I want people to stop doing exercise they don’t enjoy. If you are doing something you hate, it is not sustainable and it is not fulfilling. Exercise should add something to your life, not subtract from it. HIIT is so flexible, I bet you will find something that you like to do –I give examples below!

What is it?

High Intensity Interval Training. This is a practice where one gets their heart rate up, typically above the anaerobic threshold (meaning you are out of breath or it is hard to talk in sentences) for intermittent periods of time. For instance, one may do 20 seconds of high knees or jumping jacks and then rest for a period of time.

Depending on your own athletic ability and how you want to challenge yourself you can do various work/rest sets. Most common is 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. What’s great about HIIT is that as you get better at it, you can trick your body and change up the intervals.

For one week you could work on 30sec on 25sec off, or 15 on 15 off. Or, mix both into one workout, doing various rounds!

For example:

Circuit 1:

-high knees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers 4 rounds of 30 on, 25 off.

Then continue with Circuit 2:

-burpees, jump roping, kettlebell swings 4 rounds 20 on 20 off.


So where can you go to have a coach or instructor in a group setting involving treadmill programming?

Shred415 in Chicago or St Louis

Barry’s Bootcamp in LA, San Fran, NYC, Nashville, and Boston

These two companies specialize in instructing HIIT on treadmills followed by mobility, strength, and agility exercises on the floor using weights and bodyweight. Most will say that your heart is pumping the entire time during the floor exercises, which makes the lifting more endurance focused rather than strength building; (typically more than 5-7 reps are completed of each exercise which means you are not using the heaviest weights you could possibly handle, thus it is endurance training).

However, for someone who has never lifted weights, these studios will definitely help you build strength. The treadmills are more standard HIIT practice than the floor because they give designated “recoveries.” The floor, on the other hand mixes lifting with some burpees, high knees or jumping jacks (without rest).

Most treadmill work sets include anything  from 20 second sprints to 5 minute work sets at Shred415 of Barry’s Bootcamp. Recovery or rest times vary depending on the work set. If you are working for more than 2 minutes, typically 1 minute of rest is given.

It’s fun because you mix it up; sometimes the instructor has you side-shuffling or back peddling, falling back on the tread and then hustling forward, or sprinting while the treadmill is in dynamic mode (not automatic, you push it to make it go).

Orange Theory

This studio is similar to Barry’s and Shred, but it uses rowing machines in addition to treads, as well as TRX suspension trainers and weights. Also, this studio monitors the heart rates of all the clients on a large reader board, that is connected to each client’s heart rate monitor. This way the clients can make sure their heart rate is in the strategic zone the instructor wants them to be in.

      -Strength and Conditioning facilities

Almost every olympic power lifting, strength coaching, kettlebell or athletic training facility that offers group classes will provide you with great metabolic conditioning. I know of too many to list to list them all.

People will often interchange  these two terms,  HIIT and metabolic training/conditioning, leading to confusion. Basically, both mean the same, you are NOT endurance training; you are doing intermittent sets of work.

“MetCon” or metabolic conditioning classes offered at these strength coaching facilities use ladders, ropes, jump ropes, sleds, kettlebells, Jacob’s Ladders, AeroDyne bikes, or just a sidewalk outside to get clients moving different ways for varying intervals.

What’s important is that the movement feels good and that you enjoy the exercise.

Many box / chain gyms today offer classes that will train or teach in HIIT formats. This is great. Again, because if you are someone that wants to improve your cardiovascular ability, maintain muscle, and have fun in short effective workouts, this type of training for you. You can do a successful HIIT in 15 minutes.

Remember, all HIIT means is that you are doing intermittent sets of work, you can really use anything and do it anywhere!

Are any of the above things appealing to you?

Some HIIT will encourage weight loss due to increased calorie burn, (if paired with a good diet) but it won’t help you build enough strength to do a pull-up. It will not teach you how to clean or squat heavy weights but it will be a fun, short, effective workout.


I like HIIT as a supplement to my strength training. I like to sweat. I like a good challenge.

I also like HIIT because it is efficient. I don’t always have a lot of time, but I enjoy running. Thus, I can go get on my treadmill and do variations of sprints, hills, and mid-distance runs, with added recovery and feel tired out and “spent” after 20-35 minutes depending on the day. Since I began training this way, my distance mile times have vastly improved.

My favorite treadmill workout is us all one that includes 2 minute work sets with 30 recovery times. I hate running on a treadmill for too long, and I like the challenge of a 30 recovery time. It reminds me of track practice in high school. However, because I also advocate working to your weaknesses,  I try and make myself do 4-5 minute hill work sets when I do HIIT as well an sprint two times a week full out.

Example on a treadmill:

0-1min  0% incline jog

1-2       3% incline run

2-3       5% incline hold pace

3-3:30  0% bump speed .5

3:30-4  5% hold pace

5-6 recover

6-6:30 2% incline run

6:30-7 4% incline hold pace

7-8      0% incline SPRINT!

30 sec rest

**Then I continue with higher inclines, (i.e 3&6% then 4&8% then 5&10%— 30 seconds on each level) running up a hill one minute total, then flat road for 1 minute sprinting.

I also enjoy rolling hills, like 30 sec  of 0%, 3%, 0%, 4%, 0%, 5%, 0% 4%, 0% 3%, recover—getting faster each time I am back on a flat road I add .2-.5 on my speed. If you are more advanced you could spend 1 minute on each incline.

If running isn’t your thing, try stationary rowing for a good HIIT sesh.

I like doing a 3 minute rowing warm up, followed by 15s on 15s off, 6 rounds. Followed by 30 on 20 off 6 rounds. I just continue based on how I feel!

The other day I did 30 on 25 off of this circuit after 16 minutes of treads:

30 sec row 25 rest

30 high knees 25 rest

30 mountain climbers 25 rest

6 rounds

15 sec row, 10 sec rest

8 rounds

This type of exercise is one of the most flexible because you can just use your body as a tool inside your home, for example, doing jump lunges, mountain climbers or jumping rope. You can even use P90X videos to have a “coach” at home. You can go outside, or incorporate equipment. You can go to a gym or studio with an instructor, or coach your friend or significant other. IT IS WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO BE. The key, is finding challenging interval periods that push you, and an exercise you enjoy.


A lot of people! I know some body builder guys and girls who use this type of training as a tool to shred down/lean out before competitions because it is so effective at burning calories, while at the same time they can  maintain muscle because the “workout” doesn’t last long enough to wear away the muscles they have worked to gain (always pairing this with diet, of course). Movie stars that need to quickly lose weight will do this, but you have to remember  anyone with a great physique is using this tool WITH something else. Whether a trainer or coach of some sort has them lifting, or doing endurance training, (it depends on the persons end goal) but HIIT isn’t the end all be all tool.

HIIT does boost the metabolism or rev up calorie burn for hours after exercise, and some claim it helps fat loss due to the metabolic improvements (like helping to regulate leptin and insulin).

But don’t forget, IT’S FLEXIBLE. If you run .2 miles, or you run 2 miles of intervals, you are still killing it. You can make it your own and you don’t have to blame yourself for not running very far; you are running “hard.” The key is efficiency, and not over doing anything.

Common misconception:

HIIT can only be done on treadmills or with typical cardio machines.


One of the hardest HIIT workouts I do is with kettlebells. I enjoy double kettlebell swings.

See video example here:


I also enjoy heavy two handed swings. Sometimes I will time myself for 35 seconds, other times, I try and just get 10 swings, rest 15 seconds. It is whatever challenges you. YOU CAN USE WEIGHTS.

You could even just do a squat overhead press (quickly) for 30 seconds. If it gets your heart rate up, it works.

Find something you like to do… squats, swings, push-ups, running, rowing etc. and work hard at it for 10- 45 seconds and then rest. You will be doing something nice with your body.

What end goal does it lead to?

Beyond just getting you off the couch, HIIT at a strength gym, Barry’s or Shred415 or at home is a great for many end goals:

– improve cardio vascular endurance and stamina

-encourages fat loss by its metabolic benefits

-provides cardiovascular work but allows one to maintain muscle

-provides a good challenge for those seeking a “good sweat”

-helps marathon runners improve their mile times

-provides a high overall calorie burn.

Real-life applications:

-chasing children around a park

-playing tag

-being fit for a pick-up basketball game or soccer game.

-skiing steep runs on a mountain.

-Improve overall athleticism.

Side note: HIIT can be added to almost any exercise enthusiasts regime. It is healthy because it has a real-life application. Even bodybuilders should be able to be in shape to take a hike and not get winded. In my opinion, everyone should live their life “hike-ready.” And no, not an 8 mile day hike kind of “ready” but a “one to two hour fun hike” kind of “ready.”

This type of training is sustainable, it is flexible, it is helpful for those wanting an efficient, short workout that is creative; one that  does not encourage injury; and one that is only as intense as the user is ready to for.

What kind of intervals are you going to do?!



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