High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is here to stay. Looks like it's time to buy stock in bucket companies! Not just for HIIT's notorious nausea-inducing effects, mind you, but to catch the pounds of unwanted fat a killer HIIT workout can drop from your body.

Sure, HIIT—or "hit," as an increasing number of people like to pronounce it—is nauseating, repetitious, and exhilarating, but no matter what you're feeling as you count off the seconds, the growing consensus is that you need to be doing some form of high-intensity cardio. If you're serious about training—as in, "I Lift, Ergo I Am" serious—then HIIT should be one of the training weapons in your arsenal to improve conditioning and torch fat.



For some of the most innovative—and sometimes cruelest—routines around, we checked in with the masters of pain on the Bodybuilding.com forums. In terms of equipment, these six routines run the gamut from treadmills to pure bodyweight, with several types of weights in between. So you have no excuses! Just bring your water bottle and a towel—and maybe even that bucket.

Uphill HIIT by AZtrainer

Adding an incline to your HIIT program can decimate any plateau, and even helped BodySpace member AZtrainer get fit enough to start playing semi-professional football again. This program is not a rigid guideline, so scale it to your personal fitness level.

Do this workout 2-3 times per week to begin, and build up to adding days if you're prepping for your triumphant return to the gridiron—or just to significantly increase your athleticism and power.

  • 3 min., 8 (speed), 0 incline
  • 1 min., 2 (speed), 0 incline
  • 45 sec., 8 (speed), 4 incline
  • 1 min., 2 (speed), 0 incline
  • 45 sec., 9 (speed), 6 incline
  • 90 sec., 2 (speed), 0 incline
  • 45 sec., 10 (speed), 8 incline
  • 90 sec., 2 (speed), 0 incline
  • 45 sec., 11 (speed), 5 incline
  • 90 min., 2 (speed), 0 incline
  • 45 sec., 12 (speed), 3 incline
  • 3 min., 2 (speed), 0 incline

For each sprint, shoot for your max heart rate [formula here]. Slow down the belt and walk, or hop onto the rails and rest for your recovery interval until your heart rate returns to the normal range.

Jack and Jill by DOC

  • Step 1. Find a partner who is as sick as you are.
  • Step 2. Find a steep hill that is about 100 meters long (or whatever you have access to).
  • Step 3. Place a 50-pound bag at the top of the hill and another at the bottom of the hill. Sandbags work great here, but any other weight could work in a pinch.
  • Step 4. Grab the bag at the bottom and sprint with it up to the top of the hill.
  • Step 5. Drop it, pick up the other bag, and run it down the hill.
  • Step 6. Rest while your partner does his or her set. Do 8-10 rounds apiece.

HIIT Tip

Get the most out of your HIIT by sipping on branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) throughout your workout. These essential amino acids are great for keeping your energy levels high throughout your workout, and can also help speed up recovery and reduce muscle soreness. BCAAs have not only been shown to delay fatigue and lactate production during exercise, but may also reduce muscle protein breakdown and promote recovery from high intensity training.

BodySpace member DOC shared this unorthodox cardio prescription for all you sick puppies out there. It's a high-intensity routine that should be done no more than three times a week to train for anaerobic endurance and power.

To develop baseline aerobic cardio conditioning, Doc also recommends running 6 kilometers, or roughly 3.75 miles, first thing every morning. We kinda think DOC is a masochist, and we love it.



The 3-Minute Round Workout by patricklee85

MMA fighters need to stay the course for a three-minute round, but it's also a great timeframe for the rest of us to train in. Patricklee85 designed a training protocol to simulate that experience, without the rapid-fire round kicks to your dome.

Running on a track

Because you rarely go 100 percent for the entirety of a round, these intervals have built-in intensity levels, so you have to push some of the time and conserve energy in others. The one-minute walk simulates your rest between rounds, so be sure to leave that in.

The 3-Minute Round Workout
1
Repeat for 5 total rounds
Jogging-Treadmill
1 set, 1 min (moderate pace)
Running, Treadmill
Sprint.
1 set, 1 min
Running, Treadmill
1 set, 1 min
Walking, Treadmill
1 set, 1 min

Lunge, Swing, Burn by L3al3yJane

One of the great things about HIIT is that you're definitely not limited to locomotive exercises like running or cycling. If you can do something fast, you can do it for intervals. This alternating workout of lunges and kettlebell swings is definitely fast, but it can also feel like it'll never end!

Kettlebell Swing

Kettlebell swing

Lunge, Swing, Burn
Note: Hold a single dumbbell or kettlebell on the same side as your working leg for the lunges, and use a moderately heavy kettlebell for the intervals.
1
Circuit
4 rounds
Dumbbell Rear Lunge
Holding dumbbell or kettlebell.
4 sets, 8 reps (left side)
Kettlebell Swing
4 sets, 25-30 reps
Dumbbell Rear Lunge
Holding dumbbell or kettlebell.
4 sets, 8 reps (right side)
Kettlebell Swing
4 sets, 25-30 reps

No Gym, No Worries by smberrios68

Lots of people don't belong to a conventional gym, but that's no excuse to sit on your couch. This quick and easy program requires nothing more than two legs, a timer, and a heartbeat to complete.

High Knee

 

Do this 16-minute routine up to four days a week to burn fat, get fit, and feel energized throughout the day.

Warm-up:

  • March in place: 2 min.

Circuit: Perform 5 rounds



  • Sprint in place: 12 sec.
  • March in place: 18 sec.
  • Burpee: 12 sec.
  • March in place: 18 sec.
  • Jumping jacks: 12 sec.
  • March in place: 18 sec.
  • High-knee: 12 sec.
  • March in place: 18 sec.

Cool-down:

  • March in place: 2 min.

HIIT the Pool by footbag_man

What's that? Swimming's not in your cardio repertoire? BodySpace member footbag_man thinks it's time to reconsider. Swimming laps is a full-body activity that can burn a jaw-dropping amount of fat and calories. (Think of Michael Phelps eating 12,000 calories a day and still fitting into those skin-tight swim trunks.)

Swimming in a pool

 

This HIIT program blends different strokes to work your whole body from a variety of angles, making it a great way to get in your cardio while staying cool in the summertime.

HIIT the Pool

  • Freestyle swimming: 100 meters (warm-up)
  • Freestyle swimming: 50 meters, moderate pace
  • Breast stroke: 50 meters, slow pace
  • Freestyle swimming: 50 meters, all-out sprint
  • Freestyle swimming: 100 meters, slow pace

About the Author

Lara McGlashan

Lara McGlashan

Lara McGlashan is currently the Fitness Editor for Oxygen Magazine. She also has an extensive sports background and is an ACE certified trainer.

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