Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
According to the queen of HIIT and personal trainer, Kayla Itsines.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “HIIT training” thrown around loads. A bit like running and weight training, it’s one of the most common workouts, with 122,000,000 Google results for the search alone.
Loved by the likes of world-famous PT’s Joe Wicks, Kayla Itsines, and Jillian Michaels, it’s often coined as of the easiest – and quickest – ways to boost your cardiovascular fitness, get a sweat on, and elevate your heart rate. Numerous studies have found HIIT training to not only improve cardiovascular and metabolic health, but also reduce body fat and boost mental health, too.
But, question: what actually is HIIT training, how do you do your own HIIT workout at home, and how do you work out whether it’s the right workout for you? We’ve enlisted the help of globally renowned personal trainer Kayla Itsines to answer all of your HIIT-related FAQ’s.
HIIT training: your complete guide, according to PT Kayla Itsines
What are HIIT workouts?
What, in its most basic form, is HIIT training? According to Itsines, it stands for high-intensity training. “Basically, short, sharp bursts of work followed by rest periods,” she shares. It’s the opposite of LISS training, which stands for low-intensity steady-state training, and refers to low-impact workouts – with no jumping – designed to reduce pressure on your joints, shares the PT.
Lost already? Don’t be. “There are so many different terms it can be super confusing,” shares the trainer. Your need-to-knows: HIIT is just high-intensity training. “It’s a workout that gets your heart rate up, normally in a short, fast, effective – and fun! – way,” she explains. “HIIT sessions are great for so many reasons.”
HIIT training benefits – 4 to know
Most workouts – including lower impact styles, like yoga and Pilates – have a whole plethora of health benefits. But what about HIIT?
1. It’s one of the most effective workouts you can do in a short period of time
That’s right. As we’ve touched on, and as Itsines explains, it’s one of the best workouts for those who lead busy lives but still want to prioritise their health.
“It’s so good for people who are time-poor,” she stresses. Why? Because all you need is ten to fifteen minutes to get a really good sweat session in. Not bad.
2. You don’t need equipment
Similarly, if you’re looking to stay healthy on a budget, HIIT is a great option as you can work out well using only your bodyweight. That’s right – no kit needed.
“It’s also ideal for people who don’t have equipment,” shares the PT.
3. You don’t need big rest periods
Itsines does both HIIT and strength training sessions weekly and points out that, with strength training, you’re required to take bigger rest periods.
“With HIIT, you can just go, go, go,” she explains. “Before you know it, you’re done, and you’ve set yourself up well for the day ahead.”
4. It’s energising
Last but by no means least, HIIT is a real energy booster and has been seen in studies to affect your metabolism. One study concluded that as little as two minutes of HIIT – you read that right, two minutes! – can increase your metabolism as much over the period of a day as 30 minutes of running. Neat.
HIIT exercises – some examples
For Itsines’ style of HIIT training specifically, she explains that you’d pick four exercises, and then you do between 12 and 15 reps of each, for a certain number of rounds.
- Jump squats
- Jump lunges
Take the above four moves and make a circuit. “Try 12 to 15 reps of each for seven minutes straight until you need a break,” recommends Itsines. “After your break, go again and do another four exercises – say leg raises, glute bridges, tuck jumps, and mountain climbers. It’s so easy to put together your own HIIT training workout,” reassures the PT.
1. At home HIIT workout for beginners
2. 14 minute HIIT workout
3. 28 minute HIIT workout
4. 30 minute HIIT workout
5. 30 minute HIIT abs workout
How long should a HIIT workout be?
Good question – and in short, however long (or short!) you’d like. “You can make a HIIT workout seven minutes, ten minutes, thirty minutes – however long you like,” Itsines shares.
The beauty of high-intensity interval training is that because you’re working so hard when you’re on, it is a workout that works your body harder in shorter periods, meaning you have to work out for less time to get a good sweat in.
Top tip: use a timer on your phone or laptop to time your rounds. You’ll also then visually have a reminder of how long you’ve got to go on each round.
How do I know if HIIT training is the right workout for me?
Good question – and one you’ll need to work out for yourself.
“If you need something fast, fun, and effective that they can do at home, at the park, or wherever you are, it’s a great workout,| shares the personal trainer.
However, do note: HIIT isn’t the best workout for anyone who is post-partum, has a heart conditions, is currently injured or recovering from injury, or suffers from sore joints, as it puts strain on your heart and muscles. If you’re post-partum, do speak to your doctor or a qualified professional before returning to work, or else, opt for lower impact sweat sessions, like yoga or Pilates.
Bottom line? “There are so many different styles of training – it’s really about finding that trend style that you love, rather than jumping on the bandwagon,” concludes Itsines. “And really, that applies to your whole life,” she goes on. “From your job, to your friends, to your family – surround yourself with things that you love and that make you happy.”