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I’m not going to sugar-coat it, this HIIT workout is tough. For 30 minutes, you’ll be oscillating between bouts of cardio and functional resistance exercises. No breaks have been scheduled because the objective is to get as much done as possible.
The hard graft you put into the workout will pay you back with a rich bounty of health and fitness rewards (more on that in a minute).
As well as conferring a coveted combination of benefits, this 30 minute HIIT workout has been designed so that you can customise it for any training facility. For example, if you have a bash at the plan, you’ll need a few items of specialist exercise equipment. Thus, it’s likely that you’ll have to complete it at the gym.
But, by applying the advice in the hints and tips section, you can convert the workout to a humble home gym. There’s also a pared-down option suitable for kit-free spaces such as parks or sports grounds.
Before we consider customising the workout, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of HIIT.
30 minute HIIT workout benefits
You may recall from our blog High Intensity Interval Training the many health and fitness benefits associated with this exercise method. As a quick refresher, I’ve briefly outlined the key benefits including several novel ones.
A Harvard Health article emphasizes the ‘efficiency of HIIT.’ They claim that the top reason cited for not exercising is lack of time. Conventional workouts take about an hour. Over a week, that eats up a lot of discretionary time – and that further increases when we factor in commutes, costume changes, showers, and the obligatory chinwag at the water cooler.
But, as the article stresses, with HIIT the I-don’t-have-time excuse is made redundant (or at least weakened). Why? Well, according to the experts at Harvard, a 30 minute HIIT workout elicits equal training outcomes as a 60 minute conventional session – one based on the sets, reps, rest and repeat method.
This accords with Professor Danial Liberman’s findings. ‘Because HIIT stresses the cardiovascular system more acutely than moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, it can yield rapid, dramatic benefits,’ (Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest & Health).
A research team from Birmingham University reported similar findings after conducting a series of laboratory experiments. The researchers put participants through a barrage of intense intervals on a stationary bike. Even though the HIIT session lasted just seven-minutes in total, the physiological responses were equivalent of running at a steady pace for three times the duration. But more interesting still, the team found that after the bout of HIIT, the beneficial responses persisted for over 30-minutes.
HIIT helps burn fat
Among the dramatic benefits is weight loss. When our aerobic energy system is ‘substantially elevated,’ the body burns more fat for fuel. As well as reducing excess body fat, this also helps to ‘bring down blood pressure [and] lower harmful cholesterol levels.’
It turns out that HIIT is more than an efficient exercise method for getting fit. Studies suggest that including HIIT workouts into your routine could improve cardiovascular conditioning, metabolic function’ and (if you’ll believe it) ‘stimulate the production of growth factors that help protect the brain’!
30 minute HIIT workout
To get you physically and mentally prepared, I’ve created a 10-minute progressive intensity warm-up. The warm-up observes the HIIT protocol. Ensure to start at a low intensity and gradually increase it across the 10 minute duration.
The 30 minute HIIT workout has been organised into six 5-minute sections. Each section is comprised of a series of cardio intervals (you select the cardio exercise of choice) followed by a short resistance AMRAP (as many reps as possible).
First, you will complete the six 20-second intervals. After an interval take a 10 second rest. Concluding the HIIT series, you have two minutes to perform as many reps as possible on the designated exercises.
You’ll repeat the process five more times. The primary objective is to sustain an intensity output of 80-plus per cent of max effort for all the intervals. The secondary objective is to amass as many reps as possible on the resistance exercise.
HIIT workout key points
Warm up well before starting the workout. Remember, the warmer you are the better you you’ll perform during the intervals.
Complete the six 20-second intervals before tackling the AMRAP.
The AMRAPs are scheduled for 2 minutes. Aim to accrue as many reps as possible in the time allotted. Don’t forget to document your score for future reference.
1 min mobility exercises (or a round of light shadowboxing) → 2 min cardio (rowing, skipping or the cross-trainer) → 1 min kettlebell goblet squats (use a light kettlebell) → 2 min cardio (rowing, skipping or the cross-trainer) → 1 min kettlebell swings (use a light kettlebell) → 2 min cardio (rowing, skipping or the cross-trainer) → 1 min kettlebell clean to press alternate hand cycle → Start the workout!
30 minute HIIT workout hints and tips
The exercises are etched in zeros and ones, not stone. So, if you want to shuffle them about a bit, or make a couple of substitutions, feel free to do so. For example, if you consider yourself a kettlebell buff, you might want to convert all six stations in the 30 minute HIIT workout to kettlebell exercises. For those that plan to dabble in a spot of outdoor training, you could concert the resistance stations into bodyweight exercises – air squats, press-ups, and (double doses of) burpees make for brilliant alternatives.
As with all Hungry4Fitness Circuits and Workouts, the plan can be modified to accommodate sports-specific movements. For this tip, I always use the example of boxing because it’s a sport I’m most familiar with. A few ways that a boxer might adapt the plan is by selecting skipping for the HIIT section. For the AMRAPs they could integrate punching exercises such as shadowboxing, heavy bag work, or even sparring if they can recruit a willing combatant.
Though the workouts are scheduled for 30 minutes, you can decrease (or increase) the duration depending on your time constraints. Reducing them to 20 or even 10 minutes would still provide a stimulating sweat session. And because the plans incorporate a combination of cardio and resistance, they would still appease Harvard Health’s ‘complete workout’ criteria.
Enjoyed this workout?
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About Adam Priest –
A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and wellbeing practitioner. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam via LinkedIn or email@example.com.
Harvard Health article: HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).
'“I don’t have time!” is one of the top reasons for not exercising, as many traditional workouts push a commitment of about an hour.' (Accessed: 9 – 10 – 2023)