How To Create Your Own HIIT Workout

Posted on July 13th, 2020 by Caitlyn Miller

I love doing HIIT workouts and I get a lot of my workouts from Pinterest. However, sometimes I need to target a specific muscle and need to create my own program. I also find a lot of HIIT workouts online are mainly targeted towards lower body and/or have little variety. This is why I was really interested in creating my own and to have a better understanding of the science behind the workouts. If you’re wanting to create your own but have no idea where to start, this post is for you! 

Table Of Contents 

  1. What is HIIT?
  2. What You Need For These Workouts
  3. Choose Your Workout Type
  4. Work-to-Rest Ratio
  5. Sample Exercise Options

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What Is HIIT?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training. This basically means that you are exercising at a high intensity for short periods, with rest between sets. The beauty of HIIT workouts are, they don’t have to be long to be effective. You can perform an effective HIIT workout within less than 15 minutes. This is a huge plus for people who don’t have time or don’t like working out any longer than 30 minutes. These workouts are proven to burn more calories than traditional cardio training.

Let’s get into the science behind these types of workouts for you to better understand them. During a HIIT workout, your heart can’t keep up with the oxygen needs of the particular working muscles. This then causes the muscles to enter the anaerobic phase of exercise. This means the muscles are working without oxygen, therefore, they can’t sustain it for long. When you make your muscles work this hard, they burn more calories when you are working out. The main idea with HIIT though is, when you stop working out, EPOC  (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) happens. This basically means that your body will continue to burn calories after your are done working out. HIIT workouts also improve strength and endurance. 

What You Need For These Workouts

The best thing about HIIT workouts is you need little to no weights. You can use medicine balls like this to add some weight to the exercises. You can also use your body weight and still have a very effective workout. You can do HIIT workouts with pretty much any exercise you can think of. For example, jumping jacks, high knees, hip dips, burpees, squat jumps, push-ups, etc. To help narrow down what exercises you need to do, figure out what type of HIIT workout you want to do. You can have a workout that focuses mainly on lower body, which will have slightly different exercises involved if you were to focus on total body. 

Choose Your Workout Type

When it comes to HIIT workouts, they need to be intense. This means that your heart rate should be in fat burning or cardio mode. A great tool to use to figure out your heart rate mode is through this Fitbit. It shows you your heart rate and lets you know when you’re in fat burning and cardio mode. Also, if you are having a hard time talking while exercising, you are most likely working out at a high enough intensity. Your workout intervals should also be short. I recommend keeping your intervals between 30-60 seconds. Your rest periods should also be short as well. I recommend not having a rest longer than 60 seconds. Your rest can either be passive or active. This is not your typical cardio workout and therefore, should not be done anymore than 3 times a week. Don’t forget to add in a warm up and a cool down! 

Work-To-Rest Ratio

Determining your work-to-rest ratio depends on your experience level of performing HIIT workouts. I would recommend upping your ratios every week so you can progress. I would recommend using a timer (extra points for it having alerts) so you don’t have to keep checking it. This Fitbit and Garmin have great timers with alerts built in! A good rule to follow when it comes to work-to-rest ratio is,

Week 1: 30 sec work/60 sec rest

Week 2: 30 sec work/45 sec rest

Week 3: 30 sec work/30 sec rest

Week 4: 45 sec work/30 sec rest 

Sample Exercise Options 


Start in a high plank position. Bend your elbows and lower your chest to the ground. Then push back up to a plank position.  


Start in an upright position. Place your hands on the ground, jump into a high plank position. Then drop your chest to the ground and push yourself back up and jump back up into an upright position. 

High Knees

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your left knee up to your chest. Switch to your right and bring your knee to your chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs and moving at a running pace. 

Squat Jumps

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Start by squatting and jump up explosively. When you land, lower your body back down into a squat. 

What workout combination are you thinking about doing? Share with me some of your workouts!

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