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HIIT Circuit | High Intensity Interval Training

Updated: Mar 12

A woman completing a hiit circuit.

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This HIIT circuit delivers a whole-body fitness blast. It has been designed to develop three components of fitness: strength, muscular endurance, and aerobic capacity. The circuit achieves this objective by incorporating a varied range of functional and cardio exercises.

Comprised of nine stations, the HIIT circuit follows a cardio/bodyweight/resistance exercise order. Each station – or interval – is balanced by an active recovery period of equal duration.

But before we consider how this HIIT circuit works, let’s take a look at the health and fitness benefits it delivers.

HIIT circuit health and fitness benefits

A brief but relevant digression, recent research has shown some interesting health benefits of HIIT training. In the authorities guide HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training, the author enthusiastically informs us of the ‘abundance of new studies’ that looks at the surprising effectiveness of HIIT in ‘treating and managing a range of diseases and illnesses.’

Such is the positive impact of HIIT on health that it ‘is now increasingly prescribed by doctors to patients with all manner of conditions and ailments,’ (HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training). And the great thing about being prescribed HIIT, as opposed to drugs, is that the only side effects are sweating and a sense of achievement.

This is all good stuff to know if you are a HIIT enthusiast. It also acts as strong motivation for those planning to include more HIIT in their exercise regime.

Irrespective of where you are on your high-intensity interval training journey, a seasoned specialist or a newbie, this HIIT circuit will provide you with an engaging workout to try. One that can:

Circuit training benefits

  • Improve cardio capacity

  • Develop functional strength

  • Enhance muscle endurance

  • Activate all the major muscle groups

  • Stimulate the metabolism

  • Burn fat and promote positive body compositional changes

How to do this HIIT circuit

One of the most important yet oft-overlooked elements of a HIIT circuit is the pre-workout warm-up. Because you’ll be starting the circuit at intensities much higher than those of your normal gym workout, the body, and physiological systems must be adequately prepared. ‘A warm-up of an appropriate nature,’ Watson reminds us, ‘enhances physical performance’ while also reducing injury risk (Physical Fitness and Exercise Performance).

Only when you are thoroughly warm should you start the HIIT circuit.

The circuit is organised in the classical circular style. Comprised of nine exercise stations, you are to rotate around the circuit as per the session plan below.

Each station is followed by a rest/recovery period. You’ll notice that the interval timings increase with each successive lap of the circuit. Overload is an essential training principle that promotes physiological adaptations which result in improved fitness (Physical Fitness & Athletic Performance).

There are three levels to choose from: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. It’s prudent to select the level reflective of your level of fitness. The workout doesn’t differ between levels other than the number of laps you are scheduled to complete. They are as follows: Beginner = 3 laps, Intermediate = 4 laps, Advanced = 5 laps.

Lap 1 = 20-seconds = 4-minutes 40-seconds
Lap 2 = 30-seconds = 7-minutes 20-seocnds
Lap 3 = 40-seconds = 8-minutes
Lap 4 = 50-seconds = 9-minutes 20-seconds
Lap 5 = 60-seconds = 11-minutes 40-seconds
Total time for 5 laps = 41-minutes

HIIT circuit key points

  • Warm-up well before starting the circuit.

  • Select the level most suitable to your current level of fitness and ability.

  • Organise the exercise equipment for the circuit prior to starting as this will improve transition efficiency between stations.

  • Use a repeat countdown timer. This will enable you to focus on the intervals instead of clock-watching.

  • When you've completed the workout, don't forget your stretching routine.

A diagram of this HIIT circuit. The diagram shows the nine exercises and the formulae of the circuit.

How to adapt this HIIT circuit

The beauty of circular circuits is that they are easy to adapt. For example, any of the exercises can be replaced with an alternative. The only suggestion I’d make here is that when changing exercises, try to select one that activates the same component of fitness.

Also, as I discuss in the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts, circuits can be tailored to suit a specific sport. A boxer, for example, could include a punch bag station or replace one of the cardio exercises with a skill-based drill such as shadowboxing. CrossFit trainers, rugby players, or footballers could include exercises specific to their respective disciplines.

The number of possible permutations and circuit configurations are practically limitless.

Another way of adapting this HIIT circuit is by adjusting the timings. Depending on your fitness levels, you may want to increase or decrease the interval length or recovery period.

Interval training circuit hints and tips

  • Prior to embarking on this tough little circuit, take a moment or two to organise the exercise equipment. It requires an Olympic barbell, an assortment of bumper plates, a skipping rope, and a rowing machine. Of course, if you don’t have access to any of these pieces of kit, replace the exercise with a close equivalent.

  • Use the session plan to navigate the circuit, at least for the first couple of rounds. After you complete each lap, score a line through it. In addition to keeping track of your progress, this is a strong motivational tactic that may well compel you to complete all 5 laps.


Enjoyed this circuit?

Get your hands on over 70 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Vol 2.

This image shows the Hungry4Fitness book of circuits and workouts volume two. Inside the image it identifies the key features of the book which include: Over 70 fully customisable circuits and workouts suitable for all levels of fitness and ability; 4-Week Functional Fitness Training Programme; How to create your own circuits and workouts including essential training principles; Key exercise explanations and tutorials; A complete guide to fitness testing; The 10,000 Kettlebell Swing Challenge; CrossFit-style training sessions including EMOM, AMRAP, and HIIT workouts; An illustrated, step-by-step guide to stretching.


About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and fitness coach. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites. Connect with Adam at

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