Get Your Heart Rate Up With These HIIT Workout Programs
High-intensity interval training offers a super efficient cardio workout. Here are the best HIIT workouts to try.
Updated Feb. 2, 2024 5:00 a.m. PT
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Giselle Castro-SlobodaFitness and Nutrition Writer
I'm a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I've had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women's Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
While cardio may be more enjoyable when you can take a run in a beautiful location or take your time to ride your bike around, it's not always an option. This is why high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are around. These are fast-paced, quick workouts in a short amounts of time such as 30 seconds at a time with 30 seconds of rest.
There's a wide variety of fitness apps available anymore, meaning anyone can access these workouts at home. There are plenty of notable online HIIT workout programs available, with beginner and advanced classes. Most of these programs require minimal to no equipment to get a workout in.
As a former personal trainer who's taught HIIT classes in the past, I've tried many of these popular HIIT workout programs and narrowed them down to the best options. If you're ready to get your heart rate going, give these top-rated HIIT workouts a try. The prices listed are based on monthly payments.
CNET previously named Nike Training Club one of the best fitness apps for 2022, and the Nike Training Club app also features free HIIT training taught by Nike master trainers. The selection of HIIT classes range between 5 minutes and an hour, which you can choose depending on your fitness level. The app also features HIIT and other workout programs which you can follow for an extensive period of time to achieve certain fitness goals.
Most of the HIIT workouts are designed to be done with minimal to no equipment and can even be done in small spaces. One of my favorite aspects of the NTC program is that they offer a variety of their HIIT workouts combined with strength, core, or lower and upper body workouts. What I liked about these workouts is that they let you target multiple body parts at once in a short period of time. Another plus: this app is available to both Apple and Android users.
Barry's Bootcamp has made a name for itself in the fitness world since it first came on the scene in 1998. The HIIT class consists of circuits that include running intervals on a treadmill followed by strength training. It's become a favorite workout among celebrities and fitness enthusiasts because of the challenge the class poses, plus the instructors are high-energy, engaging and motivational.
As an adrenaline junkie, I'm a fan of Barry's Bootcamp classes when I'm trying to challenge myself and want to get a good sweat in. When the pandemic hit, like many other fitness studios, Barry's created a virtual class. Barry's At Home workouts connect its members to their trainers and classes, so you can work out without leaving the house.
Although these virtual classes include some of Barry's traditional treadmill and strength workouts, the at-home classes mainly consist of bodyweight exercises, weights and resistance bands. To access and purchase these classes you need a membership profile set up on the Barry's Bootcamp website. Right now you can try out the classes with a thirty-day free trial before purchasing a package.
F45 Training is a community-driven fitness class that has studios internationally. It prides itself on being a full-body functional HIIT workout. The class sets up exercise stations that are used in intervals as students rotate across them in 45 minutes. When I took this class, I appreciated that besides guidance from the instructors, there were TV screens that had video demonstrations of the exercises in case you needed a refresher. And unlike most group fitness classes, where there's one instructor for a large group, F45 has a few instructors teaching, which allows all of the students to get their undivided attention if they need a modification or to be challenged.
During the pandemic, the studio introduced At-Home workouts, which are virtual classes that members can access at home through the F45 Challenge app or website. F45 aims to make sure that their in-studio sense of community can still be felt at home or wherever students choose to work out. The app connects you with other F45 members and provides you with a nutritional guide and a dashboard to track your workouts, so you can achieve your targeted goals.
Fhitting Room is a New York-based HIIT class that started off as a way to include one-on-one personal training in a small group fitness setting. However, since the pandemic hit, the studio now offers live and on demand classes for members that can be accessed anywhere. This is one of my favorite HIIT classes, because the instructors are motivating and there are different classes depending on your fitness level and goals. For example, the Signature FHIT class is all HIIT-focused whereas the Just Strength class uses heavy weights and slow movements to give you a proper strength workout. If you're like me and enjoy working out with kettlebells, Fhitting Room incorporates kettlebells into their HIIT, Strength and Advanced Kettlebells classes.
Fhitting Room's live and on demand classes can be accessed through your phone or online. The nice thing about the virtual option is that only 24 students can participate at a time, which means you also get undivided attention and feedback from the instructor. There are also bodyweight and equipment workout class options depending on what equipment you have available. If you're interested in trying a Fhitting Room class at home, the subscription includes the option to buy a la carte classes, class packages or monthly memberships.
Boxing is a good way to get some cardio in, and Rumble had the right idea by turning it into HIIT programming. The 45-minute HIIT-focused workout consists of 10 rounds of boxing drills on a boxing bag alternated with resistance training. The workout is easy to follow as you learn the six key boxing moves, such as the jab, uppercut, cross, and hook, without needing any previous boxing experience. You'll then complete bodyweight circuits on a bench as well as using heavy, medium, and light dumbbells.
The class started off in a studio in New York and has since expanded nationally across major cities. One of my favorite things about Rumble is the fusion of old-school and new-school playlists chosen specifically to match the vibe of the classes.
Orangetheory is big on heart rate data output during their HIIT classes. Using the company's OTbeat Technology heart-rate monitor, Orangetheory observes five heart rate zones during the workout, which focuses on your resting, easy, challenging, uncomfortable and all out heart rate. These zones are labeled different colors and tell you whether or not you should push harder during your workout. The ultimate goal is to spend 12 minutes or more with your heart rate elevated in "The Orange Zone" to burn more calories.
During the hour-long class, you go through a full body workout that focuses on building your strength, endurance and power. The circuits include running on a treadmill, rowing, and doing strength training on the floor.
Your heart-rate monitor connects to a TV that displays your heart rate in real time to use as a guide during class. Afterward, you can track your statistics on the Orangetheory app, which will show the heart rate zones you achieved during your workout and approximately how many calories you burned during class.
I found this class a lot harder than I anticipated because it was a challenge to keep my heart rate in the orange zone. If you enjoy some healthy competition and using data to challenge yourself, then this is the class for you.
Orangetheory has virtual classes for members called Orangetheory Live, which also use the OTbeat Technology heart-rate monitor to provide the same effect as in-person sessions. These virtual classes are available at select studios, therefore you would have to check if your closest location offers them.
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Other HIIT programs I tested
There are a few other HIIT classes I've tried, but they just didn't make the cut. They might still be worth trying out, depending on your equipment and needs.
Peloton Digital: I have the Peloton digital app and use it for the company's rides, runs, and even strength and core classes. CNET named it one of the best workout apps for 2022. Peloton's HIIT classes are a good challenge, but if you don't have the luxury of owning your own Peloton bike or tread, it takes away from the experience if you'd like to access your stats on their leaderboard.
Sweat: This app was created by Australian trainer, Kayla Itsines, and although she's known for her signature HIIT programs, this app provides an ample amount of various workouts taught by other trainers. It was also created with women in mind, so men may not necessarily opt for this app as their first choice.
Beachbody's Insanity Max30: I remember when this workout first came out and everyone I knew (including myself) was doing it. While it seemed like a good idea at the time, I quickly learned that the workout wasn't for everybody. The latest version is still HIIT-oriented, 30 minutes long and has a low-impact modifier. However, marketing for the workout still reads like an infomercial and claims you'll lose 9 pounds in 14 days. If you're a fan of Insanity and like its HIIT style, by all means do it, but results will vary per person.
How I picked the best HIIT programs
Almost every popular workout program these days has a HIIT variation, so there are many different classes and apps that offer HIIT workouts along with other types of exercises. For the purpose of this list, I focused mainly on programs that are known for their HIIT style of workouts. I also wanted to include studios where you can drop in and try a class if you live close to one of the locations and want the group fitness experience.
Having taught HIIT group fitness classes and tried different HIIT workouts, I used my own experience and expertise to determine which would be the best fit for this list. I looked at the intensity of the classes, if modifications were provided for some exercises, as well as the instructor's energy and how well they provide directions and exercise cues. I also looked at accessibility -- whether a wide range of people could find the classes useful.
How many times a week should you do HIIT?
Because of their intensity, HIIT workouts are taxing on the body and should be done in moderation. HIIT can affect your hormone levels, drain your glycogen stores (which you use for energy), and put your joints at risk of strain or injury. According to the American Council on Exercise, it's best to do them once or twice a week since that will give you enough time to recover and minimize risk for an injury.
How long should a HIIT workout last?
A standard HIIT circuit might look something like 30 seconds of squat jumps followed by 30 seconds of resting, and repeating that cycle a few times through.
Because of their intensity, exercises found in HIIT workouts are not suggested for pregnant women by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you have a heart condition, you should receive guidance from your medical practitioner before partaking in HIIT training. If you're injured, you should opt for lower-impact exercises until you're given clearance to resume exercising normally by your doctor.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.