Skip to Content

The best HIIT running workouts to do today to lose weight

Share

If your goal is to lose weight, then you may be wondering what type of running workout is best for weight loss.

The good news is that there are many types of workouts to help you lose weight. 

HIIT running workouts in particular are good for burning calories and losing weight, and have additional benefits for your health.

Even better, they are easy to fit into a busy schedule as they can be done in less than 30 minutes.

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • What is a HIIT running workout?
  • What are the benefits of HIIT running workouts?
  • What is a good HIIT running workout?
  • Are HIIT running workouts good for weight loss?
  • What’s the difference between high intensity interval training and sprint interval training?
  • What are the best interval timers?
  • Tips for doing HIIT running workouts
  • The best HIIT running workouts to do today to lose weight

Ready?

Let’s jump in!

hiit running workouts

What is a HIIT running workout?

HIIT stands for high intensity interval training.

In the running community, interval training is a type of speed training.

It involves short bursts of running (the hard effort) intermixed with slow periods of walking or jogging (the easy effort).

For example, an interval training session could be:

  • Walk for 60 seconds
  • Run at a challenging pace for 30 seconds
  • Repeat 6 times

As long as you use the principle of varying the speed and intensity of the workout, interval training can be used in pretty much any sport and/or exercise. 

This includes walking, cycling, swimming, rowing and weight training.

Related: HIIT workouts for runners: The complete guide

What are the benefits of a HIIT running workout?

There are many benefits to HIIT running workouts compared with long distance running in which you run at a continuous pace.

A HIIT running workout helps you to:

  • Burn more calories
  • Improve your metabolism
  • Lower your blood sugar
  • Improve your cardiovascular health
  • Add variety into a training routine
  • Increase your anaerobic threshold
  • Fit a workout into a busy schedule
  • Get more enjoyment out of a workout

Burn more calories

Compared with steady state exercise, HIIT burns more calories during and after exercise.

A 2015 study found that HIIT burns 25-30% more calories compared with other forms of steady state exercise.

Your body will also continue to burn calories after the workout – called the ‘afterburn effect’. 

It is thought that up to 15% of the total calories you burned while exercising will be burnt after a workout.

So if you burned 300 calories during your workout, you will burn up to 45 calories after the workout. 

Improve your metabolism

According to a 2022 study, HIIT boosts the amount of proteins in skeletal muscles that are essential for energy metabolism and muscle contraction and alters key metabolic proteins. 

The results from this research explain the benefits of HIIT for the metabolism.

Lower your blood sugar

Various studies have shown the positive health benefits of HIIT for lowering your blood sugar levels. 

In one study involving nine individuals with type 2 diabetes, blood glucose levels were reduced immediately after each HIIT session.

Some other studies have shown that by doing HIIT, you may see improvements in your blood pressure and blood sugar compared with moderate to intense exercise. 

Improve your cardiovascular health

HIIT has many benefits for your cardiovascular health. 

According to Harvard Health, HIIT boosts your cardiovascular fitness faster by working harder instead of longer.

HIIT also has benefits for your heart – making it stronger and more healthy.

Add variety into a training routine

One of the best things about HIIT is that it adds variety into a training routine.

So if you’re only ever used to doing long, steady state runs, HIIT may be exactly what you need.

HIIT workouts allow you to switch things up and add more intense forms of exercise into your routine.

And you don’t need a personal trainer to get started with HIIT – they are simple to do as we explain later in this guide.

Increase your anaerobic threshold

Ever felt a burning sensation in your muscles during a particularly demanding workout?

This is your body’s way of telling you that it is close to running out of energy that is needed to sustain the workout.

The anaerobic threshold (also known as the lactate threshold) is the exertion level between aerobic and anaerobic training.

When you cross the anaerobic threshold, you’re body has to work harder to sustain the energy levels required for the workout.

You use your aerobic metabolism for most daily activities and endurance activities like long distance running.

Whereas your anaerobic metabolism kicks in when exercise intensity is greatly increased, and when the aerobic energy system can no longer keep up.

By doing regular HIIT running workouts, you will increase the time in which you are able to maintain the energy levels required for a demanding workout.

Fit a workout into a busy schedule

One of the biggest reasons people give for not exercising enough is lack of time.

With HIIT you can easily do a 20 minute HIIT running workout in less than half an hour.

Making it a great way to get your daily dose of exercise!

Get more enjoyment out of a workout

Many people prefer HIIT compared with longer forms of exercise like running and cycling because it’s short and snappy. 

One 2016 study on young obese women found that HIIT is a more enjoyable and time-efficient exercise strategy.

Related: What is sprint interval training? Benefits + 3 sample workouts

hiit running workouts

Related: When does period weight go away? All your questions answered

What is a good HIIT running workout?

When it comes to doing a HIIT running workout, it’s important to grasp the basics in terms of changing up your speed and intensity and including rest periods.

During an interval training session, you will go from an ‘easy’ effort to a ‘hard’ effort in a matter of seconds. 

How fast you are able to run during the ‘hard’ efforts will depend on your fitness levels, running experience and fitness goals. 

The idea is that during the hard effort, you run at a challenging pace that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Think 8 or 9 out of 10 in terms of effort and intensity.

It shouldn’t be so hard though that you want to collapse in a heap on the floor.

Here are some general principles to follow when doing HIIT:

  • The easy efforts should last longer than the hard efforts. This is so you have more time to recover in between each hard effort. So if the hard effort is 30 seconds, the easy effort should be between 1 to 2 minutes.
  • During the hard efforts, run at a pace that feels difficult or challenging – around 80 to 100% of your maximal heart rate, or as we explained earlier, 8 or 9 out of 10 on the effort scale.
  • Start with longer periods of rest and then gradually increase the time in which you complete the harder efforts.

Here is an example of a HIIT running workout using a 2:1 ratio which is good for beginners.

  • Warm up
  • Walk or jog for 1 minute (this is the easy effort)
  • Sprint for 30 seconds (this is the hard effort)
  • Repeat 6 times
  • Cool down

Here is an example weekly training routine. You will notice that each week each workout gets progressively harder.

  • Week 1 – 3:1 ratio – 1 minute easy effort, 20 seconds hard effort, repeat 6 to 8 times
  • Week 2 – 2:1 ratio – 1 minute easy effort, 30 seconds hard effort, repeat 6 to 8 times
  • Week 3 – 1:1 ratio – 30 seconds easy effort, 30 seconds hard effort, repeat 6 to 8 times
  • Week 4 – 1:2 ratio – 30 seconds easy effort, 1 minute hard effort, repeat 6 to 8 times
  • Week 5 – 1:3 ratio – 20 seconds easy effort, 1 minute hard effort, repeat 6 to 8 times

Related: 7 of the best running workouts to build endurance, strength and speed 

Are HIIT running workouts good for weight loss?

You may be wondering: “What burns more calories: running or a HIIT workout?”

As we explained earlier, one of the biggest benefits of HIIT running workouts is that they burn more calories compared with steady state running.

So if you regularly perform HIIT running workouts like interval training, you may find it’s better for losing weight. 

Related: Running for weight loss: The most effective running workouts

hiit running workouts

What’s the difference between high intensity interval training and sprint interval training?

The main difference between HIIT and sprint interval training (SIT) is training intensity.

  • The target intensity of HIIT is between 80-100% of maximal heart rate (MHR) (sub-maximal intensity).
  • The target intensity of SIT is at or over 100% of maximal heart rate (MHR) (maximal or supramaximal intensity).

HIIT is considered a more achievable form of training for the average runner, and is therefore typically recommended over SIT for weight loss.

Experts agree that weight loss can easily be achieved with training at intensities around 80-85% of MHR. 

A 2016 study also concluded that HIIT burns more energy compared with sprint interval training (SIT).

Adding that during HIIT, subjects burned significantly more calories and reported lower perceived exertion than SIT. 

Related: How to get a runner’s body: Characteristics + 6 training tips

What are the best HIIT interval timers?

When it comes to doing HIIT, it’s useful to be able to time your workouts.

This is so you know exactly when to start easy and hard efforts.

Many apps also have pre-programmed workouts which is great if you need some workout inspiration.

Here is our selection of the top HIIT interval timer apps:

Related: 5k to 10k: 5 of the best 5k to 10k running apps

hiit running workouts

Tips for doing HIIT running workouts

Here are some tips on doing HIIT workouts as part of your weekly training routine.

#1 Start slow

If you’re new to HIIT, then start with low intensity forms of HIIT first such as walking and jogging, then progress to high intensity forms such as sprinting and hill sprints. 

Do not go straight into a hill sprint HIIT workout before you’ve grasped more basic forms of HIIT. 

#2 Listen to your body

If you have an injury or regularly experience muscle and joint pain, then HIIT may not be for you.

It’s recommended you start with low intensity forms of HIIT such as cycling and swimming.

Then dig deeper into high intensity forms like running and weight training.

#3 Think about rest periods

It’s recommended you take adequate rest breaks in between each hard effort to allow your body to recover, especially if you’re new to HIIT.

HIIT is physically demanding, so you will want to sustain your energy levels by taking enough rest breaks.

#4 Plan your HIIT workouts

Plan your HIIT running workout after an easy run, or as a standalone activity on a training day.

Start with 1 to 2 interval training sessions per week, then add in more as the weeks go ahead if you feel comfortable.

#5 Remember to warm up

A warm up is essential before a HIIT workout in order to warm up your muscles before what can be a physically demanding workout.

Aim to do 5 minutes of light jogging or brisk walking before a workout.

It’s also recommended you do some dynamic stretches to mobilise your muscles and joints.

#6 Think about your running form

Proper running form is equally as important during a HIIT running workout as it is on a steady run.

Make sure you use the 5 key principles of proper running form when doing a HIIT running workout.

Related: 8 of the best running apps for beginners + the pros and cons of each

hiit running workouts

The best HIIT running workouts to do today to lose weight

Now you know all about the benefits of HIIT running workouts, here are our top 5 workouts.

#1 Beginner HIIT running workout

  • Warm up
  • Walk for 1 minute
  • Run for 30 seconds at a challenging pace (80-90% of MHR)
  • Repeat 6 to 8 times
  • Cool down

#2 Intermediate HIIT running workout

  • Warm up
  • Walk for 30 seconds
  • Run for 1 minute at a challenging pace (80-90% of MHR)
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times
  • Cool down

#3 Advanced HIIT running workout

  • Warm up
  • Walk for 30 seconds
  • Run for 90 seconds at a challenging pace (80-90% of MHR)
  • Repeat 6 to 8 times
  • Cool down

#4 Treadmill HIIT running workout

  • Warm up
  • Walk for 1 minute at 3-3.5% at a 5% incline
  • Run for 1 minute at 3-3.5% at a 8% incline
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Cool down

#5 Hill sprint HIIT running workout

  • Warm up
  • Run uphill for 30 seconds
  • Walk/jog downhill back to the start point
  • Repeat 6 to 8 times

#6 Bonus plyometric HIIT workout

  • Warm up
  • Squat jumps for 30 seconds
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Jump lunges for 30 seconds
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Star jumps for 30 seconds
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Squat touchdowns for 30 seconds
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Box jumps for 30 seconds
  • 15 seconds rest
  • Repeat 3 to 4 times
Caroline Geoghegan
Follow
Latest posts by Caroline Geoghegan (see all)

Share