5 Calorie-Burning HIIT Workouts for Women

Woman exercising with medicine ball at the gym
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You know that exercise is a must if you're trying to burn fat and lose weight and you also know that cardio is a big part of making that happen.

The great thing about cardio is that there are so many choices. The ability to do different activities at varying levels of intensity means you have a multitude of ways to get your heart rate up and burn calories. One of those is high intensity interval training (HIIT).

HIIT workouts have been proven to help your body burn more calories in less time. Even better, if you work hard enough, you get a great afterburn. Your body burns even more calories after the workout to get your system back to normal.

Another great benefit of HIIT training is that there are so many ways to do it, you could do a different HIIT workout every week and never repeat the same one.

HIIT Basics

HIIT workouts are designed to push your limits, getting you well out of your comfort zone for short periods of time. When setting up HIIT workouts, your focus should be on four important things: Duration, intensity, frequency and the length of the recovery interval.

Generally, the work interval should be anywhere between 5 seconds to 8 minutes at an intensity that's 80 percent to 95 percent of your maximum heart rate if you're using target heart rate zones, or about a Level 9-10 on this Perceived Exertion Chart also known as your rate of perceived exertion (RPE).

How long you rest between intervals depends on your fitness level and goals.

An advanced exerciser who wants a challenge might have a 2:1 work to rest ratio. That means the rest is shorter than the work set—such as doing a 1-minute sprint followed by a 30-second rest.

For a less intense workout, the ratio might be 1:2, working hard for 30 seconds, followed by 1 minute of rest.

You can also keep the rest intervals the same as the work intervals.

With all that in mind, there are 5 different HIIT workouts below that fit any exerciser. But, before you start, you'll want to keep a few things in mind.

HIIT Precautions

While the benefits of HIIT training are many, there are some drawbacks of this kind of training. Working at a high level of intensity is uncomfortable, especially for beginners, and doing high impact, high intensity exercises, like some of the plyometrics shown in the workouts, can cause injury if your body isn't ready for them.

You should have at least several weeks of training under your belt before you try the more advanced workouts and make sure you do the following:

  • Thoroughly warm-up before the workout. This will help get your mind and body ready for the workout and to help protect against injury.
  • Monitor your intensity. The idea is to work as hard as you can for the suggested intervals. It's normal to be breathless and some intervals build on each other so that, by the end, your body craves oxygen. If you feel it's too much, take extra recovery time. After some practice, you'll know how far you can push your body.
  • Skip any moves that cause pain or discomfort. Feel free to substitute exercises if some don't work for you.

Workout 1: HIIT Low Impact

The first HIIT workout is for you if you want a lower impact version of interval training. There's no jumping here, so choose this one if you want to ease into HIIT training with a more moderate level of intensity.

Equipment Needed

A medicine ball (4-10 lbs)

How To

  • Warm up with at least 5 minutes of cardio.
  • Do each exercise for up to 60 seconds.
  • Increase the intensity by using a heavier medicine ball, increasing your range of motion or, if you like, adding a jump to the exercises.
  • Rest for longer periods if you feel too uncomfortable.
TimeExerciseRPE
5 MinWarm upWorking up to a Level 5
1 minKnee lifts with med ballHold a med ball overhead and lift one knee, swinging the med ball down to touch the knee. Repeat, alternating sides for 60 seconds.Working up to Level -8
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minMed ball lunge with toe touches: With right foot back into a straight-leg lunge, med ball overhead, kick the right foot up as you bring the med ball towards the toe. Repeat for 30 seconds and switch sides.Level 6-7
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minMed ball circle squat: Step out to the side while circling a med ball or weight over the head and to the other side. Circle back as you step back in. The weight should
go over as you step out and over as you step back.
Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.
Level 7
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minMed ball squat and swing: Hold a med ball and step out to the side into a squat while swinging the ball between the knees. Step back, swinging the ball overhead. Repeat, alternating sides for 60 seconds.Level 7-8
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minSquat kicks: Squat as low as you can and, as you stand, kick with the right leg. Repeat on the left and alternate sides for 60 seconds.Level 8
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minLow impact jumping jacks with circle arms: Step out to the right while circling arms overhead. Circle the arms
the other way as you turn and step to the left. Alternate sides as quickly as you can while circling the arms like you're drawing a rainbow. Repeat for 60 seconds.
Level 8
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minSide leg lifts with jumping jack arms: Squat and lift the right leg straight out to the side while circling the arms overhead like a jumping jack. Lower into a squat, circling the arms down and repeat, alternating legs for 60 seconds.Level 8
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minKnee smash: With the arms overhead, weight on the right leg, bring the left knee up while pulling the arms down. Lower and repeat, moving as fast as you can for 30 seconds on each side.Level 8
30 secStep touch or march in placeLevel 5
1 minPuddlejumpers: Take a giant step out to the right
bringing the arms out wide. Go to the other side and keep going, as fast, low, and wide as you can. Repeat for 60 seconds.
Level 8
5 minCool down at an easy paceLevel 4
Workout Time: 23 Minutes

Workout 2: HIIT Tabata Workout

If you want something short and intense, Tabata Training is a great choice. In just 20 minutes, you can hit all of your energy systems, including your aerobic system and your anaerobic system.

By working as hard as you can for short intervals, you build an oxygen debt that requires your body to burn more calories to recover.

For Tabata Training, choose a high intensity exercise and do it for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 and then repeat the same move or do a different move. You repeat this eight times for a total of 4 minutes.

To make your workouts easier, try a timer like this Tabata Pro App.

How To

  • For each Tabata, you'll alternate two different exercises, doing each for 20 seconds and then resting for 10 seconds.
  • The intensity is cumulative, so you'll find it gets harder as you get to the end of the Tabata. That's normal, but if you feel too winded, feel free to take a longer rest.
  • Walk around or march in place to recover between each Tabata and end with a cool-down and stretch.
TimeExerciseRPE
5 minWarm up5
Tabata 1
20 secFront kick with lunge Right Side/Rest 10 seconds: Kick forward with the right leg and then bring it down, stepping back into a low lunge with the left leg and touching the floor if you can.6
20 secPrisoner squat jumps/Rest 10 seconds: With hands behind the head, lower into a squat as low as you can. Jump as high as you can and land with soft knees into a squat.7
 Repeat 6 more times, alternating exercises 
Rest 1 Minute - Tabata 2
20 secBurpees/Rest 10 seconds: Squat and put the hands on the floor beside the feet. Jump or step the feet back into a plank position. Jump or step the feet back in, stand up and jump (optional).8
20 secBand Jumping Jacks/Rest 10 seconds: Hold a resistance band with hands about 2 feet apart overhead. Do a jumping jack, jumping the feet wide while pulling the band down towards the lats.8
 Repeat 6 more times, alternating exercises 
Rest 1 Minute - Tabata 3
20 secLunge jumps Right Side/Rest 10 seconds: Begin in a lunge position and jump as high as you can, once again landing in a lunge with the same leg forward.7
20 secHigh knee jogs/Rest 10 seconds: Jog in place, bringing the knees to hip level.7
 Repeat 6 more times, alternating exercises 
5 minCool down and stretch4
Total Workout Time - 25 Minutes

Workout 3: HIIT 40/20

Another way to turn Tabata Training into something new is to switch the intervals. In this 40/20 workout, you choose a high intensity exercise and do it for 40 seconds, resting for 20. You repeat that, either doing the same exercise or a different one for 4 total minutes.

In this workout, once again you'll alternate exercises for each block. That makes the workout a little more interesting instead of having the monotony of one exercise.

Feel free to substitute exercises if these don't work for you.

How To

  • Do each exercise for 40 seconds, resting for 20 seconds.
  • Take 1 minute of active rest between blocks, more if you need to.
  • Skip any exercises that cause pain or discomfort.
  • Be sure to end with a cool down and stretch.
TimeExercise/Block 1RPE
5 minWarm up at an easy-moderate pace4-5
40 secLong jumps/Rest 20 seconds: With feet together, bend the knees, and jump forward as far as you can, landing in a squat. Walk back and repeat.7-9
40 secBear Crawls/Rest 20 seconds: Squat and walk the hands out into a plank (knees down for a modification). Do a pushup (optional), then walk the hands back and stand up. Add a jump for more intensity.7-9
 Repeat, alternating exercises 
Rest 1 minute - Block 2
40 secPlyo lunges/Rest 20 seconds: Begin in a lunge position and jump, switching the feet in the air and landing in a lunge with the other leg forward.7-9
40 secSide to side lunge/Rest 20 seconds: Pivot the body to the right while taking the left leg back into a lunge and punching the left arm straight up. Come back to start and repeat on the other side. Add a jump for more intensity.7-9
 Repeat, alternating exercises 
Rest 1 minute - Block 3
40 secRoll Ups/Rest 20 seconds: Stand in front of your mat and squat to the floor. Sit on the mat and roll back. Using momentum, roll back up, stand and add a jump if desired.7-9
40 secHigh knee jogs/Rest 20 seconds: Jog in place, bringing the knees to hip level.7-9
 Repeat, alternating exercises 
Rest 1  minute - Block 4
40 secPlyo jacks/Rest 20 seconds - This is like a very slow jumping jack. Jump the feet wide into a low squat and then jump them back together while circling the arms.7-9
40 secMountain climbers/Rest 20 seconds - Get on the floor in a plank position, hands under shoulders and run the knees in and out as fast as you can.7-9
 Repeat, alternating exercises 
5 minCool down at an easy pace and stretch3-4
Total Workout Time: 30 Minutes

Workout 4: HIIT - High Intensity Circuit Training

While the previous workouts were all cardio, another way to bump up the intensity while getting a total body workout is with high intensity circuit training.

With this workout, you'll do a series of compound strength exercises designed to work multiple muscle groups while keeping the heart rate elevated.

Equipment Needed

Various dumbbells, a kettlebell (you can use a dumbbell if you don't have a kettlebell).

How To

  • Start with a warm up and then move through the exercises, one after the other, with very short rests in between.
  • The idea is to keep the heart rate elevated by shortening the rest periods, but take extra time if you feel too breathless.
  • Do each move for 30-60 seconds and end with a cool-down stretch.
TimeActivityRPE
5 minWarm-up: Cardio4
1 minSquat press: Holding weights at the shoulder, squat as low as you can. As you stand up, press the weights overhead.7-9
1 minLunge rows: Holding weights, step the right foot back into a low row, tip forward with a flat pack and pull the weights up in a row. Step back and repeat on the other side.7-9
1 minWide squat with med ball squeeze: Hold a med ball or weight and take the feet wide, toes at an angle. Squat and squeeze the med ball and keep the same amount of pressure on it as you do 4 squat jumps. Do 4 regular squats and continue alternating between jumping squats and regular squats.7-9
1 minWide squat curl: Take the feet wide, toes out at an angle and hold weights with the palms facing in. Squat as low as you can and stand up, curling the weights up. You can jump the feet in and out for more intensity.7-9
1 minGoblet squat with rotation: Hold a heavy weight or kettlebell and squat, taking the elbows to the inside of the knees. As you press up, rotate to the right, pressing the weight overhead. Repeat on the other side.7-9
1 minIron cross squat: Holding weights in front of the thighs, lift the weights straight up, then swing them out to the sides. As you bring the weights down, lower into a squat. Stand and repeat.7-9
1 minDeadlift to overhead press with lunge: Hold weights and, with a flat back, lower into a deadlift. As you stand, take the weights overhead and, keeping them there, do a reverse lunge with each leg.7-9
1 minFront kick with triceps extension: Hold a weight with both hands, elbows bent and the weight behind the head. Straighten the arms as you do a front kick with the right leg. Lower and repeat on the left.7-9
1 minSquat curl press: Hold weights and stand in a staggered stance, one foot a few inches behind the other foot. Squat all the way down, curl the weights and then press the weights up as you stand. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.7-9
1 minOverhead squat: Hold light weights and take one arm straight up, keeping the other arm down. Looking up at the weight and keeping the elbow locked, lower into a squat. Stand and repeat for 30 seconds then switch sides.7-9
5 minCool down and stretch3-4
Total Workout Time: 20 Minutes

Workout 5: HIIT - Body Weight Circuit Workout

Last but not least is the simplest workout, a body weight workout where don't need much space or equipment.

Because of that, the intensity may be a little lower than other workouts, so you have to work a little harder to get your heart rate up. There are a few ways to do that:

  1. Add more range of motion. The bigger the movement, the more intense it is. So, say you're doing the Line Tap exercise below. To make it more intense, squat as low as you can.
  2. Add bigger arm movements. Arm movements, like giant circles or lifting them overhead, can contribute quite a bit of intensity to any exercise.
  3. Add high impact movements. Another way to make things harder is to add a jump to the exercises. For example, when you're doing Knee Smashes or Standing Crossover Crunches, add a jump to increase intensity.

How To

  • Warm up and then do each exercise one after the other with very short rests in between.
  • Do each move for 30-60 seconds, skipping any exercise that causes pain or discomfort.
  • Repeat the circuit once or as many times as you like, ending with a cool down and stretch.
TimeActivityRPE
5 minWarm-up: Cardio4
1 minBurpee squat: Start in a plank position and jump the feet into a wide stance squat, arms up. Lower, jump the feet back and repeat.7-8
1 minPushup to a side plank: In a pushup position, on the knees or toes, lower into a pushup. As you push back up, rotate the body to the right, taking the right arm straight up in a side plank. Rotate back and repeat on the other side.7-8
1 minDips with a leg extension: On a step or bench, lower into a dip and, as you push up, straighten the right leg and reach the left hand towards toe. Lower and repeat, alternating sides.7-8
1 minMountain climbers: In a pushup position, run the feet in and out as fast as you can.7-8
1 minLine Taps: Place a weight on the floor as a marker and start on one side of the weight. Squat, touching the floor and then shuffle to the other side of the weight, squatting and touching the floor.7-8
1 minKnee smashes: With the arms overhead, weight on the right leg, bring the left knee up while pulling the arms down. Lower and repeat, really using the upper body and core. 7-8
1 minLunge reach: Step forward into a front lunge and touch the fingers to the floor. Quickly step back and then repeat on the other side, moving as quickly as possible.7-8
1 minStanding crossover crunches: With hands behind the head, shift weight to the right leg. Bring the left knee up and across the body, touching the knee with the right elbow. Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.7-8
1 minRock climbers: These are like mountain climbers, but you take the knees out to the sides bringing them towards the elbows. Move as quickly as you can.7-8
1 minHip lift with leg lift: Lie on your side resting on the forearm and hip, with hips stacked. Lift the hips, keeping the knees on the ground. Now lift the top leg while taking the arm straight up. Lower and repeat for 30 seconds and then switch sides.7-8
5 minCool down and stretch.7-8
Total Workout Time: 20 Minutes

 

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