The Best HIIT Workouts for Any Fitness Goal

Sick of cardio feeling like a slog? HIIT can cure all your woes in fifteen minutes or less — if you’re willing to work hard.

Long workouts are for the birds. Why spend two hours in the gym if you don’t have to? If you’re looking for a way to break out of a mental or physical rut in training, a few good HIIT workouts will do just that. Like most training styles, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can be molded to suit your needs, but no matter what your gym goal is, you’re in for an explosive heart rate and a character-testing challenge.

The best way to set up your HIIT workouts is to start with a specific goal in mind and paint the rest of the canvas accordingly. This means that all of your favorite — or most-dreaded — exercises can be integrated to construct the HIIT workout of your choice, whether you’re after more strength, better body composition, or tightened conditioning.

Here are the five best HIIT workouts that will send a shockwave through your training.

HIIT or “high-intensity interval training” workouts are short bursts of grueling exercise followed brief, structured rest periods. The idea is to dramatically spike your heart rate, much like a sprint interval, and have a predetermined amount of rest between each effort.

The rest periods should strictly accommodate the more immediate energy systems (phosphagen and glycolytic) that power hard lifting, allowing you to work at a high level repeatedly without getting too winded too fast. With this in mind, your HIIT workouts will therefore only last between 10–20 minutes on average, based upon how you set up your exercises and rest periods.

In order to create a HIIT workout to compliment (or even directly improve) your strength, it helps to know what aspects of training have the greatest impact on force production. Strength and power both lie on the upper extremities of the force production continuum. Where absolute strength exercises might not be the easiest to implement into a HIIT workout, power exercises, which can help improve the rate of force production, certainly are.

A properly designed HIIT workout should feel like a sprint – with high intensity effort followed by a brief rest period. In order to best improve your strength, you’re going to want to include a variation of the exercise you’re trying to get strong at – in this case, a squat. From there, a series of progressively more explosive exercises to help keep the heart rate high and challenge your speed of force production can really round out the circuit.