Who doesn’t want to get more for less? That’s the beauty of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), a proven training method that’s become a workout staple for fitness enthusiasts everywhere. Most HIIT workouts are a combination of short, all-out bursts of intensity followed by some much-needed catch-your-breath recovery periods. "A HIIT workout is typically done with interval bursts at 90–95% of max heart rate for no more than 60 seconds," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Auburn University-Montgomery. The payoff: "You’ll get about the same fitness benefits in 10 minutes as you would jogging for a half hour."
One reason HIIT workouts are so popular is their surefire success. And a slimmer physique isn’t your only reward. Multiple studies show significant training benefits that range from improving aerobic fitness to a bigger afterburn effect. A study published last year in the journal PLOS One found that those who did HIIT workouts three times a week showed an 11% increase in aerobic training. Research also shows regular HIIT workouts can improve blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol profiles.
Because HIIT workouts are meant to be supertough, experts caution that you should allow at least 24 hours to recover and do them no more than three times a week. Greater frequency can lead to overtraining and hamper your recovery and your fitness gains. Also, make sure to warm up with at least five to 10 minutes of moderate, dynamic movement before you go full throttle.
Luckily, there are few limits to where, when, and how you incorporate HIIT workouts. You can do them on the treadmill, bike, or stepper, by running outside, or by simply creating your own circuit. Here are 11 of our favorite HIIT workouts from top trainers and pros. Add them to your arsenal to boost your fitness, burn fat, and feel fabulous!