22 best HIIT workouts for every level

hiit workout
22 home HIIT workouts to get your sweat onFly View Productions - Getty Images

HIIT workout obsessives, have no fear: this trend is in no danger of waning. Over 12k of you Google it monthly, and it's now practised by the likes of Beyoncé and Jessica Alba, but it's been around for a while.

First introduced in 1950, four-time Olympic gold medalist Emil Zatopek (Czeckoslovakian) and other (literal) forerunners used it effectively in their training, but it only garnered more widespread attention and research in the 1970s.

Then, according to the BBC, in 2014 and 2018, HIIT came top of the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) worldwide fitness trends list, and as of 2019, has remained in the top five, so it's safe to say that HIIT is a truly tried and tested, time-efficient way of taking your fitness to the next level.

Read on for everything you need to know, and check out our Women's Health app, available to download on Google Play and from the App Store, for more HIIT workout videos you'll love, from our panel of expert trainers.

What is a HIIT workout?

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is a form of interval training that involves short bursts of super-intense exercise with periods of rest or lower intensity exercise in between. Proven to boost metabolism and build strength, it packs in the same benefits of lower and moderate-intensity aerobic workouts in a much shorter time.

Basically, high-intensity interval training has more impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems.

So, unfurl your exercise mat, dust off your dumbbells (optional) and pick one of the high-intensity workouts below — close your curtains if you’re worried about being seen jumping, tucking, pressing and pushing your way to HIIT-fitness — and get stuck in!

Benefits of a HIIT workout

According to a study released by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the benefits of a HIIT workout include:

  • improved aerobic and anaerobic fitness, as mentioned above: aerobic means exercise involving oxygen, like cardio, while anaerobic doesn't use oxygen, and can include weightlifting and sprinting

  • improved insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and lipid profiles (levels of cholesterol and other fats in your blood)

  • improved blood pressure

  • increased post-exercise metabolism

  • enhanced weight loss

  • reduced abdominal and subcutaneous fat (below the skin, this is visible fat that you can feel or see - if you can pinch it, it's subcutaneous)

  • increased exercise adherence (sustaining an exercise habit)

HIIT significantly reduced body fat and waist circumference, a study at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, found.

Another study carried out at institutions including Hacettepe University, Turkey and Beijing Sport University found that HIIT workouts also improved mood and decreased feelings of depression and anxiety; lowered risk of cardiovascular disease; reduced instances of osteoarthritis; relieved lower back pain; and lowered risk of type 2 diabetes.

Finally, HIIT workouts were more efficient at increasing VO2 max - the maximum amount of oxygen your body can take in and use during exercise when you're working at 100% of your capacity - than lower-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise, a study led by research at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences, PRI, showed.

Another study led by the University of Macau found that participants who performed 20-minute HIIT workouts 4 days a week for 5 weeks improved their oxygen consumption by 9%.

Why is a HIIT workout good for beginners?

A HIIT workout is good for beginners because, according to PureGym, they are easy to incorporate into a daily routine as they are quick and take little time to complete. Some beginner HIIT workouts also only include a few, or simple moves - like workouts 2, 3 and 5 below - meaning that they'll be really manageable and easy to follow. It's a mental thing, too: if you find the idea of exercise daunting, thinking of pushing yourself for just 20 seconds seems doable over going continuously for say, 40 minutes.

5-minute HIIT workouts

Even if you're short on time, a quick at-home workout (see: micro-HIIT workouts, which can be anything from 3-20 minutes) can blow off steam and boost your metabolism .

Not convinced? Let's talk Tabata training. Discovered by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of fitness researchers, their studies showed that if you push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds — we're talking flat-out — and rest for 10 seconds, repeatedly for four minutes, you actually make better fitness gains than half-arsing around on your mat for an hour.

As with many things in life it comes down to quality over quantity. *Mic drop*

1.Cardio HIIT workout

A quick burst of movement to fire you up with energy and endorphins. Tag onto the end of a workout or perform alone. Just make sure to work hard during the 'on' periods – it's only five minutes, after all!

Duration: 5 minutes

Equipment: None

2. 5-minute beginner HIIT workout

Perfect for beginners, this mega-short HIIT workout is only five exercises long and you'll be working for 40-seconds with 20-seconds rest in between each one. It's comprehensive, with handy timers counting to each breather, so you can go at your own pace!

Duration: 5 minutes

Equipment: None

3. HIIT circuit workout

It's only five minutes long, but don't let that fool you – it's still a hard HIIT workout. From skaters to side-climbers (a variation of mountain climbers), you'll repeat a five-move circuit twice through for a properly good sweat sesh.

Duration: 5 minutes

Equipment: None

4. 30-20-10 bodyweight HIIT workout

Another Bowflex goodie, this HIIT workout session combines moderate-intensity exercises with high-intensity exercises for a proper cardio burn. Ending up a sweaty mess = guaranteed.

Duration: 5 minutes

Equipment: None

10-minute HIIT workouts

5. 10 minute Body Coach HIIT workout: Joe Wicks

If you're looking for a lightning-quick and easy-to-follow HIIT sesh from the King of HIIT, look no further. Five exercises repeated four times, working for 20 seconds on with 10 seconds rest, plus Joe's good-humoured pepping up. 10 minutes doesn't sound long, but it'll burn. Trust us.

Duration: 10 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

6. 10 minute HIIT workout for beginners

No matter where you are in your fitness journey, this workout is a must. Suitable for beginners and those who count burpees to fall asleep, this short HIIT blast will fire up your muscles and get your blood pumping. Want more HIIT workouts for beginners? Just take your recovery break sooner, then join into the next exercise.

Duration: 10 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

7. Full body HIIT workout

Emi Wong's full-body HIIT workout will help you lose fat, tone up and increase your cardiovascular fitness – all from the comfort of your own home! Expect jumping jacks, side plank rotations, half-burpees and a good ol' forehead sheen to boot.

Duration: 10 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

15-minute HIIT workouts

8. 15-minute HIIT workout for busy parents

Designed specifically for women, and in particular new mums, this 15-minute HIIT workout is a life- and time--saver. You'll be moving through eight exercises in circuits of 15 and 10 reps. Challenging, but doable.

Duration: 15 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

9. Full body HIIT Workout with Heather Robertson

She's the PT YouTube loves and she does not take any prisoners when it comes to home workouts. Heather Robertson's speedy HIIT session targets every major muscle group in the body to burn fat and tone lean muscle. Make sure to give it everything you've got left in the tank!

Duration: 15 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

10. 15-minute cardio HIIT workout

Thanks to Nourish Move Love, getting in a quick-HIIT workout at home has never been easier. With a mix of bodyweight strength exercises and cardio exercises, you'll work hard while building strength. But beware, there's no rest between exercises, so go at your own pace. If you can't keep up, just slow down to a rhythm you can maintain.

Duration: 15 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

20-minute HIIT workouts

11. 20 minute HIIT workout with Krissy Cela

A bonafide fitness superstar, PT Krissy Cela is ready to torch some serious cals in this short HIIT workout. You'll be working for one minute at a time with a short rest between intervals, so make sure to keep an eye on the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to see what's coming up next.

Duration: 20 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

12. HIIT cardio workout

If you need a HIIT workout that can be modified for different skill levels – perhaps you're working out with a housemate or family member — then this is for you. Two instructors, one demonstrating the easier modification and one doing the more challenging modification, so you can scale based on your ability. Gotta love that inclusivity.

Duration: 20 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

30-minute HIIT workouts

13. 28-minute dumbbell HIIT with Melissa Mussington

Build strength and mobility top to toe with a full-body dumbbell workout designed to get you sweaty and strong. The best. Melissa will take you through two rounds of two circuits which consist of three exercises each. Make sure to stick around for the cool-down stretch at the end – WH's orders.

Duration: 30 minutes

Equipment: Dumbbells

14. Total body HIIT workout with MarC

This HIIT workout will build strength throughout your whole body while pushing your heart rate up and burning fat. MarC is mega-strong, so don't be put off if you can't do all the moves and modify as you need to.

Duration: 30 minutes

Equipment: Some weights needed

15. 30-minute beginner HIIT workout with Alice Liveing

Getting into exercise and not sure where to start? Women's Health Collective trainer Alice Liveing's HIIT workout for beginners is the perfect place. The workout is made up of five movements that are performed for 30 seconds followed by 20 seconds rest. Eyes on Alice for perfect form tips and listen out to her verbal cues to know when to change move. You can do it!

Duration: 31 minutes

Equipment: None

16. 30-minute full-body HIIT workout at home: Heather Robertson

Get ready for an intense and varied HIIT workout with 28 different bodyweight exercises in 30 minutes. You'll be kept on your toes, FOR sure.

Duration: 30 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

17. 28-minute HIIT home workout with Krissy Cela

Krissy's got you covered with a sculpting circuit-based HIIT session. Each circuit is five minutes long and you'll have to complete as many rounds of the exercises as you can in that time. Short chunks of high exertion followed by rest, what more could you want? (Probably some water, actually.)

Duration: 28 minutes

Equipment: No equipment

18. 30-minute no-repeat HIIT workout at home: Heather Robertson

30 moves in 30 minutes keeps this workout interesting and challenging. Using weights to up the burn, follow Heather for a super-sweaty sculpting sesh.

Duration: 30 minutes

Equipment: 5lb, 10lb and 25lb set of weights

40+-minute HIIT workouts

19. Low impact HIIT with Gabby Allen

She's the Fiit trainer (and former Love Island star) you love and Gabby Allen has something slightly different than the usual HIIT session for you: A low impact session that's easy on your joints and downstairs neighbours. Expect no jumping or explosive movements, but to still work hard. Low impact doesn't mean low intensity, after all...

Duration: 37 minutes

Equipment: None

20. Pilates HIIT with Pilates PT Hollie Grant

This session is a unique combination of dynamic mat Pilates and HIIT to improve your cardio fitness, build strength and definition, and improve posture in one super-challenging workout. Stellar.

Duration: 47 minutes

Equipment: None

21. Booty Build & Shred HIIT Workout with Anna Victoria

Burn fat and build strength with tough love mega-trainer, Anna Victoria. Expect to see some of her signature booty-focused moves in this HIIT workout, designed to build lean muscle and increase anaerobic capacity.

Duration: 37 minutes

Equipment: None

22. 45-minute Jive HIIT home workout with Dianne Buswell

If you'd like to switch up your regular HIIT with something more dance-y, get around this Jive HIIT workout with Strictly professional Dianne Buswell. She'll get you stepping and moving (and sweating, obv!), in no time.

Duration: 45 minutes

Equipment: None

How many days a week should I do HIIT workouts?

Most HIIT workout schedules are structured around 2-4 sessions per week, depending on fitness level and desired result.

The workouts are short, but don't forget the importance of rest days and watch out for signs your body needs a breather:

  • Finding it hard to wake up

  • Irritability

  • Low motivation

  • Lack of concentration

  • Higher stress levels than usual

  • Having a hard time falling and staying asleep

  • Sustaining injuries - even a niggle

What are the best HIIT exercises?

As you've seen, most HIIT workouts will feature heart-rate raising moves, such as jump squats, burpees, commandos, planks, mountain climbers and tuck jumps. These aerobic HIIT exercises are often completed for 20-40 second intervals with short rests in between before it all starts again. Phew!

While there is no one exercise that's the best HIIT exercise, making sure you work to your full capability during the 'on' periods will mean you reap the maximum reward.

It's a gas-on, gas-off way of exercising, so when the gas is on it should really be on. You're working harder, but overall it's a much shorter period of time, so make it count!

10 HIIT exercises to add to your next workout

1. Burpees

Targets: glutes, quads, calves, core, shoulders, chest, triceps

a) Crouch down, feet just further than shoulder-width apart and hands on the floor

b) With your body weight in your hands, kick both feet out behind you, resting on the balls of your feet.

c) Jump forward and propel your body up in one swift move, landing in a standing position.

2. Commandos

Targets: core, back, shoulders, chest, arms, glutes, quads, calves

a) Get in a press-up position with hands flat on the ground.

b) One hand at a time, lower yourself onto your forearms and hold a plank position.

c) Raise yourself back into a press-up position and repeat.

3. Mountain climbers

Targets: shoulders, hamstrings, core, triceps, quads, core

a) To start with, get down into a high plank, keeping your back straight and your head in line with your spine. Your hands should be directly beneath your shoulders, your arms fully extended and your fingers facing forward, slightly spread apart.

b) From this position, you’ll be working your upper and lower abs. Now pump your knees toward your chest one at a time, trying not to rock your torso from side to side. Breathe through it.

Best to avoid if: You’re pregnant or suffer from lower back pain, especially if you can’t keep your spine neutral throughout the exercise.

4. Runner's lunge

Targets: quads, glutes, core

a) From standing, step back into a reverse lunge with your left leg.

b) Push through your right heel to come back to standing, following through with your left leg to raise it in front of you at 90-degrees.

c) Repeat.

5. Walkout

Targets: glutes, shoulders, triceps, chest, core, hamstrings

a) Place your feet flat on the floor, your hands close to your feet, and you’ll feel your hamstrings stretch.

b) Next, walk your hands away from your legs, keeping your legs straight as you move forward until you’re in a high plank position.

c) Then, walk your hands back towards your feet.

6. Walkout with push-up

Targets: glutes, shoulders, triceps, chest, core, hamstrings

a) Place your feet flat on the floor, your hands close to your feet, and you’ll feel your hamstrings stretch.

b) Next, walk your hands away from your legs, keeping your legs straight as you move forward until you’re in a high plank position.

c) Perform a push-up, returning to high plank position.

d) Walk your hands back towards your feet and repeat.

7. Speed skaters

Targets: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, core

a) Cross your left leg behind your right and lower into a half‑squat, your right arm out to the side, and left arm across your hips.

b) Quickly hop to the left, switching legs and arms.

Try to keep up the pace but if you find balancing difficult, slow the movement down until you feel steady.

8. High knees

Targets: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves

a) Stand straight, with your arms bent at 90°, elbows tucked into your sides, palms facing the floor.

b) Run on the spot as fast as you can. Each time lift your leg high enough so your hand slaps the top of your thighs. Get those knees up!

9. Air squat

Targets: thighs, hamstrings, quads, glutes

a) Standing with feet hip-width apart hinge at the knees to come into a squat position – making sure your knees track over your toes and don't extend past.

b) With the weight in your heels push back up to standing, squeezing your glutes at the top.

10. Jump squat

Targets: glutes, quads, hips, hamstrings

a) Lower down into a squat position with your feet hip-width apart.

b) Powerfully explode upwards by pushing through your heels and using your glutes to jump. Try to extend your legs fully at the top of the jump.

c) Land in a squat position and repeat.

Want a HIIT workout plan?

For a longer plan, may we suggest our exclusive to WH four-week HIIT plan, designed by PT Gauri Chopra. You won't need any equipment, just a yoga mat, a water bottle and commitment to the short, effective workouts three times a week.

four week home hiit plan
four week home hiit plan


Check out our Women's Health app, available to download on Google Play and from the App Store, for HIIT workout videos you'll love.

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