body, and just like our biceps and other muscles we train, it needs time to rest and recover, too. By allowing ourselves to rest in between HIIT training days with lower-intensity or steady state cardio days, we allow higher fitness gains to occur. HIIT training will make you a stronger, faster athlete and also makes regular cardio sessions feel much easier.

-Mode: As I said before, HIIT can be done in a variety of ways: on the spin bike, treadmill, elliptical, stairmaster, running on the track, jump-roping or through plyometric moves (like burpees, vertical jumps, anything that will get the heart rate up very quickly). A fun way to change up your HIIT routine is through exploring a different mode, or checking out a HIIT-based DVD, such as TurboFire.


Bonus: you can do it anywhere 🙂

-Intensity: The idea behind HIIT is that you want to go balls to the wall for a short burst (30 seconds to 1 minute) and recover. Lather, rinse, repeat. My favorite interval set is 30 seconds on, 1 minute 30 seconds off, but find the best set that works for you. You may find that you like 45 seconds on, 2 minutes off, 30 seconds on, 2 minutes off, etc—play around and see what set you like best. If you get to the point where a certain set starts to feel easy, try increasing the amount of “go” time, or decreasing the amount of recovery time.

-Duration: HIIT workouts are SHORT workouts! 15-20 minutes of work is all you need. As with all workouts, make sure to sandwich the HIIT part in between a warm-up, cool down and juicy stretch session.

Some more tips:

-Wearing a heart rate monitor is an excellent tool for HIIT training. This way, you can make sure your heart rate has come down before going for the next interval set. You may find that you need more time to recover in between sprints, which is totally cool. A heart rate monitor can be your guide. If you don’t have one, go by the “talk test.” If you can fully speak a sentence after recovering (without gasping for breath), you’re ready to go again.

-If you’re going at HIIT training al fresco or without cardio equipment to use the clock, investing in an interval timer can be worth your while. You can set it to vibrate, beep mode and clip it to your tank or sports bra.

I love the Gymboss (pink!) interval timer 🙂

jump rope

-Haven’t tried HIIT before? Make sure to talk with a doc or trainer in your area to see if it’s a good *fit* for you 🙂

Hope this helped a little!

Off to do the work thang 🙂

See ya later friends.



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  1. samantha @ fresh n fit on June 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I love HIIT for when I don’t have tons of time but still want a great workout. It totally gets my HR up quickly!

  2. Monika @ Powered by Paprika on June 16, 2011 at 10:45 am

    I’ve never heard of HIIT- but will try it SOON! 🙂

  3. Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me on June 16, 2011 at 10:46 am

    I absolutely love HIIT workouts! I sweat like a pig and it’s super short.

  4. Amanda @ ImagineAmandaJean on June 16, 2011 at 10:47 am

    This was the perfect time for you to post this! I just got into the BodyRock workouts and am definitely interested in learning more about HIIT. It is so challenging, and I can feel the effects working on my body long after the workout. Thanks for the great info!

  5. Dani on June 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

    So is it not safe to follow a program like Insanity or p90x where you do HIIT 6 days a week? I tried it and it makes you so sore that you almost have to take a day off here and there just to prevent injury.

    Gymboss has a free iphone app! I use it for workouts in hotel gyms when I’m travelling.

    • Kara on June 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

      i have the same question. i did Jillian’s 30 Day Shred and am now on week 4 of her Ripped in 30 program and am planning on moving onto TurboFire when i’m done. Jillian suggests you do hers everyday (i think? or at least almost everyday) and i generally take 1-2 days off per week and/or do something else (yoga, bike, walk, etc.) instead. but how should these types of programs really be done then?

      • April @ Grits and Granola Bars on June 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

        In regards to the 30 Day Shred, I’ve always wondered if people actually do it every day. I’ve never completed it mostly because after like three days in a row of it I’m so sore that I don’t want anything to do with it, haha

        • vicky on June 16, 2011 at 2:22 pm

          Does 30 day shred qualify as HIIT?

          • Fitnessista on June 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

            i’ve never tried shred so i’m not sure. is it 1 dvd? i don’t think it would be a good idea to do the same dvd every day

          • alicia on June 16, 2011 at 9:18 pm

            I did the 30 day shred “challenge” and yes, it was every day! I did lose a lot of weight, mostly because it was my first time getting active after being sedentary. But, I agree you should take 1-2 days off with the shred. I would consider it HIIT myself, you do cardio for 1 minute and then weights and abs for about 4 min, so it’s longer “off” time, but you are getting your hr up and then cooling down.

  6. Holly @ The Runny Egg on June 16, 2011 at 10:49 am

    I love seeing people do HIIT workouts on the treadmills at my gym — I swear people stop to watch them because they are going so fast that they are about to fly off the treadmill!

  7. Natalie @ Will Jog For Food on June 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Love this post! I need to incorporate more HIIT. I just got Turbo Fire too…I think I’ll be incorporating that a couple times a week 🙂

  8. suzi on June 16, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Bella is a beast, lol!

    HIIT is awesome, it’s crazy how you can get wiped out in a super short HIIT workout compared to an hour long traditional workout!

  9. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on June 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Great post Gina!! I love HIIT, especially in contrast to longer, less intense cardio sessions. I still want to try TurboFire after your rave reviews!

  10. ellalinea on June 16, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Such a great post gina! I will try to incorporate more HITT when I don’t have a lot of time..

    If you should apply this to running.. Should you sprint for 30 seconds and then rest for 1.30 min?

    • Michelle on June 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      Running is my favorite method for HIIT. Personally, I like to run REALLY fast (for me…like a 9.0 on the treadmill with a slight incline) for 30 seconds and then walk on a little incline (4.0 on the treadmill) for 90 seconds

  11. Suzanne on June 16, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Thanks so much for this post! It was really helpful and informative! When I’m not training for an event and there’s no good cardio class to take, HIIT is my go-to form of cardio. I love that I can get a great, sweaty workout in and be done in 20 minutes or less!

  12. Theresa on June 16, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Loved this post! I’ve been doing HIIT for a few weeks now (stairmaster) and love it – hurts so good!..But I never knew all the behind-the-scenes info! I only happened to be doing it a few times a week :). And I love that Bella can play with the big dogs! When the clip started playing, my doggities went crazy from the barking haha!

  13. The Teenage Taste on June 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Yes, I started to incorporate HIIT into my routine a few months ago and I love it! It’s a great workout and never fails to get my heart pumping and my body sweating. I like to do HIIT on the treadmill!

  14. Allison @ Food For Healing on June 16, 2011 at 10:58 am

    i like HIIT training, its killer and effective. It definitely beats slumpin’ along on the treadmill. it gets your heartrate up and moving fast!

  15. BIOCHEMISTA on June 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Do you have any links to HIIT workouts you can do at home? Thanks dear 🙂

  16. Cat on June 16, 2011 at 11:01 am

    For more info on “afterburn” you can research EPOC:

  17. Cait @ UrbanFencepost on June 16, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Wow, Bella is fast! She has no problem keeping up with the bigger dogs. My puppy (a Basenji) does what we call the “Basenji 500” that is totally like HIIT too – a crazy fast lap around the house, rest, another lap…. I love HIIT for days I’m short on time. Totally kicks my booty.

  18. Gina @ Running to the Kitchen on June 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

    HIIT is the only thing that keeps me sane on a treadmill. Love it!

  19. Tori (Fresh Fruition) on June 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I love that it can be done anywhere! Great for someone who doesn’t have a car to get to the gym 😉

  20. Allison on June 16, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I love doing hiit! I rarely do cardio since lifting heavy gets my heart rate up enough! But i love to run intervals on the treadmill a few times a week. I do a few minute warm up and then switch off with 1 minute at 11 mph and then a 1minute at 4 and do that for 10-15 minutes:)

    I also love bodyrock:) Ive done those workouts for over a year and a half and it makes me happy for them that so many people have finally discovered it!!

  21. Krystina (Organically Me) on June 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Do you know of any HITT workouts that can be found online?

    • Amanda on June 17, 2011 at 9:14 am

      Hi Krystina – check out (as Allison mentioned above). I recently started doing those HIIT workouts, and absolutely love (most of) them. They’re quick, simple, and will kick your butt!

      • Fitnessista on June 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

        they’re AMAZING

  22. Ginna on June 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

    There’s a great app for the iPhone called seconds that’s an HIIT timer. You can add your music to certain intervals, etc. Also gives you several preloaded interval sessions as well as capability to make your own. It’s pretty awesome!

  23. Allison on June 16, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Hi! I’ve been a long-time reader, but this is my first time commenting. I just started incorporating HIIT into my workouts about two weeks ago. Trouble is, you are only supposed to do it 2-3 times a week, and I only work out about 3-4 times a week. Is it ok if all my exercise consists of HIIT as long as I am taking days off inbetween?

    Thanks for all the wonderful information you post on this site!

  24. Ashley @ Thefitacademic on June 16, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    I love HIIT but I haven’t done it nearly enough in the past. This post is good timing because just this week I started really trying to dedicate myself to it and even though I’ve done every other day, I STILL think it may be too much for me right now…my muscles are VERY sore and after reading this I think I may have been pushing myself too hard without enough recovery time between HIIT sessions!

  25. Andrea @ Onion in My Hair on June 16, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Oh my gosh – this is such perfect timing! I wanted to do an outdoor HIIT workout on Sunday. Thank you!

  26. Lauren @ Sugar Coated Sisters on June 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I love HIIT!!! I usually do treadmill HIIT (did it this morning wahoo!)

    If you only have 15 minutes to spare I totally recommend this little combo: covering 2 miles in 15 minutes

    HIIT, to me, is the best tempo run for long distance training. Posted about that on the blog too

    Sorry don’t mean to do so much pluggin’ I just LOVE LOVE LOVE them they are SO EFFECTIVE!!

    That’s how my 1/2 marathon time went from 2:15 to a 1:35 (over the course of a couple years 😉 of course )

  27. Liz on June 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I love HIIT routines-interval sprints on the treadmill, Insanity workouts, or a fun mix with high knees, mountain climbers…etc. In fact, I just posted some information today at…great minds think alike!

    Great review…thanks for the reminder to limit the workouts to 3-4 Xs per week…I love the level of intensity and the challenge but need to remember to give my body a recovery day in between by do a lower-level intensity (steady) routine.

    Have a wonderful day!


  28. Gina (Yogattude) on June 16, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    I love HIIT! Thanks for the reminder to add it back into my routine…I’m not sure why I ever stopped!

  29. Cait @ Beyond Bananas on June 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    HIIT workouts are my favorite.. it makes cardio go by so quickly.. because everything is changing !:)

  30. Moni'sMeals on June 16, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Great post! I love HIIT, I do it, I preach it, I believe in it. It is the way to go especially when trying to break a plateau or SWTICH THINGS UP like you said.

    Loved Bella! AWESOME!

  31. lisa on June 16, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Okay– so I just had a flashback to the video of you doing Turbofit (or a different vid- can’t remember) and the camera suddenly flipping over to the pilot doing it– you two are so cute together!

  32. kaila @ healthy helper! on June 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for this Gina! What are some of your fave hiit workouts?

  33. Laura @ prettylittlewords on June 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Bahahah — the Bella video had me cracking up!! That was too funny!!

  34. Meg (The Healthy Verdict) on June 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    This was so helpful!! I’ve been wanting to start incorporating more HIIT into my routine but still wasn’t 100% sure how to do it/ what it was. Loved this post!

  35. Kelly on June 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I love HIIT workouts. You should check the apps on your smart phone. Some of them have a tabata timer that is free. I also love bodyrock workouts. Intense!!

  36. Lindsay Loves Veggies on June 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I like to do HIIT runs, but it always seems so difficult to do when I’m running outside, rather than on a treadmill, where I can just increase the speed on the treadmill for each interval. Any tips for HIIT without machines?

  37. Leanne (Bride to Mrs.) on June 16, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    That video of Bella is soooo funny! She’s so cute! Thanks for this information about HIIT. I’ve heard so many bloggers talk about doing HIIT routines but didn’t ever really get it.

    Ps. last night I was eating butter chicken and then I realized it was wednesday… and then I got super excited that I was officially partaking in indian food wednesday! haha!

  38. Rachel on June 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I did Turbo Fire this morning, perfect post for today!

  39. Katie on June 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I did that when I was trying to lose weight! It’s highly effective for fat burning. Dogs are great role models for most fitness things are’t they?

    • Fitnessista on June 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm

      they are! they stretch way more than we do too 🙂

  40. Amy on June 16, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Great post, thanks for all the informative tips! I’m going to try a HIIT workout on a stationary bike this afternoon. Can’t wait to SWEAT!
    P.S. Bella is fast!!! haha perfect video for this post! 🙂

  41. Colleen @ The Lunchbox Diaries on June 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Ohh I love this post! I love HIIT workouts, but I didn’t know that you should only do them 2-3 times per week. Good to know! 🙂

  42. Jen on June 16, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    I looooove HIIT training…TurboFire being my fave! I do it 3 times a week on my weight training days.

  43. Jessica @ brighteyesandbushytales on June 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    LOLed @ the britney 🙂 I love HIIT! Very efficient workouts.

  44. Alicia F. on June 16, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Love it! Thanks for posting! 😀

  45. Allie Q @ Fit Geek on June 16, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I love HIIT. Much more interesting for me than doing steady state cardio. Sprints are awesomely brutal.

  46. Christine @ Bookishly Boisterous on June 16, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I agree- interval training is great. I do it once or twice a week with running or cycling and have seen a difference.

  47. Courtney on June 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    How did you know that I was just wondering about HIIT today?!? Thanks for reading my mind! I think this will help me really crank my workouts up a notch.

  48. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga on June 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Ok I am not a true HIIT girl just b/c I have never really followed any specific programs but I think the way I work out naturally is along those lines. Pretty much just push myself to the enth degree, then back off a bit, then push again til I feel like I just might die. lol And then back off.

    Have a great day, Gina!

  49. Sable@SquatLikeALady on June 16, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    WOW I am shocked that you were ABLE to do HIIT that many times a week! Ha I would DIE…like literally just fall apart. HIIT is my cardio of choice…I like to get in, get out and get on with life 🙂

  50. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on June 16, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I’m such a creature of habit – I tend to do the same kinds of workouts, including runs, regularly. I’ve never tried HIIT, although now I want to try it! It looks like a booty kicker!

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