How To HIIT Your Cardio Hard

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I had some time off from working out back in November and lately I’ve been focusing on yoga instead of my usual running and other cardio activities. Yes, I realize yoga isn’t really <fingerquotes> cardio </fingerquotes>. My cardio conditioning has been suffering lately. Like bent over the squat rack, panting for air suffering.

It’s amazing just how fast cardio conditioning leaves you. I’m trying to avoid huge amounts of cardio right now since I don’t want to start losing muscle that I’ve gained. I decided to try to work in a few HIIT workouts to bump up the calorie burn and try to get back some semblance of cardio conditioning. I’ve read numerous places that HIIT helps burn off tummy fat (woohoo!) while sparing muscle.

My HIIT workouts take about 15 minutes to get done and I multi-task my warm up by walking the dog instead of a special warm up. Intervals are pretty easy to accomplish since they don’t require a lot of time or equipment. The one I’ve been doing only uses a single dumbbell for the swings. Gymboss Interval TimerYou could easily substitute bodyweight squats or squat jumps if you don’t have a dumbbell to use.

You can either use an interval timer like a Gymboss or there are tons of free apps for your phone. I sometimes use an iPhone app called Rounds (free!) that has everything I need for intervals. I’m sure there’s something similar for Android. I really don’t recommend trying to focus on watching the second hand on a clock.

I set my timer for 15 intervals with 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest. I do each of the exercises below in order for a total of 5 rounds. 15 minutes and I’m done! Moving your exercise types from high to low also helps to keep your heart rate higher than all standing or all horizontal exercises.

  • Jump Rope *
  • Kettlebell or Dumbbell Swings
  • Mountain Climbers

* I have to admit that I’m really not coordinated with a jump rope and I don’t want to waste any of my 30 seconds tripping and resetting. I pretend jump rope by jumping as if I had a rope and twirling my hands round with the invisible rope. Trust me this works! I save the real rope for when I’m jumping for extended periods of time or for practice.

Everyone has a spare 15 minutes here or there. No excuses to not work something in. Set a goal to do this three times with me this coming week.

Have you tried intervals for your cardio? What are your favorite interval exercises to use?


  1. Excellent article, Adrianne. Getting more done in less time is a great thing.

    I read somewhere about research where 3 times/week HIIT taking 15-25 minutes got equal results to 5x/week 40-60 minutes moderate intensity cardio. Both groups were using stationary bikes. The HIIT group did 4-6 sets of 30 second sprints followed by 4.5 minutes

    For myself, I’ve been doing 4-30 second sprints on my exercise bike, with 2 minute rests. I sprint all out, and my legs quickly start to “burn”. By the time my heart and breathing rate are getting close to normal it’s time to go again. Reasonably hard work, but I’m done in 10-12 minutes. I’ve been trying to get in 3-5 sessions/week. I probably need to do a timed test on a track to see how much improvement I’ve made. Where’s a round tuit when I need one? But that’s why I’m going for the most time-effective method I can find.

    • Accidental Fitness Quest says

      I can’t stand doing the longer cardio anymore. Maybe I’ve got cardio ADD. I’m definitely getting results from the intervals and the time flies. I need to give the bike a try too. That’s a great idea. I’m going to build up to 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest as I improve.

      Thanks for the ideas!

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