Your complete HIIT programme

Health Adviser at Bupa UK
14 June 2017

It might be the workout of choice for David Beckham and Hugh Jackman, but you don't need to be a celebrity to benefit from HIIT.

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. In a nutshell, that means short bursts of intense activity, which you do repeatedly. The fast and furious nature of this training means it’s ideal if you’re someone who struggles finding time to exercise, even if you’re a beginner.

A group using weights in an exercise class

If you’d like to give HIIT training a go, you’ll find a complete three-step HIIT programme below which you can follow over time. We’ve got three videos for you to try: beginner, intermediate and advanced. You’ll also find some safety tips and more information on the health benefits of HIIT.

Beginner: Get going!

Start with this low-impact HIIT routine. It’s ideal if you’re new to HIIT, or if you’re returning to exercise after recovering from an injury.


Cycling

Activity: Sprint for 30 seconds
Rest: Stop cycling, or cycle slowly for 15 seconds
...and repeat: complete four sets of this exercise

Walking down press up

Activity: Do as many walking down press ups as you can in 20 seconds
Rest: For 10 seconds
...and repeat: Complete four sets of this exercise

Squat thrusts

Activity: Do as many squat thrusts as you can in 20 seconds
Rest: For 10 seconds
...and repeat: Complete four sets of this exercise

Squat press

Activity: Do as many squat presses as you can in 30 seconds
Rest: For 15 seconds
...and repeat:
Complete four sets of this exercise

You can repeat these four exercises to create a 20-minute low-impact HIIT routine.

Intermediate: Keep going

Once you’ve built up some experience of HIIT and a good level of fitness, try this intermediate workout. However, it’s not recommended if you have a back, shoulder or knee injury.

Treadmill sprints

Activity: Sprint for 30 seconds
Rest: 15-second recovery
... and repeat: complete eight sets of this exercise

Mountain climbers

Activity: Do as many mountain climbers as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

Burpees

Activity: Do as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

Kettlebell deadlifts

Activity: Do as many kettlebell deadlifts as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

Barbell bent-over row

Activity: Do as many barbell bent-over rows as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

These five exercises make a great 20-minute HIIT workout.

Advanced: Push it to the next level

When you’re experienced at HIIT and have a moderate-to-high level of fitness, try this advanced routine. As with the intermediate workout above, you should avoid this if you have a back, shoulder or knee injury.

Rower sprints

Activity: 20-second sprint (drive power from the legs)
Rest: Row slowly for 40 seconds
... and repeat: Complete six to eight sets of this exercise

Spider push-up

Activity: Do as many spider push-ups as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

Burpee star jumps

Activity: Do as many burpee star jumps as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

Reverse lunge

Activity: Do as many reverse lunges as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: For 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

Clean and press

Activity: Do as many as possible in 30 seconds
Rest: Rest for 20 seconds
... and repeat: Complete five sets of this exercise

These five exercises make a great 20-minute HIIT workout.

To follow the advanced video above, you’ll need access to a rowing machine, a weighted barbell and kettlebells. But if you don’t have this equipment at home or at your gym, there are ways to adapt the advanced HIIT routine:

  • Instead of doing rower sprints using a rowing machine, sprint on the spot for 20 seconds and then rest for 40 seconds. Repeat this six to eight times.
  • Invest in some hand weights for the reverse lunges. Or if you don’t have weights, swap this exercise for split jumps.
  • If you don’t have use of a barbell, swap the clean and press exercise for explosive squat jumps. As an alternative, you could do regular squats while holding some hand weights to make it harder.

Tips for starting HIIT

  • HIIT can be adapted to suit all ages and fitness levels and is generally very safe when done correctly. However, bouts of intensive exercise can cause short-term spikes in blood pressure. So if you have a history of heart disease, it’s best to gently increase your level of exercise. Next time you see your GP you could discuss changes in your exercise routine with them.
  • When starting HIIT, it’s a good idea not to overexert yourself. HIIT workouts are very tiring and it’s important that you leave enough time between sessions for your body to recover. Start with one session per week, then twice a week after a month or so. Eventually, you can build up to three or four times a week.
  • If you aren’t used to strenuous exercise, then a group HIIT class could be a great way of improving your confidence and motivation to get fitter.

The benefits of HIIT

As well as saving you time, studies have shown that HIIT can improve your health. Among other things, it may help you to:

  • lose weight
  • improve your fitness levels and exercise performance
  • prevent high blood pressure and improve your heart health
  • improve your insulin sensitivity
  • lower your cholesterol levels

Exercise in general has loads of benefits and there are different types of exercise you can do to boost your health in different ways. So why not give our complete HIIT training programme a go for starters.




Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you.

Danielle Patmore
Health Adviser at Bupa UK

What would you like us to write about?

Submit

The Bupa knee clinic

An icon of a human bone or joint

If you have injured your knee or have a long-term knee problem, the Bupa knee clinic can help you find the information and support you need.



ajax-loader