Training efficiently is the name of the game when time isn’t on your side, but you still want to burn body fat and spark your metabolism. That’s where HIIT training comes in handy. HIIT stands for “high-intensity interval training,” and it’s a basic way to alternate between hard work and rest to torch calories during and long after your workout. The best cardio HIIT workouts don’t just involve sprints (although they are a terrific way to build muscle and burn fat).
To give you some diversity, we’ve pooled together a list of cardio HIIT workouts from the world of running to bodyweight conditioning to strength training. These movements can be done on their own, but can also be added to the end of weight training workouts if you have more time and energy. Focus on throwing these into the mix 2-3 times weekly if your goal is to lean down.
The Best Cardio HIIT Workouts to Burn Fat
Workout 1: Classic Run-Walk Tempos
Directions: On a classic track, alternate between fast running and slow walking for a total of 15-20 minutes. Walk the curved portions of the track, and run the straightaways.
Intensity: Run the straightaways at 75 percent of your max speed (faster than a brisk jog; you should be able to laugh and smile if someone told you a joke). The time you spend walking between runs is your recovery to bring your heart rate back down. If you’re new to running, start with 10 minutes, and try to build from that baseline weekly. To up the challenge, crank up your speed.
Workout 2: Treadmill 10/30s
Directions: Perform a dynamic warmup with exercises off the tread, then jog half a mile on the tread. For the workout, you’re going to hit max sprinting speeds. Our advice is to crank up the speed while jogging on the belt, then sprint for 10 seconds (the clock doesn’t start until you’re at your target speed). Immediately jump to the sides to “bail” off the belt until it slows down. Rest for 30 seconds by walking. Repeat for 10 rounds.
Pro Tip: If treadmill sprints feel awkward or don’t match your gait, you can slow the speed of the belt down by 20 percent and increase the incline to resemble a hill sprint. Hill sprinting can also help fix faulty mechanics and alleviate joint pain due to a lighter impact on landing.
Workout 3: Spin Bike Climb Intervals
Directions: Start seated on the spin bike, and pedal at a fast but comfortable pace with no resistance. Start your timer. After 60 seconds, stand up and enter a “climb” while adjusting the resistance on the bike to high. Don’t stop pedaling. Climb with resistance until the turn of the next minute, then reduce resistance back to zero as you return to your seat and keep pedaling. Continue alternating between 60-second resisted climbs and 60-second resistance-free pedals until 12 minutes has elapsed. If you can push it to 15 minutes, go for it.
Workout 4: Turkish Getup for Time
- Lie faceup holding a kettlebell in your left hand, arm extended, left knee bent with foot planted. Extend right arm and leg to the side at a 45-degree angle. Roll onto your right hip and forearm, left arm still locked. As you move, think about driving the knuckles of your left hand toward the ceiling.
- With your right palm pressed firmly into the floor and left arm still straight overhead, throw your right leg behind you, placing your right knee down on the floor. Keeping your left arm straight and eyes on the bell, press through your left foot to raise hips high and come up onto your right hand. Your right leg is still extended with heel on floor, and your arms should create a straight line.
- Lift your right hand off the floor to rise to a kneel, maintaining left arm position with biceps close to your ear, abs tight. Eyes are off the bell for the first time; look straight ahead.
- Stand up, squeezing glutes and pulling your shoulder blades down and back to maintain a solid trunk. Now reverse the movement—carefully retracing your exact steps and keeping your weight-bearing arm locked—to return to start.
Alternate sides continuously for 3 to 5 minutes, then rest completely for 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat for 3 rounds. Watch a tutorial here.
Pro Tip: Don’t overshoot the weight you lift. For a 200-pound man, 25 to 30 pounds will prove to be more than enough to spike your heart rate and induce serious fatigue. The name of the game is still cardio at the end of the day.
Workout 5: Trap-Bar Farmer’s Walks
Directions: Stand tall with your bodyweight equivalent on a trap bar (including the weight of the bar). Maintain a tall chest, pull shoulder blades down, and keep core engaged. Walk forward, using choppy, heel-to-toe steps for 40 total meters. Rest for 90 seconds between carries, and aim for 10 sets. Watch a tutorial here.
Pro Tip: When doing a farmer’s walk, be sure to take shorter, faster strides than you would when walking free.
Workout 6: The Hill From Hell
- Hill Sprint 5 x 40 meters: Run at 80-percent intensity. Walk down the hill slowly to recover
- Uphill Double-Leg Bounds 5 x 10 reps: Perform a jump with a 3-second static hold in a squat position. Rest 90 seconds between sets. Watch a tutorial here.
- Backward Walks Uphill 5 x 40 meters: Walk down the hill slowly to recover.
Workout 7: Sprint and Bodyweight Interval
- A1 Sprint x 150 meters at 80 percent speed (that’s half the curve of a track and one entire straightaway)
- A2) Pushups x max reps
Rest 90 seconds
- B1) Sprint x 120 meters at 80 percent speed
- B2) Prisoner Squats x 20 reps (squat with hands behind head, elbows out wide, keeping head and chest lifted; watch a tutorial here)
Rest 90 seconds
- C1) Sprint x 100 meters at 80 percent speed
- C2) High-to-Low Plank x 10 reps each arm
Repeat for 2 to 3 rounds