How To Do High Intensity Interval Training

Learn how to do high intensity interval training (HIIT), why HIIT burns more calories, and how to incorporate HIIT into your training routine.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #56

How To Do High Intensity Interval Training

While there are no special rules for performing a HIIT routine, here are 5 Quick & Dirty Tips to get you started with your interval training:

1) Limit interval length to 2 minutes - If you’re doing one of your hard intervals and you can go longer than 2 minutes, then you probably aren’t exercising hard enough to generate a significant post-exercise calorie burning effect.

2) Go at least as long as 10 seconds - You can do efforts as short as 10 seconds, but remember: the shorter your intervals the more sets you’ll need to do. For example, one HIIT routine I teach in a spin class includes 10 repeats of 10 seconds hard pedaling with 20 second rests, then 8 repeats of 20 seconds with 40 second rests and finally, 6 repeats of 30 seconds with 60 second rests.

3) Beat boredom - You can mix things up during your HIIT routine. For example, do 3 hard efforts on the bike, then go over to the treadmill for 3 more, then move on to the elliptical trainer or rowing machines.

4) Combine with weight training - In Which Workout Burns the Most Fat? I outline a fat-burning routine that includes a weight lifting circuit combined with hard cardio efforts at the end of each weight training exercise. This can be as simple as hitting the gym with a jump rope, and jumping as hard as you can for 30 seconds after each weight training set. If you’re like me, and you look like a spastic Bambi on ice while jumping rope, then just do jumping jacks instead.

5) Recover – Remember, the purpose of HIIT is to allow you to go very hard during your intense intervals, and you won’t be able to do that if you don’t fully recover before each! I recommend at least a 1:2 interval to rest ratio, and up to a 1:4 interval to rest ratio. For example, a 1:2 interval to rest ratio would involve hard 60-second efforts following by easy 2 minute recovery periods. And I’m certain the Math Dude would be proud of our efforts to use ratios.

Now that you know how to do high intensity interval training, it’s time to hit the gym!

If you have a favorite HIIT routine you’ve found, share it with us in Comments or on the Get-Fit Guy Facebook page! I’d love to see the interval routines you’ve done, and help you make your HIIT even more effective!

Spin image from Shutterstock


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.