Exercise! - How do you do your HIIT cardio?

View Full Version : How do you do your HIIT cardio?

12-07-2008, 09:09 PM
I'm just curious as to how others do their HIIT cardio workout. Like what durations/time sets you use, on what machine, etc

This summer when a trainer explained to me what HIIT was, he set me up to do a 2 minute (or longer) warm-up followed by 4 sets of 3-minute high intensity with rest sets of 2 minutes in between (for a total of 20 minutes). And then of course a cool-down. The machine he put me on I just LOVED but I have checked multiple gyms where I live now and I can't find anything like it. I don't know it's technical name but the brand was an ArcTrainer and the arm handles moved. The foot action was kind of a mix between a stair-stepper and an elliptical; but you weren't really "stepping" nor where your feet going in a circular motion ....

Anyway, so I've been trying to do my 20 minute HIIT on an elliptical but I just don't quite feel like I'm getting the same results (Yes, I DO need to get a heart rate monitor and I am in the process of looking for one!!)

But I was just wondering what everyone did for their HIIT for some ideas on how I can change it up....

12-07-2008, 09:49 PM
I don't let the machine set it for me - it just annoys me to be at the mercy of the machine! :D

I use a heart rate monitor and I set the machine myself. I do most of my HIIT on the elliptical, but I'm trying to do more on the treadmill.

I do a 5 min warmup, then 60 secs all out, 2-3 mins medium intensity, 60 secs all out, etc., etc., for about 30 mins. Then a 4-5 min cool down.

My high intensity, my HR is around 175.
My med intensity, my HR is around 155-160.


12-08-2008, 07:41 AM
I run on the roads and live in an area that is VERY hilly! So I just run at the same pace all the time, but push the uphill sections. This works because I don't run the same route all the time and the hills are all different sizes, so the intensity varies a lot.

Works for me.

12-08-2008, 02:45 PM
I alternate between treadmill, elliptical and bike. My usual routine is to do 3-5 minutes of warmup then alternate 30 seconds going as full-out as I can with 90 seconds recovery. I try to do it on the 'odd' numbers (5,7,9,11,13,15) and then at 15 minutes I go into my 5 minute cool down.

I don't let the machine set it for me either.....I prefer to have control. If my warm up is at 5.5 I typically pump it up to 7.0 (sometimes a notch or two above).

12-08-2008, 06:10 PM
You guys misunderstood me. I am NOT setting the machine to do the intervals for me.

I either hit manual or quick start when I get on so that I am doing the HIIT myself. I adjust the level/resistance/speed or whatever as I need throughout my workout. I just watch the time to keep with my 3 minutes burst or 2 minutes recovery.

I never thought of doing shorter intervals .... I'm just always done my 3-2-3-2 etc b/c that's what my trainer had set up for me.

12-08-2008, 07:13 PM
I've only been running since August, up to 3 miles now. I just started doing very informal intervals last week. Since the first half of my run is already slightly uphill (I run outside), I save the intervals for the last half. I pick a point, say a couple telephone poles down the road (not a very far distance yet), and run faster, pick up the feet more, then cool down for about twice the distance. So far only about 3-4 intervals. I did it last Monday, then wasn't up to it on my Wed. and Fri. runs. This morning was already better than last Monday :).

12-09-2008, 12:02 AM
I do almost all my HIIT on machines at the gym and my favorite by far is the treadmill.

On the treadmill, I do a 1 min 15 sec sprint following by 45 sec recovery. I also increase the sprint speed by .1 mph with every sprint. I do 10 or 11 sprints. My recovery pace is a fast walk. I have knee problems so I set the incline to 1% for the whole workout.

On the stepmill I do 1 min sprints with 1 min recovery (the treadmill needs 15 secs to get up to speed whereas with the stepmill changes speed pretty quickly). I generally only do five sprints on the stepmill.

On the elliptical, I also do 1 min sprints with 1 min recovery (again, no need for 15 secs to get up to speed). Here I increase the resistance for the sprints and then drop it in half for the recovery minutes. And I try to keep my mph or rpm above a certain level (slightly lower for the recovery mins). Again, I usually only do five sprints on the elliptical.

Generally I do either the elliptical or stepmill as a warm up to the TM. So I start with five min steady state at a warm up pace on either the stepmill or elliptical, do my five intervals there, then proceed to the TM where I do 10 or 11 intervals. Then I finish with some steady state running on the TM to cool down.

I also include "intervals" in my swim workouts, but these are pretty weak. I swim as fast as I can for one lap (25 yards/meters) and then do one lap at a recovery pace. I do four sets of 200 yards of intervals, interspersed with 400 yards of kicking. For the first three sets of "intervals" I do freestyle on both the sprint and the recovery pace, with flip turns. For the last set I do breast stroke recovery (sort my reward for doing the first three sets--breast stroke is my favorite stroke) with flip turns only as I finish each sprint (I can't do a flip turn coming into the wall swimming breast stroke). If I really wanted to progress with my swimming, I'd be doing timed sets, but I've decided I don't care about progressing. Swimming is my workout for my "day off" or for when I am injured, so I've decided it doesn't have to be as intense as the rest of my workouts.

12-09-2008, 12:23 AM
I have thought about doing intervals on the treadmil but I've never done it because of the hassle of getting the belt to speed up!

I am quite young (22 years old) and in pretty good shape so I really need to get that treadmil up there if I am going to sprint. I actually did some distance running this morning (I like to do 7 mph for 30 minutes with a couple 1-minute breaks in there to stretch those awful shin-splints) and ended the last 2 minutes at 9 mph no problem.

I wonder how effective it is to sprint at like 11 or 12 mph for 30 seconds or whatever, and just hop off and rest for 30 seconds. I suppose I increase the chance of falling off like a clutz :D by hopping on and off but at least I wouldn't have to mess with changing the speed. But I"m also not walking in-between then; I'd just be standing. But I guess I very rarely walk/run on the treadmil at the same time I am adjusting the speed a great amount. I always hop on or off if I want to slow down to a walking pace or speed it up first and then hop on. It's just too hard to try to press the stupid buttons to get it up and running NOW.

Maybe I'll give it a try later; but first I'm going to try the bike!

I guess the elliptical just doesn't feel to be my "thing" because I HATE how you cannot adjust the stride on it! With the ArcTrainer I was able to use earlier this year, I got a nice big stride out of it. I hate feeling like I can't stretch my legs out and run (and I do run with a pretty long stride ... why take unnecessary steps?)

Thanks for all the replies guys! You're giving me lots of ideas to mix up my HIIT! Keep 'em coming!

12-12-2008, 04:33 AM
My trainer has told me that it's fine to do intervals by running as fast as you can and then just standing and resting for 30 seconds. That's how timed sets work when swimming. The point is to be changing up your speed and from fast to stopped definitely accomplishes that. But I think it would be pretty hard to go from stopped to 11 or 12 mph on the TM. You might be ahead to run your intervals on a track or somewhere outdoors if that's how you want to run them.

Also, on the TM, it took me a long time to figure this out, but usually there is a number pad where you can type in the speed you want to go. I spent many months running intervals on the TM by pressing the up and down arrow keys to adjust the speed before I figured this out. Now that I know I can just type 8 and press enter if I want the speed to be 8 mph, it's a lot easier. It still takes the TM 15 seconds to get up to speed, but at least I don't have to press the up arrow key a hundred times to get there. Maybe you already know this and still find it hard to adjust the speed, but I just thought I'd mention it since it took me so long to figure it out.

12-12-2008, 01:05 PM
Hmmm, really? I thought you had to press the dumb arrow keys too. I'll try that. Thanks!

12-12-2008, 01:20 PM
My favorite treadmills at the gym actually have a speed intervals button. It will set your jog speed and your run speed and will switch to the correct speed during your run by pushing the button again.

I usually warm up for 5 minutes, stop the treadmill, set the speed interval program and then do a 5K. I have a along way to go before I'm up to going to attempt 7 mph, let alone 11 or 12 mph. But considering I just started running at the end of October, I think I've made good progress. Yesterday my intervals were set at 4.5/5.2, I think.

Shannon in ATL
12-12-2008, 01:40 PM
I do mine two different ways:

30 minute program with 6 minute warm up, three sets of six minutes in two minute increasing intervals from resistance level 4 to level 10, six minute cool down of decreasing intervals. I move up slowly during the six minute warm up, go all out for the two minutes at four, go down for the next four minutes of increasing resistance, repeat that for the next two cycles, go all out the first two minutes of decreasing interval, then two minutes slow down. So, it works out to 6 mins increasing, 2 high, 4 minutes down, 2 min high, 4 min down, 2 min high, 4 mins down, 2 mins high, 2 mins down, stretching and cooldown. I also increase the incline at each low resistance 'valley', starting at 10, ending at 30 degrees. My high heart rate varies from 175-200 depending on the day in question, low rate goes between 135-160, I try to match it up to the high rate somewhat, so on a 200 high day I don't go below 160 on the low, etc.

I have a 45 min and 30 min kickboxing music set. I try to run for three 3 1/2 -4 minute songs if I'm doing 45 mins, 2 if I'm doing 30 mins, some days that is the HIIT part of the workout. I alternate punching and kicking on the bag with calisthenics and the running - the whole workout stays at a higher base heart rate than my elliptical time usually, the running is sometimes the low point. I have lately been doing speed reps with the punches - switching from side to side and doing as many sets of 10 per side as I can for an entire song. That usually brings the heart rate up nicely, then I let it come back down for a song. I try to do one song high, one song lower with the kickboxing, so shorter interval HIIT. I guess my elliptical HIIT would be considered long interval, according to this website:

(love this website, by the way. Got it from another thread about weight lifting)

12-12-2008, 02:12 PM
My favorite treadmills at the gym actually have a speed intervals button. It will set your jog speed and your run speed and will switch to the correct speed during your run by pushing the button again.

I used a TM like that at a hotel once. It was awesome. It actually had three buttons, walk, jog, and run. I dream of the day that my gym gets TMs like that, but they just got all new TMs this year so I don't think it will be any time soon. I'm just thankful the TMs they got have fans and that they have a lot of TMs (so I never have to wait to use one). But if I ever change gyms (also not likely since my dues at this one are less than $10 a month--I guess I get what I pay for in terms of TMs, at least), TMs with walk, jog, and run buttons will definitely be something I look for.