by: Yuri Elkaim

21 HIIT Workout Examples That Will Get You Lean and Toned

Have you ever skipped the gym because you think doing a fat-burning workout requires spending an hour on the treadmill doing cardio?

I don’t blame you. Who wants to walk or jog nowhere for hours at a time? And for minimal results at that.

Well, I’m here to put an end to your cardio vs. fat-burning vs. time dilemma.

How? By introducing you to the power of a type of training that will have you in and out of the gym in less than 30 minutes. 

And not only that, but you’ll get the fat-burning and muscle-sculpting results you’ve been looking for.

What Is HIIT?

This type of training is called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT.

HIIT workouts consist of alternating between bursts of high-intensity exercise and low-intensity exercise, usually with a ratio of 20 to 30 seconds of intense exercise followed by 15 to 30 seconds of rest or less-intense exercise.

While at first glance HIIT might not look like anything special, once you learn its benefits and fat-melting powers, you’ll want to add it to your workout regimen a couple days a week.

Fat-Burning Benefits of HIIT

More and more studies are pointing to HIIT’s fat-melting benefits.

For instance, HIIT workouts have proven in countless studies to be superior to steady-state cardio when it comes to burning fat. In fact, in one study, HIIT exercisers burned 900 percent more fat than their steady-state cardio counterparts (1).

However, the fat burning doesn’t stop there. HIIT workouts actually help your body burn more calories after your workouts than steady-state workouts. This is another reason they can be so short yet still effective.

The ramp-up in after-workout fat burning is due to a phenomena called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC.

After you do a hard workout, your body has to work extra hard to return your systems to normal: body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and more. That requires extra calories, which is the EPOC effect – for hours post-workout, your body burns up that extra fuel.

Speaking of long-term, HIIT has also been shown to improve glucose tolerance, blood sugar regulation in Type 2 diabetics, and even increase the function of your mitochondria, which are your cell’s energy “powerhouses,” allowing you to fuel your body more efficiently (2, 3, 4).

How to Do HIIT (The Right Way)

Often, when people think of HIIT, they think of speeding up their jog to a run a couple times during their workout, or adding in some other exercise with a slightly higher intensity.

Yes, while a little intensity is better than nothing, true HIIT workouts are not necessarily a jog in the park.

In reality, HIIT workouts done the right way should be intense.

Whether you’re doing a HIIT workout of bodyweight exercises like burpees and mountain climbers, or you opt for interval sprints on a bike or treadmill, you shouldn’t be able to maintain a conversation while you’re doing them.

This means you should be pushing yourself hard during every second of the “intense” or “work” phase of your HIIT workout. Think at least 75 percent of your maximum effort for those 20 to 45 seconds of work.

This way, when your recovery period comes, you’re truly using each of these precious seconds to recover.

HIIT Workout Examples

Now that you’re ready to really push yourself, let’s look at some HIIT workout examples that will blast fat fast.

Don’t forget to warm up your muscles with a 5- to 10-minute dynamic warm-up consisting of light stretching, cardio, and dynamic moves like leg swings before getting your HIIT on.

Check out this post if you need some more ideas for a dynamic warm-up.

1. 10-Minute Treadmill Blast

10-Minute Treadmill Blast via Muscle and Fitness

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner (intermediate and advanced options)
  • Equipment needed: Treadmill
  • Time: 10 minutes

This 10-minute treadmill HIIT is an excellent option if you’re new to interval training. The beginner level of this workout has a work-to-rest ratio that gives your body enough recovery time but still keeps the workout challenging.

Plus, keeping this HIIT at just 10 minutes lets you get used to the feel of “high-intensity” without becoming overwhelmed.

Not sure about sprinting on a treadmill? Check out this video, which will give you an idea about how to do it.

Find the workout here: Muscle and Fitness

2. Total-Body HIIT Workout for Beginners

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: 22 minutes

This total-body HIIT workout combines basic cardio and bodyweight moves you can do anywhere, anytime.

You’ll rotate through exercises that target your legs, glutes, core, and upper body that, combined, will help you feel fitter, fast.

3. The Perfect HIIT Yoga Workout

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner
  • Equipment needed: Yoga mat
  • Time: 20 minutes

While yoga and HIIT might seem like two words that don’t belong in a sentence together, this workout proves otherwise.

Poses like downward dog and chair pose work to tone your entire body, while intense bursts of cardio moves like burpees and jump squats get you a burst of HIIT. Is jumping not for you? Substitute regular squats and still get an awesome workout.

Find the workout here: Health

4. 10-Minute Tone Up Beach Workout

10-Minute Tone Up Beach Workout via Health

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner
  • Equipment needed: Towel or sliders
  • Time: 10 minutes

While this workout is meant to be done on the beach while getting in your daily dose of vitamin D, it can technically be done anywhere.

Using just a towel and the weight of your body, this 5-exercise workout will give you three rounds of total-body toning in the form of intense intervals.

Find the workout here: Health

5. The 12-Minute Leg Workout You Can Do At Home

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: 12 minutes

Think you can’t get in a HIIT workout doing only squats? Think again.

This workout uses nothing but 3 different variations of squats to quickly tone your legs, lift and strengthen your glutes, and get your heart pumping.

6. Take Five

Take-Five via Experience Life

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Sliders
  • Time: 5 to 15 minutes

Technically, you can also take 10, or even 15. That’s because this innovative workout lets you choose between a 5-, 10-, or 15-minute version of intense bodyweight exercises like eccentric pushups and lateral lunges that will have you feeling the burn – fast!

Your goal is to keep pushing and see how many minutes you can get in.

Find the workout here: Experience Life

7. 7 Moves in 7 Minutes

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Kettlebell, dumbbells, bench or box
  • Time: 7 minutes

Short on time, but still want to squeeze in a thorough HIIT workout? This workout drives home the point that 7 minutes is more than enough time to blast fat and build muscle.

Prepare yourself for rigorous intervals using your bodyweight, kettlebells, dumbbells, and the nearest bench.

8. 10-Minute Kettlebell Cardio

10-Minute Kettlebell Cardio via Experience Life

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Kettlebell, dumbbells, bench or box
  • Time: 10 minutes

Using kettlebells for your HIIT workouts is a great way to quickly get your heart rate up when you’re pressed for time.

The aerobic swinging motion combined with the weight of the kettlebell helps to tone your entire body, giving you a full workout in as little as 10 minutes.

Find the workout here: Experience Life

9. Upper Body HIIT

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Dumbbells
  • Time: 9 to 15 minutes

Let’s face it: sometimes you just want to work on building tank-top arms.

This workout delivers, and then some. Thanks to the power of dumbbells, you’ll get your heart rate up while creating a massive burn. In as little as 9 minutes, you’ll work your entire upper body, plus rack up a good dose of fat-blasting cardio.

10. Jump Rope and Abs Interval Workout

  • Level of difficulty: Beginner – Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Jump rope
  • Time: 20 minutes

The jump rope just might be HIIT’s best friend. It’s portable and quickly ups the intensity of any workout. Here, HIIT cardio in the form of jumping rope will help blast away belly fat, while the addition of planks help strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles.

11. Lower Body Blast

Lower Body Blast via Oxygen Mag

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Dumbbells, bench, upright bench, stability ball
  • Time: 20 to 30 minutes

Looking to build your lower body and booty while also getting in some fat-burning cardio?

This workout uses moderate weights to build strength and get your heart pumping. If you want you can use lighter weights or even just your own bodyweight. The sprint finisher at the end leaves no calorie un-torched.

Find the workout here: Oxygen Mag

12. Total-Body Rowing HIIT

Total-Body Rowing HIIT via Oxygen Mag

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: Rowing machine
  • Time: 16 minutes

Sometimes you just need another option for HIIT cardio than the treadmill.

The rowing machine is an excellent choice not only for variety, but also for blasting calories and easily structuring your intervals since you don’t have to adjust your speed dial at every interval.

Plus, unlike a lot of machine-based cardio workouts, the rowing machine helps strengthen your upper body.

This workout describes proper rowing form and offers two options: one workout of just rowing and another that incorporates bodyweight exercise intervals.

Find the workout here: Oxygen Mag

13. Bosu Ball Circuit

Bosu Ball Circuit via Oxygen Mag

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate 
  • Equipment needed: BOSU Balance Trainer
  • Time: 10 to 15 minutes

HIIT meets core stability training in this BOSU circuit.

The BOSU is a domed half-ball that allows you to target your core and stabilizer muscles. In just 10 to 15 minutes – and with just 3 exercises – you’ll get your heart pumping while improving your balance and toning your core.

Find the workout here: Oxygen Mag

14. Step-Up Interval Workout – Lower Body Intensive Option

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced
  • Equipment needed: Bench or box
  • Time: 5 to 10 minutes

This workout incinerates fat by using a combination of high-intensity step-up jumps and lower-intensity regular step-ups on a bench or box.

You can stick with just this option, or scroll down to try out the lower-body intensive option that sculpts your legs and glutes with challenging bodyweight exercises.

15. Interval Workout – Upper Body Intensive Option

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate – Advanced
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: 5 to 10 minutes

This workout is on the same page as the step-up interval workout above, but provides a fat-torching upper-body-focused option instead.

Using only your bodyweight, you’ll move through a variety of challenging moves that help sculpt a toned chest, back, and arms.

16. 20-Minute TRX Back and Core Workout

TRX Back and Core Workout via Oxygen Mag

  • Level of difficulty: Intermediate
  • Equipment needed: TRX straps
  • Time: 20 minutes

Not only is this TRX HIIT workout only 20 minutes long and a fat-blaster, the 5 exercises also work to improve your posture and core strength by counteracting the negative effects of sitting all day (slouching).

Find the workout here: Oxygen Mag

17. “When I Say Jump” HIIT Workout

  • Level of difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: 15 minutes

When did jumping up and down go from “this is so much fun” to “there’s a fire in my muscles”?

I’m convinced this workout had something to do with it.

The combination of plyometric moves and bodyweight exercises in this workout will have your heart rate up in a heartbeat, while having you feeling the burn.

18. The Ultimate Fat-Frying Tabata Workout

  • Level of difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment needed: Dumbbells
  • Time: 30 minutes

Tabata is one of the most intense forms of HIIT, with some experts estimating you can burn up to 14 calories a minute – which obviously depends on how big you are, your sex, and how hard you’re working.

This particular Tabata combines bodyweight with dumbbell exercises in intervals with very little rest, so prepare to chase your breath during this effective workout.

19. Speed Workouts X 3

Speed Workouts X 3 via Experience Life

  • Level of difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: Varies

Sprinting is another form of very intense HIIT that rapidly gets your heart rate up to help melt away fat.

In these workouts, you’re given three sprint workout options with different variations (one uses stairs) and varying lengths. This one also includes a warm-up.

Find the workout here: Experience Life

20. Slay the Spare Tire HIIT Workout

  • Level of difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: 30 minutes

This strength-based HIIT will have your fat quickly melting away. You’ll go through 6 rounds of moves like push-up rows and skier swings, helping strengthen your entire body and reveal those abs you’re working so hard for.

21. One Crazy Workout

  • Level of difficulty: Advanced
  • Equipment needed: None
  • Time: Roughly 15 minutes

This workout takes intensity to the next level with plyometric bodyweight moves (moves that involve jumping) like push-up jacks and power jumps. This type of training is amazingly effective for quickly blasting fat and building total-body strength.

Halfway through this one, you might wonder if you were crazy for trying it. But challenge yourself to keep going, even if you have to swap power jumps for bodyweight squats.

How Often Should You HIIT It?

Keep in mind that HIIT workouts are extremely taxing on the body.

And when it comes to working out this hard, it’s important to make sure you’re getting adequate rest and recovery.

If you’re a beginner, your body may only be able to handle one HIIT workout per week. For everyone else, 2 to 3 times a week on non-consecutive days will be enough to get you results without falling into the trap of overtraining and burnout.

Also, be sure to limit your HIIT workouts to a maximum of 40 minutes, tops.

Chances are if you’re reaching this time limit and can still work out, you’re probably not pushing hard enough during your work intervals.

Say Goodbye to Fat

As you can see, the options for incorporating HIIT into your weekly routine are truly endless and customizable.

All of these options in less than 30 minutes? Wave goodbye to your fat forever.

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Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim

Yuri Elkaim is one of the world’s most trusted health and fitness experts. A former pro soccer player turned NYT bestselling author of The All-Day Energy Diet and The All-Day Fat Burning Diet, his clear, science-backed advice has transformed the lives of more than 500,000 men and women and he’s on a mission to help 100 million people by 2040. Read his inspiring story, “From Soccer to Bed to No Hair on My Head” that started it all.