This is the best HIIT workout you can do, according to world-renowned trainer Kayla Itsines

Yep, you can do it from home.

Three women doing a HIIT workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You've probably done a HIIT workout or two in your time. Like running and weight training, it's a seriously popular way of getting a sweat on, with 83,500,000 Google results for the workout alone.

Loved by the likes of world-famous personal trainers Joe Wicks and Kayla Itsines, it's often regarded as one of the easiest simple home workouts you can do (no kit required). All you need is 15 minutes of spare time, a good sports bra, and a bit of motivation.

Part of its appeal is that it gets your heart rate up fast, enabling you to workout hard in a short space of time and, in turn, boosting your cardiovascular fitness. Several research papers - including this study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine - found that HIIT workouts not only improve cardiovascular and metabolic health but also reduce body fat and boost mental health, too.

So, question: what actually is a HIIT workout, what's the best HIIT workout to do from home, and how do you work out whether it's the right workout for you? We've enlisted the help of globally renowned personal trainer Kayla Itsines to answer all of your HIIT-related questions.

Don't miss our guides to the best arm workouts, low impact workouts, and Joe Wicks workouts, while you're here, and keep scrolling for your ultimate HIIT toolkit.

Your guide to the best HIIT workout

What is a HIIT workout?

What, in its most basic form, is a HIIT workout? According to Itsines, it stands for high-intensity interval training. "It involves short, sharp bursts of work followed by rest periods," she shares. It's the opposite type of training to low-impact workouts, which favour stationary squats, lunges and so on as opposed to the high knees, jumping jacks and burpees you'll see in HIIT sessions. 

Lost already? Don't be. "There are so many different terms it can be super confusing," shares the trainer. Your need-to-knows: HIIT is just high-intensity training. "It's a workout that gets your heart rate up in a short, fast, effective and fun way," she explains. "HIIT sessions are great for so many reasons."

4 benefits of HIIT workouts

Most workouts - including lower impact styles, like yoga classes and Pilates - have a whole plethora of health benefits. But what about HIIT?

1. It's effective in a short space of time

As we've touched on and as Itsines explains, it's one of the best workouts for those who lead busy lives but still want to prioritise their health.

"It's so good for people who are time-poor," she stresses, because all you need is ten to fifteen minutes to get a really good sweat session in. 

2. You don't need equipment

Similarly, if you're looking to stay healthy on a budget, HIIT is a great option as you can work out well using only your bodyweight. That's right - no kit is needed.

"It's also ideal for people who don't have equipment," shares the PT. 

Fan of bodyweight sessions? Bookmark this bodyweight workoutfor later. 

3. You don't need long rest periods

Itsines does both HIIT and strength training sessions weekly and points out that, with strength training, you're required to take bigger rest periods.

"With HIIT, you can just go, go, go," she explains. "Before you know it, you're done, and you've set yourself up well for the day ahead."

4. It's energising

Last but by no means least, HIIT is a real energy booster and has been seen in studies to affect your metabolism. 

One 2015 study concluded that as little as two minutes of HIIT can increase your metabolism as much over the period of a day as 30 minutes of running. 

Of course, it's worth pointing out here that HIIT won't be for everyone. The expert wouldn't recommend giving it a go if you're post-partum, have a heart condition, or are currently injured or recovering from injury. Why? Because due to the explosive nature of the type of training, it can put pressure through your joints and knees. If this is you, she advises opting for lower-impact workouts, like yoga, Pilates, or strength training, instead.

Bottom line: find a workout that both you and your body love and you'll hardly ever feel like working out is a chore.

The best HIIT workout to try tonight

For Itsines' style of HIIT training, she recommends picking four exercises and aiming for between 12 and 15 reps of each. Aim for anything from three to five rounds.

Try this:

  1. Jump squats
  2. Push-ups
  3. Jump lunges
  4. Burpees.

Take the above four moves and make a circuit. "Try 12 to 15 reps of each for seven minutes straight until you need a break," recommends Itsines. "After your break, go again and do another four exercises - say leg raises, glute bridges, tuck jumps, and mountain climbers. It's so easy to put together your own HIIT training workout," reassures the PT.

Rather be guided through a HIIT workout? Our guide to fitness apps might help, as will this explainer on overcoming gym anxiety once and for all, or, follow along with one of Itsines' workouts below.

1. At home HIIT workout for beginners

2. 14 minute HIIT workout

3. 28 minute HIIT workout

4. 30 minute HIIT workout

5. 30 minute HIIT abs workout

How long should a HIIT workout be?

Good question - and in short, whatever length you'd prefer. "You can make a HIIT workout seven minutes, ten minutes, thirty minutes - however long you like," Itsines shares.

The beauty of high-intensity interval training is that because you're working so hard when you're on, it is a workout that works your body harder in shorter periods, meaning you have to work out for less time to get a good sweat in.

Top tip: use a timer on your phone or laptop to time your rounds. You'll also then visually have a reminder of how long you've got to go on each round.

How do I know if a HIIT workout is the right workout for me?

This is one you'll need to work out for yourself.

"If you need something fast, fun, and effective that they can do at home, at the park, or wherever you are, it's a great workout," shares personal trainer Kayla Itsines.

However, do note: as above, she warns that HIIT isn't the best workout for anyone who is post-partum, has a heart condition, is currently injured or recovering from injury, or suffers from sore joints as it puts strain on your heart and muscles. If this is you, do speak to your doctor or a qualified professional before returning to work, or else, opt for lower-impact sweat sessions, like yoga or Pilates.

Bottom line? "There are so many different styles of training - it's really about finding that trend style that you love, rather than jumping on the bandwagon," concludes Itsines. "And really, that applies to your whole life," she goes on. "From your job, to your friends, to your family - surround yourself with things that you love and that make you happy."

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.