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A HIIT workout routine to burn fat quickly

If your current cardio routine is ‘easy’ for you, then perhaps you’re doing it wrong. Hold on a minute matey, I’m not talking about aerobics, pump classes or anything else ending in ‘class’, but rather, I’m talking about the zombie-like crowd of gym-goers that consistently leash themselves to the nearest elliptical/treadmill or any other piece of ‘fat burning’ equipment that is hooked up to Pay TV, to run at a steady-state for 45mins or longer.

If you are training like this 5 days a week, and want to lose some body-fat, then you need to stop and think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.


Long distance running will make you waif thin–and you’ll lose a lot of muscle mass in the process.

How I see it, long steady-state cardio is good for

#1 Marathon runners
#2 Growing your thighs and calves disproportionately to the rest of your body
#3 Eventually sending your fat loss efforts into a plateau (if this is a goal).
#4 Spending a third of your life running towards a TV screen that never gets any closer (joke).
Perhaps that was a little harsh, but I’m allowed to be. After all, I’m a HUGE advocate for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and besides that, it’s my soap-box, and I’m allowed to stand on it.

What is HIIT exactly?

It’s an exercise strategy that is intended to improve performance with short training sessions and is beneficial to burn fat quickly in a short and intense workout.


Olympic sprinter Shawn Crawford is proof that HIIT training will keep that body fat at bay

What else makes HIIT so sexy?

#1 You can be in and out of the gym in 20-30mins
#2 You will burn fat for 24hours following your workout.
#3 You’ll spare a lot more of you hard-earned muscle
#4 You’ll be able to brag to your friends that you’re trialing a wicked training technique you found on the internets (Awesome!)

Still don’t believe me?

A study by Gibala demonstrated, 2.5 hours of HIIT training produced similar muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training and similar endurance performance benefits. According to a study by King, HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) for the following 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and may improve maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) more effectively than doing only, long aerobic workouts.

‘…If you can chat to the person on the elliptical next to you, then you’re not working hard enough.

What’s the best cardio workout for fat loss?

The premise is simple. You rest/sprint at a 2:1 ratio for a set amount of time and repeat until your spleen falls out of you.

When I say ‘SPRINT’, I mean at 90% or more of your maximum. If you can chat to the person on the elliptical next to you, then you’re not working hard enough.

An example HIIT routine

Can be performed on Elliptical/Stepper/Bike/Treadmill

Warmup 5mins 40% max
Sprint 30seconds 90% max
Rest/walk 60 seconds at 40% max
(Repeat for 15minutes)
Cool down 5mins

By the end of a HIIT workout, you should be sweating like a mofo with your lungs ready to punch you in the face.

Results after a month of HIIT

You’ll have kicked your fat burning into overdrive by about the 5th workout in and you’ll be well on your way to the leanest physique you’ve ever experienced (as long as you’re diet is in check of course).

Give it a try, HIIT will definitely help you burn fat quickly.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

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Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • Jade says:

    When you talk about 90% of your cardio how do you determine what your 90% is, by heart rate or just by feel? I do a similar run which I call a pyramid run, you start at a certain speed and then every 5 minutes you up the speed until you are nearly sprinting at the end (say round 30 minutes) is this a similar sort of run?

  • Clint Nielsen says:

    I would say by feel as heart-rate monitoring via machines in the gym for example, has a low rate of accuracy. It can by all means be used as a guide, but I wouldnt adhere to it like glue.

    In terms of it being a similar sort of run I would say no. The difference with HIIT is the rest time between each sprint. It’s kept relatively short.

  • Darrin says:

    In my book, you can’t bash steady-state cardio enough. It’s more likely you’ll work up an appetite and either end up chowing down (hey, you deserve a reward!) or using all your willpower to abstain and put your body in starvation mode. HIIT gets to the core by boosting the hormones necessary to get a lean physique. I’ve found it too difficult to do on machines, however. I’ll just hit the alley behind my apartment for sprints once a week.

  • Clint,
    HIIT is definitely a great workout. Sometimes I take it a step further with Tabata intervals, but only in small doses. I actually like to incorporate steady state cardio after a HIIT routine. HIIT is great for releasing fatty acids while steady state is great for burning them once they’re in the bloodstream. Plus, you can only do so much HIIT without overtraining. That being said, HIIT is the way to go for a quick, effective workout.

  • Clint,

    I am a big fan of HIIT. It is way more time-efficient than steady state cardio and will get you more ripped than steady state. The sprinter vs. marathon runner case study is proof of this.


  • Clint,
    Hiit is a great way to burn calories and less boring than steady state. I’m not a real big fan of doing much cardio as a whole. I think your diet and resistance training will give you better results, with your diet being the most important. I’ve just seen way too many overweight people wasting their time on the treadmill for an hour, only to go home and stuff god knows what down their throat!

    Once I am really close to my target weight, I will usually crank up the cardio a little, but I definitely do not do it year around.

  • Clint Nielsen says:

    Machines can be ok if you use the right ones – i find the elliptical to be the easiest to change the pace up and down.

    I’m with you there mate. Mixing it with steady state (in moderation) is very effective.

    Absolutely – I know who’s physique I’d rather have!

    I’m the same as you it would seem – I crank the cardio and HIIT up in the summer months. Might be the fact that you have to reveal yourself a little more often during this time :)

  • Thomas says:

    HIIT is great but is not for everyone. People who are in decent shape will be able to do HIIT correctly and get the most out of it. For someone who is obese steady state cardio is probably their best bet until they lose some of the weight. I enjoy HIIT because its over and done in a matter of minutes. Great site and post Clint!

  • vitty says:

    HIIT has really changed me in just 3 months! i have been working out in the gym for 3 years and never really liked the cardio machines, all i did was to join the classes and i almost give up my gym membership when i did not see any result. but since i read the fitness blog like yours, i have tried doing HITT on a treadmill and the result is awesome!!

  • Bob says:

    I have one question. During a HIIT elliptical session let’s say I’m working at 100 percent max heart rate (170 BPM for my 50 year old body) and then want to take it down to 80 percent for two minutes.
    That’s 136 BPM…..if I got off the machine at that point it would take me at least a couple of minutes to drop down to that level. For example today (testing the waters of high intensity) I worked at 100 percent + (175 BPM) for 30 seconds, then dialed down the intensity selector from 20 to 10 and took it easy until I got down to 155 (took about two minutes) then repeated the cycle for five times (or about fifteen minutes totaled). Is this an effective way to apply high intensity on an elliptical?

    • Clint Nielsen says:

      Bob, I wouldn’t get too caught up with what your heart rate is reading.
      It’s mainly about physical exertion and when you feel ‘ready’ to go back for another sprint.
      If you’re heart rate hasn’t dropped, but you feel ready to go all-out – then do it!

      Keep it simple. Sprint, rest, sprint, rest and repeat.

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