The Best Cardio For Weight Loss: A HIIT Workout Routine to Burn Belly Fat Fast | Not Your Average Fitness Tips

The Best Cardio For Weight Loss: A HIIT Workout Routine to Burn Belly Fat Fast

Whether you’re 20lbs overweight or 5lbs overweight, a HIIT workout routine can help you burn belly fat fast.  In my opinion, it’s the best cardio for weight loss.  While you can achieve your weight loss goal by combining diet, strength training, and even steady state cardio, HIIT can take your fat burning to the next level.

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.  The basic premise behind HIIT is that you work really hard for a short burst and then have an active recovery period.  Generally speaking, you may sprint for 30 seconds and then jog or walk for 1 minute.   You would repeat this workout routine numerous times for the best effect.

The Benefits of HIIT

A HIIT workout offers myriad benefits.  First, HIIT provides a great workout for your legs.  If you perform HIIT a few times per week, you probably don’t even need to do strength training for your legs, unless you have a desire for bigger legs.  More importantly, HIIT really ramps up fat burning.  The intense intervals allow for the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream.  Additionally, HIIT results in increased HGH levels.  HGH is a hormone that burns fat while preserving muscle.  Finally, and possibly most importantly, HIIT results in EPOC, an after-burn effect which causes you to burn calories for hours after your workout is completed.

The Drawbacks of HIIT

HIIT is not perfect in every way.  The main drawback is that you can’t perform this routine every day.  Overtraining is a serious problem, especially if you perform strength training for your legs as well.  If your muscles are tired, you are probably better served doing a slow paced steady state cardio routine on that particular day.

Sprint Interval Length

There are a few components of HIIT that you can vary.  The first is the length of the sprint intervals.  Shorter intervals of 15-30 seconds allow you to exert more effort during the sprints.  This increased level of effort will result in a stronger release of HGH.  Additionally, these shorter intervals will release more fatty acids into the bloodstream.

Longer intervals of greater than 30 seconds require more perceived effort.  These result in a greater number of calories burned.  Additionally, these longer intervals deplete glycogen levels (carbs) allowing your body to burn more fat after the completion of a workout.

Recovery Length

The recovery length also impacts the effects of HIIT.  This is the walking or jogging portion of the workout that allows your muscles time to recover.  The length of recovery is relative to the sprint interval.  If you sprint for 30 seconds and recovery for 30 seconds, the ratio is 1:1.  If you sprint for 15 seconds and recover for 45 seconds, the ratio is 3:1.

The longer the recovery in relation to the sprint interval (2 or 3:1), the more effort you can exert in the next interval.  This increased effort will again result in a stronger HGH release.  Additionally, longer recovery reduces the risk of overtraining.

A short recovery relative to the sprint interval (1:1) results in lactic acid buildup, glycogen depletion, and a greater after-burn effect (EPOC).  However, this can lead to a greater risk of overtraining.

The Best Cardio For Weight Loss

In my opinion, the best cardio for weight loss combines these HIIT workout routines resulting in a strong HGH release, release of fatty acids, glycogen depletion, and calorie burning.  The first part of the workout is short interval HIIT with a long recovery ratio.  For these intervals, you sprint 15 seconds and recover (jog) for 45 seconds.  This releases fatty acids and increases HGH levels.  I prefer to warm up for 2 minutes and then perform 8 sets of this type of HIIT for a total workout of 10 minutes.

For the second phase, I perform 25 minutes of steady state cardio (light paced jog or exercise bike).  This provides an active recovery for your muscles.  Additionally, steady state cardio helps burn the fatty acids that short interval HIIT released into the bloodstream.

The final phase is performing long interval HIIT with short recovery periods.  This will fully deplete your body of glycogen allowing for a greater after-burn effect and fat burning once your workout is complete.  I perform 1 minute sprint intervals with 1 minute of jogging.  The sprint intervals for this portion are not as intense as the first phase, by necessity as your muscles will be slightly tired.  It’s best to keep this final phase to around 10 minutes as well.

So there you have a 45 minute HIIT workout that I believe is the best cardio for weight loss.  This routine should allow you to burn belly fat fast no matter how close or far you are from your ideal weight.  If you want a more complete 8 week routine, I would highly recommend Visual Impact Cardio.

Not Your Average Fitness Tips

  1. A HIIT workout is the best cardio for weight loss.
  2. Vary the sprint intervals to increase HGH levels or deplete glycogen for greater fat burning.
  3. Vary the recovery intervals to increase HGH or burn more calories as well as compensate for possible overtraining.
  4. Combine the different forms of HIIT as follows for a great workout: 10 minutes of short interval HIIT, 25 minutes of steady state cardio, 10 minutes of long interval HIIT.

543 Responses to “The Best Cardio For Weight Loss: A HIIT Workout Routine to Burn Belly Fat Fast”

  • LOVE the HIIT! Tabata sprints (20 second sprint, 10 second rest, repeat 8 times) are a weekly staple for me. Different ratios of work to rest work different energy pathways (phosphogen, glycolitic, and oxidative), but Tabata intervals, while extremely intense, utilize all three pathways.

  • HIIT is by far the best cardio. I’ve also found that doing HIIT not only improves my sprint speed, but my overall endurance also goes up.


  • Darrin,
    Agree with you 100% on Tabata. Definitely not a routine for beginners but it will really kick your butt if you’re looking for a challenge.

    Excellent point. You’d expect HIIT to just improve sprinting speed, but as an added bonus, it improves endurance better than steady state cardio as well.


  • Anna:

    Dave, you did a very detailed post on HIIT. Impressive! I would also recommend timed intervals when it comes to bodyweight workouts. This is a great way to harness the power of HIIT if you don’t like cardio.


  • Anna,
    You’re right, HIIT doesn’t just need to be confined to cardio. I’ll be doing a detailed post on bodyweight workouts and other ways to avoid cardio in the future.

  • Nice post, Dave. HIIT definitely produces better results than traditional cardio. Another great way to simulate HIIT is by playing a sport. This can be a really fun way to get a killer HIIT workout. Soccer is my personal favorite.

  • Alykhan,
    Sports are the best way to get a great routine. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for organized sports any more with my 9 month old son. Soccer is a fantastic workout. Two of the best bodies in the world are owned by soccer players: Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham. I think that tells enough about the workout you get by sprinting and running during soccer.

  • Great post Dave.

    A was a professional boxer 40 years ago. Back then we all had a boxing routine that resembles HIIT. Back then we didn’t call it anything but boxing routine. But we would bang the bags for 1 minute wiht the last 30 seconds at full speed then cool down for 1 minute. We would go as many rounds of these on the bags as we were fighting rounds. IE trainig for a 6 rd fight we would go 6 rounds of these. I like all your comments and the way you explained HIIT to regular people.
    THe Jump rope is also a great Hiit tool to work your body.

  • Terry,
    Boxing is a great way to perform HIIT. Boxers generally maintain nice lean builds with a strong core and six pack abs…not all, but most I’d say. I was into martial arts when I was younger and still perform weighted punches and kicks as part of my workout. Before my son was born, I did a kickboxing routine on the heavy bag as well…it’s a bit too noisy so my wife is afraid it will wake my son up. Hopefully I’ll start that routine again soon. Jumping rope is another great way to perform HIIT and another staple of a boxing routine. Great insights, thanks!

  • […] gives a logical explanation of intensity vs rest period of high intensity interval training HIIT. The Best Cardio For Weight Loss: A HIIT Workout Routine to Burn Belly Fat Fast | Not Your Average Fi… Today I started using the elliptical to do a HIIT workout based on that. Well I couldn't do that […]

  • Gary:

    HIIT can be applied to running or to exercises such as squatting. HIIT is considered to be much more effective than normal cardio because the intensity is higher and you are able to increase both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more fat than ever before. its in the new program turbo fire by beach body

  • Aaron:


    thanks for this article…it was easy to understand for a HIIT beginner.

    I have been reading this blogger’s articles on HIIT and I “think” they are pretty good, but they are a little confusing

    thanks for clearing things up


  • Gary,
    I’d agree with your assessment of HIIT.

    Glad the article was helpful for people new to HIIT.


  • Bryan:

    Thanks for the great information. I too started doing TABATA/HIIT style training last year and shed quite a bit of pounds. Unfortunately, I should have monitored myself more closely, because I was shedding more than just fat, I lost quite a bit a lean body mass as well. However, I was doing it for much longer than you recommended, sometimes upwards of six to eight sets of four minutes of 10 rest/20 sprint.

    The question I have for you is about the steady state portion. When you say light pace jog or bike ride, what does light pace mean anyway? What would you say your heart rate percentage should be between?


  • Bryan,
    Sounds like you performed a very intense routine. Judging by the results, I suppose it was too intense. For steady state cardio, my heart rate is around 120-130 (60-70% of max heart rate). It stays slightly elevated from the HIIT routine. If you can judge your intensity on a scale of 1-10, I probably do about a 4-5 for steady state. However, you could simply perform a fast paced walk since steady state not only helps burn fatty acids but also serves as a good active recovery.

  • Hi Dave,

    i was wondering if i could do jump ropes (not at an intense pace, just regular jumping to music) as the steady state workout since i have always been skipping ropes regularly every week. the jump rope routine has hit a plateau and i’m becoming less motivated just doing the same thing everyweek. Besides, i think my tiny love handles are getting more evident, although i weigh only 47.5 kgs, and am 162cm tall. As for the HIIT for the first 10 minutes, i was thinking of incorporating some of bodyrock tv’s routines. I tried one and i almost puked last night while doing it. Way too intense for me.. I do yoga once a week as well. Basically, i’m trying to add hiit for variation and excitement into my weekly workouts which have begun to go stale.. I want to be lean! And thanks for the awesome easy to understand write up!

  • Michelle,
    You can definitely do a jump rope routine for the steady state portion; just make sure it’s not overly intense. 20-25 minutes of jump rope can be pretty tough on your legs which is why I just do light cardio on the exercise bike or elliptical. I might advise doing the jump rope portion for the final long HIIT intervals (1 minute really fast jumping, 1 minute light jumping). See what works best for you though.

    It sounds like you’re in great shape already, but HIIT 2-3 times per week will help you lose those “tiny love handles” and lean out. I like Bodyrock TV’s routines; in fact I’ve posted more than one of Zuzana’s videos in the past. They are high intensity and will get your heart pumping and make you sweat; that’s the key. Variety is important as well because it keeps workouts interesting and prevents your body from adapting. Don’t be afraid to change routines often. If you keep up the great effort, I’m sure you’ll achieve your goals in no time!


  • Alex:

    Hi all,

    I have got into a right muddle. I having been doing intervals mainly 8 sets of 20 secs to 10 sec rest within a 20 minute session on a cycle machine since the beginning of August. I am also using a home gym and now 4 Kg lighter seemingly neither losing any further body fat or toning/developing muscle.

    Is either the HIIT or the resistance training countering one another as it is not for the lack of effort. I am worn down especially after the HIIT.

    Also on a further point my heart rate % can reach over 90 during and after the intervals. I note a response raised above that maybe this is too intense. Again am I not performing the sessions correctly?

    Many thanks for any assistance you can provide me.


  • Alex,
    Sounds like you’ve been performing Tabata intervals. HIIT and resistance training work well together, but you do have to be careful of overtraining. With the Tabata intervals that you are performing, I probably wouldn’t do them more than twice per week. Additionally, 4kg is a lot of weight to lose in 1 month, although a good portion might simply be water weight. However, I can’t properly assess the problem without knowing some more specifics about your weight training routine, but here are some questions to consider: are your lifts increasing? If so, you’re not likely losing any muscle. Have you taken your measurements? Sometimes you might lose fat without visually noticing in the mirror. After your workouts, are you physically exhausted to the point of struggling to function even after a few hours? If so, perhaps you should reduce the intensity (this would be a sign of overtraining). Overall, I think you’re performing the sessions correctly, but perhaps you’re performing them too often. Congrats on your weight loss though. Let me know if I can help any further.

  • André:

    Hey Dave, I am new to HIIT and I liked very much your post. It’s the best post about the subject that I’ve read so far. My question is: Can I do HIIT after workout ? and for how long? Because I do not want to lose lean body mass. OH, I forgot to say that I’ve been doing HIIT for 3 days and even after a cold shower my body temperature stays high (as if I was still running) is that normal? Does it mean I’m burning calories? Sorry for my english, I am learning :)

  • Andre,
    Thanks for the compliment about the post…and trust me, your English is better than most! HIIT after strength training is a very effective way to burn calories. Strength training is a nice anaerobic exercise that functions similar to HIIT. Depending on how intense your strength training routine is, you could either do steady state cardio followed by long interval HIIT or simply do the full HIIT workout outlined above. For example, if you’re doing really intense circuits, you should probably jump right to steady state cardio.

    I wouldn’t worry about losing lean body mass. As long as you’re strength training, you won’t lose muscle. Additionally, performing HIIT releases HGH (human growth hormone) which actually helps to preserve muscle while burning fat. In fact, that high body temperature sensation is known as the HGH flush which means you’re exercising adequately hard enough to increase levels of that hormone. Great job!

    Sorry for the long winded answer. Let me know if you have any other questions along the way and good luck with your workout!


  • Mimi:

    Hi Dave,

    I’m new to HIIT. I’m going to convert my current workout “routine,” which amounts to doing some comfy cardio, the occasional 3 or 4 strength training exercises, and maybe some abs,” to something more serious.

    My plan is to do HIIT on MW with some abs. Do HIIT on Saturday with a full-body workout. On T Th do regular cardio and abs, with upper body on Tuesday and lower body on Thursday. Rest on Sundays and only if absolutely necessary on Wednesday.

    I know it will take some adjusting, and I don’t expect to jump right in and do things perfectly. I want to know if the routine is a reasonable one, given what you’ve said about HIIT.

    By the way, thank you for such a clear understanding of HIIT. I have been reading up on it, and had decided to incorporate it, but most of what I’ve been reading is so unnecessarily convoluted. You make the science and process of it very easy to understand.

  • Mimi:

    oops. I forgot to mention that Friday is regular cardio/abs.

  • Mimi,

    I’m glad that post made sense. Since you’re new to HIIT, definitely take it slow…3 times per week might be too much to start. You’re right on track with your workout routine (6 days a week is very ambitious), but I’d like to offer a few suggestions:

    1. It looks like you’re doing 5 days of abs. There’s really no reason to do more than every other day. Abs are just like any other muscle…they need rest too! I’ve posted a few other things about abs that I hope you’ve read…the bottom line is that you should be doing planks, renegade rows, leg raises, and maybe some breathing exercises at most. Your HIIT and cardio will burn fat revealing a great set of abs. Crunches aren’t worth your time.

    2. Having a separate leg training day and performing HIIT could lead to overtraining. Monitor that closely. Alternatively, do HIIT after your leg workout on Thurs and keep Wed and Fri to steady state cardio.

    3. If you’re doing an intense strength training routine, you might want to perform steady state cardio right after and then a final bout of HIIT similar to what I outlined in the post. Strength training is an anaerobic activity that serves a similar function as short interval HIIT (releases fatty acids). Throwing in the steady state cardio right after will burn those fatty acids before your final HIIT to ramp up the after burn effect.

    Hope all that makes sense. Let me know how everything goes and don’t hesitate to ask any further questions!


  • Mimi:

    You are a Godsend! Okay, here’s the routine incorporating your suggestions. MWF steady state cardio and abs. (Wednesday I have the option to rest and cardio is lighter than on Monday and Friday.) TThSa, strength training followed by the HIIT routine you posted. Tue is upper body, Thu is lower, Sat is full body.

    I’m looking forward to this. I’ll monitor closely.

  • Mimi,
    Sounds like a great routine!. Remember, if doing the full HIIT routine outlined in the post is too challenging after strength training, you could skip or reduce the short interval HIIT. Thursday’s workout might require this because your legs might be tired after strength training. Just trust your body. Let me know how it all goes!

  • Great post, Dave.

    HIIT workouts are extremely effective. When combined with a healthy low-calorie diet, fat doesn’t stand a chance. We also love the variety available when doing HIIT. Jumping rope and stationary bike are two of our favorite HIIT exercises.

    Keep up the good work.

    Jeremy & Kim

  • Jeremy & Kim,
    Good point about the variety of workouts you can perform when doing HIIT. That only helps to keep you motivated and provide multiple ways to burn fat.

  • Jeff:

    Hey Dave,

    I love the details you have covered about HIIT.

    Most people don’t talk about recovery, but it is crucial that you allow your body to recover properly.

    HIIT is also versatile, you can even do it at home without any equipment. Just following the Tabata protocol, you can do things like mountain climbers, jumping lunges, high knees, and etc. for a great workout.

  • Jeff,
    Excellent point about being able to perform HIIT at home without any equipment. Tabata is a great fat burning routine as well…as long as you’re prepared to work exceptionally hard to 4 straight minutes.

  • Ben:

    Hi Dave

    I’m a newbie when it comes to HIIT and your article was a great read and can’t be any more straight forward. I do have quick question, I know eating is a VERY important factor in weight loss but can you recommend a routine that can help me around the waist line that I can do on my off days?

    I’ve read tips here and there but some are so convoluted it’s a complete waste of time.


  • Ben,
    I’m glad you understand HIIT now. You’re correct, eating is critical when it comes to weight loss. Apologies, but I’m a little confused if you’re looking for a workout routine for off days or eating routine for off days. For exercise, a day off is not a bad thing; it helps your muscles recover and grow. If you really want further exercise, just walk or do some simple steady state cardio. For eating, I perform intermittent fasting (Eat Stop Eat) and it’s worked wonderfully. I have a few posts on my site that I’d be happy to direct you to.

  • Ben:


    What I’m aiming for is to lose the belly and tone up a bit more around that area plus my shoulders and back. Do you have an HIIT program or can point to me where I can look at that aims at those areas specifically on the off days of the HIIT routine in this article. Hopefully it makes a bit more sense.

    I should be apologizing on my part since I didn’t clearly state what my intentions were.



  • Ben,
    So if I’m hearing you correctly, you want to perform the HIIT routine outlined in the article a few times per week (let’s say Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Then you want a strength training routine for the other days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). HIIT basically takes care of leg training so it’s best to target arms the other days. Two of my favorite routines that offer strength training routines are Visual Impact and Convict Conditioning (bodyweight exercises). As a start, I’d recommend checking out my free Fitness in a Flash report (shameless plug, but it does outline my favorite workout routines). If nothing else, maybe check out this post as a starting point:


  • HIIT is THE most effective way to leverage the time of your workout, get BETTER results than from slower cardio AND improve performance faster. It’s like Christmas every time you do cardio… or something like that.

    I’ve written a post discussing HIIT on my blog and I’m sure to discuss it much more as it’s the preffered method of cardio I chose for myself and my clients.

  • Sammy,
    I’d wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. HIIT is the go-to form of cardio for anyone who wants to make the most of their workout in the limited time available.

  • For fat-burning, HIIT is my cardio of choice. There IS no substitute :)

  • Tatyana:

    Can’t wait to try HIIT or Tabata! Have been doing steady rate cardio for ages, and it is really boring. But now that I have GymBoss interval timer, HIIT is on my MUST-DO list after weight training. Tatyana.

  • josh:

    I need some suggestions. I am looking to lose about 10 pounds or so, but I also need to start building some strength. I want to do Hiit to lose fat, but how can i incorporate strength training also around hiit?

  • Clint,
    You’re right; HIIT is ideal for a quick fat burning workout.

    HIIT is definitely challenging so don’t go too crazy right away. I think you’ll find it’s so much better than steady state cardio and will save you time as well.

    It depends on how intensely you want to train. When I really want to lose weight while preserving muscle, I’ll do a 30-45 minute strength training routine 3 days per week and 30-45 minute HIIT workout 3 days per week. Here’s a post I did:

    However, you could also perform HIIT right after weight training if you still have energy. I wouldn’t recommend performing leg training followed by HIIT though. If you’re interested in more details, this type of info is also located in my free e-book:


  • Jay:

    Love your information on HIIT. I have been doing a HIIT workout that consists of 3 minute warm up followed by a 20 minute 30sec.(Intense) followed by a 30sec.(recovery jog). I do it on an eliptical machine and I increase the intensity after every third interval. I cool down five minutes for a total workout of 28 minutes. I am “pretty spent” after this workout. I only do 3 times per week because I referee basketball 3 and sometimes 4 days per week. Sometimes, I can only work in 2 days of HIIT training. I work my abls and upper body (weight training and body weight training) 3 days per week. Problem I am losing fat but little weight help! Am I overtraining?

  • Jay,
    That sounds like a lot of intense exercise. A 20 minute HIIT routine with 30 second intense intervals is a lot on its own. Maybe dial it back to twice per week at most. I actually think you could do a 15 minute HIIT routine and tack on 15 minutes of steady state to burn those fatty acids in your bloodstream. However, if you’re doing a lot of sprints when you referee, you may just want to put HIIT on hold until after the basketball season. This will depend on how intense everything is. Abs and upper body workouts sound good…with all the cardio you’re doing I would NOT recommend any leg training.

    I’m a little confused by your last comment…losing fat but not losing weight. That sounds like a perfectly acceptable thing. How are you assessing this though? If you’d like to lose more weight/fat, I’d look to your diet. With all the exercise you’re performing, you may be compensating by overeating meals leading to the lack of weight loss.

    Happy to help further if I can.

  • Yaru:

    Hello Dave:

    Great posting on HIIT. I am pretty interested in this training method, but I am concerned about getting big chunks of muscle on my calves and thigh. I mainly want to get rid of the fat on my legs. Please help, thank you very much :))

  • Yaru,
    I think the big leg muscles actually come from using weights as part of leg training (squats, lunges, etc.). If you just perform HIIT 2-3 times per week and don’t do any separate leg training, I think you’ll find that you get really nice, toned legs.

  • Jay:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your quick response. When I spoke about losing fat and not weight, I actually meant inches versus pounds on the scale. I like your suggestion about dialing down HIIT to two workouts per week; I was just afraid that 2 intense workouts would not afford me enough cardio. My diet is pretty clean not perfect, lol. I don’t do any leg work because between basketball officiating and HIIT on eliptical, my legs get a good workout I feel. You think I can do 15 HIIT and 15 steady state and get same results? I will try it.

  • Jay,
    You never know unless you try! There are times when you might want to ramp up the intensity of your workouts and that’s when HIIT 3 times per week might come into play. However, it seems like you need to take your foot off the accelerator for a little while, so to speak. If you can continue to see results with 2 times per week over the next month or two, you’ll really see gains if you switch to 3 times per week. I wouldn’t do the 3 times per week routine for more than 4-6 weeks at a time though…otherwise burnout and overtraining could be possible.

  • Jay:

    How effective is Tabatha? Hard to believe that I can get an effective cardio workout in four minutes. Met a guy at the gym and he swears by it. I find it hard to believe it is as effective as a standard twenty to thirty minute HIIT workout.

  • Jay,
    Here’s a post I did on Tabata:
    I’d say it’s more effective than a steady state workout but probably equivalent to a longer HIIT workout. The key to an effective Tabata workout is that you have to be 100% intensity for each 20 second interval. 10 seconds of rest in between is not a lot of time to recover. It’s highly challenging for someone to keep up this intensity, even if it’s only for 4 minutes. A HIIT workout spaces the intervals out more allowing you to recharge your muscles and potentially expend more effort, in my opinion.

  • Ron:

    Hi! I’m trying to help my 11 yr old son and 10 yr daughter get in shape (he plays football, basketball and she plays comp soccer). We’ve just started running 3 miles MWF but notice a lot of the other runners at our gyms’ indoor track are doing HIIT and I’m interested in starting my kids on this regimen. But after reading all these comments, I guess I’m afraid I might over-train them (I tend to push them harder than I should) and I’m afraid they could lose important lean muscle mass. What regimen would you recommend for their age group? We don’t lift weights (we feel it’s too soon for them) or do any other type of workout other than the running. They both want to improve their speed. Does HIIT help with that as well? Your advice would be so helpful!

  • Ron,
    I’m a little torn on this. In general, I’m not sure I’d have kids perform HIIT because if they’re active already, weight loss isn’t really a concern. I definitely wouldn’t have them do it during football, basketball or soccer season. For the off season, I suppose it would be fine for them to do sprints 2-3 times per week with at least a day of rest in between. My opinion on getting faster is that the more you practice, the better you get. So if they want to be able to run 40 yard dashes really fast, then they should run 40 yard sprints. HIIT does help improve both anaerobic (sprinting) and aerobic (distance) capacity better than steady state cardio (long distance running). Still, 10 and 11 feels kind of young for this type of routine. I agree with holding off on weight training for now as well…if they’re interested in gaining a little strength, bodyweight exercises such as pushups and pull ups are probably fine. One final comment…I hope the kids are doing this for themselves rather than being forced into a routine. If you’re trying to turn them into professional athletes, I’ve read that there could be some psychological ramifications down the road. Bottom line, let them decide how much they want to train without pressuring them. However, I have another 9 years before I have to worry about this for my son though so I’m no expert!

  • Ronnie:

    Thank you for your quick reply! Let me assure you that I won’t pressure them to do anything that I know will hurt them in the long run. My daughter’s soccer coach has instructed the team to run 9 miles a week and so my son and I decided to join her to give her support and motivation. We’ve only been doing this for about a month now and can actually see how much it has improved their game! I thought that HIIT could benefit their regimen by switching things up a bit (rather than just running a steady mile) but if you feel it’s too early then I’d be stupid not to follow your advice as you are the expert, not me! But with that being said, you also said that HIIT is better than steady state cardio…so I’m thinking I should stop running 3 miles (which takes us about 45 min total) and do say…10-20 min of HIIT instead. What would you suggest as an easy yet challenging HIIT regimen? As for you having 9 yrs before having to worry about all of this nonsense, oh how I miss those carefree days!

  • Ronnie,
    I’m glad that you provide a no-pressure approach, just wanted to make sure! Instead of thinking of it as a HIIT routine, I’d think of it as “practice.” In others words, create a workout that kind of simulates what they’re trying to improve. Sure, at the end of the day it probably looks like a HIIT workout, but by practicing their sport, they’ll be improving that specific area.

    A couple suggestions:
    Your daughter plays soccer. Soccer requires a lot of jogging with periods of sprinting. Maybe you could do something where your daughter sprints for 100 yards and then jogs for 300 yards. You could do this for 1-2 miles total (4-8 sets). Maybe you only do that 1-2 days per week and keep up the 3 mile endurance training once per week as well. Any chance you could approach her coach to get his opinion (not that all coaches necessarily know what’s best for kids, unfortunately)?
    For your son, basketball and football also require short bursts of speed. Maybe for him, you have him sprint the length of a basketball court or half a football field and then jog back. Repeat that 10-15 times.
    Heck, since they’re both still kids, you could simply have them play a game of tag every once in a while! Make the training fun.
    Another great thing for speed is plyometrics. Take a look at this post and maybe incorporate a few of those exercises.

    To me, variety makes things all the more enjoyable. If they can enjoy themselves and improve their athletic ability, it’s win-win!

    I don’t know about “carefree” days with a 1.5 year old…we have quite the mischief maker!

    Hope the kids do well!

  • Ronnie:

    You are AWESOME! I wish I could pay you for your advice! (is that possible, by the way?!)

    Your suggestions are on point and couldn’t be more helpful during this time. I’m so glad you made it a fun regimen! So much better than the boring, monotonous 3-mile run.

    I haven’t had a chance to check out the link you suggested because I couldn’t wait to post a huge THANK YOU reply! What may be common knowledge to you is chinese to me so I appreciate all your help on this matter. No wonder everyone loves this site!

    By the way, they say mischief makers are smart kids because they’re always thinking of new things to get into :) So it’s actually a good thing!

  • Ronnie,
    Glad you enjoyed the routines. If you can believe it, I actually enjoy discussing fitness (kinda like my wife enjoys shopping!). It’s great to trade opinions and experiences with different people and share things I’m interested in or have learned. But it’s people like you that really make me love this though, because I feel like I can offer somewhat useful advice in an age where there’s an abundance of information, but not all of it useful. In another lifetime, I’d probably be a trainer and coach but I love my current day job too much to ever give it up. This site is a nice part time outlet though…no payment required! I would be interested in an update in a few months on what routines your kids enjoy the most though. That’s more knowledge to pass along to others.

  • Cody:

    Dave, great article. I stumbled onto hiit a little while ago and I started trainig last week. I was just wonderig if you could clear something up for me. On sites like where they say, sprint 30 then Jog 30, I’m not sure what they mean by sprint. To me, sprint means 100% full blown running as fast as you can possibly go. But to do that for 30 seconds non stop, wooh!! It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re going 100% it seems like it takes forever. So my question is, do they really mean, 30 sec of a little faster running, then 30 sec of average jogging Pace?

    I would really appreciate it if you could clarify this for me. Thanks!

  • Cody,
    You bring up a great point. Personally, I can’t fathom sprinting for 30 straight seconds. Right around 15-20, I start to slow down…hence, why I say to perform 15 seconds of all out sprints and 45 seconds of recovery. 30 second sprints would be more like really fast running. The reason I prefer shorter all out sprints is that they help your body release HGH which builds muscle and burns fat. Longer intervals at a slightly reduced intensity help more with increasing lactic acid which burns glucose in your system meaning your body will burn more fat after a workout. Hope that helps!

  • Tacos:

    Very nice site, glad I find this. I used to do HIIT and I though I don’t know if I was doing it right or not, I did manage to lose quite a bit of fat.

    Basically I ran as fast as I could for a few seconds and then jogged and repeated until I was breathing pretty fast.

    Every since going to college and living the college life, I’ve ballooned back up and I wanna start again.

    Just wondering, should it be necessary to try and do strength training and HIIT at the same time if I am just trying to cut bf%?

  • Tacos,
    Thanks for the compliments on the site. It sounds like you had a pretty good HIIT routine that helped you lose fat. Depending on the length of intervals, it may have even been similar to the Tabata protocol. As for your question, in general, the best place to start for fat loss is really your diet. Strength training helps tighten your muscles and shape your overall body. It’s not particularly great at burning calories but if you have an aggressive diet and perform HIIT, you would risk losing muscle by not performing strength training as well. One bit of caution, if you’re performing HIIT, you probably don’t need to do any strength training for your legs.

    Bottom line:
    1. Focus on your diet.
    2. Perform upper body strength training to preserve muscle mass.
    3. Perform HIIT to lose fat. Don’t perform strength training for legs due to the potential for overtraining.
    4. You could either do upper body strength training one day followed by HIIT the next (and exercise a total of 4-6 days per week) or perform strength training followed immediately by HIIT 3 times per week.

    Hope this helps!

  • Bob:


    I just did my first HIIT workout this morning. It kicked my ass. I’ve been going to the gym for over a year and never achieved the level of a workout like this morning…

    It felt great…can’t wait until Thursday to continue…

    Thanks for the article…


  • Bob,
    HIIT can definitely be a shock to the system. Working out so intensely, even for short bursts, can leave you gasping for breath. Good luck with the routine!

  • Lori:

    Hi Dave!

    I loved this article and have been doing your recommended HIIT workout for fat loss the last few weeks. I had a baby 7 months ago so I wouldn’t consider myself super fit (though I’m trying to get there!) and I was wondering if you could clarify what I should feel like the day after doing HIIT properly. My muscles burn during the workout, I sweat like crazy, and I give it my all during the sprints. The next day I feel like I could do it again though and it seems from what other people are saying that I should feel too exhausted to be able to do it again the next day. Also, how would I know if I’m over-training?

  • Lori,
    I’m glad the HIIT routine is going well for you. It sounds like you’re doing everything right during the workout. Don’t worry about the day after. Sore or tired muscles are not necessarily the sign of a good or bad workout. For example, the first few times after weight training (or HIIT), most people will be sore for a day or two because there are small tears in the muscles. This is also how muscles grow, by repairing those tears. Once your body gets used to it, the soreness (called DOMS) tends to go away. Back to the point, even though your muscles aren’t sore, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t allow them adequate recovery time.

    Some people can get away with performing HIIT day after day (professional athletes), but I’d strongly recommend just sticking with every other day (3 days per week). As for signs of overtraining, you’ll find yourself fatigued and tired, your muscles will be constantly sore (not just DOMS), and ultimately your fat loss will actually stop, not accelerate. Definitely something to avoid.

    Sorry, rambling on, but if you still have enough energy to exercise day after day, I’d recommend doing some resistance training. Do HIIT 3 days a week alternating with resistance training focused on your upper body. HIIT is enough of a workout for your legs. I could go into infinitely more detail if you’d like, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

    Good luck with the training and let me know if I can help out further!

  • Lori:

    Thanks, Dave! I’m glad to know I don’t have to feel super sore the next day to know I had a good work out! Do you have a rough idea how many calories the 45 minute workout you detailed burns? Also, any idea on the number of calories burned during the EPOC? If it helps, I’m 5’5″, 153 pounds and about 28% body fat.

  • Lori,
    Calories burned is a really tough question. You could use a dozen different calculators and come up with a dozen different answers. I simply assume I burn about 10 calories per minute of exercise assuming there’s some intense interval involved. That takes into account EPOC as well. That should be a very conservative estimate. Personally, the last thing I want to do is fool myself into thinking I’m burning 1,000 calories per hour of exercise. Even if it’s true, I’d rather just get a little extra fat loss as a bonus when I step on the scale. Here’s my post on why it’s hard to figure out the calorie equation:
    The bottom line is you’ll have to keep an eye on the scale and adjust your diet accordingly. It sounds like you have the exercise side of the equation down. As an aside, losing baby weight is a big challenge so I commend you for the effort. I’ve heard that if you can get back to pre-baby weight within a year, you’ve done a great job. Not sure if that’s your ultimate goal but it sounds like you have a good plan in place and you’re already at a pretty good spot with 5 months before that one year mark.

  • Lori:

    You’re great, Dave, thanks! I look forward to reading more of your articles!

  • Lori,
    Thanks again for reading. Please let me know if you have any other questions along the way. I’d love to hear from you when you achieve your goals as well. Success stories are always enjoyable.

  • Adam:

    Hi Dave i read the article and cant wait to try this work out. I just had one question. Do you eat before or after your workout and if so what to you eat. Thank you.

  • Adam,
    I like to perform cardio in a fasted state. This works better for some than others. With intense exercise, I think it’s highly challenging to complete a workout on a full stomach. Try to avoid eating 2-3 hours before HIIT. Afterward, I wait 1-2 hours to maximize the HGH release before eating. It’s great to perform a workout before a meal but you could have chocolate milk post-workout if you won’t be eating for a few hours.

    Here’s more detail on fasted cardio:

    And a little more on post-workout nutrition:

    Just remember to take it slow the first couple times you perform HIIT. Once you get used to it, you can really ramp up the intensity.

    Good luck!

  • Rolle:

    I’m doing this HIIT on the elliptical 3 times a week right now. I turn the resistance up to as high as I can take it for the sprints to help get my heart rate up. Would it be too much on my legs to jog 3 more days a week?

  • Rolle,
    HIIT 3 times per week is a good enough workout for your legs but you can certainly perform some steady state cardio for 3 more days. Just keep the intensity pretty low to avoid overtraining. If your legs feel too tired to even jog, you could always just do a brisk walk as well. Theoretically, you can never perform too much steady state cardio…it’s just not the most efficient way to burn fat.

  • Liz:


    Excellent post. I’ve been doing HIIT for the past two weeks and have lost 5 pounds already, plus my body has been changing in ways that I have never seen it in the past 5 months that I’ve been working out. I usually do my strength training, focusing on my upper body first and then I do HIIT on the treadmill, one day and then do spinning the other two days. I was doing longer intervals though, but will adjust it starting this week with your recommendations. My biggest problem area is my back fat. I was a yo-yo dieter for years and it just seems like all the fat accumulated in my back. Will HIIT help the fat loss in my back?

  • Liz,
    It’s nice to hear yet another person has seen great effects from HIIT. It sounds like you have a good system which includes upper body strength training. If you’ve lost 5lbs already, I wouldn’t necessarily be so quick to change your routine. Give it another couple weeks and then when you get bored or it seems like fat burning has slowed, give my routine a shot. Sometimes these little tweaks in workout routines help reignite the fat loss process. However, if my routine above is something you’d rather start right away, feel free to go for it.

    As for back fat, everyone has an area of stubborn fat. Unfortunately spot reduction doesn’t exist (short of surgery, no thank you!). In other words, as you drop fat, you’ll see your back fat decrease as well. The downside is that you’ll probably have to be patient because if back fat is true stubborn fat for you, that’s generally the last place fat loss occurs. Sadly, it’s the first place you’ll add fat as well if you stop exercising or let your diet get out of hand. That’s why it’s stubborn!

    Good luck and keep up the good work!

  • Sujith:

    first i woud like to complient you for this great site and the replies to posts. I read each of you replies and must say you really are godsend. Great Job !
    I would like to share my work out routine with you. I am very eager to lose some of the excess fat in my body. At present my body fat is around 15-17 % . I would like to bring it arount 8%.
    I do upper body and legs alternatively (6 days a week).I follow up both routines with 20 min steady state cardio. I have been doing this for a month now and the results are quite ok. I have lost a bit of fat around my waist.
    Now my question you is whether i can incorporate HIIT in my current routine. I know steady cardio with hiit will result in overtraining. can i do hiit on days when i train my upper body ? I hope you dont ask me to stop doing my legs cos i really enjoy doing it. Squats and lunges are my fav !! :-).
    Also i take i scoop of protein shake (with chilled water) right after my workouts and one scoop with milk before going to sleep. Please advice.

  • Sujith,
    Thanks for reading through everything. Glad you’ve enjoyed it! It sounds like you already have a good workout routine. One clarification, you can do slow, steady state cardio as much as you want. If you feel like staying on the treadmill for 3 hours, go for it. Since it’s not intense, you won’t be overtraining your muscles. As for incorporating HIIT, I would probably avoid doing it the same day as your upper body. Think of it this way, you’d be doing leg training with weights one day followed by intense sprints the next. Your legs will be exhausted after a few weeks.

    A couple solutions:
    1. After performing leg training, do steady state cardio, then tack on long interval HIIT (1 minute fast run, 1 minute recovery). If you’re performing intense leg training, that release fatty acids, steady state helps burn those, and long interval HIIT will reduce glycogen levels allowing for a nice afterburn effect.

    2. Do HIIT, but not with your legs. For example, after your upper body lifting, you could perform a circuit training routine or boxing routine along with steady state cardio.

    That’s probably the best advice I can give there…I’ll be doing a post on fat burning workouts in another week or so that may give you some more ideas.

    Post workout nutrition is somewhat overrated in my opinion. I actually find its best to wait 1-2 hours after exercising before consuming anything. That way you take advantage of increased HGH levels. Read more here:

    Protein shakes in general are fine but can really add a lot of calories. As long as you’re losing weight, don’t worry about it, but if you find that you start gaining weight, see if it’s because you’re having 500 extra calories from protein shakes every day.

    Hope that helps!

  • Sujith:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the prompt the prompt and detailed reply. You are awesome. I almost feel like i have a personal trainer now :D.
    Getting back to your advice about HIIT during my upper body workout, Can you be a more specific on what excersies exactly should i perform while doing the high intensity circuit ? The gym i go to is verylittle small and doesnt have much equipments. So can i do high intensity push ups and pull ups. will clap push ups be any good? Will it hav the same effect as HIIT cardio ?
    Also i read your article on post workout nutrition. Very intersting read. I’ll definetly try it out. I take proteins shakes cos i hv read that it helps in building muscles which in turn burn fats. More muscle you have more fats you will burn. Also theres so much info on the net these days that i dont know what to follow and what not to.I think the best option is to work you ass off in the gym and the results will automatically show. Let my body do its thing.One last question, does working out in summer burn more calories than working out in winter ? Is that a myth too ?

  • Sujith,
    I’m far from a personal trainer but I’m happy to pass along the things that I’ve learned. These seem to help others who are as confused as I used to be. The idea behind intense cardio is to really get your heart pumping. Pushups and pullups will work if you can do a decent amount of reps while avoiding failure. Here are exercises I do for circuit training using a barbell, dumbbells, and bodyweight:

    I used to believe in the myths of protein shakes as well. Bottom line, if you’re getting around 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight, you’re already getting enough to build muscle (170g of protein if you weight 170lbs). You could go much lower if fat burning is your main goal.

    As for muscle burning more calories, it’s miniscule at best from the research I’ve read. Gain muscle to get a good looking functional body, not to burn more fat.

    Working hard in the gym is a good strategy but I’d adjust it a little. You have to work just as hard on your diet outside of the gym. That’s really where you’ll see the fat loss occur. Also, I wouldn’t spend more than an hour exercising per day. Otherwise you may risk overtraining…plus, I’m sure you can find better things to do with your time than spend more hours exercising.

    I’ve never heard the one about summer vs. winter. I can’t imagine what materially changes that would change the amount of calories you burn. You’ll probably sweat more which may lead to temporary water weight loss, but that’s all I can think of.

    Let me know if you have more questions.

  • Jeni:

    Hi Dave
    I am 38 5’7″ and have been fluctuating between 165 and 170 for 6 months. October 2009 I started taking my health seriously. I tried to educate myself the best I could doing research. I starting changing my diet and excersizing regularly. My starting weight was 237lbs. I have lost close to 70lbs. But….I have hit a brick wall. I consume 1500-1750 calories a day. I work out 5 days a week. My work outs consist of 30 to 40 minutes of running/walking 3 minute intervals 3.7mph/7.0 mph. Then I do 20-30 minutes of weights mostly upper body. I found this blog researching on how to break through this plateau and reach my goal weight of 147. Can you give me any advise or suggestions on what the time of my intervals should be? How can I be working out so hard and not budging the scale at all? I really am hoping HIIT is the answer.

  • Jeni,
    First of all, what a great success story! Losing 70lbs in your late 30s is very challenging. I guess it’s on to the next challenge though, losing those last 20lbs. Plateaus are really tough to deal with. In general, there are two possibilities: one, you’re not working hard enough; two, you’re working too hard. In your case, I’m betting you’re working too hard. Your body can only take so much intense dieting and exercising before it just decides to halt everything. That’s right, the effort you’re putting in may actually be limiting your fat loss. There’s a possibility that you’re overtraining.

    So, what can you do about it? Two solutions: one, ease up for a month or two and then go back to an intense diet and exercise routine; two, take things really extreme and try to force your way through the plateau. Personally, I think it might be good to ease up a little. Try to continue eating well but only exercise 3-4 times per week for no more than an hour at a time. Only 1-2 HIIT routines per week as well. This should be enough to help you maintain your weight. You could call this “walking to the starting line.” Then, in another month or two, you kick things back up and blast the fat. The alternative is a really ugly and challenging calorie restrictive diet combined with even more intense exercise. I can provide some tips if you really want to go that direction.

    Back to your specific workout questions. Personally, on days where I perform strength training and HIIT, I like to do strength training first. However, do what makes you most comfortable. For specific intervals, some of it will depend on your level of fitness. As I mention in the post, I like to do full out sprints for 15 seconds and let my body recover for 45 seconds. I do this for a total of 10 minutes before performing 10-25 minutes of steady state cardio (nice easy pace). I finish with 1 minute fast run intervals alternated with 1 minute slow jog intervals for 10 minutes.

    I’m sure that wasn’t entirely the answer you were hoping for but I think it will really help you in the long term to just ease up a little. Weight loss is almost never easy or quick so I commend you for the continued effort. I’ll be happy to help along the way if I can.


  • Jeni:

    Thanks Dave for the great tips and advise. I have been pushing pretty hard for a while and dont think it is time for me to ease up maybe just do some different training.I am mentally charged to break through no matter what.

    I went to the gym yesterday before I read your reply and did my first interval training session. My body is on fire. I did a 50/50 routine of 30 second sprints for 11 minutes. Pouring sweat by minute 5. Cool down walk of 10 minutes. I followed with some light strength training. I can feel the workout this morning for sure. I am going to do 2 HIIT workouts a week for the month of April and track my progress. I would love to hear your break through advise no matter how grueling. This 20 pounds has proved tougher than the previous 70. The scale did budge a pound this morning but I didn’t want to report until it is more significant. Still made me smile.

    Thanks so much Dave for all of this information. I think that this what I have been looking for.
    Have a great weekend!

  • Jeni,
    I’m glad to hear HIIT is off to a good start for you! If you had been doing really high intensity training for a long time, I’d be a little worried about you overtraining, but it sounds like this might be a welcome change to kick start fat burning again. Nice to hear the scale is still headed in the right direction as well. Your schedule of 2 HIIT workouts per week sounds very reasonable as well.

    I’m going to be a little lazy on the plateau break through advice…I’ll be releasing a 25 page book in the next couple days (free of course) focused on How to Get a Beach Body in 2 Months or Less. In it I provide some fat burning workout and diet tips. One chapter is focused on losing 10lbs in 2 weeks. That’s what I call extreme. I’m happy to talk through some of the advice here, but if you can wait, it would save me a little typing! By Tuesday morning, you should be able to read all about it (check my homepage).

    Also, I hope with all the effort you’re putting in to weight loss that you’re still finding plenty of time to enjoy yourself. I’ve always believed in finding the right balance between getting in shape and living your life.

    Have a good one!

  • Lori:

    Hi again, Dave!

    My gym gave me a free session with a personal trainer as a birthday gift. When I met with her last week, we visited a little about my weight loss goals and I told her what I have been doing with HIIT (3X week, 45 minute plan). She said that there is some research out there suggesting that HIIT is a great way for men to lose weight but may cause women to actually hold on to fat. Have you ever heard anything about this? I’d love to hear your opinion! Thanks!

  • Welcome back Lori!

    I’ve read a lot of publication, magazines, blogs, and E-Books and honestly haven’t seen anyone say that HIIT doesn’t work for women. Whether it’s scientific studies or comments on blogs, I generally only see success stories about how intense exercise like HIIT helps people lose weight without spending hours on cardio. Remember one primary goal of HIIT is to increase HGH levels. From my reading HGH helps both men and women lose fat and maintain or increase muscle mass. The only downside is that too much HIIT can lead to overtraining which may cause muscle loss.

    I’d actually direct the question back to you though…has HIIT helped you lose any weight so far? If not, is it because your diet is out of line? I only ask because my initial instinct is that if a study had been done it might show that people who perform HIIT get really hungry afterward and eat too much. Based on a couple articles I found, HIIT seems to suppress appetite more than steady state cardio though.

    Another question: what did the trainer recommend as an alternative to HIIT to lose weight? Does she just want you to cut your calories and perform some resistance training exercises? Did she advocate steady state cardio?

    Finally, will you be going back to the trainer? In other words, did she give you some valuable tips to lose weight or would she simply serve as extra motivation? Do you trust her?

    As usual, I’ve answered a question with questions. Let me know how things are going!


  • Lori:

    Hi Dave,

    The trainer suggested hour long sessions of steady state cardio to keep me in the “fat burning range” paired with 2-3 weekly resistance training sessions. She broke the session up into 2 half hour sessions so she could show me two different ways of doing the fully body strength training so I had a few things to work with. One was the Tabata style.

    She seemed knowledgeable and not salesman-like at all. In fact, I was quite surprised when the second session was over and she didn’t bombard me about purchasing more sessions! So yes, I would say I trust that she was giving me good information.

    My thoughts are that there are only a few studies out there on HIIT (that I have found anyways) and like medical studies, it takes a long time to get the results and longer to get published. Also, unless there is a company trying to sell something that HIIT results would benefit the sales for, who is going to fund those studies? As a trainer, she probably just goes with what has been showed to work by studies that have been done in the past.

    HIIT has helped me lose weight. I’ve lost 9.2 pounds of fat (according to a high tech fat scale, because the numbers on my scale at home haven’t changed all too much) and have lost inches in the last 6 weeks. I keep my calorie intake right at my BMR (which is 1,495) but do indulge in the occasional cheat. In addition to the 45 min HIIT, my husband and I do fast paced walks about 4 nights a week for 45 minutes at a time, and hour long cardio sessions a couple times a week. My concern was that I was hindering my weight loss with the intensity and somehow making it harder for the weight to come off. I still have 5-7 pounds of fat I’d like to lose, so I still have a ways to go!

    At this point, I don’t think I’ll be using a trainer. I am getting results on my own and until that changes, I’m going to stick with what’s working. Once I hit my goal weight, I might consider a session or two just to see what I need to do in the gym to maintain that weight. Thanks for replying! I appreciate your thoughts on the matter!


  • Lori,

    Congrats on the fat loss. At the end of the day I wouldn’t worry about the scale (or even necessarily the body fat tester), I’d just be concerned with how your clothes fit and how you look. If you’re happy about both of those things, the numbers mean a lost less. I’ve argued before that a tape measure and a mirror are just as useful as a scale.

    Anyway, sounds like you got some good advice. Even though there may not a wide numbers of studies, based on the number of testimonials I’ve seen, HIIT is the way to go. In my opinion, real world results trump lab experiments any day! I understand what she means by the fat burning zone, but take a read through my post to learn about why this is a myth.

    I’ll be honest, if you had all the time in the world, steady state cardio would be a good way to lose fat. Bodybuilders used this strategy successfully for years but they could put in 2 hours on the bike/treadmill. In this fast paced world, HIIT is flat out more efficient.

    The strength training advice you got sounds good to me. Tabata is just an advanced version of HIIT so I guess the trainer likes to include some level of intensity. I’d say your diet is good as well. Cheat days are perfectly fine; they keep you sane!

    If you’re only 5-7lbs away from your target, you are doing awesome. I’ll admit that the last 5lbs can sometimes be the toughest, but it’s great that you’re so close. Keep pushing and you can make it! Once you get there, maintenance should be a lot easier.

    Let me know if you need any more tips to help you achieve your goal.


  • David:

    Hey Dave, I’ve done HIIT in the past before and saw really good results with it. I’ve been doing weight training 5-6 days a week for the past 3 months. I’m ready to start getting lean and not focus on any more muscle gain, just keep what I have. How many days should I incorporate HIIT training, and should I do it on the same days I do weight training? When is the best time to do HIIT?

  • David,
    I would limit HIIT to 2-3 times per week. Any more than that and you’d risk overtraining. If you are still going to be lifting weights with you legs, I would do it following those workouts; otherwise you end up working your legs every day. If you’re just doing upper body weight training, then you can do whatever works best for your schedule. Weight training is an anaerobic activity that helps drain glycogen stores so a lot of people prefer to perform HIIT right after. However, if that’s going to result in a workout that’s too long, do it on a separate day. I think HIIT is best performed in a fasted state. You can either do it in the morning on an empty stomach or 3-4 hours after your last meal. Again, that’s what theoretically leads to the best results but if your schedule doesn’t allow for that, just fit it in when you can. Better to perform it some time than not at all. Just another quick bit of advice if you’re trying to get lean…make sure to keep up weight training; that will ensure you don’t lose muscle. Hope that answers everything. If not, let me know what else I can help with.

  • Tacos:

    Dave, is it really advisable to do such a workout on an empty stomach? I’ve heard people say it’s ok but then I’ve heard people say it’s not ok.

    If someone’s just trying to lose fat, would bodyweight exercises like pushups and such work while sticking to HIIT? I wanted to do Starting Strength with HIIT but the type of workout it was since it uses lots of squating would be overkill just like you mentioned in your article.

    :( I’ve allowed myself to get pudgy over the years from being in college but not exercising be it from a strenuous job or exercise in general.

  • Tacos,
    Are you worried about not being able to perform intense exercise on an empty stomach or worried about muscle loss? Personally, once you get used to it, cardio on an empty stomach is just as intense if not more so than a workout 1-2 hours after eating. As for muscle loss, I believe that as long as your lifts are improving, then you’re not losing muscle. I discuss both here:

    As for exercising, I think bodyweight exercises are great for maintaining strength. However, I don’t think higher rep training is the way to go. Sorry to keep doing this, but here’s something I wrote on bodyweight exercises:

    The leg portion of Starting Strength would probably be too much when combined with HIIT but you could include the arm portion. As I said above, I generally like the idea of using HIIT and your diet to lose fat, weight training or bodyweight training to gain muscle in your upper body, and HIIT to preserve and tone muscles in your legs.

    I wish you luck in knocking off the college fat!

  • Anthony:

    Hola Dave,
    tengo 26 años de edad, soy de contextura gruesa y engordo con mucha facilidad, tengo unos 5´8 de estatura y unas 226 libras, acostumbro a hacer deportes con frecuencia (basketball y levantamiento de pesas) por lo que ademas tengo bastante masa muscular ligada con mucha grasa abdominal, lo que quiero saber como puedo hacer HIIT para mantener o aumentar mi masa muscular y ademas perder las libras de grasa para conseguir un peso adecuado, osea una combinacion con rutinas HIIT Cardio y HIIT de fuerza, gracias, es muy bueno este post.

  • Rose:

    Hey, My names Rose – I’m just 18, I have the typical excess woman fat :p (inner thighs, hips, bottom and a little on the tummy) Not too much all round though.
    At the moment I weigh 138 pounds, and am 5ft 5.
    I want to get the lean bikini body most people look for.
    I am really interested in HIIT but could do with some basic questions answered.
    (Also- I own a x-trainer/exercise bike, which im sure should be fine for HIIT?)
    – I eat pretty ealthy, but unfortunatly still eating 2-3 average-large meals a day, I shall try to change this to around 6 smaller meals/snacks + increasing water intake.
    – I am already cycling for around 75 minutes a day + some arm weight training.

    1) How many times should i do HITT a week (to begin with – and should i continue the 75 min of cycling also)?
    2) For how long/how many sets etc.
    3) How long will it take for me to see changes?
    4) Generally how fast to people drop weight through HITT?

    I would be REALLY REALLY pleased if you could answer these questions.
    Thankyou :D

  • Anthony,
    My Spanish is rusty but I think I understand your question. I hope you can understand my English response. I think the best strategy is to keep lifting weights as the primary method of gaining muscle. Diet and HIIT cardio are used for losing fat. For weight lifting, as long as you see your strength maintained or increasing, you will preserve muscle mass. If your strength starts to fall, then you may be losing weight too quickly. HIIT will help you maintain muscle mass in your legs as well burning overall fat. Hopefully that answers your question.

  • Rose,
    Based on your height/weight, it sounds like you’re at a good place to ramp up fat loss. You’ve gotten yourself in very good shape without using interval training which means there’s an excellent opportunity to get into great shape. I’d call this walking to the starting line. Now it’s time to go!

    First of all, a cross trainer / exercise bike should be fine for HIIT. As long as you can quickly accelerate to maximum speed, you’ll derive the benefits. For eating, I don’t necessarily agree with changing your schedule to 6 times per day. If it helps you eat less, go for it, but let’s say your goal is to get to 130lbs, you’d want to target around 1,300 calories per day (only for 4-8 weeks before bringing that up to more reasonable maintenance level number). Spread over 6 meals, that’s just a little more than 200 calories per meal. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been satisfied with 200 calories. I might consider sticking with your current 2-3 meals per day and cutting on the margins. Just eliminate one little thing here and there and it adds up. Don’t do it all at once because then you’ll feel deprived and eventually crash. “Dieting” should really just be a short term approach. Eating healthy is what matters for the long term. Drinking water is a good thing.

    Now, on to your actual questions!

    1. If you’re cycling for 75 minutes per day along with arm workouts, you’re already doing a lot. I’d do 2-3 days of the HIIT workout outlined in the post (45 minutes) and if you want, another 2-3 days of light cycling (45-60 minutes) along with arm training. I might do arm training before cycling as well. Don’t do 2 days of HIIT in a row and give your legs adequate rest if needed.

    2. The HIIT routine above isn’t really based on sets/reps but here’s how I’d break it down:
    -2 minute warm-up
    -8 sets of 15 second sprint cycling followed by 45 second light cycling (1 minute per set = 8 minutes)
    -25 minutes of light cycling
    -5 sets of 1 minute fast cycling followed by 1 minute light cycling (2 minutes per set = 10 minutes)
    -Cool-down and stretching as needed

    3. It’s tough to say how long it will take to see changes. Assuming you don’t change your diet and everything else remains the same, you might be able to burn an extra pound per week. I generally don’t think you should try to lose more than 1-2lbs per week, especially at your current weight.

    4. Again, this varies based on what type of shape people are in already. If you’ve never done intense intervals before, start slow. Once you get to the point where you’re doing all out sprints, the fat loss should accelerate.

    Hope that provides a nice starting point. Since you mentioned a bikini body in your question, I’d also refer you to my free How to Get a Beach Body report that I offer on my Facebook page (see the right sidebar at the top of the page or the bar below). If you’re not on Facebook, I’ll gladly email you a copy as well.

    Let me know if I can help with anything else.

  • Rose:

    Thankyou very much Dave! I will definetly be trying HIIT for the first time today :) I will keep you posted on my progress over the next few weeks.

  • Mike:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the great post on HIIT. I’d like to do HIIT sprinting on a track or running up steps. I’ve always been told that you should stretch after a light warm up before sprinting to avoid injuries. In the 45 minute workout that you suggested, should I stretch after the 2 minute warm up? What about stretching after the workout?

    Also, I typically train in a park about 30 minutes from where I live. Would it be too much if I jogged home after I completed your 45 minute workout? Will jogging home after help to burn the fatty acids from phase 3 of the workout?

    I’ve been training on and off for the past 15 years or so. I started back last summer running steps 3 days a week and switched in the fall to a six day workout using the steps in my apartment building. The workout I use is as follows:

    M/W/F — I run up ten flights of stairs (each flight has 8 steps) and when I get to the top, I do 20-25 push ups and 20 overhead presses with dumbbells. I do this for 3 reps.

    For the next 3 reps, I run up the stairs and at the top do 20 bicep curls.

    For the next 3 reps, I run up the stairs and at the top do 20-25 push ups, 15 overhead presses with dumbbells and bicep curls to failure.

    For the next 3 reps, I run up the stairs and at the top do bicep curls to failure.

    For the next 3 reps, I run up the stairs and at to the top, I do 20-25 push ups and 20 overhead presses with dumbbells.

    TOTAL: 15 reps. This normally takes me about an hour and I’m dripping wet by the time I’m done.

    T/TH/S — I walk up the stairs holding 15-lb dumbells. I do 7 sets of 3 reps (a rep is one time up and down the stairs without resting. I do 3 of these in each set without resting). I rest about 1 minute between sets. This normally takes me between 45-60 mins, depending on how fast I work.

    Since I started in the fall, I’ve lost about 25 lbs and now weigh about 205lbs. I’m 6 feet even with a big boned, muscular frame. I’ve gained some nice lean muscle and a decent V shape in the process. However, there is still some fat covering my abs — not a lot, but enough to obscure my six pack. I’m going to substitute your HIIT workout on T/TH/S to burn the last bit of stubborn fat around my midsection. Do you think this is a good idea? Thanks…

  • Mike,
    You have a pretty intense routine…it’s no wonder you’ve lost 25lbs. Great job! I’ll try to tackle things one at a time:

    Stretching: it’s never a bad thing, but I’ve always found/ read that stretching is most beneficial after a workout. You can actually be overstretched before hand making your muscles somewhat weaker (more of an issue for weight training than running). However, if you want to warm up, stretch, exercise, and then stretch again, that works as well. I’d keep the first round of stretching very light. Also, I keep my warm up short because I generally walk my dog prior to doing HIIT. Kind of a built in warm up for me but you could do a 5-10 minute warm up if necessary.

    Jogging: I don’t see a problem in tacking on more steady state cardio. Just be sure that it’s a light jog, not hard, not medium, but light and easy. With light steady state cardio, there is close to zero risk of overtraining. Bodybuilders were known to do 2-3 hours of daily steady state cardio when cutting weight. It works; it’s just not as efficient as HIIT. It’s ideal after HIIT though.

    Workout: M/W/F sounds like a great circuit training routine. Any way you can incorporate pullups? I think those are more valuable than bicep curls. Either way, this sounds like a challenge. T/TH/S seems like it’s a nice complement to your circuit. Walking with weights is challenging but not as intense as running up steps.

    HIIT: I honestly don’t think I’d try to squeeze in a HIIT workout on T/TH/S if you’re still doing all those intense steps on M/W/F. Maybe you could try this for 1-2 weeks but I think you’d begin overtraining and risk exhausting yourself and losing muscle mass. There are ways to tweak your workout though to incorporate some of these principles. Here’s one thought:

    M/W/F: Run up the steps as fast as you can and then walk back down. Repeat that 5-10 times. This is like short interval HIIT. Jog to the park. This is your steady state cardio. I’m confused what training you do at the park since it seems like you do the stairs at your apartment building. So this recommendation might change a bit if there’s something else you do there. Anyway, once you get to the park, do some light sprint intervals where you run fast for a minute and jog for a minute (5 sets would be fine). This is long interval HIIT. Then you could jog home after. More steady state cardio.

    T/Th/S: walk the stairs holding 15lb DBs as you have (if your legs are tired from M/W/F workout, don’t use weights). When you get to the top, do you pushup, overhead press, bicep curl routine. Repeat as many times as you’d like.

    In this manner, you’re taking full advantage of HIIT combined with steady state cardio on M/W/F and then doing more of a strength training routine on T/Th/S. Again, watch the overtraining with your legs. I can offer an opinion on arm workouts as well but this is getting long.

    Final tip, take a close look at your diet. Sometimes exercise can only get you so far. Any other questions based on my lengthy response?


  • Mike:

    Hi Dave — Thanks for the speedy, in-depth reply. About the park, I run steps there in the warmer months and use my apartment buildind’s steps in the colder months. The park also has a nice running path that I use for sprinting. So instead of doing the T/TH/S workout in my building, I go to the park instead. I’ve just started heading back to the park now that the weather is better here in NY. I was looking for a new routine when I stumbled across your site.

    I’ll use the routine you recommended, but do the short interval HIIT on the steps at the park instead of in my building as you suggested. I’m a bit bored with running my building’s steps, so I’m taking the entire M/W/F workout outside. I’ll continue to do the upper body strength circuit T/TH/S inside the building. It’ll be hard to incorporate pullups, but can I do some dumbbell rows instead?

    Will definitely be checking my diet. Thanks for the great advice.


  • Mike,
    It’s so much nicer to run outside than be cooped up on a treadmill or running steps in the apartment building. I find that the fresh air motivates me to work harder as well. As for strength training, I’m generally a fan of low rep heavy weight training. If you’re just using light DBs, I don’t think rows vs. curls makes too much of a difference. I’m happy to delve into my whole strength training approach, but I’d direct you to this post first if you’re interested:

    Also, I didn’t ask how long you had been doing this routine for. When you’re trying to lose the last bit of fat, what happens is that your body tries really hard not to let you, especially if you’ve been working out intensely for a while. At some point, I would highly recommend taking a full week off. Additionally, you might actually have to lighten things up for a month (only do 3-4 workouts per week). The goal would be to maintain your weight during this month and then hit the accelerator again and ramp up the intensity. It’s what I call walking to the starting line. If you were running a 100m dash, would you be faster if you had just finished sprinting a mile or if you walked to the line and then went all out? The same applies to your body…you can only diet and exercise so hard for so long. Sorry for getting off on a tangent, I just wanted to throw that out there.

    Happy to help any more if I can but it sounds like you have a great hold on things.


  • Josh H:

    What is an effective way to do HIIT for a program that calls for HIIT 3 times a week? I would like to do this effectively but not over train and hurt myself. I don’t know if anyone has looked at the Nebraska Football workout…but it calls for:

    MON- Chest, shoulders, tri’s
    WED- Back, bi’s, abs
    FRI- Quads, hams, calves-

    so I was just wondering how I can successfully pull the HIIT and get result without hurting myself or over training.



  • Josh,
    I think the Nebraska football workout you outlined is a good way to incorporate HIIT. As you mentioned, there is some potential for overtraining since you’d be working legs 3 days in a row (Thurs-Sat). For short periods of time (4-6 weeks), this might be ok.

    It’s going to depend on your goals, but you might consider avoiding leg training all together. I think you’ll find that HIIT keeps your legs in great shape even if you don’t do any squats, deadlifts or other weight training for legs. So you could do an ABA type workout where workout A is chest, shoulder, tri, and B is back, bi, abs. Just switch off every other workout M/W/F. HIIT would be T/Th/S. If you’re worried about mass in your legs and overtraining, then substitute a leg day for one of the HIIT days.

    Hope that takes care of things.

  • Mike:

    Dave — Thanks for the feedback. I’ve been doing the six days since October. I’ve normally slacked off in the colder months and gained a lot of pounds. I was determined not to let that happen this time around. So I deliberately trained 6 days to stay disciplined. The plan was to cut back once spring rolled around. So, yeah, I plan to go back to 3-4 days. Your advice about taking a week off is also well noted.

    About strength training using low reps, do you have to keep adding weight as your muscles adapt? What happens when you get to the size and density that you want? Do you just keep lifting the same weight and do maintenance lifts? Thanks!


  • Dave:

    Iv been reading about HIIT and i wanted to know if it would be better to do your program described above or the Tabata workout with a steady cardio run after that? I currently do P90X in the evenings, but I do about 45 mins of cardio in the morning right when i wake up. I was going to add the hiit workouts with the cardio in the morning, but don’t know which one to do? One other question, is it a good idea to drink Creatine before the HIIT and cardio workout in the morning?


  • Mike,
    Sounds like you have a good plan in place. In general, I’d take 3-4 days off ever 6 weeks and a full week off every 12 weeks to keep your muscles fresh going forward. For strength training, you are correct about continually adding weight. Once you can easily complete the reps, try to add a little weight. I like to change my routine every 6-8 weeks so my muscles don’t completely adapt as well. Changing my routine could be as simple as going from 3 reps to 5 reps or changing the order or variety of exercises.

  • Dave,
    It sounds like you’re doing a lot of exercise with cardio in the morning and P90X at night. That’s tough but if it’s working, keep up the hard work! Tabata is just an advanced form of HIIT. If you can handle 20 seconds of max effort with only 10 second of recovery, stick with Tabata. Then do the steady state cardio. If you’d like, add in the long interval HIIT I mentioned above as well.

    I would never drink creatine before a workout. Creatine sucks water out of your system and could lead to dehydration during a workout. Have it immediately after a workout and be sure to drink a lot of water. As an aside, some people worry about muscle loss when performing fasted cardio in the morning. If this is a concern, you could consider having BCAAs (branded chain amino acids) before your cardio. These aminos supposedly help preserve muscle while still allowing you the great fat burning effects of a fasted workout (they don’t create an insulin spike so glycogen levels remain low). I’m trying this right now…too early to tell, but it seems promising. I like Xtend.

    Another fat loss tip would be to wait 1-2 hours after your cardio to eat to maximize the HGH release from intense exercise (HGH preserves muscle while cutting fat). You could have a serving of Xtend 1 hour after the workout and then eat a regular meal 1 hour after that. Sorry for all the excess information, but I’m guessing you’re already in pretty good shape with all the exercise you’re doing and thought a few more advanced strategies might be of interest.


  • Dave:


    Thanks for the information, if I drink the xtend before cardio in the morning it would help reserve muscle? And then after I would have another serving of xtend about an hour after? Also, should I buy the xtend, or do you think that something like Whey protein powder would work?
    Yes you are correct when You say im in good shape, I wrestle and am looking to possibly lose about the last 10 pounds I used to have from when I was a bit bigger. Well not really looking to lose weight, just to look better and stay/get into better shape for future practices and matches. I think the HIIT will help with this significantly.


  • Dave,
    As a former wrestler, I wish I knew half the things I know now. So many hours wasted in Barnes and Noble reading bodybuilding magazines filled with useless tips that only work if you’re on steroids…I digress. Assuming you’re not eating before performing HIIT/Tabata, I might give Xtend a try. Here’s what you could do assuming you exercise at 6am.

    6am (15 min before): 10g Xtend
    6:15-7am (45 min workout): HIIT/Steady State
    8am (1 hour after workout): 10g Xtend
    9am (2 hours after workout): Protein shake mixed with carbs or other breakfast rich in protein/carbs, low in fat

    If money is a concern, then skip it for now. Just make sure your lifts are increasing. If you find your strength decreasing, it might be because you’re losing muscle. Definitely have something within two hours of fasted training. Whey protein is fine. One word of caution, whey protein has a lot of calories so if you suddenly find yourself gaining weight, it might mean you have to cut back somewhere else. Also, after a workout it’s best to combine protein and carbs while avoiding fat. Not critical, but do it if you can. I actually like having a simple glass of chocolate milk…just as effective as whey protein and the perfect mix of fast acting carbs (sugar) and protein.

    HIIT should definitely help you stay in shape as well. Oddly anaerobic activities like HIIT actually help to improve aerobic endurance better than aerobic activities like long distance running.

    Let me know if I can provide further info. I’ve included some other posts I’ve done below in case you want to read more about some of the things I mentioned.

    Fasted cardio:

    Post workout nutrition:

    Aerobic vs. anaerobic exercise:

    Also, I commend you for starting to get in shape during the off season. I always believed in hard work and unfortunately know a lot of people who slacked off.


  • Dave:


    thanks for the information above, I’m currently reading your links that you posted. But one other question, if I follow your schedule that you just posted, I may not have time to eat a Protein shake mixed with carbs or other breakfast rich in protein/carbs, low in fat, because I would be in school 2 hours after a workout. So my question is, would like a cliff bar or protein bar get the job done? I know that a cliff bar has a good amount of calories, but if its my breakfast it wouldn’t be all to bad right?
    Also if I do the HIIT and the steady state cardio on a empty stomach, should I eat right after that? Or wait the hour for the xtend, and then another hour for the cliff bar(if that’s even a good idea)


  • Dave,
    It’s not going to kill you to eat right after exercising. That’s just an added bonus to maximize HGH levels. Not as important for you since your HGH levels are still probably very high. This is more important for people after they hit age 30. I’d have a glass of chocolate milk or a protein shake before you head out to school (make sure to brush your teeth after!). A Cliff Bar would be fine as well if you like the taste and get one that has a higher protein content. Heck, have a bowl of cereal as well if you can afford the calories. Given your timeframe, I’d skip the Xtend after your workout since protein will have the same effect. Your idea about having Xtend and then a Cliff Bar later is fine as well. You’ll have to experiment a little to see what’s optimal for your body. Some people’s bodies beg for calories right after exercising. Others appetites are suppressed. So do what’s best for you and don’t worry about the marginal benefit that may come from waiting to eat. Good luck!

  • Melissa:

    I’ve been hearing a lot about HIIT and found your article extremely helpful. (Thank you!) Since September 2010 I’ve gone from 231 to 148 (I’m 5’3″ and 22). I’m a lot closer to my goal weight now (120-125) and finding it a little harder to lose weight. I’d love to implement this in my workout routine a couple of times a week. How do you recommend I do this with running? I’m a little confused as to what ratios I should be doing with the sprinting vs. rest, and I’m not sure how long this workout should be for me (15 min? 20? 30?) Any help would be appreciated :)

  • Melissa,
    Thanks for the compliments on the article, although you should be the one complimented for the dramatic weight loss! The last 10-20lbs can be the toughest but if you haven’t performed HIIT yet, I think it could help jump start your weight loss. Here’s how I’d lay it out, minus all the mumbo jumbo about HGH, glycogen and lactic acid!

    I assume you’ve never done this type of workout so I’d do it in 3 steps.

    Step 1: 30 minute workout
    -2 minute warmup: slow jog (can be longer; I happen to walk the dog right before training so that serves as a warmup for me).
    -8 minute intense intervals: run really fast for 15 seconds and then jog slowly or even walk for 45 seconds; repeat 8 times. Since you’re just starting, try to perform at an 8 out of 10 effort (a 10 effort would be max sprinting, like running away from a lion; an 8 should get you breathing really hard; if you can speak, it’s not enough effort).
    -20 minute steady state jog: run at a nice easy pace or even a fast walk

    Step 2: 30-40 minute workout
    -2 minute warmup
    -8 minute intense intervals: this time try to make the intense portion a 9 out of 10
    -20-30 minute steady state jog

    Step 3: 40-50 minute workout
    -2 minute warmup
    -8 minute intense intervals: try to up it to a 10 out of 10 effort. You may not be able to perform all 8 sets at 10 out of 10 at first, but you’ll get there.
    -20-30 minute steady state jog
    -10 minute intervals: 1 minute of fast jogging (6-7 out of 10 intensity) followed by 1 minute of slow jogging repeated 5 times

    If you get through all those steps and feel like you need more exercise, you can tack on some more steady state cardio at the end. I’d only perform this routine 2-3 days per week with at least 1 day off between workouts. You can always perform steady state cardio by doing a slow jog or fast walk on other days. If you’re currently doing leg training with weights, I’d recommend stopping since HIIT with strengthen your legs.

    Does that clear things up a little? I’m happy to offer any more tips if I can.


  • Mike:

    Hi Dave — Was just wondering, do you use a heart rate monitor when you work out? Do you recommend using one while doing HIIT?

  • Mike,
    I don’t use a heart rate monitor during HIIT. I don’t feel like I need one because I put forth the maximum effort during short HIIT, just do a steady pace for the middle part, and do some faster intervals at the end. If you feel like it helps your intensity go ahead and get one. It would be most useful for steady state and long interval HIIT.

  • Moni:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for a great article! I have a question about doing HIIT on the same day as weight lifting. I currently work out 4 days a week (M-Th), alternating body pump (weights) and the elliptical with body flow (yoga/pilates) and zumba. I would like to do HIIT on the elliptical after my body pump class, but have seen differing opinions about whether it’s ok to do HIIT on the same day as strength training. What do you think? Also, is spinning a form of HIIT? Thanks for your help!

  • Josh H:

    Thanks Dave, are there any upper body HIIT alternatives you recommend maybe?

  • Luke:


    Very good article, just what i’m looking for. And I’v found it :)

    ..I have a question about HIIT surface,
    Can I perform HIIT on road (like hard surfacec)? or its not recommended?

    Sorry for bad language and ..thanks for answer.

  • Moni,
    I think it’s a great idea to perform HIIT after a weight training workout. Here’s an article I wrote about whether you should perform cardio before or after weight training.

    Spinning can be a form of HIIT but in my opinion, true HIIT involves a max intense interval followed by a low intensity interval. Spinning is a hard effort the entire time with some random sprints and hills thrown in. Regardless of whether you do spinning or HIIT as I described above, I’m sure you’ll get a great workout. If you do perform HIIT after strength training, just watch out for overtraining. Zumba can be a pretty good workout on its own so you’ll end up training your legs 4 days in a row.

    Light weight circuit training, pushups, and boxing are the way I’d go for upper body HIIT routines. For circuit training and/or pushups, the do as many reps as you can in 15 seconds and then rest for 30-45 seconds before either doing another round. Steady state cardio can just be a fast walk. Boxing is my preferred upper body HIIT workout though. Even if you don’t have a punching bag, you can do shadow boxing.

    I don’t think the surface you train on matters much. The downside to training on a hard surface is that it’s a high impact exercise meaning more pressure on joints and therefore a higher potential for injury. For running outside in general, it’s always better to run on grass or an unpaved surface. If you could find a rubberized track, that would work as well. If a road or sidewalk is all you have, then go with it. If you start feeling pain in your joints or shins then it might be too high impact for you.


  • Candace:

    First off, I wanted to thank you for all of the time and dedication you offer your readers! Impressive really, and greatly appreciated. God bless you for all your efforts and extreme generosity! In this day and age where every one is out to “make a buck” off of their wealth of knowledge and expertize, it’s refreshing to have someone give of it so freely! I am so happy to have found your site and feel it is just the source for all the mysteries I’ve been seeking real and HONEST answers for. I read every comment and every response in regard to this post, and have already learned so much. I do have one question of my own– while I do realize it’s a very ‘relative’ matter, I was wondering if you could tell me exactly how fast I should be sprinting/jogging. After I read your post last Friday I immediately started incorporating HIIT into my workout regimen. I am a 33 year old female– I am 5’9″ tall and weigh 140. I have been using the ‘speed interval’ setting on a treadmill at the gym and set the sprint at 9.5 with the jog pace at 4.0. Does this sound right? I understand it’s probably not an exact science, (nor does it need to be?) I just want to make sure I am getting the most out of my HIIT session. Is the key just to run as fast as my legs can carry me for those 15 secs w/o getting myself ejected off the back of the treadmill? –(tried that once…it wasn’t very fun!) Also, I know you really stress the whole idea of giving up on leg training after incorporating HIIT, but I do pilates (which includes leg training with band) 2X a week in the evening (doing the HIIT 3X in the AM following pilates) and just want to make sure I am not over training. Would it be best to do HIIT the morning of my pilates classes,or keep it on the morning following. One last thing..I would love the beach body read but I am not a “facebooker.” Would you mind emailing it to me? Again– many, many thanks! You truly are so kind.

    *BTW… if you ever did decide to “make a buck” I would be the first in line;)

  • Candace,
    Thanks a lot for all the nice compliments. I’m happy to help if I can. First of all, it seems like you’re already in very good shape. Hopefully HIIT will help you get into phenomenal shape! It sounds like you’re spot on with your treadmill speeds, although I’m fairly ignorant when it comes to the treadmill. Based on what I know about others’ routines, 3.5-4.0 is a perfect speed for the steady state/jogging interval. 9.5 sounds fast enough for most people to ramp up their heart rate and work up a sweat so if it does the same for you, then you’re all set. You are correct that the key is maximum intensity with minimal injury! If you can speak or even think of anything except when your 15 seconds of pain is over, then try working a little harder. As you adapt, you may find that you have to up the treadmill by another 0.5 every few workouts.

    Since you’ve read all my comments, you probably have seen that I tend to ramble…so moving right along…I think performing HIIT the morning after pilates is fine. If your legs are always sore, overtraining might be a concern. Since pilates uses bands and not heavy weights, I’d like to think you’ll be fine. Just take a full week off every 8-12 weeks to be sure.

    I’ll email the beach body report to you as well. I hope you enjoy it.

    Let me know if I can help with anything else.

  • Josh H:

    Thanks! Also, thank you for the great article, I didn’t mean to be selfish and just ask a question, and thank you for the advice. Means a lot!

  • Josh,
    No need to thank me. I’m just passing along what I’ve learned over the years. Feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like!

  • Rick:

    Great site. And the fact you’re a former wrestler makes it that much better.

    A quick question for you. I’m not sure if what I’m doing would be considered HIIT or not, would like your opinion.

    3 times a week, I go to the back stairwell at my building and I run the stairs. From floor to roof it’s 72 steps (I consider that one “flight” – it’s actually 4 at 18 steps per flight…). So on Monday I will go to the back stairwell, walk up and down a “flight”, then I do 6 sets of the following; run up, jog down, run up, jog down, sprint up (taking 2 steps at a time) jog down, repeat; After 6 sets I walk up and down a “flight”. That’s a total of 20 “flights” and takes about 24 to 25 minutes. I have timed what it takes to run up a “flight” roughly 33 seconds, and the sprints take about 18 seconds (that’s just the “up” portion).

    On Wednesday I run several “flights” up and down, for about 12 minutes or so, then I’ll sprint 4 or 5 “flights” in a row, then back to running until I hit the 25 to 28 minute mark, then walk a “flight”.

    On Friday I will walk a “flight” up and down, then run 4, and sprint 2, repeating this 3 times, then walk the last “flight” up and down. Again, as with Monday, this is 20 “flights”, but a different ‘cadence’ sort of speak. Occasionally I will add push-ups at the top of the sprint legs, depends on if I was able to lift that week or not (I travel a bit, and even the very nice hotels don’t always have great gyms, but they all have stairs). And to mix it up a little more, after the stairs I will head over to the gym (very lucky our building has a nice gym) and jump some rope or do some ab work. Then at least once a week, and on a good week, twice, I will lift on my off days. All dumbbell work, all fairly heavy to as heavy as I can go, and all compound joint/compound exercise lifts, i.e. squats, deadlifts, cleans to push press, rows, benches…

    So bottom line, would you quantify the stair routines as HIIT?

  • Rick,
    Glad you enjoy the site. I’d say your routine qualifies as HIIT. When you run up all those steps, you may feel a little lactic acid burn (similar to long interval HIIT). When you sprint, you should be completely out of breath and sweating profusely (short interval HIIT). The jog down is a nice steady state interval. It’s good to vary the routine; keeping things unpredictable can help you burn fat. If you’re up for a change, you could try implementing some of the tips from my article. Basically sprint a flight and jog back down for 8 sets, jog up and down for 15-20 minutes, and then run up and jog down for 4-5 sets.

    Excellent point about hotels and gyms…that’s when bodyweight exercises can really shine. I do thinking lifting at least once a week is important. It depends on your overall goals but if you’re burning a lot of calories and eating low calorie, muscle loss can become a problem. The best way to prevent that is by continuing to train the muscles. Compound exercises with heavy weights and low reps are the best way to train. I’d avoid failure if strength is your goal. Watch out with squats and deadlifts in particular. They’re awesome exercises but with all that running, you may risk overtraining your legs.

    Bottom line though, you’re performing a form of HIIT. It’s similar to Fartlek training in a way:

    More importantly, have you seen good results from your routine? HIIT is just a term; as long as you’re satisfied with the results it doesn’t matter what it’s called.


  • Amber:

    Hi Dave,
    I have a few questions regarding your HIIT post. I do HIIT 3x a week, strength train 4x ( only arms and abs ) & then steady state cardio for the days I’m not doing HIIT & zumba 5-6x a week.
    Would you say that’s too much? My body doesn’t feel tired, if it did.. I would quit doing so much. As for my HIIT routine, I do a 10 minute warm-up on the elliptical ( strides per min 145 ) & then I do 1:1 for my intervals. My high being 220 spm & my low in the 130 spm area. Would you consider that good ? I continue that for 10 sets, & then I stay on for another 30 minutes at 160-190spm.
    I’m just curious as to if this gonna be something where I will see some results. I’ve lost about 50 lbs & I’m looking to switch things up! I have about 20 more to go. Sorry for the long post & I appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  • Amber:

    Oh, yeahh .. & will HIIT increase my metabolism for awhile after I workout. Like if I keep doing it & keep my routine up will my metabolism be raised indefinitely?

  • Rick:


    Thanks for the reply. Yes I am sweating during these workouts, no doubt. More like “dripping”. I did see the post on Fartlek and thought – “Hey, that sounds a lot like what I do on various days”. Good to know.

    I like the fact that you mention “goals”. Quite honestly I think that is one of the biggest issues people have when they begin a workout or training regime, they don’t have goals or a good understanding of what they want to get out of it. I hear it all the time – “I want to lose weight, get in shape…” What does that mean? That’s like saying – “I’m getting into the stock market because I want to make money, get rich.” Good luck with that.

    My goals are very simple, at 54 I want to stay in good overall shape, maintain good strength, flexibility and aerobic/anaerobic conditioning. I have no need to be able to bench press a truck, nor run a marathon. I have no desire to be “huge”, nor “ripped” (never liked that term), but want to keep my body fat percentage right around 10. I also enjoy eating, so hard cardio plays a role in not only my conditioning, but in me being able to enjoy some of the simpler things like ice cream and chocolate… And although I don’t wrestle live anymore (the body just does not recoup like it once did), I do get on the mat with my sons and some of their (college) teammates, and do some hard drilling, as well as do a lot of clinics throughout the year. Being able to do that for as long as possible is one of my motivators.

    Thanks again for the reply, and great site, keep it up.

  • Amber,
    You are certainly doing a lot of exercise! However, if you’re seeing results and don’t feel like you’re overtraining (see my newest post for more info on that), then keep it up. I’m not sure how long you’ve been doing the routine, but I might tone it down at some point as well. Then ramp up the intensity all over again. Your body can only push so hard for so long.

    I don’t really track strides per minute in my own workout but based on the numbers you gave me, I’d say you’re doing very well. Have you been doing this HIIT routine for a while or did you just add it? If you’ve been doing it for a while, I might recommend switching it up and giving my routine outlined in the post a go. If it’s new, I expect you’ll see very good results. Of course, all this is dependent on eating well…

    As for metabolism, HIIT will increase your metabolism for up to 24 hours after your workout. This afterburn effect is what makes it more efficient than steady state cardio. In general though, it’s difficult to increase your metabolism, especially as you age. Adding muscle mass helps a little. Things like caffeine, Omega 3s, and some other supplements supposedly help. However, all of these things are only marginal changes. At the end of the day, it’s much harder to lose the weight than keep it off. Form good habits now and you’ll have some more latitude when you reach your goal. It’s the people who use fad diets who tend to regain the weight.

    Great job on your weight loss already…if you can lose 50lbs, I have no doubt that you can lose the next 20. Let me know if I can help further.


  • Rick,
    I share a lot of the same goals as you…strength, conditioning, a healthy body, low body fat. I also have the same indulgences which is another reason I like to exercise. For most people, when sweets/treats are used as a reward for exercise, they tend to fail to get the body they want. However, I think you have a good mindset and a similar one to me. These can be treats if you go above and beyond when it comes to exercising…that means really intense routines. Great to hear you can still keep up with people half your age as well. Feel free to comment on any future posts as you have some excellent insights.

  • rajib:

    hi dave,
    i have recently developed fat around my waist…so i started jogging…then i stumbled upon this concept of HIIT. it promises better result in less time, i heard. But i was a bit confused how to make my own routine. your post helped a lot to clear those confusions. i will try to fallow your advice. right now my routine comprises-15 sec sprint fallowed by 45 sec brisk walk for 20 min. i have been doing this for just 2 days…i am a bit ashamed to admit that i have never worked out before!! so i started slow. is it ok or should i enhance it in any way…
    also are there any means you can suggest which will keep me motivated to keep on working out…

    i have read all your replies. its so nice and assuring that you take pains to read all the comments and provide valuable advice..thank you so much…

  • Rajib,
    A lot of people have never worked out before and a lot never take that first step either. I congratulate you on heading down a path that should lead to fat loss. Since you are just starting out, I’m guessing the sprints are not quite full intensity. That’s perfectly fine until you get a base level of fitness. Once you get to that point, I’d recommend all out sprints. 8 minutes would be more than enough for the 15 second sprint / 45 second walk part. 20 minutes of true sprint intervals would be very challenging.

    Motivational techniques are unique to each individual. Perhaps you’d be motivated if you weighed in every week. Maybe you take a picture of yourself every week. Maybe you reward yourself with monetary compensation for achieving a weight loss goal…or penalize yourself for skipping workouts. There is hopefully some trigger in your life that will really help push you to continue exercising.

    Hope that helps. Let me know if I can clear up anything else!

  • Erin:

    Hi, I am on week 2 and I am wondering if this is really all the cardio I will need. It just feels so easy when I do the HIIT workouts, I feel like I am cheating because I am not sweating. Also, I am doing it on a treadmill so maybe it is not intense enough…..Or maybe I should skip to a different week? Thanks for your time!

  • Erin,
    Sorry for the confusion but are you referring to Week 2 of the Visual Impact for Women program? If so, then you’re probably correct, Week 2 isn’t very challenging. If you’re in pretty good shape already, then you might consider doing Week 3 or Week 4.

    If those aren’t working for you, then give my routine a try. If you’re not sweating after the first 8 minutes of short interval HIIT, then I’d say you’re not performing intense enough sprints. To me, a sprint is maximum effort…by definition, no matter what type of shape you’re in, if you’re giving a max effort, you’ll get a good workout and probably sweat.

    Hope I answered your question in my own roundabout way.

  • chrissy:

    If i do HIIT workout 3 times a week nd eat properly how long before i would start seeing results??

  • Chrissy,
    It really depends. If you’re only a little overweight, you might only lose 1-2lbs per week. When that becomes noticeable in the mirror, I’m not sure. You would probably lose more weight faster if you were in the obese stage. Personally, I’d say you should see some visible results within a month. If not, double check your diet and make sure you’re exercising intensely enough.

  • Dave,
    I really like the HIIT workouts and have the discipline to do the workouts, but I really lack the discipline to eat the proper diet for these intensity levels. Do you have clients that you have helped to overcome these issues? If so, how did they do it?

  • Chris,
    Could you clarify what you mean when you say you don’t have the discipline to eat the proper diet? Does that mean you don’t lose weight because you eat too much or does that mean you just eat junk food all time which makes you lethargic and unable to perform workouts intensely?

  • Deep:

    Hi Dave,

    I am 18 years old and I’m trying to get back in shape for the summer. I used to do steady cardio, then recently just replaced the steady cardio with a HIIT routine after reading about it.

    Here’s my routine:
    Day 1: HIIT 5 minute light jog warmup. 8 sets of 30 sec sprints with 1 minute 30 second walking rest periods. 5 minute light jog cooldown.

    Day 2: Upper body strength training

    Day 3 : Rest

    I basically repeat these three days throughout the week, and I’ve been doing this for a week or so. I’ve been losing a bit of fat, and have been gaining some muscle mass. Should I continue this schedule? Also, for my HIIT routine, I’ve been reading a lot about Tabata. Is it more efficient than what I am doing? Should I shorten the sprint periods along with the rest periods? I am making slow but steady progress. The HIIT routine makes me pretty sore though, and even after two days of rest from HIIT, It gets pretty tough but I endure through it. I feel great, but is what I’m doing too intense for my age? (By the way I’ve been reading through your posts… you are really helpful. You are awesome!)

  • Deep,
    I’m glad you’ve seen success with HIIT so far. Honestly, I wouldn’t progress to Tabata until you feel like you’ve stopped losing fat from HIIT. To some, Tabata doesn’t sound hard but if you’re really performing all out intense sprints and only give yourself 10 seconds rest, it’s exceptionally hard and takes a high level of conditioning. The rest of your routine sounds great. If you have some more time, it helps to do steady state cardio after HIIT, even 10-15 minutes.

    In general, I think performing intense exercise is appropriate for most ages. At 18, your body is at a great stage where it can burn fat and gain muscle much easier than when you’re older. A healthy diet always helps too. I think you’ll find the soreness goes away over time. Any time you begin something new to your muscles, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is an issue. Not a big deal at all.

    Thanks for the compliments on my posts.

    Here’s my take on Tabata by the way and DOMS:


  • Deep:

    Ahh thanks Dave. I’ll definitely add in some steady cardio after HIIT. I’ll stick with this current HIIT routine until it becomes easier and my body gets used to it and then progress slowly to tabata instead of jumping into it right away.

    Thanks again for the great advice!


  • Deep,
    That sounds like a good plan. As you continue to increase the intensity, don’t forget to take a week off every 2-3 months.

  • Lucas:

    Hi Dave, Im going to start doing this HIIT cardio training, But was thinking of doing the cardio in the morning before breakfast then doing a HIIT weights routine in the evening and was hoping you could help me out by telling me what would be the best routine for the weights ? To get the best possible effects ?

  • Lucas,
    Morning cardio is a great way to burn fat. Just be sure you’re properly hydrated. In the evening, if you’re looking to do some more high intensity exercising, I’d avoid leg training since that will lead to overtraining. If you’re focused mostly on fat burning rather than muscle building, you could perform a circuit training routine. Here’s a post I did on some possible exercises:

    Boxing is another great upper body HIIT routine. You could also just perform a regular strength training routine focused on low reps, heavy weights, and avoid training to failure. This would help you build lean, dense muscles.

    Let me know if you need more details.

  • I’ve used high intensity interval training in my marathon training to get my VO2 max up, it really does help, since I incorporated it my times have tumbled over a range of distances … I use it in the gym as well ..

  • Keith:

    Dave, thanks for the site as it provides a ton of information for someone like me who has never really been into running or other exercise. I recently completed the couch to 5k program I had heard about. I am looking to boost my mile times (which are right now around 9mpm) to closer to 7mpm. I jog almost 4 miles a day 3 days a week. Is the 45 minute HIIT/Steady rate program you have recommended here going to help me get to my goal mile time? I wasn’t sure if I needed to get to my goal distance and then work on speed or get speed to my distance. I am going into a police academy in 12-18 months and need to be able to run 6 miles at a 7 minute per mile pace.

  • Richard,
    Good comment about increasing VO2Max. I’ve discussed that aspect in a little more detail on this post:

    Thanks for the good feedback. As for improving your mile time…I’m a big advocate of practice makes perfect. Your body will adapt and suddenly you will be able to run without feeling as tired. At that point, you should be able to improve your speed. However, an anaerobic exercise like HIIT has actually shown the ability to improve aerobic capacity better than aerobic exercise (like long distance running) since it increases VO2Max. So I do think there’s some value to incorporating that as well. Being that I usually just train to get in better shape instead of improving my mile times, I’d refer you to these articles by Stew Smith. He’s a former Navy SEAL who offers advice on passing military fitness tests:

    Also, if you’re looking for general running tips, here’s a post I did (again, geared more toward weight loss, injury prevention and good form):

    Good form can go a long way toward making running more efficient; therefore you can improve your time. A couple other general suggestions: lose body fat since extra body fat just slows you down; ensure adequate rest time after intense workouts or long runs; stay hydrated.

    The great thing is that you’re starting early and giving yourself plenty of time to achieve your goal. Hope that provides enough info. Sorry I can’t get into more specifics based on my experiences. If you want tips on losing body fat, I can certainly provide more assistance there!

    Good luck!

  • hey I am 15 and I weigh 110 pounds I know I don’t sound fat but I feel huge and I am not perfect and I want to be perfect can this make me perfect in like a month or less? Like I want to fix my stomach and do some toning in certain areas..

  • Emily,
    First off, I don’t know your height, but at your current weight, I’m guessing you’re already in pretty good shape. I’d urge you to be a little careful in trying to be “perfect.” Sometimes goals like that lead to eating disorders and unhealthy habits. That being said, if you’re looking to tone your muscles and reduce some body fat, HIIT should be effective. Belly fat is challenging since it is a stubborn area for most people, but try to do HIIT 2-3 times per week and see what happens.

  • Meg:

    I noticed in your 3-part workout [HiiT, 25 min. steady pace, longer interval] – – your first intervals are 15/45 – – – I thought HiiT intervals were more of 20/10 – – was wondering why you chose the 15/45 and how and when do we know which time interval to use??? Is there an advantage of 15/45 over the 20/10 or 30/30 or etc.???

  • Tacos:

    I’ve been reading about Guerrilla HIIT or Tabata Sprints. Is it true that it’s one of the more difficult forms of Tabata, but it can put you in shape fairly quickly?

  • Meg,
    20/10 intervals are generally referred to as Tabata intervals. I did a post on those here:

    You can construct a HIIT workout with any interval lengths you like. My rationale for starting with 15/45 intervals is that you perform an all out, intense sprint for 15 seconds. It’s very challenging for most people to truly sprint longer than 20 seconds so 15 seconds seem like a good amount of time. The reason I want an all out sprint is to maximize HGH release and release of fatty acids. I like 45 seconds of rest because it allows my body and lungs a nice amount of recovery time before sprinting all out again. With all these fatty acids in the bloodstream, I perform steady state cardio to burn them off.

    Longer intervals of “sprinting” result in more lactic acid which leads to reduction of glycogen levels. In my opinion these intervals aren’t true sprints, but just really fast running. You definitely feel the burn though. The less recovery time you take, the more likely you’ll get that lactic burn. The reason I do these 1:1 intervals at the end is to fully deplete glycogen levels and allow my body to burn fat after completion of the workout.

    I don’t think there’s any set rule about any of this. I just do what feels best for my body based on these fundamentals. Does that make any sense?


  • Tacos,
    Here’s my post on Tabata:

    I’d say the level of intensity associated with guerilla HIIT or Tabata sprints is sufficient to help you get in great shape in a pretty short time period. Just make sure your body doesn’t burn out and allow a day of rest between workouts. The real challenge is getting to the point where you can finish the full 4 minute Tabata protocol while still doing all out sprints.


  • Marcos:

    Hi Dave.

    Great article, you’re the man!

    I started this HIIT training recommendation today. I felt great, lot of energy and motivated as I never had felt before. I have some conditioning but I started walking (the 45 secs of rest period) instead of slow pace jog.
    Please I just have a question. Here are my supplements I take before my jogging and I was just wondering if I could keep with them for this HIIT training:
    a. a hour before: Carbo (maltodextrin + dextrose)
    b. 1/2 hour before: BCAA
    c. post HITT: Carbo (maltodextrin + dextrose), Isolated Whey Protein & BCAA.

    Do you think that’s okay?

    I do not want to loose weight anymore (I’m 5’8″ and 143 lbs, body fat: 12% now, but had 198 lbs and 29% of body fat last year. I got a lot of fat and increased weight due an injury back) just want to rip and burn some remaining fat around belly and hips.

    Any advice is appreciated.

    Thanks and congrats again for this post and site!

    Cheers from Brazil,

  • Marcos,
    Welcome from Brazil! Glad to hear the HIIT workout went well. The only thing I would change with your pre-workout nutrition is cutting out the carbo drink an hour before. I’m a big fan of fasted workouts, especially with HIIT. The BCAAs will help you preserve muscle and your post workout nutrition looks good to me. Here’s an article I did on fasted cardio if you’re interested:

    Overall, it’s always challenging to lose fat without losing weight since that implies you’re building muscle at the same time. However, if you’re doing strength training in addition to HIIT and eating right around maintenance calories, you can in fact do it.

    Sounds like you’ve had quite a weight loss journey already so congrats on chopping so much weight and body fat. The last few % body fat is generally the toughest so just be patient and keep up the hard work.


  • Hi Dave :), losing the belly fat is not an easy task. You are indeed right in saying that training should not be overdone. It should be practiced in a normal amount of time to achieve a normal outcome. :)

    ~Sean Franco
    Ayurvedic Dietary Supplements from India

  • Vikas:

    Hey Dave – Thanks for sharing this information. I read through all the comments and found it very informative as well. The fact that you find time to patiently answer each query to the best of your ability is truly rare.

    Coming to my question, I am 5’8″ and weight 176lbs. I workout 5 days a week with each day concentrating on 1 body part..i.e. Bicep, triceps, Chest etc. I have been following this routine regularly for about 4 months now and have seen a good result on all the body part but haven’t seen a huge change on my belly…or maybe I am expecting too much. I do have a little extra fat on my belly and I am keen to burn it as quickly as possible. Ab crunches is also part of my exercise routine on alternate days. I have not done much of cardio as I was under the assumption that weight training is a faster way to burning body fat…is that wrong ?

    I read this post on HIIT and your other post on Tabata as well. I wanted to take your suggestion on whats the best way for me to burn belly fat given my current routine ? Should I follow the HIIT or Tabata on alternate days along with the weight training…and should I do it before or after the weight training for maximum benefit ?
    BTW…I do start my day with steady state cardio for about 5-6 minutes.

    Cheers…All the way from India :)


  • Vikas,
    Thanks for taking time to read the other responses. It sounds like you’re dedicating to your workout routine which is a good thing. I’ve never been a huge fan of 1 body part split routines but if you enjoy it, keep it up. The challenge with belly fat is that it’s stubborn, especially on guys. You’ll have to focus on reducing overall body fat through HIIT or intense circuit training…or maybe more importantly diet. I don’t like crunches at all either; planks are the best abdominal exercise in my opinion. Regardless, you can’t spot reduce belly fat.

    Weight training can theoretically burn as many calories as cardio. However, I find I can perform cardio at a more intense level to generate a higher HGH release.

    Bottom line here, I think HIIT could help you achieve your goals. Depending on your specific workout days and time constraints, you could add in HIIT right after weight training. For safety and other reasons, I’ve always found it best to do weight training first. It’s fine to do HIIT completely separate from weight training as well. I like to do HIIT in the morning and weight training at night. Steady state cardio won’t provide a huge benefit on its own, especially if it’s only for 5-6 minutes. It can serve as a nice warmup, but the extra calorie burn would be miniscule.

    Lots of info that I can go into further detail on so let me know what would be helpful.


  • Vikas:

    Thanks for the prompt reply. So as per your suggestion I think it’s best to do HIIT/Tabata for fat burning…would you suggest one over the other in my specific case ?

    It would help if you tell me what kind of HIIT/Tabata regime should I follow ? I can probably do it on alternate days after doing my weight training. Unfortunately I cannot separate it entirely from the weight training as I exercise only once in a day in the morning. And when you say sprint (during HIIT)…is there a specific speed at which I should sprint ?

    And should I start doing Plank along with weight training and HIIT or just continue the weight training along with HIIT ?


  • Vikas,
    Choosing between HIIT and Tabata will depend on your current level of fitness. If you’re experienced with all out sprints, you could give Tabata a try. However, if you’re new to cardio, best to stick with the HIIT workout I outlined in the post. Sprinting is meant to be done all out to maximize the HGH release but if you haven’t sprinted all out before, don’t overdo it. No specific speed, just go as fast as your legs can carry you so you’ll really tire out your lungs. Let me know if you have questions about the rest of the routine outlined in the post.

    Planks will help you develop core strength so I would add those after weight training on alternate days as well. Here’s my recommended routine:

    As your body adapts, you can add some more sophisticated exercises, but I’d stick with planks for now.

    Since you exercise 5 days per week, maybe add HIIT to 2 workouts and planks to 3 workouts? If you want to accelerate fat burning, you could do 3 HIIT workouts and add planks to the 2 other days. Just be sure to give your legs adequate rest. If you’re already doing weight training for legs, you’ll need to be especially careful.


  • Vikas:

    Excellent. Thanks Mate. I will follow your advise on starting with the HIIT, I am going to follow the 1:1 ratio…actually I did try it out today. But is it necessary to do 7-8 reps of this to get optimum results…can I do with 5-6 reps ?

    I am going to incorporate HIIT for 3 days and planks for the other 2 days after my weight training.

    BTW…that picture of Jason…is that for real ? Can anyone actually do that ? I do know that Jason is one of the fittest celebrity around but that is incredible.


  • Vikas,
    Sounds like a good plan. For the total number of sets/reps, there are diminishing returns to adding more so 5-6 might be a good starting point. As you get in better shape, maybe move up to 7-8. If I haven’t already made the point, you should change up your routine every 2-3 months as well. Whether that’s adjusting the length of the interval or the ratio is up to you.

    The Human Flag is in fact possible. I don’t know if that’s a real picture of Jason Statham, but here’s the world record video for a human flag:

    Obviously it requires immense upper body and core strength.

  • John OB:

    I had a question…I started a diet/exercise plan on January 7th of this year, It’s been almost 6 months and I’ve gone from 380lbs to 285lbs (as of a week or so ago). I did a total diet change and started rowing at home. I have a Concept 2 rower…went from 1,000 meters a day to now doing 7,000 every morning. I get up around 5:30am to do this, as I am pretty busy with kids, work, etc…I like getting it done early. I have done my rowing everyday since I started, 7 days a week, never missing a workout. I know I should take a break but I’ve been losing 3-5 lbs a week and can’t stop.

    Anyway, although I am still losing weight and tempted to just keep on the same routine…it’s getting dull. The 7,000 meters I do is all steady (take me around 27 minutes, 20 seconds to do it)…although it’s steady I do 500 meters fast (1:55 split or so), then 500 meters slower (2:00 split or so). I am not sure if what I am doing already is HIIT at some level, even though I am not going my fastest.

    I was hoping for some advice on a good HIIT routine on a rower. I machine’s montior has some template workouts that seem good like 1:40 row, 30 seconds off for 10 sets or so…or a pyramid workout (row 1 min, 1 min off…2 min, 2 min off…etc). Also, I am confused during the rest period should I row just really slow or totally stop?


  • John,
    That is some amazing weight loss. Keep up the great work! Honestly, I’m not worried about you not missing a workout. It sounds like you’ve been doing low intensity rowing for the most part. As long as you don’t feel fatigued or have symptoms of overtraining, then you’re good to keep exercising without a break.

    It sounds like you’ve been doing a little interval training. It’s hard to do a full HIIT routine on a rower. If you up the resistance, it gets more challenging but isn’t necessarily any harder on your lungs. One option might be to use low resistance and go as fast as you can for 1 minute and then do steady state for 1 minute. All of this will depend on what you consider a high intensity workout. If you can, keep switching back and forth for 15 minutes and then spend the next 10-15 minutes just doing steady state rowing. I think the template workouts you mentioned sound fine as well although in my opinion, the higher intensity you go, the shorter the interval will need to be. Keeping up a real high intensity for over 1 minute is challenging. If you’re doing a 1:40 row, it might be closer to medium intensity. For rest periods, I believe in keeping the body moving but at a much lower intensity. As I say in the post, I go from sprinting to pretty much walking. You could do the same with rowing…go from really fast to really slow.

    Give it a try and let me know how it goes. You can always tweak your routine as you continue to adapt. I hope you continue on the great weight loss path of 3-5lbs per week…the speed of your weight loss with eventually slow down but if you keep pushing, I’m sure you’ll keep losing weight.


  • John OB:

    Thanks Dave…your encouraging words are appreciated. I actually bought a Schwinn Airdyne bike now…something to break up the workout a bit and from what I understand, the bike would be a great HIIT tool. I think I might stick to my regular rowing routine 5 days a week and maybe twice a week do a 15-20 minute bike HIIT routine. I think I am still too heavy to run or sprint…I like the rower because it’s pretty non-impact (I think the bike is too). I also love the idea of bodyweight exercises, but again, I don’t feel I am “light” enough to do them yet. Personally I find it hard to change my workouts…like I said, as boring as it can be doing the same drill daily I see the results. I’m afraid I might slow down my weight loss if I change, but part of me thinks maybe I could be doing better with less time if I did. There’s the rub. :)

  • John,
    The bike will be a great addition to your arsenal. Two days a week doing some interval training combined with the rowing should lead to great results. Take things slow with intense exercise. Don’t needlessly push too hard until you’re ready. The bike and rower are both low impact exercises and you’ll do well with them. Don’t worry about incorporating bodyweight training yet…it will be a lot easier to do pushups, pullups, etc. after you drop more weight. As long as you’re seeing results from you workouts, you don’t necessarily need to change either. A lot of people just hit plateaus after 2-3 months and a fresh routine can increase motivation. There’s always ways to create more efficient routines but I think you have a great plan in place as is. Worry about sprints and HIIT once your weight loss significantly slows down.

  • Patrick:

    Hi and thanks again for the post about HIIT! I’m a 27 year old male and I’ve been struggling with a flabby belly since I was a kid. I finally lost about 35 lbs from diet (mostly lifestyle changes), but I still have a layer of soft, squishy fat on my stomach. I hear that this is a sign of fat getting broken down? Anyway, I’m going to start doing HIIT training on a treadmill 3 times per week before work. How long do you think it will take to see some good results? I want to finally shed this flab from my stomach once and for all, and I really hope HIIT is the answer. Would you say consistency is the biggest factor? Or intensity?

  • Patrick,
    It sounds like you’re well on your way to getting in great shape. You’ve encountered the same problem most guys have…stubborn belly fat. If you’ve gotten pretty lean without using HIIT, I think you’ll start to see significant fat burn after implementing it. I think consistency will be key here. The last 5-10lbs are always the toughest. It could take a couple months before you really eliminate as much fat as you’d like. The intensity will obviously help you get there faster but watch out…too much training at too high an intensity leads to overtraining and muscle loss. If you’re doing HIIT 3 times per week, it’s probably best to avoid strength training for your legs. Let me know if you need any more tips on burning stubborn body fat.

  • Patrick:


    Thanks for your response. Yea, I’ve been trying to get rid of belly fat for many, many years now. It’s so stressful! I really do hope that HIIT is the answer for me. I think my biggest roadblock has been dedication. I start hot and heavy on a program, and then I usually lose interest when I don’t see results. As far as tips to lose belly fat, anything is helpful. As I said before, the layer of fat on my belly has shrunk significantly, but it’s become soft now. I can push it and it’s very squishy feeling and if I’m doing pushups (this sounds gross) I can literally see it hanging in a little jiggly pooch now. It’s never done that before and I’m not sure what it means. I heard it means that fat is being broken down, but again I’m not sure if it’ll be harder to lose in this fashion or not. If you have any information on this type of loose and soft fat and how to lose it, that would help me more than anything. I REALLY hope that HIIT can take care of it!

    Dave, thanks again for your responses and your dedication to help those of us who struggle. It’s more appreciated than you know. Keep up the good work!

  • Patrick,

    Two things as a start. One, stop stressing. Stress screws with your hormones and makes you eat more and store more fat. Two, find a way to keep exercising by switching up your routine every 2-3 months. That makes things interesting and fresh. Results come over the long term. One week or even one month of effort may not reveal noticeable results but string together enough for a long period of time and you’ll definitely see results.

    As for your belly fat, from what you’re describing, I think some of your “belly fat” may just be loose skin. This is a good thing! It means you’ve eliminated the fat. It takes time for your skin to wrap itself around your muscles. Extreme example, but someone who gets liposuction usually has to have a tummy tuck as well because all the fat has been sucked away but the skin can’t immediately adapt to the new shape. The key is to just maintain or continue to lose weight. It will naturally shrink wrap itself.

    Other tips on losing stubborn body fat can be found here:

    No need to thank me either, I appreciate everyone’s effort who tries to do the right thing and lose weight. No reason that I can’t pass along some things I’ve learned over the years. A good support system goes a long way as well and I’m happy to serve in that capacity as well.

    Let me know if you have any more questions on structuring a workout and diet program that fits your lifestyle. In the meantime, just keep exercising a few hours per week and eating mostly healthy.


  • Hi Dave – You are doing a great job with this blog. You active comments sections are really impressive and show your dedication to what you do. Keep up the good work!

  • Jan:

    Hi Dave,

    i’ve really let go in the winter/spring months and was wieghing 104 kg (228 lb) beginning of may (i am 184 cm tall – a bit of 6’0″ and a large build). That raised the alarm so i’ve started paying attention to what and how much i ate, and also started to exercise whenever i could find the time.

    Since then i’ve reached 98 kg (216 lb) and feel a lot better. A couple of days ago i’ve started a more disciplined workout routine (Mo/We/Fr weights upper body, Tu/Th/Sa cardio). I will switch to HIIT instead of the steady pace cardio.

    I have 2 questions: Due to time restraints, i can only work out in the evening (9-10 pm). Do you see any problems or disadvantages in training so late? And second, what do you recommend as a pre and post workout nutrition?

    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work!

  • Kim,
    Thanks for the support!

  • Jan,
    It sounds like you’ve made great progress on losing weight. HIIT should be a welcome change for your routine as well. If you’ve never done HIIT before, maybe start with 1-2 times per week before increasing to 2-3 times per week. Also, don’t feel the need to go all out immediately. Build up to full out sprints as you continue to get in better shape.

    I don’t see any problem with training late at night. I usually prefer morning HIIT because glycogen levels are low meaning you’ll start burning fat a little sooner. Ideally you’d train in a fasted state, not having eaten for at least 3 hours. Post workout, I generally advise waiting 1-2 hours before eating to maximize HGH release. Again, depending on your situation, you might have to eat immediately after. I’ve tried going without food after exercising and I tend to end up losing as much muscle as fat so I’d recommend having a mix of protein and carbs after. A glass of fat free chocolate milk works well. You could do a protein shake if you wanted but they tend to be high calorie. If you wait until after for dinner, that would work as well. Just make sure what you’re eating doesn’t affect your sleep as that’s another critical component of weight loss.


  • Elliot:

    Hey Dave,
    Personal info: I’m just barely 15, played soccer for 12 years so not really new to intense training, about 5’6 117 lbs.
    So I recently built up a 4 pack and I have done research (not sure if its accurate) that said the bottom 2 of the “pack” are most likely hidden in a thin layer of body fat. Further research said that the Hiit program would most likely help burn out that layer to get the final 2. Think this will help? Thanks for any help given.

  • anton:

    i do hiit training and weight traning most days 5-6 days a week i do 1 minute sprint which is 17km/hr and 1 minute low intestiy on 10 km/hr on the tread mill am in afghanistan atm and dont have acess to a good running route err just wondering what else i could do to aid fat loss specially now that the routine coming easyier i started to do 5 mintue warm up sprints to make it harder any tips will be good thanks for listening

  • Elliot,
    Sounds like you’re in excellent shape already. I can’t imagine you have too much fat at your current height/weight, but unfortunately stubborn belly fat is one of the last areas you lose. If you’ve been playing soccer, you’re probably doing a bit of a HIIT workout already. The ability to do any more intense training depends on how often you play soccer. I think it’d be tough to do HIIT in the morning and then play soccer later. That means the only thing you could target is your diet. Here’s an article I did on losing stubborn body fat that might help:

    If you don’t think HIIT will lead to overtraining, then I’d recommend incorporating that as well. You could always focus on more upper body movements like boxing. Make any sense?


  • Anton,
    You can also vary your HIIT workout by changing the length or intensity of the sprint or the walk:sprint ratio. For example, maybe you start doing really intense 30 second sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest. If you’re looking for other exercises that are effective using HIIT principles, you could try burpees or Hindu squats. For your upper body, I’ve always enjoy boxing workouts. Finally, kettlebells are a great way to perform intense exercise as well.

    Here are some posts I did on those topics:

    Let me know if you need any further information.

  • neren:


    I’m 23, 5’10” and 160-165 lbs. I want to gain weight, but lose the bit of lower belly fat I have (it’s not much, but enough to hide the abs). I am currently lifting (stronglifts 5×5) and eating 4-5 meals a day. My main goal is to get big- upper body wise. To do this, I need to eat and lift, which I am doing. The problem is, eating this much increases the fat level in my body, thus increasing the fat around the belly. Should I be doing HIIT? Is it counter to my goals, as I am burning calories that I need to get bigger in my upper body?

    I guess the short question is, will doing HIIT to burn belly fat interfere with my upper body gain? If not, what should the sprint to rest ratio be?

    Thank you!

  • Elliot:

    Thanks for the fast reply Dave!
    Yes my high school JV coach introduced me to hiit last year without me knowing truely what it was / what it was doing. Also when I grab at my tomach down there it pulls maybe an inch high at the most probably closer to 3/4 inch.

    Currently I only have soccer for club right now which is on tuesdays and thursdays for practice. So I usually go work out at California Family Fitnes on mondays wednesdays and fridays, along with an at-home ab routine on these days.

    I know this is kind of a lot, sorry…. Do you think that hiit would work for me if I trained with hiit on wednesday’s and on saturday or sunday. But since I usually work out at Cal-Fit on wednesdays I think I’ll just lower the ammount of effort I put in on wednesday and do Hiit in the morning Cal-Fit evening? Is hiit 2 times per week enough or would 3 be preferable?

    Lastly, when I start doing hit I’m planning on doing an all out sprint for 1 minute then a 4 minute moderate jog, and repeating that 2 more times. Not sure how long I will last, will go more if I can haha. Do you think that would be enough for starters?
    Sorry for the super long reply, but thanks your help is greatly appreciated, Elliot.

  • anton:

    i would like to try out the kettle weights we have them here and my heartlevel doesnt rise faster enough when i do 30/30 thats why i do a minute any tips be great

  • Neren,
    Losing fat while gaining muscle is a hefty challenge. It’s best done slowly over a long time. One thing that might help you is calorie cycling. On the days that you lift, eat your biggest meal of the day about an hour after working out. On the days you perform cardio or don’t lift, keep your calories low (or even consider intermittent fasting). This puts your body in muscle building mode some days and fat burning mode other days.

    Here’s an article I did on that topic:

    In general, I find that I can maintain muscle mass while losing fat. The best test isn’t the scale or body fat tester…it’s the measuring tape and how much you lift. For me, as long as I maintain the same shoulder width while my waist is decreasing and lifts are staying the same or increasing, I know I’m losing fat and maintaining muscle.

    Back to your question on HIIT…I think HIIT will benefit you especially on lower calories days. One concept that I’ll be writing about in the future is G-Flux…basically it’s better for your metabolism and fat burning if you eat more and exercise more rather than just create a caloric deficit through one or the other alone.

    I’m rambling on a bit here, but the other alternative would be to stick with one goal at a time. Gain muscle mass until you are happy with your upper body and then focus on fat loss. This is the approach that Visual Impact Muscle Building has you take. Highly effective in my experience.

    If you decide to incorporate HIIT, short interval HIIT would be good since it results in increased HGH levels meaning you’ll burn fat and preserve muscle. Supplementing with BCAAs around your workouts can help you avoid muscle loss as well.

    Long answer to a brief question but I hope that helps.

  • Elliot,
    Hopefully you have a better idea what HIIT is from the article. Anyway, let’s talk workout routine…as long as soccer practice isn’t overly intense, then doing HIIT Wednesday and then either Saturday or Sunday would be fine. You can work up to 3 days per week if you’d like but see how you do with 2 first. My preference is generally for shorter sprint intervals because I don’t think anything longer than 30 seconds is a true sprint. I expect all out effort until you can’t breath when you sprint. For example, if you can run 200m in 25 seconds, I’ll bet it takes a lot longer than 50 seconds to run 400m because you can’t maintain the same velocity for that long. It’s great for lactic burn which is the goal of long interval HIIT but I think it’s best to do short interval HIIT to increase HGH levels and release fatty acids into the bloodstream. Follow up with some light cardio and end with the long interval HIIT.

    However, if you want to keep the routine to 15 minutes, I’d do 15-20 second sprint with 40-45 second recovery repeated 5-8 times and follow with 5-10 minutes of light cardio. This routine could be done after strength training as well.

    Happy to help you structure this a little more if necessary. Just let me know what your training is at Cal-Fit. Also, if you’re not already doing it, stay away from fast food and junk food if possible…that used to be the biggest challenge when I was 15!


  • Anton,
    You must be in pretty good shape. Kettlebell swings always wear me down. How about giving the Tabata protocol a shot?

    You do an all out sprint for 20 seconds and recover for 10 seconds. You could do this with bodyweight exercises or kettlebells as well. This exhausted Olympic athletes so if done properly you’ll get a great workout.

    Give it a try and let me know what you think.

  • Elliot:

    Your amazing Dave, Thanks!
    Could you please give me a complete guideline of what I should do the HIIT training. Pretty much how long I should sprint, jog, and everything else in the HIIT training. I have as much time as needed to complete the workout.

    For my Cal-Fit training I saw a personal trainer and they went through a workout with me and wrote all the machines down on a sheet thats at the building. I’ll get the sheet next time I go down there (Friday) and let you know what machines are on it, I could tell you the machine numbers and explain the majority of them… but it would take a while. The workout works my pectorals, back, quads, hamstrings, Biceps, and abs will get you exact later. If you would like me to explain further before friday please state so and I can run down there tonight or tomorrow.
    Thanks Dave,

  • Elliot,
    No rush. The reason I ask is that if you’re doing a lot of leg training with weights, HIIT will probably lead to overtraining. Assuming your #1 goal is fat loss, I would honestly skip the leg training or do something explosive like plyometrics in conjunction with HIIT. Doing squats and other leg exercises can really help you gain mass and get strong legs but in my opinion doesn’t necessarily create a better looking body. Historically when I do those exercises my waist expands as well. However, if you want to build up mass/strength in your legs, then I can give you some tips there as well.

    You can see some of my sample workouts in my free e-books (see the right side of the top of the page) but here are some thoughts for you:

    Mon, Wed, Fri: Upper Body Strength Training
    Depending on your goals, you could do low rep strength training, bodyweight training, or even circuit training. Maybe do 45 minutes of weight training followed by 15 minutes of steady state cardio on Mon and Fri and 30 minutes of bodyweight training followed by 30 minutes of HIIT/Steady/HIIT (see below). I wouldn’t lift weights for longer than 45 minutes.

    Wed, Sat (or Sun): HIIT/Steady/HIIT
    Warm up for a couple minutes
    Next 8 minutes: 15-20 second sprint followed by 40-45 second walk/jog (you might only be able to do this for 3-5 minutes at first…work up to 8 over time)
    Next 10 minutes: steady state cardio (light jog)
    Next 10 minutes: 1 minute fast jog, 1 minute slow jog
    Cool down
    You don’t necessarily need to run either…you can use a bike, elliptical, etc. as long as it allows you to perform intense exercise followed by light exercise. If you have more time, add 10-15 minutes to the steady state cardio section. If you’re focused on leg strength, you can substitute or add plyometrics. See this post for details:

    Tues, Thurs: light soccer workout
    If this includes a lot of sprinting, you may have to eliminate the Wed HIIT workout.

    Hope that provides a good starting point. Seems like you’re well on your way…now is the time to do it. It only gets tougher as you get older.


  • Elliot:

    Geese Dave you get more amazing by the post, Thanks~

    Now starting from the top of your paper and working my way down haha. Leg Weights- Usually do leg presses or there called… extensions pretty bad memory, when doing these I rep it 11 times 3 sets at 195 lbs. Honestly thats the only leg exersize using weights I do.

    Upper Body: When I bench, which I only probably do once a month or two, I max out at 120 lbs and rep 75 lbs. I also use different machines for the majority of the upper body muscles pecs, biceps etc. Besides doing machines like these, do you think there is anythin else I can do at home or at Cal-Fit for upper body?

    As for plyometrics every now and then me and my (soccer) friends get together and do some soccer conditioning (roughly 1 time every two weeks). A drill I lead is where we start on the base line squating, hold for 10 seconds and jump, land, squat, hold 10 seconds and jump, land, squat, Etc. All the way up the field. Thats pretty much all the plyometrics I do, Will probably start to do this drill on the days I do HIIT. Any other ideas?

    Lastly for this post, THANKS for the ideas on HIIT, will definately try them this weakend. About to go read your e-book, Thanks for all your help! Have a great ngiht, Elliot

  • Elliot,
    If you like the leg presses, feel free to keep doing them. I really don’t see much downside to dropping then since your legs are getting plenty of exercise elsewhere. Depending on your goals, there are plenty of upper body exercises you could do. Bodyweight training is great: pushups, pullups, dips, inverted rows. Weight training is obviously good as well but make sure someone helps you with proper form. I prefer low rep training since it leads to the greatest strength and muscle density. That means 3-5 reps per set. Again, depending on your goals, I’ll bet you could add a decent amount of mass if you wanted to…might slow you down a bit in soccer though. Soccer plyos sound pretty good as well. One more standard disclaimer, at your age hopefully you’re not overly obsessed with your diet. Let your body grow and develop naturally. Let me know if you have any other questions after reading the book.

  • Elliot:

    Thanks for the free E-Book Dave,
    I think the part that stood out to me was the Low Reps Vs. Higher Reps of each set. I currently do 8-11 reps of each workout in the circit I do at Cal-Fit (getting list Friday), but I learned that doing these at higher reps will give me a bigger mass and bulkier look. While if I do them at higher weights for 3-5 reps it will give me a more chizled look, more defined. Am I saying this right, ahah please correct me if I’m worng? And do they both build muscle in relatively the same ammounts?

    Yeah I don’t really diet, just try not to eat certain foods, chips, pizza, and donuts for an example.

    So yeah I’ll get back to you after I try HIIT and also once I get the list of machines. Thanks again Dave, Sorry for all the posts.

  • Elliot,
    I wish I had known about strength reps vs. muscle mass reps years ago…3 sets of 10 reps just doesn’t cut it for my goals. The real key is training to failure vs. leaving one rep “in the tank.” The best way to develop strength is low reps and completely avoiding muscle failure. In other words, do 3-4 reps with a weight you could lift 5-6 times. Muscle size is best with high reps that completely torch your muscles. However, size is all relative. The muscle size from high rep training to failure is due to increased sarcoplasm fluid which tends to make muscles look softer but bigger. Strength training while avoiding failure will actually increase the size of the muscle fibers so your muscles will look tighter…not as much fluid though so they won’t be quite as big. I feel like a summer reading program instructor, but here’s more info on that if you’re interested:

    Circuit training is a little different. Most likely you’re using pretty low weights and the point of the circuit is to add a little resistance to create a better fat burning workout. Sure the added resistance (weights) will help you preserve muscle but probably not grow, even at high reps. It will really help to make you work harder and burn more fat. Obviously circuit training is great for your cardiovascular system as well.

    Your diet sounds perfect for your age…don’t be afraid to indulge every once in a while! You gotta live a little!

    Also, let me know if you’d prefer to email separately rather than commenting back and forth. Commenting is actually easier for me, but if you feel like you’re smattering too much of yourself on the internet, I’m happy to take it offline.


  • Amanda:

    Hey! Great article, and a ton of info in the replies. If I can pick your brain for a moment, though…

    Your 45m HIIT plan sounds great, and I plan to start doing it 3x a week. Thing is, I have nothing but winding country roads to run on here, so nowadays I usually do my cardio on an elliptical trainer. (Both for the sake of my knees and so I don’t get run over. I’ve had some close calls.) Am I going to get a good enough workout (and hit my legs hard enough) on an elliptical? Also, if I’m doing about half an hour of upper body strength training 3x a week on the days I’m not doing HIIT, should I add in a little steady state cardio on those days, or should I give my heart and legs a rest?


  • Amanda,
    Some of the answers to your questions will depend on your fitness level. Assuming you’ve been exercising regularly already HIIT 3x per week will work well. Just remember, it’s pretty intense so scale back to 2x per week if necessary. I actually do HIIT on the elliptical but it’s challenging for most. My elliptical nicely matches my stride length. It’s rear-drive as well which helps. I’ve tried HIIT on hotel ellipticals when traveling and can’t do it though; I just can’t go fast enough. Hope it works for your elliptical…the other option would be to get an upright stationary bike.

    Steady state cardio after strength training is a great idea. Remember, it’s very low intensity. Nowadays, I go out and mow the lawn right after strength training. Walking the dog is another option. Just something light and simple. If you’re doing the elliptical for HIIT, I’d probably avoid that for steady state cardio though…it can get pretty boring to be on the elliptical day after day…might be a good chance to walk some of those winding country roads! If you’re legs are exhausted from HIIT, then skip the steady state cardio until they get a little better conditioned.

    If you have any other questions as you go through the routine, let me know.


  • Amanda:


    Thanks for the reply! My fitness level is decent, though not as good as I’d like – I’m 31, female, 120lbs, and I’ve been exercising regularly for 12+ years. I also recently finished P90X, which didn’t give me the miraculous results it advertises but did make my legs noticeably stronger and increase my endurance somewhat. (At least. :P ) I’ve always had very poor stamina, though. My strengths tend to lie in lifting heavy objects and in performing short, explosive bursts of movement. Thus the HIIT.

    As for the elliptical, I have a Precor which is pretty solid. (Though I have to be careful about how I shift my weight when I get to 160+ RPM, because it does start to rock. :D)

    There’s one more point I want to pick your brain on, if you don’t mind:

    My usual steady state cardio routine has been 45m on the elliptical at 80-90 RPM and 12-15 resistance. (Depending on how I’m feeling that day.) That tends to keep my heart rate between 150-165 BPM. In order to do your 45m HIIT->steady state->HIIT routine, is it better (in your experience) to increase RPM or to increase resistance for the active intervals? In either case, would you be able to suggest a general target based on the stats I mentioned above?

    Thanks again!

  • Amanda,
    Don’t undersell yourself! It sounds like you’re in good shape and if you made it through P90X, I’ll bet your fitness level is better than decent. The Precor is a great machine; I highly doubt you’ll be able to rock it enough to knock it over even with HIIT but be careful just in case.

    The debate over resistance vs. RPM will somewhat depend on your goals. My personal choice is higher RPM since it tends to work my lungs. The higher resistance would tend to work leg muscles more. The problem I have with that is when my leg muscles grow, my waist magically expands with them. So if you want to concentrate more on fat burning, go with higher RPM, lower resistance. If you want to build up your leg muscles a little more, go for higher resistance, lower RPM.

    I don’t know if I can provide any more specifics than that since every elliptical is different. I don’t monitor heart rate too closely…I just sprint really fast which elevates my heart rate; do some steady state cardio which tends to keep my heart rate around 120-130; and then do the long interval HIIT to elevate my heart rate again.

    One other thought would be to blend things…for the short interval HIIT, focus on going as fast as you can with low resistance; do light steady state cardio with low resistance; increase resistance and finish off with long interval HIIT. The great thing is that you can (and should) make some minor tweaks every few weeks as you continue to get in better shape…whether that’s running faster or increasing resistance is your call.

    Good luck!

  • OldBlk:

    Great website! Question from Asia~

    I (33 years old) just started doing HIIT, but not sure if I’m doing it right. I use 30 seconds sprint, 60 seconds rest interval and repeat it for 12 to 15 minutes on exercise bike. My heart rate rises above 180 during sprint and down to 140+ during rest. I always feel like skipping the last interval because my legs feel giving up. Am I doing this right? Should I have a longer rest period or switch to 20-40 or 20-60 interval?

    Thank you and excuse my poor English.

  • Randi:

    Could you explain or give examples of the difference between MRT [metabolic resistance training]- HiiT- and Tabata?? They seem quite similiar – are they interchangeable for working out? Does one have an advantage over another?
    Thank you.

  • OldBlk,
    It definitely sounds like you’re doing HIIT. If you’re tiring out in the last few minutes, don’t worry. Work up to a fitness level where you can complete 12-15 minutes without completely tiring out. You can vary the length or rest period and intervals as you advance as well. It’s not a bad thing to switch up your routine every once in a while. I prefer the 15 second sprint and 45 second rest because I sprint as fast as possible and then need recovery time. If you’re just starting, you could increase the recovery time. That’s the great thing about interval training, it’s very flexible. I’m happy to provide some further help if needed.

  • Randi,
    There are some subtle differences between MRT, HIIT and Tabata. All are designed as intense workouts to allow your body to continue burning calories long after the completion of your workout.

    Let’s start with HIIT since I outlined a workout above. You perform an intense interval and then rest for a predetermined time period. This is repeated multiple times. Generally I think of HIIT as a cardio substitute…done on the bike, elliptical, treadmill, etc.

    Tabata is a form of HIIT where you sprint for 20 seconds and only rest for 10 seconds. This is repeated 8 times for a 4 minute fat burning workout. This can be done on cardio equipment or even with bodyweight exercises. A true Tabata workout is pretty advanced. Here’s a post I did:

    MRT is basically circuit training. These are brief, intense workouts using dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, or bodyweight. The benefit of this type of training is that the added resistance can help you burn muscle. You perform a series of exercises with only brief rest in between each. Some MRT routines involves moderate to heavy weights, others use lighter weights with less rest. Here’s an example of some circuit training exercises:

    The great thing about these types of training is that they can be complements to one another. You could perform HIIT one day followed by MRT the next. You could substitute a Tabata workout for HIIT as well. I would use HIIT as your leg training workout and MRT as your arm training workout. Both will help with fat burning, HIIT will help you get nicely toned legs, and MRT will tighten your upper body.

    Let me know if I can provide any further detail. Hope that helps!

  • Elliot:

    Sorry Dave went out on vacation for the 4th… probably should have let you know in advance. Well I did HIIT twice while I was up there with what you recomended. Warm up, sprint 20 cooldown 40 (repeat 4x), steady cardio 10 mins, 1 min fast jog 1 min slow jog (10 mins). Did that twice and felt it a little when I woke the next morning in my Calfs. And I should be going back to Cal-Fit tomorrow, too tired for tonight, and will bring the sheet home then to talk about machines/reps/weights. Thanks for everything Dave!

  • Elliot,
    Sounds like a good start on HIIT. Enjoy it!

  • Paul:

    Hi dave,
    I have been doing HIIT for about three times a week for three weeks now but I do not see any difference. I warm up for two minutes, run at 10 miles for a minute and then jog at 6.5 miles for a minute and I repeat that 6 times. I even play squash on the days I am not doing HIIT. I have not lost any weight and I do not see or feel any difference. Am I doing something wrong?

  • Paul,
    There are a few possibilities that I’d consider. First, I assume you’re evaluating both your appearance and weight loss. Sometimes your clothes might fit better or you might look better but you don’t experience weight loss because muscle is replacing fat. Assuming that you don’t look or feel any different, let’s move on.

    The next possibility is that your diet is out of line. Have you been eating well? Are you eating more than you did previously to compensate for exercising more? Ultimately, exercising can lead to a caloric deficit but only if you don’t replace that deficit from more calories from eating.

    One other possibility is that you’re not exercising intensely enough. When you do the first minute of HIIT at 10mph, is it really intense or just a fast jog? I prefer to do a really intense sprint for a shorter period of time. If it’s only moderate intensity, you won’t experience the same results as high intensity.

    Additionally, it looks like you’re only doing a 15 minute routine. Adding 45 total minutes of exercise to your weekly workout is good, but it’s going to take longer to see results at that pace. Remember, it’s only been 3 weeks. Depending on what type of shape you’re in, results could take longer.

    Bottom line, if you want to try to speed up results, I would recommend a couple things. One, make sure your diet is good. Two, perform some more intense intervals after your warmup where you sprint for 10-20 seconds rather than jog fast for a minute. Jog for 40-45 seconds and repeat 4-8 times. Three, after performing the intense HIIT, try to add in 15-20 minutes of steady state cardio.

    One final point, if you’re playing squash on off days, be cognizant of overtraining. I don’t know how intense your squash matches get, but combining that with HIIT could quickly lead to burnout.

    Hope that helps.

  • Kim:

    Hi Dave, thanks for posting this article! Its great to understand more of what HIIT is all about! I’ve been doin HIIT on the treadmill now for a few months now, the whole session would last about 40 mins, I do 10 mins slow pace jog, then another 15 mins at a quicker pace, the last 10 mins i sprint for 1 min & rest for bout 40 secs and go again, the last 5 mins i jus walk to rest. I do this about 3 times a week. Is there any other routine i can do to change it up? what do you recommend? Also sometimes i feel like my thighs are getting alot bigger than usual, even when im doing my usual routine and not slacking! I actually want my thighs to be more lean and slim! I’ve been doing cardio for god knows how long and my thighs jus dnt want to slim down! I don’t know if this is weird but its like i can feel all the muscle on my thighs from all the running but the skin around it just does’nt feel as toned. Sorry if im askin a stupid question! I’m not doing any weightwork either, no squats or lunges or anthing, do u think im running too much? or my running routine is wrong etc? would appreciate some help thanks! :)

  • Kim,
    Sounds like you’ve been doing a good HIIT routine. I might change things up a little and start off with some high intensity intervals and end with steady state. So warm up for 5 minutes, do 10 minutes of sprints, 10 minutes of slow pace jog, and 10 minutes at a quicker pace with a 5 minute cool down. The sprints in the beginning help release fatty acids and the steady state cardio will help burn them.

    As for your legs, it sounds like you’re doing everything right…no squats or lunges. Are you doing an incline on the treadmill at all? If so, it’s best to avoid since incline/hills lead to some more muscle mass gain. HIIT will generally result in good tone and it doesn’t sound like you’re overdoing it…3 times per week is good assuming you’re resting a day in between each workout.

    Here are my thoughts. The reality is that in most women, waist, hips, and thighs are the areas of very stubborn body fat. Unfortunately stubborn body fat is the last thing to go. I’d keep working out hard, keep your diet and check and just give things more time to take effect. The other possibility here is that if you’ve lost a lot of inches from your legs, your skin just hasn’t had enough time to wrap itself around your newly toned legs. Do your clothes fit better than they used to? If so, then once again, just give the skin time to mold itself to your legs and they’ll look nicely toned.

    Hope that provides a little help. Happy to go into more details as needed.

  • OldBlk:

    1. Does warmup time change the effectiveness of HIIT? I usually do 20 minutes of static state cardio (70% MHR) before HIIT to prevent injury. Is it ok?

    2. After 3 weeks of training, I no longer feel sick after HIIT, even though my heart rate still goes 180+ during each sprint interval. Am I training hard enough? A friend of mine told me HIIT should “always” make you feel sick or you’re not working hard enough.

  • Kim:

    hey dave thanks for getting bk to me so quick! regarding your reply il follow your instructions and the more intense sprinting for 10 mins at the start! did u mean a nonstop sprint for 10 mins or a few secs rest inbetween the sprinting? also about the incline when im running, i do put abit of incline but only around 2.5…do you think this is enough for me to gain the muscle mass on my thighs and maybe thats why they arn’t slimming down effectively? should i do no incline at all and leave it to 0.0? im also thinking mayb ive hit a plateau and my body is getting used to it,maybe i could change it u? much help appreciated! :)

  • Kim:

    1 last thing, because i always do hiit on the treadmill, it does get quite boring, can i do hiit on bike or anything else? if so please give me routine to try out! thanks!

  • OldBlk,
    A warmup won’t change the effectiveness of HIIT. As long as you’re getting your heartbeat up during the intense portions, you should be fine.

    I’m not really certain that you need to feel sick after doing HIIT for it to be effective. Sure, you want to exert maximal effort but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel sick after.


  • Kim,
    Sprinting for 10 MINUTES is definitely an oxymoron. I look at a sprint as a very intense interval that can really only go on for 10-20 seconds. Even an elite runner like Usain Bolt starts to slow down after 15-20 seconds of sprinting. Basically, sprint for 15 seconds and then rest for 45 seconds. Repeat this for 4-8 minutes depending on your level of fitness.

    I’d reduce the incline for the time being and see if it makes a difference. Keep it at 0.0 and do the sprints that way. You’ll probably have to go at a faster speed but it will work your lungs nicely without necessarily fatiguing your legs as much. In theory, this should limit the muscle mass you add.

    If you’ve hit a plateau, then change up the intervals. You can make them longer or shorter or allow more or less recovery in between sprints.

    Finally, I’d encourage you to use different machines for HIIT. The upright bike works very well. You can do the same routine I outlined in the post: 15 second sprint, 45 second slow jog for 4-8 mins; 20-25 minutes of steady state biking; 1 minute fast ride, 1 minute slow pedal for 10 minutes.

    Hope that works!

  • Benny:

    Im 14, looking to get a six pack, how will this help, and how long will i need to do it? a Month? two?

  • Benny,
    If you’re looking to get a six pack, the key is losing fat. This cardio program can definitely help you do that. How long it takes will depend on what type of shape you’re in. If you’re north of 15% body fat, it could take 3-6 months or even longer. If you’re on the cusp and 10-15% body fat, you could have a six pack within a month. If you’ve never done HIIT before, just be sure to take it slow. Even though you want fast results, getting injured won’t help you get there.

  • Arindam:

    Hi Dave,thanks very much for your article.Its just too good.Can you please tell me,how many days in a week should I do HIIT training?I workout 6 days a week.

  • Arindam,
    I’d say it’s best not to perform HIIT for any more than 3 days per week. When I’m trying to get really lean, I’ll do Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. As part of a maintenance routine, I’ll just do Tuesday and Thursday. You should always give yourself a day off between workouts. If you’re doing HIIT, I’d be careful about doing other leg training as well since you can quickly overtrain.

  • Josh:

    Just started into a HIIT workout routine. Due to Oklahoma weather being 110+ everyday, I have been doing the workout on a treadmill. The workout is 2:1 I start at a jog and each interval increases in intensity until my max is obtained and I sustain that until the last set in which I slow done just a little before my last cool down set. typically workouts last for 20-30 minutes and I have been wearing a 20 lb. weight vest. I am about to add 5-10 lbs., because the workouts are getting easier and I’m working to get to 50 lbs. training for firefighter challenge. PS. Also have been varying the incline level as well.(Flat during low intensity and 1.5-3 during sprint cycles). Also I am doing this about 2-3 times a week and running a slow 2-3 miles on off days. Any comments on if I am doing everything okay would be much appreciated.

  • Josh,
    It sounds like you’re right on track. Excellent routine. If at some point you find that your legs are wearing out before your lungs, then you could consider reducing the incline or reducing the weighted vest but I think you’re doing everything right. Hopefully you’re starting to see some great results!

  • Arindam:

    Hi Dave,Ive been following your hiit workout but cannot do it with maximum intensity…Im 21 years old,male,5’8″ in height.Currently I weigh 85 kilos.I used to work out heavily before and had a muscular build and weighed 65 kgs.But it had been a year I left the gym due to time constraints.From this month I have again started exercising.But currently Im overweight,my muscles have lost their pump and Iv got loads of body fat.Can you please suggest me a workout routine that I can follow in the gym to lose my body fat at the earliest so that I can again start pumping iron.Suggestions about diet will also be of great help.Also what is my ideal body weight?Thanks in advance Dave for your help.

  • Ashley:


    I climb stairs in Santa monica ( reference: )

    I was wondering if this counts as a HIIT workout. I usually go down them fairly quick and then up them slow and controlled. I do between 8-12 sets (up and down is 1 set) in 40-60 minutes.

    Any recommendations to make it more effectiv3e as a HIIT workout??

  • Arindam,
    If you’re just starting an exercise routine again, you’ll have to ease into things. Depending on your level of fitness, you might have to just start by doing a slow jog or even walking. Once you get up the cardiovascular endurance, you can start doing some interval training. At first, maybe just run really fast for 15-20 seconds and let yourself record for 40-45 seconds. When you find that gets easy, you can up your intensity and eventually get to sprinting levels.

    I don’t see any reason why you can’t start lifting weights again. I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing anything too heavy to start. Work your way back up to where you once were. Diet is going to depend a bit on what you like to eat. I like doing intermittent fasting and calorie cycling but it’s not for everyone. Also, your ideal weight is tough to determine but if you were at 65kgs before, that is a good goal to shoot for again. If you think you were too thin at that weight, maybe shoot for something higher to start. If that’s your ultimate goal, you’d probably need to eat around 1,500 calories per day if you wanted to get there quickly. However, depending on your starting point, I wouldn’t just drop to that level immediately. Gradually focus on changing your diet and try to avoid refined sugar and trans fat.

    I’m happy to provide some more tips as well. Here are a few posts that may help you:

    Beginner Workout Routine:

    Ideal Body Measurements:

    Calorie Shifting Diet:

    Hope that helps!

  • Ashley,
    If you can handle it, I’d actually recommend running up the stairs and then walking down. Maybe you can’t sprint all the way up, but sprint for a flight or two (10-15 seconds), walk the rest of the way up, and then jog back down. You could do that for 15-20 minutes and then do your existing routine of walking up slowly and jogging down for another 20-25 minutes. Remember that the key to HIIT is that you perform intense exercise followed by less intense exercise. Let me know if I can help any further.

  • Samantha:

    Hi Dave,

    I am interested in beginning HIIT training. I’m 21 years old, and at the moment I’m stuck in a rut of boring 30min medium-pace runs. I’ve never done ANY strength or weights training, mostly because I have no idea what would be appropriate for me! I’m aiming to lose 5-10kg in the next few months, and would love a feminine but toned body.
    What I’m really asking is, will the HIIT workout in the article be too difficult for me as a beginner?
    And what sort of weight training would you recommend for me? Are you familiar with the Les Mils ‘BodyPump’, and would you recommend it?

    So grateful for your thoughts!

  • Samantha,
    HIIT will work but you’ll want to ease into it. Start just by doing some interval training where you run really fast for 15-30 seconds and then jog slowly or walk for 30-45 seconds. Once you get good at that, you can ramp up the intensity to sprinting speeds. 2 or at most 3 times per week is all you’ll need to do.

    I’m not familiar with BodyPump but just looked at it. Seems like a circuit training program with a barbell. Circuit training is a good cardiovascular exercise. It would probably be tough to do this workout as well as HIIT because BodyPump includes squats and other leg training. I’d either stick with BodyPump alone or do HIIT and strength training on your own.

    For strength training, if your goal is to get lean and toned, you won’t need to work your legs. HIIT will take care of those. For arms, I recommend heavy weight training with 3 reps. Make sure you don’t fail on any lift. Here are some other beginner workout tips:

    Lots of info so let me know what else would be helpful.

  • jhong:

    hi! im from philippines and im 29 yrs old. im just wondering if what would be the appropriate HIIT routine for me, im almost 186lbs and my height is only 5’4, i tried to do some weight training (high rep.)before,matching with interval training on the opposite day but it seems to me that every time i do weight my muscle is getting big, of course (that’s the point of all that), but my real goal is to be lean and not to put too much muscle, because every time i look in a mirror i can see my self looking like marshmallow man (well, i used marshmallow man as a metaphor for being fat)even though i also put interval training on my routine.

    i want to try HIIT to lose some weight, but i also like to have some toning on my body, im so confused to what type of exercise should i do, because i want to lose weight but not to look like im a whimp that’s why i do weights, but i have no plan to become like iron man and later on look like a crab because im small in height. pls. help me man,, soon to hear from you. tnx!

  • Jhong,
    I think balancing weight training and HIIT is important. For weight training, rather than doing high reps, focus on low reps with heavy weights. You’ll get really strong which is cool in itself but you’ll also tighten up and tone your muscles. They will look really good when you lose some extra fat. For HIIT, you can slowly work your way up to the 45 minute routine I outlined in the post. Don’t forget your diet either…that’s the most important thing to keep in check. Hopefully that provides a good start but feel free to let me know if you have other questions.

  • I have tried this method and it is really amazing that I have met my desired results. Just don’t forget to eat a balanced diet too.

  • Chas,
    Glad to hear it’s going well. Diet is obviously important as well.

  • Sarah:

    I was just wondering if this would be too hard on an overweight person? I’m by no means skinny. But i’ve just recently embarked on a weightloss journey. I’ve been staying at the same weight for about a year. I think its because 1. i dont eat correctly and 2. my body’s completely use to my routine. No challenge. I really want to try this though ^.^ Just wondering :)

  • Sarah:

    (adding to comment above) And by “overweight” i meant morbidly obese. Even though i’m bigger, i’m also only 20. So i have the energy to do more intense type workouts. I usually keep up with my young cousins with physical activity. Sometimes i even last longer then them. I have the endurence just not alot of will power. I get discouraged with alot of my workout plans. I’ve just been thinking that i’m doing something wrong.

  • Sarah,
    Don’t get discouraged yet…a transformation takes time. I wouldn’t start off with a routine as intense as the one I outlined but you can certainly work up to that. Walking is a great starting point. Then build up to jogging. Once you can do that, introduce some intervals where you jog at a high intensity and then walk. Soon enough you may find that you can try to do a HIIT workout like I outlined above. Just keeping finding a way to make your exercise routine more challenging. Aim to do some form of exercise 5 days a week as well, even if it is just playing with your younger cousins. Any activity that involves motion is beneficial as a starting point.

    As for diet, this is critical as well. I think you realize that you are a bit deficient in this area. Don’t try to change all at once. Take baby steps. Maybe cut out desserts during the week. Focus on eating more fiber, veggies, and fruit as a replacement for junk food. Gradually control portions. Again, if you try to simply go cold turkey and give up all the foods you enjoy, you’ll likely fall off the wagon pretty quickly.

    Hope that provides a good starting point. Let me know if I can point you in any further directions.


  • Sujith:

    Hi Dave,
    I had posted on ur website around six months back. Since then i have been very regular and disciplined with my workout. Never missed a single day. However i have changed it a bit. I have built up my muscles, but i still think my fat percentage is slightly on the higher side. My heigh it around 5 ft 7.5 inches and i weigh around 160 pounds.So this give me a fat percentage in the range of 15-17 % (as per google). I share my work out and diet plan below and please let me know what change shld make.

    I get up in the morning (9:30 am) and head straight to my gym.
    Work out for around 1hr. i work out a single body part per day for 5 days a week. I dont work out my abs and dont do cardio. the reason for not doing abs is that i hv read that it deosnt help much in reducing fats and that for not doing cardio is that my gym doesnt have a treadmill and i hate running for no reason . I love playing soccer and all but running pointlessly is very boring for me :-(
    Also my work outs are quite intense , i am exhausted at the end.
    Then i go back home, have a heavy breakfast consisting of wheat, pulses, green veggies and a cup of tea. Then i take 30 gms of whey protein with water (I hv only started taking protein shakes arnd a week back).
    After that i head for work and dont hv anythin except espresso till around 5:30 pm wen i have wheat bread and double omelette. Then go back home and have dinner which is very similar to my breakfast except that i dont have tea.

    My aim is mainly to reduce my fat percentage. Is there anyway i can reduce my fat percentage to around 10% without doing much cardio ? I hv heard it is possible . I hope its not wishful thinking. Also i cut myself some slack during weekends.

    Please let me know what changes should i make so tat i can achieve my goals. Awaiting ur expert advice :)

  • Sujith,
    I think you have a pretty good plan in place. I can offer a few things that I do but if you enjoy your workout and are dedicated to it, I don’t want to advise too many changes. First things first, it might actually be good to take 5-7 days off from exercising every 2-3 months. It will help you avoid plateaus and give your muscles some much needed recovery time. As for weight training, I actually prefer to work multiple muscles rather than single body parts. I feel like you get more fat burning benefits from compound exercises in this manner. No ab exercises isn’t a problem, although if you want to increase core strength, you could consider doing some planks. You can get in shape without cardio but you’re really going to have to put in the effort on the diet side. Remember, to lose fat, you have to eat less than you expend. I didn’t calculate the calories you’re eating, but if you really want to lose a lot of fat, you might have to go as low as 1,500 per day for a few weeks. It’s probably best not to stay too low for too long. The goal is to lose some fat, maintain for a couple weeks, and then lose more fat. Much easier than trying to continuously lose fat. As for how to improve your diet, a starting point might be to simply cut out the protein shake since that would save a lot of calories. I like intermittent fasting 2 days per week since it gives me flexibility to enjoy weekends a little more. That’s about all I can offer for now but feel free to ask some follow-up questions.

  • Jarrod:

    ‘Sup Dave! I have my (active but overweight) girlfriend doing Tabata protocol/ HIIT training 4-5 times a week. She’s currently involved in a 1 month weight-loss competition at her job. From what I been reading she should do Tabata/HIIT training 2, no more than 3 times a week, no? How do you recommend she train? What should she do on the days in between training?

  • Great post on HIIT, I use HIIT workouts as well, mainly sprints and skipping, and also utilize the tabata protocol plus some steady state cardio strategically. These 3 are all great tools in getting a miami beach body. Seems you are part of this fitness niche, great website.

  • Jarrod,
    I’d recommend taking at least a day off between Tabata workouts. So shoot for 3 times a week for that. If she still wants to burn fat, then consider an upper body conditioning workout like boxing or circuit training. In essence, you do high intensity leg training one day followed by high intensity arm training the next. Both will make you sweat and lose calories. The other solution is to just load up on steady state cardio. She can pretty much do as much as she’d like of that without training. Obviously diet is going to prove crucial as well. I’m not a huge fan of weight loss competitions but I wish her the best of luck!

    Thanks for the compliments. Sounds like you’re using all the tools of the trade to get in great shape!


  • Kirk:

    Thanks for putting together a fat blasting routine for a HIIT newbie (just did my 1st session yesterday, but already feeling the great effects). With your routine I hope to take my fat loss/endurance to the next level and reach my fitness goals that much sooner. Thanks

  • Sujith:

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your reply. I do have some diet related questions.

    I normally do not work out on weekends and also usually go out on weeknds and more often than not end up overeating a little. So will eating more on rest days cause more damage as opposed to eating more on days i work out ? If thats the case then i can change my workout rest days accordingly.

    I have heard lot abt green tea helping in reducing body fats. How true is it ?

    I usually avoid rice in my diet. I have also read that eating rice after 3:00 pm or any carbs for that matter is not good. What do u think ?

    You mentioned abt taking few days off every 2-3 months. I wanted to what should be our diet like during these off days ?
    And when we get back to working out should we start from where we left off or start slowly ?

    Thats all i can think of rite now. :-)

  • Kirk,
    Glad you’re enjoying the routine.

    I’m a big fan of calorie cycling where big eating days correspond with heavy lifting days and rest days are healthy, low cal diet days. If your schedule can accommodate such a configuration, I would recommend switching workouts to weekends. Green tea supposedly helps speed up your metabolism. As with all supplements, there’s a chance it will add a marginal benefit but will not work without a proper diet and exercise program. If you do drink a lot of green tea, just watch the amount of caffeine. Carbs are another interesting topic. Some people say don’t eat any within 8 hours of bed. I don’t have that luxury with my schedule. To me, a calorie is a calorie. During off days, I’d just recommend a normal diet. Maybe you can eat a little better to compensate for the lack of exercise, but ultimately a few days off will only help you come back stronger in the gym. If it’s just 4-7 days, you’ll find that you can begin where you left off…you’ll probably find that your lifts start increasing again as well.


  • Randi:

    I have been an avid street runner for some last 15 years. Due to a combination of aches and pains in my feet and knees with my age (49) . . .I am looking for a replacement and thought I would give this a try. Is 3x a week of this enough? Should I supplement it on off days with a weight routine? Seems almost everything dealing with fitness “strongly urges” women, especially my age, incorporating weights in their routine – heavy weights, not the ‘pink’ weights……your thoughts????

  • Randi,
    3x per week of HIIT is more than enough. If you feel like you need more cardio, then keep it to a slow steady jog or walk on off days. The better alternative as you mentioned is to start performing some low rep, heavy weight training. When training in this style, I would recommend that you avoid failing on any lift. In other words, you’ll always want to be able to be able to perform another rep. I can point you to a couple articles I’ve written on that topic if helpful.

  • Hi Dave,
    I have been jumping all over the web looking for info about using cardio combined with diet and resistance training to get rid of body fat and build muscle.

    Most of the information I have found point to low to medium intensity cardio exercise as being the best way to burn off fat as it doesn’t use as much glycogen stored in your muscles, especially if you work your cardio after your muscle training.

    HIIT comes next after the lower intensity cardio.

    What’s your take on this?

  • Danny,
    Low intensity cardio is great for fat burning; it’s just not efficient. HIIT allows you to burn more calories…check out this if you want to see the math:

    Here’s why I like low intensity cardio as an add-on though:

    That being said, I think HIIT is really the best way to blast fat. Unless you’re overtraining, there’s no reason you should lose muscle by performing HIIT.

    Hope that makes some sense. Happy to discuss further.

  • Hi Dave, thanks for the prompt response. Your other posts do a great job of explaining the benefits of each type of cardio workout.


  • Randi:

    Thank you for your response to my questions – I have a couple more and please excuse my ignorance – but first, in another post you say ‘low intensity cardio’ is great for burning fat – but not efficient . . .so can it be used on the days not doing HiiT??? And my othe question – I do my Hiit using the old air-dyne Schwinn bike …I break the time intervals by doing an equal number of pedaling forward, then standing up, and then backwards….is this still efficient or should I only stick to one way??? I like the variation and seems to work different muscles, and the standing one really burns…..but I don’t know if this division is effective or not. And finally, to be clear, on the last part where you use 1 min/1 min interval – is that a total of 10 minutes (5/5) or a total of 20 minutes (each 1 minute 10x)? Thanks again.(sry to be so long)

  • Randi,
    Your assumption about low intensity cardio is correct. It’s great to do right after a HIIT workout or when you take a day off from HIIT. I think pedaling different ways on the bike is fine. Just make sure you can pedal really fast during the intense portion. It might be best to do the sprint version pedaling forward or standing up and then backwards for recovery between sprints. As for the final interval, I do a total of 10 minutes. Hope that provides a nice starting point. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Cat:

    Hi Dave,
    I’ve been reading through your website and a lot of the posts that have been sent in (as well as your very helpful responses). I love your easy to understand explanations and am impressed by how you’ve taken the time to respond to so many queries.
    I started going to the gym back in June and have so far lost 34lbs. I still have another 95lbs to go (I am very, very obese); I have recently been advised to try HIIT 3x per week, but after training at least 9 times per week (with a combination of interval, strength and cardio training) I am worried this might slow down my weight loss (or even cause me to regain weight).
    I realise that I need to give my muscles recovery time so I am wondering, can I do 20 mins of HIIT 3 days per week followed by 30 mins treadmill or elliptical and then do low intensity cardio on the other days without over stressing my body?
    Grateful for any help or advice you can provide.

  • Cat,
    Thanks for taking time to read the other posts. Congrats on losing so much weight in just 3 months! It sounds like it took a lot of hard work to get there. Your thought on HIIT is correct. 20 minutes of HIIT followed by 30 minutes of low intensity for 3 days per week. On the other days, you could still perform strength training (upper body focus) followed by low intensity cardio if you wanted. Otherwise, just stick with low intensity cardio to avoid overtraining. Let me know if you need any more info.

  • Bryson:

    Love the routine you’ve put together! I’ve been doing 30 sec sprints (all out) and 1 min jogs for 15 mins on Tuesdays and Thursdays the past few weeks and have seen the stuborn last little bit of belly fat drop dramatically! I going to run your routine next week, my only question how long of a break do you take in between each phase? Thanks again!

  • Bryson,
    It sounds like you have a great HIIT routine of your own. I don’t take any breaks between the phases. I go for 45 minutes straight. The only minor break I may take is if I switch machines for variety. Hope this continues to help you lose fat!

  • Andrew:

    Phenomenal article man, thanks a lot for it! Your explanations on the physiology of the HIIT exercise add a whole lot to it, really resourceful to read this.

  • Andrew,
    Thanks for the compliments. Glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Sara:

    Thanks for the pointers! I have been working out for about 3 weeks (last year I ran a half marathon then got burned out and stopped working out). My current workout is basically classes (love the accountability of a class)
    Monday Body Pump
    Tuesday Body Attack + 1 mile run
    Wednesday Body Pump + 1 mile run
    Thursday Body Attack + 1 mile run or Rest Day
    Friday misc class + 1 mile run or Rest Day
    Saturday Zumba + 1 mile run
    Sunday Basketball
    I am thinking of replacing Tue/Thur with HIIT. I think I might get more out of it. I really want to tone up my whole body and get a lot stronger.Any advice?

  • Sara,
    That is one busy workout schedule! Just to be clear, you’re thinking of replacing Body Attack and the 1 mile run with HIIT, correct? That could be good in the short term but I worry if your legs will hold up in the long run. I assume Body Pump has a good deal of resistance training for legs. By doing Body Attack or HIIT on Tues/Thurs, you end up doing some pretty intense leg training for 4 straight days. Only you know if your body can handle it. The other thing is that I would keep the 1 mile runs pretty light and use them more as steady state cardio or a cool down…again to prevent overtraining. I think you should incorporate a rest day as well just to give your body a chance to recover. For the next month, I think you’ll be able to kill it with this routine…after that, check back in and consider scaling things back a bit. Just my two cents.

  • Sara:

    Thanks! I tend to overdo when I first start something…so rest days are good advice! :) I want whatever I do to work for the long haul. But yes, Body Pump does quite a bit of leg work, especially squats and lunges. I tried your 45 minute routine this morning on the recumbant bike and liked it! I don’t know how I would get my speed up that fast for just 15 seconds on the treadmill. Thanks for your help. It’s awesome that you dole out free advice! :D

  • Sara,
    Slow and steady definitely wins the race…don’t burn yourself out too quickly. The bike or straight out sprints are perfect for HIIT. I’ve never liked the treadmill for sprinting…works well for steady state cardio though. Certain ellipticals you can get to sprinting speed; others are best for steady state cardio as well.

    Final thoughts on what you could do for your weekly routine:
    Mon: Body Pump
    Tues: Light Jog or Off
    Wed: Body Pump followed by light jog
    Thurs: 45 minute HIIT workout
    Fri: Off or slow walk
    Sat: 45 minute HIIT workout
    Sun: basketball; assuming it’s not overly intense

    This way you would only intensely work your legs two days in a row. It would be easier if there was a Body Pump course that focused on upper body only. Then you could just switch off between that and the HIIT routine. One more thing, try to take 4-7 days off after 8-12 weeks of training to let your body fully rest and recover. I assume your diet is in check as well. Good luck!

  • Sara:

    Thanks so much! As for the diet, I would say it’s a work in progress. Not terrible but too many carbs/sweets I would say. Going to check out your info on that too!

  • Sara,
    I’m happy to offer any diet tips as well. Check out the Best Fitness Tips at the top of the page and go down to the diet section. Let me know if you have questions.

  • Baizura:

    Hi Dave,
    I have never heard of HIIT but I’m definitely going to give it a try! I have been trying to lose weight since two years ago, but could only lose about 4-6lbs. I’m 5 feet tall and 114lbs and used to be 125lb two year ago. My upper body is smaller, my wrist is just 5 inch. I found that it is so hard to lose fats on my lower body. I hate seeing my fat thigh, do you have any recommendations on how to get thinner and leaner legs? What kind of exercises should I avoid? My goal is 100lbs, should I work to get that weight first and then after that focus on shaping my body? I don’t really like doing cardio but I love going to fitness class like zumba and kickboxing aerobics.

  • Baizura,
    It sounds like you’re pretty thin already but I’ll trust your goal of 100lbs is reasonable. Most women struggle with the waist, hips, and thighs so you’re not alone in targeting that area for weight loss. Unfortunately it’s very hard to spot reduce fat so you have to generate an overall fat loss before seeing results in those stubborn areas. In general, I would avoid all weight training for legs since that will make them big and bulky. I’d focus solely on HIIT and the classes you mentioned. That should help develop lean and toned legs. I wouldn’t do HIIT any more than 2 times per week, especially if you’re doing the fitness classes. Obviously your diet will be important since you have to generate a caloric deficit to lose weight. I think you’ll find your body will naturally look great if you do this. You could do some strength training for your upper body if you want to increase muscle definition there as well. Hope that provides a good start; let me know if you have more questions.

  • Baizura:

    Hey Dave,
    Thanks for your advice! You’re awesome. On Tuesday I went to the gym at 8am and did 20 minutes cardio on the treadmill, then I tried HIIT. It was great! I used to be a runner when I was in high school but I stopped when I was sixteen (now I’m 22). I actually want to get back in shape at the time when I was a runner; I was thinner and leaner.
    Starting this week, I skipped all fitness classes that have weight lifting regime. So, after doing HIIT on Tuesday, I took a day off on Wednesday to give my body some rest. I thought of doing HITT again today but my legs still feel hurt. Should I wait till all the sores gone?


  • Baizura,
    Glad to hear you’ve started on HIIT. I think you’ll get nice and lean if you keep it up. If your legs are still sore from Tuesday’s workout, then you should probably avoid HIIT. Maybe just do some steady state cardio. You can read my article on sore muscles if they’re still sore tomorrow:

    One other thought, it’s good that you’re skipping the fitness classes with weight lifting but give some thought to doing an upper body routine. I’d obviously avoid leg training with weights since HIIT will get them lean and strong but there’s no reason you can’t lift some heavy weights with your arms to give you some more upper body definition. If you’re focused on fat burning, it could be something as simple as a circuit training routine that utilizes some weights and bodyweight exercise. Happy to provide plenty more details on that if you’re interested.


  • James B:

    Great article dave! My situation is this:

    Im 22, i weigh around 12 1/2 stones, I dunno what that is in pounds or KG though, sorry! Im about 5’8 or so, and the only thing that’s bothering me about my weight is my belly.

    Im looking into getting fit again as i stopped playing sports etc. Ive cut out the beer and started on a healthier diet, eating chicken and beef etc grilled from fresh, ive cut out the fizzy drinks, and chocolate and trying to limit my carb intake.

    I think the HIIT will be the right thing to do to work on losing this weight, accompanied by a short weight workout too. if i start doing the HIIT 3 times a week, do you think i’ll notice the difference quite soon? I just want to get rid of the beer belly, and have a flatter stomach.


  • James,
    One stone is 14lbs so you weigh around 175lbs. It sounds like you have a good plan in place for eating. If you haven’t been that active for a while, HIIT could really help you. Take it slow though…don’t go all out until you’re ready for it. Make sure to do the weight training as well to preserve muscle mass as you lose fat. As for timing, unfortunately everyone is different. You could notice a big difference in a month or it could take 3 months. Some of it depends on how fit you were in the past, how active you’ve been already, and of course how focused you are on your diet. Let me know how things go or if I can offer any more tips.

  • MOmo:

    THANKS, But you didnt mention about the best time for cardo(HIIT) ..I am thinking about fasted cardio (morning) or after workout…

    Thanks in advance

  • MOmo,
    I agree with your instinct and like morning or fasted cardio. However, some people have different thoughts. Here’s an article I wrote:

    I also discuss whether it’s better to perform cardio before or after weights:

    Hope that helps!

  • Arthur P.:

    I’m a 33 year old male who is looking to do HIIT to lose weight. It’s been a while since I did cardio and was wondering if this would be recommend for someone who’s looking to lose a lot of weight. I was reading the other post and it’s something i would really be interested in and was wondering if there were any draw backs. Also is this something that should be done 4-5 times a week or would that be to much. Thank you, Arthur.

  • Arthur,
    I’d highly recommend HIIT to lose a lot of weight. However, you have to take things slowly in the beginning. Most people can’t just start by doing all out sprints. Get your conditioning levels up and then increase the intensity each workout. Because it’s so intense, HIIT should only be done 2-3 times per week with a day rest in between each workout. If you’re looking to exercise more, you could do steady state cardio on other days. Alternatively, you could do a strength training routine. Let me know if you have other questions.

  • MOmo:

    Thanks alot champ… I am convinced now, that your not going to lose musclce by doing even fasted cardio (HIIT) I am talking from personal experience….My fat is melting ( like ice cream melting in the sun) :-)

  • MOmo,
    Glad to hear you’re melting fat while preserving muscle. Best of luck!

  • Adam:

    If i do this exapple routine 3 times a week starting at 6 o’clock in the morning how long will it take me to get from 17% BF to 12% BF?? (with a good diet)


  • Adam,
    It’s really too hard to say. If you want to lose 5% body fat and weigh 200lbs, that’s 10lbs of fat. I’d say that would take 6-8 weeks depending on your fitness level. Really depends on what else you do as well. At the end of the day you need to create a caloric deficit.

  • Su Jun:

    Hi Dave, first of all, thank you for this article.

    Im wondering if HIIT workout is the best option for losing fats in the thighs area. Will other exercises: steady state cardio, squats, lunges etc be a better choice instead?

    Thank you!

  • Su Jun,
    I’d say HIIT is ideal for losing fat…unfortunately it’s hard to spot reduce fat. Instead, HIIT will tighten and tone your muscles. If you’re looking to add muscle mass and get thicker legs, you could do squats or lunges but most people I know tend to prefer the toned, defined look that HIIT offers. Steady state cardio won’t really work your muscle that much; it will just burn some extra calories and reduce your overall body fat…not nearly as time efficient as HIIT though.

  • Adam:

    About my earlier question about losing 5% BF, im 150lbs, so how long will that take??


  • Adam,
    So you’d have to lose 7-8lbs of fat. If you keep your diet in check and do HIIT, I’d say you could get there in 2 months. There are rapid weight loss approaches that could help you get there faster, but I always recommend a slow and steady approach. It’s safer and minimizes potential muscle loss as well.

  • Su Jun:

    Im a female by the way, so i dont really want to add on any muscles. Are you saying that doing squats or lunges will make my legs fatter/bigger? I always thought it will reduce my thighs!

    I have another question, my calves are really big, is there any way to lose those muscles?

    Thanks again!

  • Su Jun,
    Squats and lunges will in fact make your legs bigger. They’ll be solid muscle, but bigger. As for calves, I’m not sure of any way to reduce muscle. I suspect they will naturally thin out a little if you reduce fat. Additionally, you could purposely avoid training calves…if you don’t train a muscle, it should reduce in size. Kind of an unconventional approach though…

  • Su Jun:

    Would you recommend shorter distance at higher speed or longer distance at slower speed?

  • Su Jun,
    I recommend short distance at higher speed. In fact, I like all out sprints for 15-20 seconds if you can handle it. Follow that with 45-60 seconds of walking/steady state cardio and repeat 8 times. Then do 15-30 minutes of steady state cardio. Finally tack on longer intervals of 1 minute fast run and 1 minute slow jog. That’s my formula for fat loss.

  • Su Jun:

    Should there be any break before i go into 15 – 30 min of cardio?
    Also, if i perform your HIIT routine today and jog for 3.2 miles the next day, is it okay? How long should i rest before i can perform another HIIT?

  • Su Jun,
    No break between HIIT and steady state cardio. I always recommend taking a day off between HIIT workouts. A light, steady state jog on off days should be fine. Low intensity cardio like that shouldn’t lead to overtraining. Just don’t go all out while you jog. Listen to your body too…if your legs are tired, rest.

  • Laura:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for your posts. I have been an avid exerciser for about 9 months with no results. I eat healthy I do have occasional cheat days in holidays mainly. The problem I seem to be having is that my thighs will not lose inches but seem to only gain!!!! I am 5’3 27 years old and 118 pounds. My thighs do make me appear heavier and very unhappy. I used to do leg weights and squats and walking incline as well as Pilates, yoga and kettlebells. I worked out 1-2 hours a day and only say the scale rise and the pants get tighter. :(

    I started the HIIT program today for 25 minutes after a 15 minute arm workout and an hour Zumba class that I do two days a week. I was wondering what I can do or should do to make the fat and some muscle go away forever????? I have been patient and nothing seems to work except for me to stop working out all together which I have done for the last two weeks and saw some results but the second I starters exercising this week my thighs have ballooned right back up! Please help, I wish I could afford a personal trainer or something that will give me results. I read that you have a bikini body workout as well? Would I be able to follow that, and If so can you send it to my email?

    Sorry for the rambling, over worked brain of being a single mom to a three year old and the stressing of my problem. Thank you in advance


  • Laura,
    First of all, have some pride because it seems like you’re in great shape…all while balancing your lifestyle. So great job! Second, there are two possibilities for your lack of progress. One is that you’ve plateaued and you need to loosen up your routine and go into maintenance mode for a few weeks before ramping things up again. The second is that the exercises you’re doing are promoting muscle growth, particularly in your legs. Personally, I’d start by addressing the second possibility and if that doesn’t work, move on to the first.

    Leg exercises with weights, squats, and any incline exercise will promote muscle growth in your legs. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid. The solution…stop doing all of them. Stick with yoga, pilates, Zumba, and HIIT. They should help you build slim but toned legs. Losing the muscle you’ve accumulated will take a while though so be patient. I’d recommend doing some upper body strength training as well. Try to lift heavier weights that you can do 3-5 reps with and avoid training your muscles to failure. Training to failure leads to muscle growth as well.

    Depending on how often you want to exercise, you could perform upper body strength training 3-4 days per week and cardio/zumba/yoga/pilates another 2-3 days per week. I’d be happy to discuss more details if that’s helpful. You can get my free beach body report from my Facebook page:

    If you don’t have Facebook, I can certainly email you separately.

    I think you’ll see some good results just by making a few changes. As I said, you should already be proud of what you see when you look in the mirror but hopefully in a few months you’ll be even happier with your appearance.

    Let me know if you need more details on anything. I’m always open to discussing via email if you don’t want to share anything publicly.


  • Raj:

    Quick question for you Dave;
    After a whole body workout session which lasts an hour, I’m pretty dead but would a short HIIT (10-15min; walk at 6kph for a min then run at 16kph for a minute) session benefit fat burn or would it counteract my weights session by burning muscle?
    I train every morning (Mon-Fri), and would like to do a HIIT session 3 days/week (mon/wed/fri). Though I would only do this if it promotes fat burn and not muscle loss.

  • Laura:


    Thank you so much for getting back to me. I will definatley change my routine now that I know the cause of ‘the problem’ I do have a question, what type of HIIT routine should I follow? I’m a beginner runner but I can handle jogging. Also when you say weight how much should I be lifting, how many reps and how many sets of each? I am comfortable with almost every machine at the gym and can lift relatively enough about 70-80 pounds. But won’t that give me ‘big’ arms? I want slim but toned lol. Also would you possibly be able to email me your beach body report.


  • Raj,
    You’ll have to worry about muscle loss if you’re overtraining your legs. If you’re doing a whole body workout every day and topping it off with HIIT, there’s a chance for that. I usually find that workouts beyond 45-60 minutes are counterproductive when it comes to fat loss and muscle gain. If you want to burn some extra calories after your full body workout, then I’d actually recommend sticking with steady state cardio. The whole body workout serves a similar purpose as HIIT by releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream and 15-30 minutes of steady state cardio can help burn those fatty acids while avoiding overtraining. Just my thoughts though…you could definitely try adding on HIIT and seeing how things go.

  • Laura,
    When you ask what type of HIIT routine, are you asking what type of cardio to do or what interval lengths? You can really choose whatever cardio exercise you’re most comfortable with as long as it allows you to get up to a very high intensity.

    Here’s a post with some suggestions:

    It’s funny that you mention big arms because a common misconception in the fitness world is that lifting heavy weights leads to larger arms. In fact, lifting lighter weights and fatiguing your muscles leads to bigger arms…it’s called sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Lifting those heavy weights for 3-5 reps is ideal. If you decide to do 3 reps, then choose a weight you can do for 5 reps. If you decide to do 5 reps, choose a weight you can do for 7 reps. You don’t want your muscles to fail on any set. Fatigue is the enemy! What will happen is that you will tighten your muscles and get stronger without increasing muscle mass.

    Hope that makes sense. I’ll email you the report. Let me know if you haven’t received it in the next couple days.


  • Laura:

    I went on the treadmill for a 2 minute walk, 10 minute set of 15 seconds sprinting and 45 seconds jogging at a 3.8 speed increased the speed to 4.5-4.7 jog for the next 25 minutes then sprinted for 45 seconds and jogged for 15 at a speed of 5 for the last 10 minutes. Cooled down with a light walk for about 5 minutes. Is that the correct type of HIIT or should I be doing a different length intervals? I like to mix things up so if there are different types of cardio routines and intervals please let me know so I can try and find what works best..

    As for the weights, If I did 40-50 pounds for 5 reps would i do 3 sets of that, or do I have it backward? Im still a little fuzzy on that…
    Thanks again


  • Laura,
    Sounds like a great routine. For the last set, you could increase the amount of time you jog but if you can handle 45 seconds of sprinting with only 15 seconds of jogging, then I say well done! You can always vary the length of sprint intervals and rest periods to see what works best. I find that short intense sprints followed by a light jog allows for maximum intensity. The steady state cardio provides a break and burns fat. The final intervals are really about lactic burn which is why I like a long interval fast run followed by a light jog for an equal length of time.

    For weights, I would recommend doing between 2 and 5 sets. For the number of reps, if you can lift 50lbs for 5 reps but it takes all your effort, then you’d only want to do 3 reps with 50lbs. Make sure your muscles do not fail on any set. Once you can easily lift 50lbs for 3 reps, try to increase the weight to 55lbs. Make any more sense?

    Did you receive the Beach Body report? Just want to be sure I had the correct email address and that it didn’t go to spam.


  • Emison:

    SPRINTS? LIKE RUNNING!!!! how can you guys do that. i have the worst endurance ever! I dont want to loose any weight i just want to tone my body and ive tried everything, cardio, Strength training, turbo jam, nothing works

  • Emison,
    High intensity exercise is a great way to get toned, defined muscles. You obviously have to work up your ability to do sprints just like you’d work hard to increase your bench press or other exercises. In terms of toning your body, you mentioned a lot of different exercise programs…how’s your diet been? Are you looking to lose fat but stay the same weight? I’ll try to suggest some other ways to get toned if you’re interested.

  • Emison:

    i eat what ever when ever i want(probably my problem) and yes i want to stay the same weight i am i want to loose fat without having to become way to skinny

  • Jennifer:

    Dave, thank you for sharing your advice. I feel like I have stumbled onto something that could be very useful for me! I am usually busy with training for half marathons (running nearly every day & incorporating a couple days of cross-training) but right now I am in-between training sessions and am looking for a workout schedule to keep me fit (weights, floor exercises, cross-training, along with running 10-15 miles a week). I normally have at least one, sometimes 2 rest days per week, depending on my schedule.

    I would like to incorporate the HIIT training, but I’m still a bit fuzzy on how to fit it into my schedule & still do my running, which I love. I would say a typical week would look like this:
    Monday-run 3
    Tuesday-run 3
    Wednesday-run 2, stairmill intervals for 10 mins, arms, abs
    Thursday – run 3
    Friday – rest
    Saturday – run 2,stairmill intervals for 10 mins, arms, abs
    Sunday – long run 5+

    Any advice is appreciated. And yes, I could stand to lose some more weight. I’m 45, 5’7″, 174 lbs. (have lost 23). Been working out steadily for 2 years, have ran 2 half marathons.

  • Emison,
    It’s highly challenging to lose fat and stay the same weight (in essence gaining muscle). I recommend a slow and deliberate approach. You should eat at or near maintenance calories and combine that with strength training and HIIT. Your diet preserves your weight; strength training increases muscle; HIIT burns fat.

  • Jennifer,
    I think you already have a great running program. My advice would be to perform the HIIT workout in place of or in conjunction with your 2 mile run/stairmill intervals on Wed/Sat. I would recommend doing arms and abs first. Then, if the stairmill allows you to do intense enough intervals, that could be how you start your HIIT workout. Steady state cardio might be a 2 mile run. Finish off with long interval HIIT where you run really fast for a minute and then jog for a minute. The only caveat here is that you might risk overtraining your legs. Ideally you’d take a day off after doing HIIT. The biggest risk of overtraining would be muscle loss but it also makes you tired. As long as you’re not running too intensely when you do 3-5 miles, you’ll probably be fine. If you’re trying to reach a personal best every time you do those miles, then it might be a problem. Let me know if that makes sense.

  • Lee:

    Hey buddy, I could do with some advice please. to start it off simply, I am looking to get rid of the rest of my lower belly fat and moobs. I have been going to the gym for around 4-5 months. my week consists of this:

    Monday: football/soccer
    tuesday: strength training/abs/core
    wednesday: football/soccer
    thursday: abs/core/ and a workout that may be classed as as circuit training. i would have to email you my workouts I think.
    friday: rest
    saturday: strength training/abs/core
    sunday: rest

    sorry for the long post but any info or tips would be appreciated.

    P.S on each workout day, i usually do 10 min warm up on x-trainer and when i have finished my workout i will do between 50-100 shuttle runs, i think they are called, sort of like the bleep test but without the timing.

  • Lee,
    Honestly it sounds like you have a really good routine set up already. I’m guessing any weight loss challenges are more tied to your diet than exercise routine. Here’s what I would suggest. Over the next two weeks, write down everything you eat and try to determine how many calories you average per week. You should probably be eating around 12x your body weight in calories. You could go as low as 10x your body weight if you’re trying to rapidly lose weight.

    The other possibility is that you’re actually exercising too much and your body has adapted. I’m guessing you’re doing at least 5 hours of exercise based on the routine above. If that’s the case, you might need to perform more of a maintenance routine that’s around 3 hours per week and then ramp things up again in a month or two. We can deal with that once you find out if your diet is helping or hurting your progress.

    Happy to chat via email if you’d like.

  • Lee:

    Hi Dave thanks for the quick reply. well I am on a budget as i am not doing paid work at the moment. my diet consists really of 3 meals a day, usually porridge oats for breakfast, jacket potato and tuna for lunch and chicken and veg for tea. I used to stuff my face but now i am the stage where i dont really get hungry often, i dont really snack on anything through out the day. i do have to be honest and say i have sometimes had time off with football injuries but still kept up with my diet. i think maybe the past 1-2 months have been steady and have been good with my diet. i have lost 3 stone up to now. i am 5ft 10 and did weigh 16 stone, i am now down to 13 stone and feeling and looking better but i personally think i need to lose more so my chest is defined and my man boobs pretty much dissapear and my lower stomach excess fat goes, also i am not sure but my stomach is hard but abs arnt showing through and i am not sure with abs if your stomach would sort of litterally be flat. hard to explain but i am hoping you can sort of understand what I mean haha. I can send you my workouts aswell and maybe that could be holding me back slightly. I have changed things about as my gym doesnt have an olympic bar, therefore there is a smith’s machine. however i wont use the smith’s, i prefer using either dumbells or cable flys so i can get the full motion and working multi-muscle groups

  • Wow, great site!! Nice one Dave!
    I’ve recently started to do HIIT from leaving a pretty sedentary lifestyle and I like that I can run fast and then walk as I’m not too good at sustaining jogging or running for any length of time so this works great for me.
    I’ve read through all of these posts and it seems to say that it can help with all the problem areas I have, wobbly butt, biggish thighs and a bit of a belly I’m 34, 5’2 and weigh 132lb I’ld be happy if I could just look more toned and maybe lose a little weight. The reason I’m writing to you is to ask your advice on heart rate. I’ve noticed a few times now at the gym whilst performing HIIT on the treadmill that my heart rate whilst I’m doing a fast walk, right after a run goes mad, sometimes reaching well over the 200 mark and although it only stays like this for a few seconds I’m wondering if it’s anything to worry about or could it just be a faulty machine? Today again it got very high and I felt a bit of a headache starting when I finished HIIT but I haven’t felt over tired or faint, just pretty nackered which I would expect anyway when your pushing your body to limits it hasn’t been used to. If it helps my average heart rate shows after each HIIT as being between 130-150. My heart rate taken 1st thing in the morning is about 60 bpm. Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Lee,
    Great job losing a ton of weight. You’re getting to a point where it seems like you’re in good shape. That’s probably why things are a little more challenging than they used to be. Some of what you’re experiencing could just be loose skin. With that much weight loss, it often takes your skin time to form around your muscles. The next question would be about your strength training. The best way to tighten up and create dense muscles is low rep, heavy weight training. Combine that with a good diet and some cardio to accelerate fat loss and you should see really good results. I’d be happy to take a closer look at your workouts if you think it would help. Alternatively, feel free to keep asking questions here until I answer in a satisfactory manner!

  • Natasha,
    A heart rate over 200 is pretty high so you might want to be a little careful. Back of the envelope calculation puts your maximum heart rate at 186 (220-34). However this can vary by 20 or more bpm. Additionally, cardio machines aren’t exactly known for their accuracy when it comes to measuring heart rate (or calories burned for that matter!). Your heart rate after HIIT seems fine at 130-150 as that is a perfect target. Your resting heart rate seems normal as well. I’m a little worried that you mention headaches. Honestly I’m not a doctor so I don’t know what it all means but it might be worth at least asking. Alternatively, try doing sprints at 80-90% of your maximum speed and see if you get the same headaches. Maybe you’re just pushing your body too fast too soon. Just be cautious no matter what you do. Doesn’t sound like you have much weight to lose but good luck in attacking your problem areas! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  • Lee:

    cheers dave. well i am just starting the weekly fasting and will see if that helps aswell, i have decided to eat breakfast or dinner on the days i do football and fast on these days as its just cardio so i think it will benefit me. i have done heavy weight training, i started with 10 reps x 3 or 4 sets but i have lowered them to 5 x 5 and have been able to lift more weight. i have really studied into different workouts and think i have nearly got the 2 workouts right for me. i am going to change my abs and core workout and challenge myself more. also i am planning to join the royal marines next year so i want to up my physical endurance and strength. oh and thanks for the downloadable book, actually helped me decide that fasting is a good idea and also went into detail about (hiit)

  • Lee,
    5×5 is definitely a good way to train. Just make sure you take adequate rest between sets and that your muscles don’t fail. That’s the key to strength and density. Glad you enjoyed the book, you’re talking about Fitness in a Flash, right? I have another free one on Facebook if you’re interested. I also compiled all my best posts on this page if you’d like to read more on any other topics:

    Finally, my latest post might interest you since it discusses intermittent fasting in even more detail.

    Training for the marines will be tough but it seems like you’re well on your way.


  • Hi Dave thanks for your speedy reply and I think I will see how things go with the headaches. Yesterday I did work a little harder than the other days so maybe it was just that I worked too hard. I’m a little confused when you say try doing sprints at 80-90 of maximum speed, what should max speed be?. If I tell you what I am currently doing can you point me in the right direction if I need to go higher or lower please? On some of the machines I walk at a pace of 4.5 and then run at 7 upping it to 8 and on a different machine the walking pace is 6.5 and I can run at 10 comfortably, (I’m not sure why the same machines vary, it’s annoying)I usually do this at one minute intervals, 1 min run followed by 1 min walk, yesterday I had a walking pace of 6.5 and done runs at 10 for 8 sets then pushed it to 11 for 2. I wanted to push myself further and do some sprints at 13 back down to walking again at 6.5 I was only able to do the sprints for 30 secs but gave myself a recovery time of one and a half minutes as I needed it. I then cooled down with a walk 6.5 till I had hit target time of 45 minutes, usually I only do 40 minutes with warm up and cool down included. I do vary my sets as I like to just try and push myself with either speed or going longer than 1 minute. I think I will give your workout a try but I am not sure I can sustain 20 mins steady cardio (I used to be able to before doing HIIT but it was sometime ago now and it was boring) Doing intervals seems to work better and I am finding I can push myself a bit more each time. Am I hitting at about the right speeds? Thanks in advance.

  • Natasha,
    Generally sprints are running as fast as you possibly can. So if you wanted to scale it down to 80-90%, you’d run at 8 or 9 instead of 10 or 11. That being said, it seems like you have a good interval training workout so as long as you don’t get the headaches, I’d keep it up. Otherwise, take everything down a level for a week or two.

  • Sara:

    Hello Dave, it’s me again…I posted a while back but need new advice. Lets just say that I havent been able to stick to my intense schedule. What would you say would be your ideal workout schedule for me? I am female, 5’8″, 140#. I am starting to feel like I am adding fat and losing muscle. My goal is to be a very lean and toned 125#. I am willing to work out up to 4x/week. I am going to try the eat/stop/eat diet on Mondays and Wednesdays. In the past I have been a runner and I love Zumba. My arms/back are weak and my legs are probably more muscular than any other part of me. I have a small waist but have gained some fat there, and am not toned through my butt at all.
    I would like to be at my goal by April 1st (basically 5 months from now). I need to know if that is realistic.
    Thanks! I really appreciate your advice.

  • Sara,
    Welcome back. I’m not surprised that you eventually had to adjust your schedule. It was great for the short term but certainly looked challenging for the long term. 4x per week is a good amount of time to exercise. I would recommend some resistance training for your arms as a starting point. Maybe do 30 minutes of strength training followed by 30 minutes of cardio. Not sure what days you like best, but here’s a potential option:

    Mon: 30 minutes pushing exercises, 10 minutes circuit training/boxing, 20 minutes steady state cardio
    Tues: 30 minutes pulling exercises, followed by 10 minutes HIIT, 20 minutes steady state cardio or 30 minutes of Zumba
    Wed: off
    Thurs: Same as Monday
    Fri: Sam as Tuesday
    Sat/Sun: light walk/jog/basketball

    I know you like the classes as well but most classes include a lot of leg work. If you do those 2 days in a row, you’ll risk burning out your legs. Additionally, resistance training with legs can make them big and bulky. HIIT or a class like Zumba should help keep them slim and toned.

    Does that sound reasonable at all? If you get more specific with what you can handle from an exercise perspective, we can adjust the schedule. I can offer some more advanced tips to try as well if you’re interested. Don’t forget about your diet either…

    Finally, April 1st is a great goal. You’ll only have to lose 1lb per week which is well within reason. The next month will probably be the most challenging since it is the holiday season.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  • Alex:

    Hi Dave,
    I’m 15 and a keen gymnast so i do hard strength training 2 x per week and i also do karate which has some strength training. I found this workout achievable for me but i was wondering how long it would take to lose 12 lbs of fat and how many times a week i would have to complete this workout in order to achieve the best results possible. I’m roughly 122 lbs at 5″1 but i already have a lot of muscle.

    Thank you so much

    Alex x

  • Alex,
    It’s very hard to say how long it will take to lose weight. I would plan on losing around 0.5-1lbs per week if you keep your diet in check and do this workout 3 times per week. That works out to around 3 months. You’re already pretty light though so you might lose weight a little slower. At your age, I wouldn’t worry too much about it…try to do HIIT 2-3 times per week, eat well, keep up the strength training and karate and just let the rest come naturally.

  • Ryan:


    I’ve been using your routine for 6 months and love it. A few questions though. Is it ok to do first thing in the morning on an empty stomach? Also I do the routine with jogging/sprinting. I set goals to see how long it takes me to do 5 miles with this routine. That means my steady state cardio part can be a little more intense, maybe around a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-10. Should I slow that up to help with recovery until I hit that last 10 minutes? My goal is to get ripped. I’m 34, 5’7″ and 175 lbs.

  • Ryan,
    Great to hear the routine is going well. Here’s an article on wrote on morning cardio:

    You might want to slow down the steady state portion so that you recover a little more. Otherwise, there’s a possibility you risk overtraining and losing some muscle. However, if calorie burning and fat burning are the higher priority right now, you can keep doing a 6 or 7. See how your body reacts.


  • I have done HITT before but my body always suffered the consequences of overtraining and complete exhaustion. I never really realized that making the recovery longer would diminish that overworked feeling. I will try this next week when I hit the gym. This post was super helpful. Thanks!
    – Patricia -

  • Patricia,
    I hope this new approach helps you avoid overtraining. Since it’s been an issue, the first couple times you might want to skip the last 10 minute segment (1:1 sprint:jog ratio). The 15 sec sprint, 45 sec jog for 10 minutes should allow you enough rest to get a great workout without overly taxing your legs. The steady state cardio can help you burn additional calories if needed. Hope all goes well!

  • Natasha:

    Hi Dave, Just a quick message I’ve recently had a couple of weeks of training due to the x-mas period and wanted to start back again when the children went back to school. I’ve ended up with bruised ribs now though, should I refrain from training or just get back on with it? It is quite painful but at the moment I’m still able to move about. What would you suggest. Thanks in advance and Happy New Year to you.

  • Natasha,
    Unless you really have to get in shape right now, I would probably recommend letting your ribs heal completely. It would be hard to focus on exercise while you’re in constant pain. I don’t think it would be entirely safe either. A doctor would be able to advise your limitations better than me though. Is there any type of exercise you can perform where they don’t hurt? Exercise bike, elliptical, etc.? At least you’d be able to do something. In the meantime, now is a great time to get your diet in check.

  • Jacqueline:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the awesome article! I’m 5’7″ and 165 lbs have started the jump rope HIIT last Thursday. I hope to burn at least 30 lbs. My routine consists of jumping furiously for 1 minute and 5 seconds, extra 5 seconds if I trip my rope, then walking around the house for 2 minutes, or 3 minutes if I’m really tired. I repeat this for 7 times. Is this correct? And I’ve realised that after the session, I sweat when I normally don’t, sometimes even after a shower. Does this signify that the HIIT is working on my fat loss? Also, is it okay if I do it everyday?
    Thank you and happy new year!

  • Jacqueline,
    Jump rope HIIT is very challenging and should help you burn fat. 30lbs will be tough but hopefully you’ll see some nice initial gains. The last 10lbs are always the hardest so don’t get discouraged if your weight loss plateaus at some point. We’ll deal with that issue if/when it happens!

    Jumping rope hard for a minute is going to help reduce glycogen stores and result in an after burn effect where you body continues to burn calories long after you stop exercising. That’s a good thing. The 2-3 minutes rest is enough time to recharge your muscles for the next round. This will prevent overtraining. As you get in better shape, you could consider reducing the rest intervals which will ultimately result in a greater after burn effect. 7-8 times sounds like a good number for this routine.

    Since your body is working hard even after the completion of a workout, it’s possible that you continue to sweat. Personally, I haven’t experienced that sensation though…or it’s been so long that I’ve forgotten it.

    I would avoid doing this workout every day though. If you’re working your muscles that hard, you could risk overtraining which will result in losing muscle instead of fat. I’d recommend doing every other day at most. Aim for 2-3x per week. On the days in between, you could consider doing some steady state cardio like walking or riding a bike. Don’t perform at a high intensity though.

    Best of luck to you during 2012! Let me know if you have any further questions.


  • Jacqueline:

    Thank you for the quick response!
    Just one more question, does jump rope train the forearms and the arms? Because my arms and forearms are feeling rather sore after the session.

  • natasha:

    Hi Dave thanks for your reply. I went to the hospital today and what I suspected as just bruised ribs turn out to be a fractured rib and I’m in more pain now than never. The doc recommended taking a break for now so your advice as always was spot on. Thanks again Tasha

  • Jacqueline,
    Jump rope will work your arms. Depending on the weight of the rope and how much swing you do, so don’t be surprised if you’re a little sore in your arms, back, and shoulders. It also works your core. Nice full body workout, isn’t it?

    Sorry to hear the ribs are fractured. Take it easy and let’s revisit your fitness routine once you’ve healed.


  • Sara:

    Hi Dave,
    I could use some more detailed suggestions. You recommended doing pulling exercises, followed by circuit OR boxing. What would you do for circuit training? I have limited knowledge in circuit programs.
    Also, on Tues/Thurs, I am going to do a 5:05 Zumba class, and could squeeze in the lifting afterwards. Do you think that this will still be effective (doing cardio before resistance)?
    I am 31 and overall have been pretty fit and up for challenging workouts.
    After looking at your suggestions, I am thinking of doing this to make it fit with my schedule:
    Monday and Friday – Pulling exercises x 30 minutes plus 30 minutes HIIT
    Tuesday and Thursday – Zumba x 55 minutes plus pushing exercises x 30 minutes
    What do you think of it? Obviously this looks a little different than your plan. I really want to optimize weight loss and TONING but keep it manageable for the long term.

  • Sara,
    Happy to provide some more details. First things first…I do pushing and pulling exercises on different days because I’m focused on gaining mass right now. Since you’re focused on toning, it might be better to pair antagonistic muscles together on the same day. I’m happy to describe that in more detail if you’d like.

    The other option would be to do a 45-60 minute full body workout on M/W/F or just M/F and 55 minute Zumba on T/Th. I’d worry a little about doing HIIT 2x per week in addition to Zumba. Depends how intense your Zumba class is I guess. That in itself could actually serve as a HIIT substitute. Either way, 4-5 hours of exercise per week is more than enough. You can perform weight training after Zumba although I’m always pretty exhausted after an intense cardio session leaving little energy to do low rep, heavy weight training which is what I recommend for lean, toned muscles.

    Sorry, getting off track. Circuit training…check out these posts:

    Hopefully those make a little sense. I change routines all the time but I can help you craft something a bit more personalized based on what equipment you have, your favorite exercises, etc.

    Let me know what makes the most sense for your schedule / goals.


  • Sara:

    zumba is pretty intense! =) I like the idea of a full body workout on mon/fri. Could you make some suggestions? Are you talking about just upper body and abs on mon and fri?Would you include some steady state cardio or just lifting? As far as interests and equipment go…I will have access to just about everything. I really want to be able to do guy pushups. I like using exercise balls and medicine balls, As well as machine weights. Not as comfortable on a bench but I am willing to try anything. I am tired of always knowing I could do better and looking back on wasted time. Ready for real change.

  • Sara,
    Apologies, I meant a full upper body workout on M/F since Zumba takes care of the legs. You can throw some ab/core training in as well. As always, you can perform steady state cardio if you’d like to burn some extra calories.

    Thanks for the info on what you have access to. The next question is whether you’d like to do an shorter intense workout like circuit training or focus on strength training. If you want a sample circuit, check out the second link I posted above. I can also give you a 10 exercise circuit I just recommended to someone else if you’d like. If you’re focused on strength gains, I recommend lifting heavy weights for low reps and avoiding failure. In this instance, you’d perform 3-5 reps for 3-5 sets with 1-2 minutes rest between sets. I’m happy to go into plenty more details on that. If you choose this route, to optimize time, I would perform supersets where you do a pushing exercise, rest 1 minute, perform a pulling exercise, rest 1 minute, and repeat for 3-5 sets. The move on to a different pair of exercises.

    Sorry to ask so many questions, but I believe workouts should be constructed on an individual basis to help a person achieve their goals in a way that they actually might enjoy exercising (or at least keep it interesting!).

    The final thing…if you’d like to do regular pushups, I’d recommend a progressive approach. I would likely incorporate these in whatever workout approach you use. Exercise balls and medicine balls are good to the extent they require you to use your stabilizer muscles…however, they make lifting heavy challenging since you have a greater accident risk. Not that many exercises need to be done on a bench but I would probably include bench press and incline press in any routine.

    Final question…is 45-60 minutes the appropriate amount of time?

    If you’d prefer to discuss any of these topics by email, let me know. It’s actually easier for me to reply to comments, but I’m flexible.


  • Mandy de freitas:

    Hi Dave,
    Happened upon this article last night whilst looking for informative literature about cardio training and fat loss. What a fantastic thread you have got going! It has really inspired me to start today. I am 38, 5’2 and am overweight at 140lbs. I have an ok fitness level, used to run every day, but lost my way about a year ago and piled on about 20 lbs….bad times :(.
    What would you advise as a starting point regarding HIIT for me?
    Again, well done on a factual and inspirational post!

  • Mandy,
    Glad you enjoyed the article. If you haven’t run or exercised in a while, then take it slow with HIIT. Instead of doing all out sprints during the first 10 minutes, maybe you run at 75-80% of your maximum effort. After a few workouts, maybe you try to do 90% of your maximum. After a few more workouts, do all out sprints. Alternatively, if you already feel like you can perform all out sprints, you could only do 4 sets to start and work your way up to 8 sets. Finally, if you find yourself completely exhausted after the first 10 minutes of the routine, you could skip the long interval HIIT at the end and just substitute with more steady state cardio. Trust your body…work hard but don’t destroy it, especially if you’re just started over again. The good news is that you’re really not that far from achieving your goal. Just stay consistent. Happy to help further if I can!

  • aundrea hasselbach:

    Hi Dave

    Just learning about HIIT. I had twins (21 month-old babies) and I now have some me time on my treadmill to shed these last 15 pounds.

    Can you give me an exact example of HIIT that I can try. An exact workout. That would be amazing thanks. I will also pass it on to my daughter and her friends at U of A. I think I get the idea however I would like to know what I should do exactly. Thanks.

  • Aundrea,
    Congrats on having twins. Happy to help with HIIT. I’m assuming your equipment of choice is the treadmill. I don’t know the maximum speed you can run at, but let’s just use effort with 1 representing walking, 5 representing a slow jog, and 10 representing an all out sprint.

    2 minute warm up at 3-4

    15 second sprint at 9-10
    45 second jog at 4-5
    Repeat this 8 times

    25 minute jog at 5-6

    1 minute fast run at 7-8
    1 minute slow jog at 4-5
    Repeat this 5 times

    Cool down if you’d like for a couple minutes after. Does that make any sense?


  • Mandy:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the advice. Did exactly as you recommended this morning, and feel it went well. However, just noticed , 11 hours later that my legs are feeling quite tight. I know they are going to be aching tomorrow. Will it be ok to repeat workout on Saturday if still feel a bit stiff?
    Sorry to be a pain :))

  • Mandy,
    That’s pretty standard if it’s your first time exercising intensely for a while. Saturday should be fine since that will be 3 days of rest.

    Here’s an article I wrote about sore muscles:

    Basically, it will get easier over time.

  • aundrea hasselbach:

    Awhh thank you! I did it! Except I did a high intense walk for 25 minutes over a jog. Work on increasing to a jog. Thank you – thank you!

  • Aundrea,
    That’s a great starting part. Hope you achieve your goal!

  • Ivan:

    Hi Dave,

    this is truly a great website, and you have been very kind and diligent with your replies. Being a beginner with HIIT, I hope you would not mind me asking you a few questions.

    I am looking for a program which would strengthen my body overall. Just until a week ago I have been lazy to research online, hence all I did was SS running. After reading this post of yours I decided to give HIIT a try, so I did my first HIIT run 2 days ago.

    As a beginner, I tried to be cautious. I followed your recommendation from the post (combination of 8 HI intervals, 20min SS and then 3 HI intervals). I have altered the run/rest ratio (1:9 in the first and 1:3 in the second HIIT). I felt great, but I see now that I will take a few days for a full recovery until the next HIIT.

    Before the questions I want to point that I am 27, 188cm high and ~85kg weight. I want to train for my general well-being, and would like to feel my body stronger and more agile (not so much for the looks).

    Will a HIIT run strengthen or weaken my legs/body, as it is said that SS does?
    I would like to strengthen my abs/upper body as well, so what would you recommend for that purpose? I prefer body-weight workout, so do you think I could do, for instance, a push-up HIIT or something similar? Or should I combine some other HIIT with the HIIT I already did after all?
    And finally, what do you think of the “paleo” diet ( for the purpose of this training?

    Thank you so much for taking the time for my letter. I am, as you may see, completely clueless on the topic.

    This is really big thing that you are doing, so, again, thank you very much!


  • Ivan,
    I’m glad you enjoy the website and hope my answers continue to be helpful. I’m glad you’ve given HIIT a try and it sounds like you’re taking a good approach to avoid pushing your body too hard too fast. Resting your muscles so they can recover is a very good thing.

    As for your goals, I train for a similar purpose…health, strength, endurance. HIIT will definitely strengthen your legs unless you overtrain. Keep it to 2-3x per week. If you do leg exercises with weights, I would recommend doing them the same day as HIIT, preferably before. Personally, I don’t do any leg training with weights any more as I find HIIT gives me the definition I like. I do plyometrics for leg strength.

    Adding strength to your upper body is different. You can do bodyweight circuits if fat loss is your main goal but I like to perform challenging bodyweight exercises where I can do less than 20 reps…for example, handstand pushups, one arm pushups, ring exercises, etc. A lot of people like to train for endurance with pushups but that won’t increase your strength as much as keeping reps low or adding weight to bodyweight exercises. Let me know if that makes any sense or not.

    As for paleo, I think it’s a great approach if you can stick with it. In my opinion, that’s the key to any good diet. If it’s just a fad, you’ll eventually fall off the wagon and potentially lose all the progress you’ve made. I try to eat healthy for the most part, especially during the week, but like to allow a cheat day on weekends to satisfy my sugar cravings. I’m also a fan of intermittent fasting.

    Hope that provides a good starting point. If you’re interested in any more of these topics, you can always check out my Best Fitness Tips section:


  • John:


    Shouldn’t you be focused on the game? HAHA. I guess I could ask myself that…back to the TV!

  • Hi Dave, right on. I’m a big fan of HIIT and have used it on my own body as well as that of some of my clients.

    Nature intended us to be lazy…and run/work very hard when there was a big danger. It never wanted us to run any marathons etc.

  • John,
    Wasn’t much of a game so I thought I’d increase my productivity while I could! I expect next week will be much tougher. How’s everything else going by the way?

    Glad to hear you and your clients are utilizing HIIT. Definitely a great way to train.


  • John:

    Thanks for asking. Going well…as you recall I went from ~385lbs to 197lbs…I went up to ~206lbs and have been holding steady here for weeks, which I am fine with. Actually took a whole week off from all exercise and it’s been great. I think I gained some muscle and lost some stomach in the process… When I start up again in a few days I am going to start doing weights to get some muscle mass and get rid of some of the boneyness. I also want to keep my intervals goings 3x a week. So my plan (right now) is M, W, F do weights, and T, R, and Sat do intervals/HIIT, and live it up on Sunday. Any pointers on a short but effective lifting plan? Thanks!

  • Ivan:


    thank you very much for all your advice and tips! It has been a 3rd HIIT training already for me and every time I felt great not only during, but even a day after the training. Maybe it’s my imagination though, but it seemed to me that not only legs, but my abs and upper body as well got toned up a bit as a consequence of the run HIIT.

    Wish you all the best, and thank you a lot!

  • John,
    Sounds like you’re at a very good place. I can provide plenty of tips on quick workouts. What equipment do you have access to though? The short recommendation is to perform supersets with compound exercises. I assume you’d like to focus on upper body and let HIIT take care of your lower body? Let me know and we can try to come up with a plan.

    In time, you’ll find that HIIT helps you reduce fat across your body. That’s the beauty of fat burning…and also the downfall since you can’t spot reduce fat. Good luck and let me know if you need anything else.


  • John:

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks! I have access to the following…and yes, I wanted to focus mostly on upper body…I can grab other items as well if needed:

    1. A few set of dumbells (up to 30lbs right now)
    2. A barbell and bench with 250lbs. of free weights (just got this)
    3. Three resistance bands (medium, heavy, and extra heavy resistance levels)
    4. Two medicine balls (15lbs and 25lbs)
    5. 65cm exercise ball

  • John,
    It will depend mostly on your goals, but I’d either recommend low rep strength training or circuit training. Low rep training will help you get stronger. Circuit training would provide more fat burning.

    Here’s more info on strength training:

    Here’s circuit training:

    After you read those, let me know what seems most interesting and if there are particular exercises or muscles you’d most like to work.


  • mike:

    Is it possible to incorperate weight lifting into this program or will it ruin the HIIT training? Like for example instead of the phase 2 where you jog/bike for 25mins, but instead lift weights?

  • Mike,
    Weight training is an anaerobic activity so it tends to release fatty acids, especially if done at a high intensity, like a circuit training routine. In that way, it’s actually a better substitute for the first phase. Do a high intensity circuit to release fatty acids. Then you can either do HIIT to release more fatty acids and follow with steady state or do steady state to burn fatty acids followed by some long interval HIIT to reduce glycogen levels. Or you could skip HIIT altogether and just do weight training followed by steady state cardio. Make any sense?

  • John:


    Any way to mix them both? Otherwise I guess circuit training…I’d like to keep it under 20 minutes if possible, but whatever is best. Thanks!

  • John:

    Oh…Go Pats!

  • John:


    Sorry for the third post…my goal is to add ~20lbs of muscle. So maybe that will help you decide which I should do…thanks!

  • John,

    First, what a game…it’s going to be a tough Super Bowl.

    As for mixing both, you could simply switch off. Do circuit training day 1, HIIT day 2, low rep training day 3, HIIT day 4, and repeat. Obviously throw in a day off once a week as well.

    How to fit it in 20 minutes…I’d do 3 supersets. Given your time constraint, you’d only be able to do 2 or 3 sets. I like to pair incline DB press with barbell curls; barbell bench press with DB curls; and barbell shoulder press with renegade rows. Check out the post on circuit and you can hopefully design your own. You can either choose a handful of exercises and perform multiple sets or choose a lot of exercises and only perform one set.

    Finally, adding 20lbs of muscle is extremely difficult for just about everyone except beginners. From my understanding, even bodybuilders on steroids hope for 15lbs of muscle gain in a year. Just want to make sure you have the right expectations. I have plenty of posts on the best way to gain muscle, but ultimately, you’ll need to eat more calories. To optimized muscle:fat gain, I only recommend a slight caloric surplus. If you really want to quickly add muscle, then you might consider low weight, high rep training to failure to generate sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. The muscles won’t be as tight and dense because sarcoplasm is a liquid, but they’ll be bigger.

    Lots to potentially discuss so let me know what I can do.

  • John:

    Thanks Dave. Man, that field goal with 15 seconds left was a gift…amazing! Luckily my cheat days are on Sunday, which the Superbowl will fall on. :)

    Thanks for your tips. My 20 minute time isn’t concrete…I have maybe up to 40 minutes tops. I’d rather focus on the right workout and worry about the time after. Also, I am in no rush for a 20lb muscle gain…this is just my new goal no matter how long it takes me to get there. My perspective has changed a lost since my previous posts…I have luckily lost a lot of my old obsessions and exercise rituals and have lightened up a bit. :) I like your idea about doing ciruits one day, than HIIT, then low rep, then HIIT…

  • John,
    Let’s hope for a similar result in 2 weeks. As for training, I’m happy to help you put something together. What’s always helpful is if you read some other articles I’ve done first so I don’t have to repeat things. Check out strength training and mass building sections below:

    Happy to help after that if needed. You seem to have a pretty good handle on things.


  • Mike:

    I want to burn off around 15 lbs of fat, but at the same time I want to put on some muscle/tone some muscle. Any daily routine you would suggest?

  • Mike,
    It’s always tough to lose a lot of fat while gaining muscle. However, you can certainly preserve muscle while losing fat. I’d recommend performing the HIIT routine 2-3 times per week and doing resistance training 3-4 times per week. You can perform HIIT right after resistance training or on separate days. The next step is getting your diet in check. What ultimately happens is that your diet and cardio will lead to fat loss while the resistance training will help you preserve muscle. I outline some routines in my free books that you can download at the top right. Let me know if you need more details.

  • Mike:

    What are examples of resistance workouts?

  • Mike,
    I’ve done plenty of articles on these but it really depends on your experience and what equipment you have access to.

    Here is a compilation of some of my articles on resistance training:

    Strength training:

    Gaining muscle mass:

    Bodyweight training:

    If you’re just looking for an intro to weight lifting, here’s an article I did on that:

    Sorry to point you in so many directions but it’s easier than retyping everything I’ve already written.


  • Joe:

    Great info thanks for all your effort!

    I am a male 6 feet tall, 36 years old, 210 lbs (down from 223due to recent diet changes and daily, sometimes twice daily moderate cardio at a target heart rate of 128) my goal is to lose weight fast. I generally feel better and look better around 185 lbs. Furthermore, I have a weight loss bet with a friend that ends April 1st. I only care about dropping weight at this time as I will build muscle back after I have won the bet.

    I have a precor elliptical and a decent gym at home. I have started HIIT recently doing a 1min all-out sprint. Burning in my legs starts at 30secs and by 45 i am seriously struggling, by 1min im about ready to collapse. Then i recover for 3 min with a walking pace. I need this entire 3 min to recover at this point. My heat rate peaks at 170+ and by the end of the routine my recovery rate is around 140. I wear a chest strap heart rate monitor. Is this a routine you would recommend? Is the and acceptable heart rate range for fat loss?

    My plan is to do this HIIT MWF and full upper body weights (dumbbells and body weight) as well as core/abs TTh&sat or Sunday. I want to be as efficient as possible.

    Thanks for all the info.

  • Joe,
    While I’m not a big fan of weight loss bets, I’m happy to offer some general tips on losing weight. HIIT is definitely the most efficient way to burn fat. Sounds like you have a pretty good routine but I would try to cut down the time between intervals as you get in better shape. Alternatively, as I recommend in the post, try to sprint for a shorter time but with a more intense effort. This helps release fatty acids and increase HGH levels. Follow with some steady state cardio and then get that lactic burn in your legs for the final 10 minute stretch by doing 1 minute fast jog and 1 minute recovery. As I said, this might be something to work toward, not start right away. Separately, moderate cardio can lead to muscle loss which is why I tend to recommend low intensity cardio to burn extra calories. However, as long as you’re cognizant of that, I’ll let you decide what works best.

    For your upper body, if you want to lose some weight, then think about circuit training. It will help you increase your heart rate, burn some fat, and hopefully preserve some muscle with the resistance training. Throw in some boxing and steady state cardio at the end for additional fat burning. Ab training isn’t usually efficient so I would just do planks.

    Happy to elaborate further on any areas if needed.

    Good luck!

  • Cal:

    Can you do hiit on an exercise bike? I prefer cycling and was wondering if it is as effective?

  • Cal,
    Absolutely. An exercise bike is a great way to perform HIIT as long as you can ride at a high intensity. Generally an upright bike works better than a recumbent bike for the intense portion.

  • Laura`:

    My Name is Laura and I am 30yrs old! I work out 3 to 4 times per week doing at least 45 min of cardio. I rally want to lose another 20lbs. I have been able to lose 25 already but cannot seem to lose anymore! I am going to give your routine a try and hopefully this works for me! i appreciate all your help! thanks

  • Calum:

    Thanks Dave,

    Where I live it is hard to run outside, and a treadmill I guess isn’t too good for this. Like having to change the speed to really high and wait for it to slow down after?

    I tried some HIIT on a bike today, did 15 seconds with 45 recovery, so 3:1. It was pretty hard work, usually after a 40ish minute cycle or run my legs don’t hurt.

    After HIIT my legs were really sore, I guess my leg muscles aren’t used to it. I ski as well, so having stronger legs is better.

    If I did HIIT 3 times a week, would you recommend any other training for the legs? Or should I just remove it from my weight training?

  • Laura,
    Sometimes you reach a plateau in weight loss. If your cardio has been low intensity, then HIIT should help you lose some more weight. If you’ve already been doing intense cardio, you might need to switch things up a bit. Happy to help more if I can.

    HIIT is intense enough that I don’t do any leg training. I’m not trying to build big legs either. If you still want to do leg training, I’d do it before HIIT. Depends on your goals since you could easily remove it as HIIT will allow your legs to stay lean and toned.


  • Laura:

    Thanks Dave! I usually jog for 30 minutes and then do some weight training. Is it possible to do it on a treadmill or should I do it outside?

  • Merricam:

    Have you had a look at the Trapp et al (NSW 2008) HIIT routine? They do a very short cycle 8 sec sprint/12 second rest on a bike. Any thoughts as to how effective this might be against a 15 sprint/45 rest for the first block of a routine?

  • Laura,
    You can perform HIIT on a treadmill. Just be careful because it’s tough to do a full out sprint. Gradually figure out what a good speed to run at is where you’re exerting at least 90% effort and you should be OK.

    I’m familiar with the 8/12 routine. It’s really, really hard to keep that up for a long time. Very similar to the Tabata protocol in many ways. You can certainly substitute it for the first part of the routine as long as you’re up to the challenge. I like to allow for a little longer rest so that I don’t tire quite as quickly.


  • Pat:

    Im wondering if your HIIT programme is for running only? Or can u substitute the HIIT-part with high intensity full body workouts, tabata style with work and rest interval with excercises like jump lunges, burpees i.e.?

  • JZ:

    Hi Dave, first of all I want to sincerely thank you for this article and especially for answering so many queries. Trust me, we appreciate it immensely.

    I’ve read pretty much all the million comments, but I thought I’d ask a few personalized questions. I am 5’9″ female, 167 lbs, and ideally like to get to 130. My priority right now is losing those 37 lbs, particularly from the hips and thighs (like most women). I do not want to get bulky, just thinner. Right now I am swimming a few times a week, but not really seeing results. So I want to add HIIT to speed up fat burning- I am thinking of doing 15 min of the 15 sec track sprint, 45 sec walk recovery; then, going immediately to the pool for 30 min of medium intensity swim. Due to time/energy reasons, I will almost certainly skip the second set of HIIT.

    What do you think about:
    1. this plan for rapid weight loss?
    2. HIIT followed immediately by swim v. HIIT 1 day and swim next day?
    2. how many calories I should aim for? what about proportion of nutrients (ie protein v. fat v. carbs)?
    3. using stairs instead of running? using swim itself as HIIT?
    4. and how long do you think it might take to get rid of those 37 lbs if I follow the regimen I described?

    Sorry for the very long comment. I would be so appreciative if you could share some thoughts. Thank you again! You’re the best!

  • Pat,
    You can absolutely substitute circuits for the high intensity portion. The resting portion is a little harder to substitute because you want a low intensity exercise that keeps your heart going but doesn’t overtrain your muscles. Burpees don’t qualify as low intensity in my opinion. Maybe some slow paced jumping jacks would work for that portion, tough to say to be honest.

    Thanks for all the details. Makes it easier to come up with a recommendation. Your plan sounds good overall assuming your diet is good. Here’s what I’d say to your questions:

    1. Rapid weight loss is built around a caloric deficit in my opinion. That means high intensity exercise plus low calorie diet. That only works for the short term though…that’s why it’s rapid I guess! I write about a method in my Beach Body book (free on my Facebook page) to lose weight rapidly. I generally like the slow and steady approach though.

    2. Some of this depends on your schedule. If you split the days, then I would recommend 15 minutes of HIIT followed by 15 minutes of steady state cardio one day and 30 minutes of swimming the next day…perhaps incorporating intervals if you can. Otherwise, stick with the 15 minute HIIT portion followed by 30 minutes swimming.

    3. If you’re looking for a rapid approach, you can target around 10x you goal weight (1,300 per day). It sounds low and is but will help you achieve your goals quickly. A more reasonable number might be 12x your goal weight (1,500-1,600). Macronutrients are tough…I’d focus on keeping your diet clean and trying to avoid sugar and saturated fat. In general, try to get around 100g of protein and keep carbs under 200g per day if possible. Fat would make up the rest and would preferably be good fats.

    4. Stairs are great for HIIT. The one issue with an incline is that you tend to exhaust your muscles a little faster meaning a less intense burst. Swimming for HIIT is fine as well although there may be safety concerns with that…if you exhaust yourself, be sure you can hold onto the side of the pool.

    5. I also think 2lbs per week is a safe amount to lose. People often lose more in the beginning and some will be water weight which is why I say that the scale isn’t as important as you might think. Focus more on how your clothes fit. You’re looking at 4-5 months if you take it slow. If you try to take a more rapid approach, maybe you could do it in 2-3 months.

    Lots to think about there so feel free to ask more questions if I wasn’t clear on anything. I’m always happy to email separately as well if needed.


  • Nathan:


    I’v been going gym for a bit and have recently put on some weight over the holidays and now want to regain my fitness, loose body fat and gain muscle.
    I was thinking of doing weights on mon we’d and fri. Keeping it upper body. Then possibly doing your hitt cardio workout on the tues and thurdays? Would this be suitable to achieve my goals? And does diet have much to play in this, eg shoud I eat carbs after the hitt routine or what. Cheers. And congrats on the post. It’s the best I’v seen about hitt. Cheers

  • Nathan,
    That’s an excellent plan. 3 days of weight training and 2 days of HIIT should be enough to help you achieve your goals. Diet will obviously play into things. I like to perform HIIT in a fasted state (at least 3-4 hours without eating; I prefer morning cardio). I wait 1-2 hours after completion of the workout before eating anything. At that point I have a meal with protein and carbs. Ideally this would be your biggest meal of the day but it’s not always easy to time things right.

    Before lifting weights, my strategy is a little different. If I can perform in a fasted state, that’s fine, but generally my body isn’t ready to lift heavy weights in the morning. After weight training, I’ll usually eat within an hour. Same thing, plenty of protein and carbs.

    Feel fee to ask any more questions. I’ve done plenty of detailed posts on fasted cardio, strength training, eating after a workout, etc. if you’re interested.


  • I do HIIT twice a week… on the days that are only cardio and no strength training. My formula is 1 minute run (5.5 speed) to 30 sec rest (4.0 speed). I do this 7 sets. Then rest for a few minutes (water break off the treadmill) and then do another round of 7 sets.
    I have also done it using the stationary bike instead of the treadmill. Feels great too.
    PLUS, this program goes so fast that I don’t feel bored doing cardio. It keeps me going.

  • Abg Hans:

    Hi there,

    nice blog you got going here. It does spoke volumes of your commitment and diligence when the comments were all the way from May 2010, until today February 2012, and I really respect that. Thank you for sharing with all of us!

    Anyway, I got a few questions of my own. A little background information: I am a 23-years-old guy with 160 cm of height, and 64 kg of weight, which made me a short guy with a little bit of a flabby body, with big buttocks and thighs (kinda like a girl’s body). I do have an unusually high confidence in myself, so this doesn’t really bother me, but I do want to have an awesome-looking sculpted body! Especially because people tend to have these preconceptions that fat people = lazy people.

    Also, I don’t have much exercising equipment, just a Treadmill and a couple of 10kg dumb bells. I also usually work 8AM-8PM Monday-Friday.

    Anyway, here are my questions:
    1. One of my objectives in life is to simply have normal, guy-looking buttocks and thighs. What can I do to achieve this?
    2. Is it really true that building up muscle can actually increase your height? How do I achieve this?
    3. I’m living with my parents at the moment, so I don’t really have much dieting choices, or I’ll get nagged to death. My typical lunch and dinner are rice + chicken/fish/meat + vegetables. Do you have any recommendations?
    4. Is it okay to exercise after dinner but before sleeping? My dinner is ~9PM and sleep time is usually 12AM+.

    Anyway, I’m going to try your HIIT workout after this, and gradually moving on to the Tabata Protocol. Again, thank you for sharing!

  • xiao:

    I do rope skipping 90 sec(total 200-220) than rest 60 sec,10 set per day (i do on sun,wed,friday),and stairclimber 45mins steadyly on monday,thursday,saturday.Does this help or enough for losing weight around 2 pounds a month? thanks!

  • Abg,
    Thanks for providing the background info. Here’s my thoughts:

    1. I think HIIT is perfect to tighten and tone legs and butt. I’d avoid any heavy lifting or weight training to failure for your legs. Just stick with cardio and hopefully that combined with fat loss will help give you that “guy-looking butt.”

    2. I’ve never heard that building muscle increases your height. If you’re not done growing yet, there’s a possibility that building muscle could help you due to the increased HGH (human growth hormone) levels which aid in fat burning and overall growth. Other than that, if you’re increasing your flexibility or improving your posture, that could help your height as well.

    3. It seems like you have all the right diet components. If you’re looking to lose weight, focus more on portion control. Continue to avoid refined sugar. You could also perform intermittent fasting or carb cycling. You can read more details on those and some other strategies here:

    4. Ideally you’d exercise and then eat dinner, but the world isn’t always perfect. As long as you’re exercising intensely, that’s what matters most. That being said, I would recommend eating something after you exercise as well. Otherwise you’d risk losing some muscle since you’d be going so long without any calories. Also, the other key is evaluating whether late night exercising or eating affects your sleep. Getting 7-8 hours per night is highly advantageous.

    The Tabata Protocol is great once you work up to it. Take it slow with the HIIT workout to start and once you can successfully complete it, incorporate some Tabatas.


  • Xiao,
    That should be good enough to lose 2lbs per month but it’s really going to depend on your diet. Also, by exercising your legs every day, you might risk overtraining so just watch out for that.

  • Shashank Verma:

    Fantastic blog first of all.
    I am 21 and 8-9 kg overweight. For last month i was doing 20 sec sprint and 20 sec rest for a total of 20 mins. I lost 4 kg by it. Still I am 8 Kg overweight. The 45 min Hiit plan posted here is a bit easy compared to my previous plan. Would it produce better results? Actually it is somewhat less challenging.

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