3 HIIT Workouts For Weight and Fat Loss
While exercise alone is not enough for most people to lose weight, studies have shown that those who exercise lose and maintain more weight than those who do not.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend hours slogging away at the gym each day. HIIT workouts for weight loss can be a great way to burn calories and speed up fat loss, in a short space of time. Short for high intensity interval training, HIIT pairs short bursts of maximum intensity activity with periods of low intensity activity or rest. These workouts typically last 10-30 minutes.
Here, PureGym London based Personal Trainer and Assistant Gym Manager Joey Hogger looks at why you should try incorporating HIIT to lose weight, and shares three fat burning HIIT workouts to try.
Before we dive in the benefits of high intensity interval training for fat loss, it’s important to note that to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This means eating less calories than you burn, whether that’s through simply being alive, exercising, or NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). The most efficient way to create a calorie deficit is through your diet. You can learn more about calories and weight loss here.
HIIT For Weight Loss: How Does It Help?
Whether you’re looking to increase your fitness levels, boost your mood, or lose fat, HIIT is a great form of training – you can read about the many benefits of HIIT training here.
One of the main reasons I use HIIT training with clients is when their goal is fat loss. There are two main reasons why doing HIIT for fat loss is so effective.
The first is, it burns a lot of calories, and does so while maintaining muscle mass. A 20-minute HIIT workout can burn the same calories as a 40- or 60-minute cardio session, but it doesn’t stop there!
Pushing your body to work at it’s maximum for short bursts of time before dropping the intensity, on repeat, activates the anaerobic system to produce ATP (energy), as the usual source of energy (oxygen) isn’t available. Following a HIIT workout, the body needs to consume extra oxygen to return the body to its normal state. This process, known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC, burns calories for up to 24 hours after the workout!
The second reason is psychological. For a lot of people (myself included), continuous cardio can be incredibly boring. This makes it harder to want to exercise in the first place, and to stay consistent once you do start. The more workouts you miss, the more likely you are to give up completely. Meaning you’re not going to loose that fat. HIIT workouts allow you to work intensely for just 10-20 minutes, and you can often do them at home with no equipment, meaning it literally will be over in no time. HIIT workouts are also more fun than steady cardio – who doesn’t want to jump around to their favourite playlist?
Does HIIT Burn Stomach Fat?
People come in all shapes and sizes, and where you store (and lose) fat mostly depends on your genetics. Some people may lose weight from their stomachs first, others their legs or arms; unfortunately, it isn’t possible to choose where to burn the fat from first!
Studies have shown that HIIT can help to lose belly fat, but it’s likely this is from overall weight loss. If you want to lose fat from your stomach, your best bet is a calorie deficit and regular exercise, including HIIT workouts.
How Much HIIT Is Too Much?
By now, you should be sold on HIIT for fat loss. You might be tempted to get a HIIT workout in everyday, but it’s important to avoid training like this daily. Like with all forms of training, rest days are important – they help your body and central nervous system to recover and prevent injuries. HIIT workouts in particular, should only be done 2-3 times a week, as they cause the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) which, when in our bodies for a long period of time, can actually lead to weight gain, among other side effects.
You should also aim to strength train at least twice each week, as this will help to preserve and even build your muscles while you lose fat, which contributes to overall health and even improves metabolism – you can read more about the benefits of weight training here.
An example of what good balance across the week could look like is:
- Monday: 40 minute full body strength training, 8k steps
- Tuesday: 20 minute HIIT workout, 8k steps
- Wednesday: Rest
- Thursday: 40 minute full body strength training, 8k steps
- Friday: 15 minute HIIT workout, 8k steps
- Saturday: 30 minute stretching
- Sunday: Rest
Fat burning HIIT Workouts
If you’re ready to incorporate HIIT into your weight loss journey, here are some of the best HIIT workouts for weight loss.
Before each workout, spend 2-5 minutes warming up – this could be walking, jogging, or doing bodyweight exercises like high knees, jumping jacks, or squat to forward folds. Spend a few minutes after the workout bringing your heart rate down by stretching. You can find warm up ideas here and stretching exercises here.
10 Minute Low Impact HIIT Workout
For this workout, you’ll do 20 seconds of an exercise followed by 10 seconds rest, three times before moving onto the next exercise.
Squats (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x3)
Stand with your feet hip width apart and engage your core. Sink your hips down and bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then push up through your feet back to standing. You can also use dumbbells to make this harder.
Reverse lunge (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x3)
Stand with feet hip width apart, core engaged. Step one foot backwards and bend both knees to 90 degrees, with the back knee pointing towards the ground. Push up through the front foot and bring your other leg back to the start. Repeat on the other side and alternate.
Inch worms (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x3)
Stand with feet hip width apart. Hinge at the hips to place your hands on the floor close to your feet, then walk your hands out into a high plank position. Walk your hands back to your feet, stand tall, then repeat.
Push ups (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x3)
Start on your hands and feet in a high plank position, hands slightly in front of your shoulders, with a straight line from your head to your feet. Engage your core and then bend your elbows to bring your chest close to the floor while maintaining a neutral spine. Push back up to the start and repeat. You can also perform these on your knees.
Mountain climbers (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x3)
Start in a high plank position with your core engaged. Bring your right knee to your chest, then push it back out. As you push it back to the floor, bring your left knee to your chest, so that your legs switch at the same time. Keep your hips down as you repeat this as fast as you can.
Skaters (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, x3)
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, arms by your sides. Hinge at the hip and tap your right shin with your left hand. As you stand, jump sideways, landing on your foot. As you land, hinge forward to tap your left shin with your right hand. Repeat.
12 Minute Resistance Training HIIT Workout
If you prefer to strength train but want the benefits of HIIT, or simply don’t have enough time to fit a full strength training session in, this is a great workout to try. Perform each exercise for 40 seconds, followed by a 20 second rest, twice before moving onto the next exercise. Have more time on your hands? Add another rep for each exercise for a total of 18 minutes.
Dumbbell thrusters (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, x2)
Stand tall, feet hip width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand just above the shoulder with your elbows facing forward. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then push up to standing while pushing the dumbbells overhead at the same time. Return the dumbbells to your shoulders and repeat.
Renegade rows (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, x2)
Start in a high plank position, but with your hands gripping onto dumbbells. Engage your core and then row the right dumbbell up to your side. Return it to the ground and repeat on the other side.
Overhead sit up (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, x2)
Lie on your back with a dumbbell in both hands, feet on the floor with knees bent facing the ceiling. Keeping your feet still, extend your arms so that you’re holding the dumbbell above your chest. Use your abs to curl your torso up to sitting. As you sit up, keep your arms extended and push your body through so that the weight ends up above your head.
Bicep curls (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, x2)
Stand tall holding a bicep in each hand, arms by your side and palms facing forward. Engage your core and flex at the elbows to bring the bicep up to your shoulders, making sure to keep your elbows pinned to your side to avoid momentum. Extend your arms to lower the dumbbells back to the start.
Dumbbell deadlift (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, x2)
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, feet facing forward, holding a dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing inward. Engage your core and pin your shoulders back, then push back the hips to lower the dumbbells below the knees. Drive through your feet back up to standing.
Squat hold/ wall sit (40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest, x2)
Squat down to parallel and maintain this position for the 40 seconds, making sure to keep your core engaged and chest up. You can also do this against the wall in a wall sit.
22 Minute Advanced Bodyweight HIIT Workout
This HIIT circuit has more advanced exercises, and swaps full rest for jogging. It’s great if you’re looking for an extra challenge! If you find it too difficult, try walking on the spot instead of jogging.
Pop squats (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Stand tall with feet together, hands in front of your chest. Jump up, and as you land position your feet shoulder width apart and immediately squat down. Extend your legs and push back up off the floor, landing with your feet back together. Repeat.
Downward dog push ups (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start in a high plank position and push your hips up and back into a downward dog. Bend at the elbows to bring your head between your hands just above the floor, then extend your arms back into a downward dog.
Lateral lunges (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start with your feet hip width apart, hands in front of your chest and core engaged. Take a long step out to the right and then bend the right knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor. Your left leg should be straight, with the foot flat on the floor. Push through your right foot to stand up, and as you stand shift the weight to your left foot and bring your right foot back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Push up rotation (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start in a high plank position, hands slightly in front of your shoulders, with your body in straight line from head to feet. Lower your chest to the ground be bending at the elbows, then push back up. Take your right hand off the floor and raise it the ceiling by twisting your torso. Return your hand to the floor.
Burpees (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start standing tall, feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Lean into your hands and kick your feet back into a high plank position. Perform a push up, then jump your feet back to your hands. Drive up through your feet and off the ground, raising your arms overhead as you do so. Land into a squat and repeat.
Rest 40 seconds
Leg lowers (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Lie in your back, arms by your side. Raise both feet towards the ceiling, keeping your legs straight, so your body and legs are at a 90 degree angle. Engage your core to push your lower back into the floor then lower one leg until its an inch off the floor. Bring it back up and repeat on the other side.
Russian twists (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start by sitting up tall with your legs bent, feet on the ground, hands in front of your chest. Raise your feet off the floor and lean back slightly, then twist your torso to the right to bring your hands to the right side of your body. Twist back to the centre, then repeat on the other side.
Hollow holds (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Lie on your back with your legs straight out together and arms extended behind you. Engage your core to place your lower back flat on the floor, and then use your abs to lift your legs, shoulders, arm, and head off the floor, and bring your ribs and pelvis closer together. Hold this position.
Sit ups (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Lie on your back, knees bent facing the ceiling, feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your chest or behind your head. Engage your core and then use your abs to curl your chest up to your knees, keeping your feet flat.
Bicycle crunches (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees facing the ceiling, and hands behind your head. Lift your legs up so that your shins are parallel with the floor and knees are pointing towards your face. Extend your right leg and lower it so its an inch off the floor. As you bring your knee back towards your chest, crunch in with the left elbow to meet the knee. Extend the left leg out and return your arm to the floor, then repeat on the other side so that your left knee meets your right elbow.
Rest 40 seconds
Squat jumps (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Stand feet hip width apart, core engaged. Squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor, then explode back to standing and into the air. As you land, squat down and repeat.
Push up shoulder taps (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start in a high plank position, then lower your chest to the ground by bending at the elbows. Push back up and place your weight into your left hand. Tap your left shoulder with your right hand, place it down and repeat on your left side.
Plyo lunges (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Stand with your feet hip width apart, arms by your side. Jump your right foot back into a lunge and bend both knees to 90 degrees. At the same time, swing your right arm forward and bring your hands to your shoulders. Straighten both legs and jump up, landing so your right foot is in front and left foot is behind, dropping into a lunge. Repeat.
Sprawls (20 seconds on, 10 seconds jog, x3)
Start by standing tall, then squat down and place your hands on the floor. Kick your feet back into a high plank position, then jump back into a squat and up to standing.
You can find all our HIIT based blogs here if you want more workouts to try, including this 25-minute HIIT workout - find your nearest gym here to get started! If you need help losing weight, why not work with a Personal Trainer like Joey.