Shake up your fitness routine with a fast, furious dose of high intensity interval training, says Ayesha Muttucumaru.
Is it possible for exercise to be fast and enjoyable, but also effective? Thanks to high intensity interval training (HIIT), the answer is yes.
The training method of choice for some of the biggest names in sport, HIIT involves short bursts of exercise done at maximum speed to boost metabolism. It gives you an energy rush like nothing else and offers a significant improvement to fitness levels compared to longer, slower forms of exercise.
With some of our favourite gyms introducing classes, getting better acquainted with HIIT is easier than ever. From kettlebells and exercise balls to weight training and ropes, here are the best HIIT gym classes and workouts to get you fitter, faster.
BEST EXPRESS WORKOUT
Why should you HIIT this gym class? Can you last twenty four minutes? Sounds easy, but believe us, it’s not! From jumping jacks, push-ups and lunges to mountain climbers, sit-ups and knee raises, this new class is challenging both mentally and physically, but it’s also hugely addictive. Set to a great soundtrack that counts down the final five seconds of each 30 second work cycle and ten second rest period, the instructor also walks you through a thorough warm-up and cool down. Who knew you could get so much done in less than half an hour?
Difficulty level 8.5/10
BEST FOR VARIETY
Why should you HIIT this gym class? If weights aren’t doing it for you anymore, how about incorporating some whips into your workout? Less Fifty Shades, more Gladiator, this 45 minute class incorporates ropes of different weights which you swing up, down, left, right and every direction in between. This helps to tone, sculpt and lengthen your muscles.
With a great range of exercises incorporating sandbags, kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbbells and exercise balls - plus a great workout playlist - this is one gym class that’s sure to whip you into shape in more ways than one.
Difficulty level 7/10
BEST TABATA WORKOUT
Why should you HIIT this gym class? Over in just 20 minutes, this class is all about giving everything you’ve got in a short space of time. Each exercise uses your own bodyweight rather than relying on equipment and lasts 20 seconds, with ten seconds rest in between. It’s much tougher than you’d think and gives you one heck of an endorphin rush afterwards.
You need to be pretty fit already to get the most out of this class. If you’re not completely puffed by the end, then you’re doing it wrong!
Difficulty level 8/10
BEST CARDIO WORKOUT
Why should you HIIT this gym class? From squats to sprints to burpees, this class pushes you right to your limit. However, with gym equipment as diverse as tyres and weighted sledges to keep things interesting, you’ll be channelling your inner Jessica Ennis in no time.
Consisting of 20 to 40 second bursts of high intensity separated by 20 second rest periods, the classes are taught by an ex-athlete, who’s there to pick you up when you feel just about ready to drop.
Difficulty level 9/10
BEST GROUP WORKOUT
Why should you HIIT this gym class? After taking the States by storm, this 60 minute workout has arrived in the UK. It promises to improve fitness and aid weight loss by increasing your excess oxygen consumption post-exercise, meaning that you continue to burn calories for up to 36 hours after each workout. Each person is hooked up to a heart rate monitor, with their readings displayed on a screen. The aim is to stay within different heart rate ‘zones’ throughout the class.
Great for all ages and abilities, the class incorporates treadmills, rowing machines and weights. It’s particularly rewarding seeing the total number of calories burnt by the entire class displayed at the end. The phrase 'strength in numbers' has never been more apt.
Difficulty level 7/10
BEST WORKOUT FOR RESISTANCE TRAINING
Why should you HIIT this gym class? Using futuristic anti-gravity resistance Speedflex machines, this class aims to target your shorter muscles and create a leaner, stronger frame, with minimal muscle soreness the next day.
With your heart rate monitored throughout, an energising team atmosphere is encouraged as you work both individually and in pairs around a circuit of different machines. This is a new spin on weight training that’s neither intimidating or daunting, it’s all about toning up and getting fit without bulking up.
Difficulty level 6/10
BEST YOGA WORKOUT
Why should you HIIT this gym class? Merging the best aspects of both HIIT and yoga, this clever class targets both strength and flexibility. The 30 minute class is split into two parts. The first 15 minutes feature a mixture of exercises ranging from 40 seconds work and 20 seconds rest, to 20 seconds work and 10 seconds rest. All this in a room where the temperature has been raised to send your sweat levels through the roof.
Just when you think you’ve squatted and lunged to your absolute max, the lights dim, the music slows down and burpees are replaced with downward dogs. The second half of the class uses yoga moves to help you tone and limber up, increasing your suppleness and range of motion.
Difficulty level 8/10
BEST WORKOUT WITH A PERSONAL TRAINER
Why should you HIIT this gym class? A 12 day fitness plan combined with a 12 day diet, this programme provides a multi-faceted approach to weight loss and fitness. The gym is unlike any we’ve seen before: there are stained glass windows, books and a giant model aeroplane in between punching bags, pommel horses and the usual gym equipment.
Each personal training session is a snappy 15 to 20 minutes long and is designed to address three different areas: legs and calves, chest and back and shoulders and arms, finishing off with a tummy-shrinking abs workout. The toughest part is the diet which comprises of a high fat, low carb combo to ensure you burn fat both during and after your workouts. Your trainer is always close at hand to advise and modify your eating plan according to your needs, helping you to get the most out of the programme.
Difficulty level 9/10 (saying no to dessert and bread for nearly two weeks is pretty hard to do)
BEST WORKOUT FOR CIRCUIT TRAINING
Why should you HIIT this gym class? Timed intervals, encouraging instructors and a range of different gym equipment makes this class a great all-rounder to help build endurance, increase lean muscle and get in great shape ahead of bikini season.
Thanks to a combination of TRX ropes, weights and bosu balls, it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted, but the rewards you’ll reap afterwards will certainly make it worth the embarrassing grunts, sweat and pain. Best attempted if you’re already relatively fit, this is circuit training taken to a whole new level.
Difficulty level 9/10