HIIT Workouts to Burn Fat at Home

female skippingHIIT is more than just a buzzword: These types of workouts can pack a serious punch. HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a broad term that refers to exercises that alternate between bursts of high-intensity exercise and lower-intensity recovery periods that usually last between 10 to 30 minutes in total. While the shorter duration may go against conventional wisdom for how long workouts should last, research has shown that HIIT workouts are more effective than moderate-intensity workouts. This means that you are spending less time exercising while  enjoying the same benefits, such as burning calories, raising your metabolic rate, and reducing your resting heart rate and blood pressure. 

Perfect for anyone with a tight schedule, HIIT workouts are also optimal for people who want to exercise at home. Most HIIT routines require little to no additional equipment or dedicated space.

So, why are HIIT routines so effective at burning fat? For one, higher-intensity training can raise your metabolic rate for hours after your workout ends. This means that your body is still burning calories at an elevated rate, even after you’ve stopped working out. 

Other studies have shown that HIIT workouts can reduce body fat and waist circumference, and you can still lose weight without any dietary changes.

HIIT routines can also increase your muscle mass, even if you don’t use weights while you work out. This helps increase your overall metabolic burn rate because muscles expend more calories than fat.

While there are a variety of HIIT routines available online, it really comes down to what works and feels best for you. You can mix and match the HIIT workouts below for a fat-torching, heart-pumping routine of your own. 

As with any exercise, you should begin with a five- to 10-minute warmup and end with a cooldown of equal duration. Warmups and cooldowns are important because they gradually transition your body between rest and working out, helping prevent injuries and soreness. 

No-Equipment HIIT Workouts

Instead of counting reps, you’ll want to focus on time for each of these exercises. Each high-intensity exercise should be maintained for about 45 seconds with a low-intensity rest period of approximately 15 to 60 seconds before moving on to the next exercise, depending on your level of fitness and the intensity of the workout. 

The number of exercises you complete will be determined by the amount of time you have for working out. Generally, you should be able to complete three sets of between five and 10 different exercises.

Butt kicks. This is a good starting exercise and is fairly self-explanatory. Jog in place with a tight core, bringing your feet up high enough behind you to lightly tap your butt. 

Jump squats. Begin with your feet slightly further than hip-width apart. Lower your bottom down as if you’re sitting back in a chair, bending at the knees and keeping your chest open. Once your thighs are almost parallel with the ground, propel yourself upward with a jump and land softly before moving back into a squat position.

group of fitness goers doing jumping jacks

Alternating side lunges. Begin with your feet together. In a fluid motion, move your right foot out to your right side and bend at the knee, keeping your left leg straight. Come back to center before completing the move again with your left leg. Continue to alternate between sides. 

Jumping lunges. Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart. Jump your right leg forward and your left leg backward, bending at both knees to hold a lunge position. Jump back up to restart. Alternate between legs.

Russian twists. Begin by laying on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your knees, bringing your thighs toward your abdomen and raising your feet to be nearly flush with your knees. Lean back slightly to create a V shape with your body, bending at the hip. Keep your form tight while twisting your upper body from left to right.

Mountain climbers. Start in plank position, with your back straight and your core tight. Bring your right knee up toward your torso, keeping your left toes grounded behind you. Bring your right foot back to the ground next to your left foot. Alternate this movement between legs.

female on running track in position to run

Burpees. Start with in a high plank position, ensuring that your core is tight and your hips are in line with your shoulders. Complete one pushup. Then, jump your feet forward to your hands. As you stand up, jump into the air with your arms raised above your head. Upon landing, place your hands to the ground and shoot your legs back out behind you into high plank position. Repeat.

Lateral plank walks. Start in high plank position with a tight core and your shoulders parallel to your wrists. “Walk” your body to the right by moving your right hand and foot to the side, followed by your left hand and foot. Move to the right two more times, then move back three paces to the left. Alternate between moving right and left.

Plank jacks. Begin in high plank position. Kick your legs out to either side as if you were doing a jumping jack. Jump your feet back together. If your wrists hurt in this position, you can try doing it on your forearms – just remember to keep your core engaged and your back straight.

Side jackknife. Lie on your left side with your left elbow underneath your shoulder and your left hand extended straight in front of you. Keep your feet together a couple of inches off the floor and engage your core to bring your right arm and leg up toward each other, as if you were doing a sideways crunch. Come back down to starting position. Do one side before switching to the other.

Minimal-Equipment HIIT Workouts

Many of the exercises above can be altered to include resistance bands or free weights. For example, you can hold a five- to 10-pound weight while completing the Russian twist, or you can use a resistance band around your thighs for lateral plank walks.  

The key when adding weight or resistance to any exercise is to remember to keep your form strong and intact. If it’s too difficult, return to a more simple version of the exercise until you are stronger.

The following HIIT exercises require minimal equipment that can easily be stored at home.

Jumping rope. A classic schoolyard game, yes, but also an effective fat-burner. Increase the intensity of a standard jump rope exercise by using one leg to jump, alternating between legs. You can also switch the direction of the rope’s movement, so you are jumping with the rope coming around from the back instead of the front.

Kettlebell pass under walking lunges. Begin by standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and gaze forward. With the kettlebell in your right hand, move down into lunge position. Once your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your left leg is bent behind you, pause to shift the kettlebell beneath your right thigh to your left hand. Complete the lunge forward and continue the walking lunges, alternating the kettlebell between lunges.

Renegade rows. Start at the top of a pushup position, with each hand holding a five-pound free weight about shoulder-width apart. With the dumbbell in your hand, raise your right arm to your right side, elbow bent. Lower back down slowly and perform the same exercise with the left arm. Alternate between sides.

20-Minute HIIT Routine

Here is an example of what a 20-minute HIIT routine would look like with some of the exercises above. You can switch out exercises and change the rest and activity times to suit your needs.

Warmup: Go easy during this phase.

  • Arm and leg swings, one minute. Gently swing your arms and legs back and forth, one at a time.
  • Butt kicks, 30 seconds
  • Jumping jacks, 30 seconds
  • Butt kicks, 30 seconds. Go a little faster this time.
  • Jumping jacks, 30 seconds. Raise the intensity slightly.
  • Arm and leg swings, one minute. Same intensity as before.
  • Butt kicks, 30 seconds
  • Jumping jacks, 30 seconds

Routine: Do as many reps as you can within the given timeframe.

  • Jump squats with a 10-pound resistance band around the thighs, 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.
  • Plank jacks, 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.
  • Burpees, 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.
  • Lateral plank walks, 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.
  • Kettlebell pass under walking lunges, 60 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds.

Complete this set one more time.

Cooldown: Focus on slowing your breathing to an even pace.

  • Hold a plank position for 20 seconds.
  • In a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart, cross your right arm across your chest. Hook your left arm around your right arm and pull lightly. Hold for 10 seconds then switch arms.
  • Bring your right arm up next to your head, bend your elbow, and reach down your back with your hand. Use your left arm to lightly push against your elbow. Hold for 20 seconds then switch arms. 
  • Standing, bend your right knee and bring your foot up toward your bottom. Grab your foot with both hands and push gently. Hold for 20 seconds then switch feet. 
  • With your feet hip-width apart, extend your right leg out to the side, bending at the knee and keeping your left leg straight. Keep your right thigh parallel to the ground and lean on it slightly with your forearms, keeping your back straight. Hold for 20 seconds then switch sides.
  • Standing with your feet about hip-width apart, slowly fold forward as your hands reach toward the floor. If you can’t reach the floor, go as far down your legs as you are comfortable with. Make sure that you are not putting pressure on your knee joint with your hands and that you are not locking your knees. Hold for one minute.
  • Return to a standing position and bring your palms together at the center of your chest. Keep your spine straight and don’t lock your knees. Close your eyes and focus on deep, even breathing for 20 seconds.

Congratulations on completing your 20-minute HIIT routine! Remember that you can play with times and try different exercises as you go. The important part is getting your heart rate up during short bursts of activity, then allowing it to more or less return to its resting pace before moving on to the next exercise.