HIIT workout: Four week shape up challenge to lose weight and get fit

High-Intensity Interval Training makes you fit fast. Here's a brilliant HIIT training plan with 5 key exercises

HIIT Workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Anyone with an interest in fitness will have heard of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), the darling of the fitness world right now - and with good reason. 

HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by a planned recovery. Follow our plan with these five key exercises and you’ll see results, helping you to lose weight fast and generally get fit in a short space of time.

Aim to be out of breath at the end of each ‘set’ but ready to perform optimally again after each rest period.

What’s so great about HIIT?

Firstly, it's very time-efficient: you can burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. The average session can last between 20 and 30 minutes but can be much shorter depending on how hard you are able to push yourself whilst being sensible and safe.

Your metabolic rate is higher for hours after exercise, which means your body carries on burning calories.

Researchers have found that HIIT increases your metabolism more than jogging or weight training.

It can help you lose fat. The study found that people performing a HIIT workout three times a week for 20 minutes lost an average of 4.4lbs of body fat in 12 weeks with no dietary changes.

It can also improve muscle strength and increase your cardiovascular fitness.

HIIT workout move #1: walk outs

Start in a standing position with your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder width apart. Squat down lowering your hands to the floor, place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart then “walk” your hands outwards away from your body in a straight line to a plank position. Then walk them back in bending your knees and keeping your chest high, come back to standing position.

MODIFICATION: Keep your knees on the floor when walking the hands in and out.

Burpee

(Image credit: Future)

HIIT workout move #2: Burpees

Start in a standing position, lower yourself to the floor placing your hands  flat just wider than your shoulders beside  your legs. Jump legs back in a straight line  to plank position, jump your feet back in bringing your knees to your chest, jump  upwards to an upright position.

MODIFICATION: Instead of jumping  the feet back, extend one leg back at a  time and remove the jump at the end.

HIIT workout move #3: Squat Jump

Place feet shoulder width apart ensuring your toes are facing the same direction as your knees. With your weight in your heels sit backwards as though you were sitting into a chair, then using your arms to propel, jump up. When squatting check that your knees do not bend forwards over your toes. See our how to do squats guide for more info and some neat variations.

MODIFICATION: Replace the jump with a calf raise by coming up onto your toes at the end of the squat and contracting your calf muscles.

Top tip: Focus on technique not speed, engaging the core muscles throughout

Man demoing a press up

(Image credit: Future)

HIIT workout move #4: Push up

To do a push up, place hands flat on the floor just wider than your shoulders. Take the feet back to achieve a straight line with the body. Lower the body to the floor by bending from the elbows then push up to return to the top position, keeping a slight bend in the elbow.

MODIFICATION: Keep your knees on the floor to create a box position or take the knees further back to a ¾ press up.

HIIT workout move #5: Star jumps

Start in a standing position with your arms by your side and knees slightly bent, squat backwards then jump up extending your arms and legs into a star shape in the air. Land softly with your knees together and hands by your side.

MODIFICATION: Jumping jack – jump your feet out to the side landing on the floor and jump back in or walk your feet out and back in.

Four-week HIIT workout plan: week 1

This plan sees you do five reps of each of the HIIT moves above for varying numbers of sets (they increase as the weeks go by). You should aim to do the routines four times a week, with rest days in between (consider investing in one of the best foam rollers to aid recovery).

In week one, concentrate on form, ensure you perform each exercise correctly slowing the pace if you need to keep your abdominals engaged during every exercise.

The routine:

5 x walkouts

5 x burpees

5 x squat jumps

5 x push ups

5 x star jumps

Rest 45 sec to 1 min. Repeat twice, four times this week. For a challenge, reduce the rest to 30 seconds on Friday and Saturday.

Four-week HIIT workout plan: week 2

This week, see if you can increase speed whilst still maintaining correct form. Also time each set so you have a benchmark.

The routine: 

5 x walkouts

5 x burpees

5 x squat jumps

5 x push ups

5 x star jumps

Rest 45 sec to 1min. Repeat three times, four times this week. For a challenge, reduce rest to 30 seconds during all sessions.

Four-week HIIT workout plan: week 3

This is power week - make every jump and move as BIG as possible whilst maintaining form and speed.

The routine:

5 x walkouts

5 x burpees

5 x squat jumps

5 x push ups

5 x star jumps

Rest 45 sec to 1 min. Repeat four times, four times this week. 

Four-week HIIT workout plan: week 4

This is the final push, make every set the best you can possibly achieve!

The routine:

5 x walkouts

5 x burpees

5 x squat jumps

5 x push ups

5 x star jumps

Rest 45 sec to 1min. Repeat five times - you can do it!

Fit&Well
Fit&Well

The Fit&Well team is all about helping you meet your health and fitness goals in ways that are fun and achievable.