A Short Guide To High Intensity Interval Training (aka HIIT)

interval training HIIT

Have you considered High-Intensity Interval Training as a way to burn calories as part of the Flexible Diet?

For years I thought cardio was the holy grail of fat loss.

Just simply go run a 5k, go for a bike ride or do a group fitness class and you were that much closer to a 6-pack. Skip those things and it was your funeral (…maybe literally).

While I now feel more educated and definitely see the great benefits of cardio, my views have changed.

I’ve found cardio, of any kind, is not a necessity of weight loss but rather a tool. Doing cardio is great for cardiovascular health but in terms of weight loss, it is simply a way of achieving a calorie deficit, which is the key to losing weight.

Cardio for weight loss is typically only as useful as the number of calories it burns.

If on Monday you go on the stairmaster for 30 mins and burn 360 calories and then on Tuesday you do 45 mins of running and burn 550 calories, which day was more effective? Typically, it’s the day you burnt the most calories.

What is High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT?

Simply put, interval training is physical training consisting of alternating periods of high and low-intensity activity.

HIIT (high-intensity-interval-training) seems to be taking the world by storm as a more effective and efficient alternative to the sometimes boring and time-hungry steady-state cardio.

With Interval Training, because you’re varying energy output and intensity, you can burn just as much (and sometimes more) calories with a lower time investment than typical cardio. Workout for 60 mins or just 15 mins?

If you choose to have cardio in your fitness routine then I ultimately suggest you do whatever you enjoy the most, because it’ll be the thing you stick with. But I’d also encourage you to give HIIT a try.

There’s nothing quite like getting your butt handed to you by a short, sharp 8-minute workout.

Examples of Interval Training Workouts

Large infographic of different HIIT workouts
Source: Fix.com

15 – 30 Minute  HIIT Workouts?

There are literally 1000’s of HIIT workouts on YouTube.

  • Some are geared to men.
  • Some are geared to women.
  • Some use weights.
  • Some use bodyweight.
  • Some are adapted for those with injuries or women who are pregnant.

The possibilities are endless and High-Intensity Interval training can give you a great workout in minimal time.

Orange Theory

Orange Theory provides hour-long HIIT sessions with a coach in a class-like setting. It’s great for those that like the motivation a coach can offer as well as support from classmates.

Participants can also get a great burn from Orange Theory, burning 500-900 calories per workout depending on your stats and how hard you go at it.

Orange Theory Centers are found throughout the country.


Crossfit is another type of interval training that has a lot of variation and also has a big strength training component.

Participants work through a Workout of the Day (WOD) consisting of various movements that have varying degrees of intensity.

WOD Example:

  • 30 box jumps
  • 15 clean and jerks, 65 | 95 lb.
  • 30 box jumps
  • 15 clean and jerks, 85 | 135 lb.
  • 30 box jumps
  • 10 clean and jerks, 115 | 185 lb.
  • 30 single-leg squats
  • 10 clean and jerks, 145 | 225 lb.
  • 30 single-leg squats
  • 5 clean and jerks, 175 | 275 lb.
  • 30 single-leg squats
  • 5 clean and jerks, 205 | 315 lb.

CrossFit is huge on peer support and has a strong community focus.

If you’re tired of the same old cardio or the same old gym routine, High-Intensity Interval Training can be a great way to switch things up, while getting a great calorie burn.

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition, a Certified Fitness Trainer, and is Healthy Eater's author and nutitional coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see his personal macros coaching options.
Last Updated: November 14, 2019