Split Your Minute for the Perfect HIIT

Simple is what I like. Too often, I run across work outs shared by trainers that have funky moves that require me to learn them before I can get a good work out from them. On the other hand, a simpler work out won’t often let me progress (or modify if I’m not sharp that day). I like to be in charge of my work out on my day, and I hate wasting my time. I want it good every time!

HIIT Variety

One technique I use a lot with my HIIT groups is a 5-exercise work out varied by time. Easy to remember and follow. Easy to adjust. The interval makes all the difference.

My Frequent 5 is a set of five, often body weight, exercises done in three circuits. If most of the members are coming off a tough strength day, I may modify the time. If I feel we need a kick in the glutes, I’ll progress it. Here’s how:

Perform a circuit of 5 compound exercises with 1 minute rest between each circuit. The amount of exercise may seem small, but these circuits are to be done AS FAST AS YOU CAN WITH GOOD FORM. The recovery interval (can be rest or low-intensity movement like step ups) should NOT be so long that you completely recover before the next exercise.

Split your minute!

  1. 60/0 – 15 minutes of exercise 2 minutes rest RARE CHALLENGE FOR THE CONDITIONED
  2. 50/10 – 12.5 minutes of exercise 4.5 minutes rest OCCASIONAL CHALLENGE FOR THE CONDITIONED
  3. 45/15 – 11.25 minutes of exercise 5.75 minutes rest FREQUENT INTERVAL FOR THE CONDITIONED
  4. 40/20 – 10 minutes of exercise 7 minutes rest BASE INTERVAL FOR THE CONDITIONED
  5. 30/30 – 7.5 minutes of exercise 9.5 minutes rest STARTING PLACE FOR BEGINNERS OR A RECOVERY DAY
  6. 20/40 – 5 minutes of exercise 12 minutes rest FOR THE DECONDITIONED
  7. 10/50 – 2.5 minutes of exercise 14.5 minutes rest FOR THE DECONDITIONED

You’ll absolutely need an interval timer. Don’t think you’ll track a second-hand or digits on a clock. Too easy to cheat or lose track. You’ll need that beep to push you. You can find free or inexpensive ones for your phone or desktop.

Easy methods of progression for this work out include:

  • increasing the work/rest ratio (as shown above)
  • decreasing or dropping the rest minute between circuits
  • adding weight or exercises that require weight into the mix

When selecting exercises, be sure to include all muscle groups and compound movements (no bicep curls, for example–leave those for strength day). It’s a good idea to alternate body parts: an upper body exercise followed by lower. This allows muscles to rest so you get better execution.

Example Frequent 5s

  • mountain climber
  • push up
  • vertical jump
  • frog sit up
  • squat
  • SDHP
  • spiderman push up
  • squat jump
  • bicycle crunch
  • pull down/pull up
  • goblet squat
  • russian twist
  • thrusters
  • butterfly sit ups
  • box jump

Progress or modify

mountain climber: progress faster, modify slower or hold plank

push up: progress plyo push up, modify incline or knee push up

spiderman push up: progress plyo push up, modify push up

vertical jump: progress faster, modify squat

frog sit ups: progress faster, modify butterfly sit ups

squat: progress squat jump, modify balance bar

squat jumps: progress faster or box jump, modify squat

burpee: progress add push up, modify step out, incline, or not jump

thrusters: progress add weight (do not speed up), modify drop weight

box jump: progress add height (do not speed up), modify lower height or box step up

The Kicker

To finish off whatever you have left, add a short kicker. Make this a 10-25 rep or a 2 minute set of a compound exercise, like burpees or man makers.


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