10 Best HIIT Workout Exercises to Burn Calories Fast

By Sergio Pedemonte | Lifehack

High-Intensity Interval Training, or as its street name better known as HIIT has been all the craze as of late. You might have heard your co-workers talking about doing HIIT with their trainer and saying how it has changed their life. Well so, what is HIIT? Let me answer that for you.

HIIT is a form of “cardio” training, the bouts are done in intervals, with high intensity during the active bouts and either active recovery or a stationary recovery during the rest bouts. When performing a HIIT interval, we would usually be aiming to achieve a max heart rate of 80% — (220-your age)x0.8. The work to rest ratio for a HIIT interval should be about to a 1:2 or 1:3, what does this look like? Well in a 1:2 work to rest ratio, we would be doing our high-intensity portion for 30 seconds and have a complete minute (60 seconds) of rest.

What Are the Best HIIT Exercises?

Now that we know what HIIT is, and how to program it, you may be asking yourself, “What are the best modes of HIIT?”. Well is there a really best mode for HIIT for you? The answer is yes!

First, we have to see what we are looking to get out of it, and how long have we been training and, what we have been doing:

For someone who has been training, for a good amount of time and has running frequently might consider either sprint on the treadmill or outdoor/indoor track if it’s available.


For a novice trainee, a good option might be to do something very low impact as they won’t have the ligament and tendon strength to tolerate a lot of the impact that running/sprinting has.

This being said, a personal favorite exercise for HIIT for those just starting looking to get their conditioning up is Mountain Climbers, truly an oldie but goodie. Usually, a long lost exercise may be good to take off the shelf and put into work. Being a relatively low impact exercise, it also engages the full body and firing up that core due to its hand plank positioning. The exercise is also a relatively very safe exercise, especially when done on a matt, as the worst that can happen is you land on the matt. Also, the exercise is very scalable so as you get better you can easily increase the intensity.

How Many Times Should I Be Doing HIIT?

Once you have decided what type of HIIT to do, you have to come to a decision as to how many times to incorporate HIIT into your training week. This may vary heavily based on your training experience and current conditioning. For an intermediate trainee, this may be up to as many as 4 times per week in conjunction with a proper strength training regimen. When looking at a novice trainee, this may be about 1-2 times per week.

Although these are just general suggestions, some things that you should take into account when deciding what is right for you is what your goal is — is it just increasing your conditioning or, are you looking to burn a hefty amount of calories to help put you into a larger calorie deficit?

Obviously, if you’re looking to burn more calories, the frequency will be very important. What that number may be will vary heavily on what your recovering ability is from workout to workout. What shouldn’t happen is after completing your HIIT portion of the session/workout, it shouldn’t trail into your next scheduled training session and impact your performance in that workout. That’s how you know you should tone it back and then increase according, with intensity and frequency until you find that sweet spot where you are able to get a good amount of volume while still killing the other portion of your workouts.

Why Is HIIT Good for Losing Weight?

HIIT is good for losing weight due to its time efficiency. When performing these high-intensity intervals, it causes your heart rate and rate of breathing (respiration rate) to increase dramatically, like literally fly through the roof.

This is good for you because it causes your body to burn a lot more calories minute for a minute when compared to standard resistance training/strength training. Especially when you are cut for time and trying to make the most of that hour that you are able to set aside, this will be your secret weapon for increasing your energy expenditure and really aiding in helping you in shedding off those last extra pounds and bringing you to your end goal.

What Burns the Most Calories in 30 Minutes?

Ideally in this situation, we would be able to get you doing a movement that engages your full body. When able to run with efficiency and intensity, this would be our best fat burner. Getting those sprints on the tracks (or treadmill alternatively), in the sun and really getting that heart rate up there would be killer!

If you’re just starting, we are going to get you onto those mats and firing up those knees getting those mountain climbers on. Same thing, the same concept really getting that heart rate up and getting that sweat on! Either or will be equally as effective especially when starting to work your way into it and melt that fat off!

10 Best HIIT Workout Combinations to Burn Calories Fast

Combo #1

  1. High Knees (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  2. Plank Jacks (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  3. Burpees ( 30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 4 sets

Combo #2

  1. Side Plank Walks (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  2. Jumping Lunges (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  3. Mountain Climbers (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest)x 5 sets

Combo #3

  1. Jump Squats (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  2. Plank Jacks (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  3. High Knees (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets

Combo #4

  1. Side Lunges (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  2. Saw Plank (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  3. Butt Kick (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets

Combo #5

  1. Side plank walks (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  2. Burpees (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  3. High Knees (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)

Combo #6

4 sets of:

  1. Jumping Jacks 20 seconds work
  2. Mountain Climbers 20 seconds work
  3. 60 Seconds rest

Plus 4 sets of:

  1. Side Plank Walks 20 seconds work
  2. Saw Plank 20 seconds work
  3. Burpees 20 Seconds work
  4. 90 seconds rest

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