hiit running workout

HIIT Running Workout for the Fitness Warrior

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A fitness warrior knows how to run. Whether it’s jogging, pacing, or sprinting, he knows that running fitness is an integral part of his overall physical preparedness. But he also knows that the “mamby pamby,” super slow-paced ‘running’ that you see in most cardio rooms has no place in the training arsenal of a fitness warrior. He’d rather get out in the open air and push himself to the limit with the type of high-intensity running workout that really gets results. 

HIIT running provides you with an intense level of training that’s not for the squeamish. But, if you’ve got the guts for it, it will provide you with the most time-effective results-producing cardio and fat loss workout that you will get anywhere on the planet.

Up for the challenge?


Why HIIT Running?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves performing rounds of short, sharp exercise with brief periods of rest. It has been shown to be an extremely effective way to train. Here are four reasons why you should be performing HIIT training workouts.


Time Efficiency

You don’t need 60 or even 30 minutes to have a great HIIT workout. The main principle behind High-Intensity Training is that you go all out and push yourself to your limit periodically throughout the workout, even if it is only for a short time like 5-10 minutes. This means 2 minutes of steady-state exercise to warm up, working at about 50% of your maximum effort. Next, 20 seconds of all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest. 

Repeat the 20 and 10-second intervals 7 more times and then finish with another 2 minutes of steady-state at half of your maximum effort. Doing that to your maximum ability will give your body more added value than 5 x more time spent on steady-state cardio.


The Afterburn Effect

When Professor Azumi Tabata did his famous experiments with HIIT methods in the late 1990s, he found that subjects worked close to what is called VO2 max or the maximum oxygen the body uses in exercise. The more your muscles have to work the more the body uses. High-intensity work like this means that the body has what is called an afterburn where metabolism increases. This means that your body not only burns a lot of fat during exercise but also you will burn more calories for at least 24 hours after the workout!


Retain Muscle Tissue

One problem encountered by folks doing cardio is that with a long time spent doing steady state cardio they may lose weight but they are likely to lose significant muscle mass in the process. Just take a look at the difference between sprinters and long-distance runners. Sprinters look muscular and sinewy. Long-distance runners have lost a lot more muscle. So if you want to really change your shape and not just become smaller and yet keep your belly fat then HIIT is the way to do it right. In addition, high-intensity cardio in the form of sprint work can actually add mass to the quadriceps.


Your Health

HIIT training brings benefits in the areas of blood pressure, sensitivity to insulin, the cardiovascular system, and aerobic and anaerobic systems. Tabata’s results showed an increase in anaerobic fitness by up to 28%. His subjects had stronger hearts and could perform faster and for longer after training. If you want to not only look strong and healthy but BE strong and healthy, you have simply got to HIIT it.



The principles of HIIT can be applied without any equipment and therefore can be done anywhere, including outside in the fresh air down at the local park. Keeping your knees high or performing burpees, jumping jacks, pushups or jumping lunges at high intensity can all get your heart rate up high. And weight training exercises can be given the HIIT treatment by making adjustments to the rep and rest schemes.



The Ultimate HIIT Running Workout

Ok, now that you know the why, it’s time to discover the how. 

For this workout you will need the following:


  • A field to run in that allows you to go full speed for 20 seconds in one direction (if you have access to a running track, that will be perfect).
  • A stopwatch that you can preset to 20 and 10-second intervals.


Get yourself down to your venue and begin with 2 minutes of slow jogging. After 60 seconds, do 30 seconds of high knees, followed by 30 seconds of butt kicks.  You are now ready to start your HIIT running workout. Set your stopwatch to 20 and 10-second intervals respectively. 

  • Holding the stopwatch in hand, press ‘go’ and begin sprinting. That means that you are running to your maximum intensity. Imagine that you are in a battle zone with enemy fire whizzing all around you and you are heading for a safe zone!
  • Keep pushing to the limit until you hear the 20-second beep. Now slow to a walk. Put your hands on your hips and take deep breaths for 10 seconds. If you’re on a straight, turn in preparation for your next sprint. 
  • Immediately the stopwatch sounds out the 10-second mark, and go into your next sprint. Your goal now is to push just as hard as you did in that first sprint. Make it your reality that the bullets are still flying and you are still running for your life!
  • When the stopwatch sounds, slow to another walk and recover to the best of your ability. 
  • Keep going until you have completed 8 rounds of sprinting.
  • Collapse on the ground in a spent heap!


Progression Workout

Here is a variation of the above HIIT running workout that is not quite as intense. You may want to start with this one for a few weeks before progressing to strict HIIT running workouts.

A progression workout involves starting out at an easy pace and then gradually increasing your pace to an intense finish. This workout will tax both your aerobic and anaerobic systems in the same session. 

This workout will last for 45 minutes. For the first 15 minutes run at an easy pace. Then step it up to a comfortable pace for the next 15 minutes. Finish with 15 minutes at an intense pace. 


When to do HIIT Running Workouts

Your HIIT running workout will be all over inside of 6 minutes, including the warm-up! But that workout will severely tax both your aerobic and anaerobic systems. To fully recover you’ll need as many as 48 hours. So that is the minimum length of time that you schedule between your HIIT running workouts. 

I recommend doing HIIT running workouts every second day for a total of 3 workouts per week (Mon/ Wed/ Fri or Tues/ Thurs/ Sat)


7 Tips to Improve Your Running Form

  • Maintain a neutral spine, keeping your body upright
  • Keep your shoulders down and back
  • Maintain a natural arm swing from the shoulder
  • Keep your core tight
  • Land lightly
  • Avoid overextending your knees
  • Lean forward slightly


Is HIIT Running Enough?

HIIT running is a great way to get in some cardio exercise, but if you’re looking to accomplish your diverse fitness goals, cardio is not enough. The classes offered at Fort Fitness incorporate cardio with different levels of other well-rounded exercises that will help you transform into the best version of yourself, to learn more call 949-544-1557 to talk to a member of the Fort Fitness family.


Estimated opening is Spring 2022.

Fort Fitness is a training ground that empowers mental and physical growth.

Offering tactical strength and conditioning workouts that will demand teamwork, develop resiliency, and cultivate leadership, arming each member of our community with the tenacity to excel in all aspects of life.

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