How To Create Your Own HIIT Cardio Routine

If you haven’t read last week's post about why HIIT cardio is all the rage, check out this quick post first, and then come back here to get started creating your own HIIT cardio routine!

Before we get started, keep in mind that the biggest key to HIIT cardio is self-discipline.

It is only maximally effective if you are going at your all out intensity every. single. interval. There’s a reason it's only 20 minutes MAXIMUM! Your intensity will naturally decline as you progress through the session, and that’s fine! However, you should still be giving 100% every time you’re “on.”

We’re going to deal with TWO different structures/outlines of HIIT cardio workouts. These are my go to’s for sake of time and ease of adaptability. 

The first structure we’re going to use is going to be a tabata-style workout. Tabata training is literally 4 minutes of HIIT— 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off X8. If we do a little math, we see that that’s a total of 80 seconds (1 min 20 sec) of rest and 160 seconds (2 mins 40 sec) of activity. 

    1 min 20 sec REST +  2 min 40 sec ACTIVE = 4 min TOTAL

Easy enough, right? Technically, Tabata uses a single exercise for all 8 rounds of activity, but many people choose to go between 2, 3, 4, or even 8 different activities for each period of activity. 

There are SO many exercises to choose from, but here are some examples I like to use:

jumping lunges
jump squats
air squats
push ups
mountain climbers
jump roping
battle ropes
high knees
out-in squats
kettle bell swings (if you're feelin' yourself!)
butt kicks
platform step-ups

Note: You can repeat that 4 minute circuit a few times through if you’re up for it, but if you’re not pretty much jello by the end of the 4 minutes, you probably didn’t go hard enough. 

The next outline we’re going to use is just my own standard HIIT cardio routine. It lasts for about 10-15 minutes and uses circuits of pairs of exercises.

There are a number of different ways to do HIIT training, but I like this one because of how easy it is to measure on my watch or a clock with hands (also known by most educated adults as an analog clock), which my gym has.

We’re going to do 20 seconds of 1 exercise, straight into 20 seconds of another exercise, followed by 20 seconds of rest, which adds up to 1 minute. After completing 3-4 rounds (this is where the 10-15 minute part comes into play), you rest for 1 whole minute and then move on to another round.

Like in the tabata style workout, you’ll need to choose 6-8 different workouts, but you’ll be working in pairs. I like to pair an upper body with lower body, or abs with either upper or lower. I would NOT recommend doing something like 20 seconds of jump squats by 20 seconds of jumping jacks, because if you're truly going at maximum intensity, you gon’ die boo. 

Pro Tip : To help keep track of which round/exercise I’m on, (because tbh my brain is just trying to make it through at some points), I bring a pen/pencil if I have this paper with me, or I type my workout into my phone beforehand and put marks next to each round I complete while I rest!

Use this link to download the templates for either a Tabata or standard style HIIT cardio workout!

Good luck and happy HIIT-ing!