Fitness / HIIT

HIIT Running Workouts You Can Do Outside or on a Treadmill

Burn more calories with this easy workout switch.

The weather can be inconsistent at best, depending on where you live. So you’re probably bouncing from indoor and outdoor workouts pretty regularly. The good news is that HIIT workouts can be done just about anywhere with little to no impact on their effectiveness. To keep you motivated despite the forecast—and your time limitations—we’ve compiled some ways you can take HIIT running workouts outside or keep them indoors. These workouts are designed to give you the workout you need to feel your best whether you’re hitting the trail or heading to the gym by incorporating short bursts of hard work and rest periods. Find out more about HIIT running workouts and how to get the most out of your workout time.

What does HIIT mean?

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. It sounds scary, but it’s not. At a basic level, all HIIT workouts alternate between intense, short periods of work and more moderate recovery periods. “You’re moving back and forth between high-level exercise to burn quick sugar and lower level cardio which burns stored fat,” says Aaptiv Trainer Jessica Muenster. It goes like this: Push yourself as hard as you can and then back off to catch your breath. Repeat.

HIIT running workouts incorporate the basic structure of a HIIT workout into a run. So, you’ll be going from sprints down to a quick walk or from a steady jog to an all-out run for short periods of time.

Why HIIT?

HIIT workouts are the not-so-secret weapon of the fitness world. If you’re willing to put in the work, HIIT sessions up your performance, improve your overall endurance, and increase your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use during intense exercise.) As your VO2 max increases, you’ll be able to run faster and further. HIIT running workouts also burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time.

If you’re a hardcore runner, HIIT running workouts will give you a chance to condition your muscles in different ways. That said, don’t expect to build muscle with HIIT workouts alone. HIIT is aimed more at leaning out by working muscles at various intensities. HIIT running workouts can take your endurance up a notch, though. These workouts can help condition you to work at the level of effort that you’ll need to reach in order to run for longer periods of time. Look at this way: If someone told you to run two miles at a consistent pace, you might say “no thanks.” If someone told you to run two miles alternating between bursts of hard work and periods of rest, you might consider that more attainable.

More efficient than LISS (low-intensity steady state) workouts, a thorough and effective HIIT session doesn’t require the time commitment that endurance cardio workouts do. The body needs to work harder to maintain the high-intensity so you’ll keep your heart rate revved and your muscles working. “You’ll get a collective, all-over burn, and the shorter intervals make HIIT a more accessible workout type for busy schedules,” says Muenster.

HIIT workouts are some of the most flexible routines out there—you can cater them to fit your situation and timeframe. It’s also easy to modify HIIT running workouts for all fitness levels. “Even seven minutes will do something, and it’s better than nothing. You can’t do that with just cardio,” says Muenster. In case you’re under a time crunch Aaptiv has super short HIIT workouts, such as Max Effort HIITs with Aaptiv Trainer Rochelle and Quick Switches with Aaptiv Trainer Erin, in-app.

What are HIIT running workouts?

Although these workouts are suited for either outside or inside, always use caution before sprinting all-out on a treadmill. Go consistently hard, but be sure you can maintain your speed and balance on the moving belt before cranking up the treadmill to its max level.

Treadmill or outside, hill work is some of the best running HIIT you can do. If you’re ready for HIIT running workouts, try these Aaptiv classes: Intensify Those Hills or Hips & Hills.

If you are able to run outside, “Run hard up a hill, and take double that time to walk down,” says Muenster. “Remember that during recovery periods, you don’t want to get completely comfortable.” Another option: move at your fastest, consistent pace for 30-45 seconds, then walk for about 60 seconds. You want to repeat that effort, with the repetitions depending on your fitness level. Not sure how uncomfortable you should feel? Muenster has a couple of recommendations:

    1. Set a big goal, but take baby steps to get there. Conquering a big hill once should progress to hitting it three times over. Make your goal manageable by having and celebrating small wins on your way to the final goal.
    2. Use a fitness tracker to get real-time feedback about how you are feeling. It will keep you accountable.

Want More of a Challenge?

If you are already in good shape, you’re probably craving a little harder workout (kudos). You’re going to want to do one of two things, extend the high-intensity work intervals in your HIIT running workout or make your bursts of work more challenging. “Add multi-functional and multi-directional exercises,” says Muenster. You can easily add in burpees during your outdoor or make treadmill runs harder at the gym by grabbing a medicine ball and doing squats after sprints. “You’re always adding weight or time,” says Muenster.

Keep in mind

Dynamic workouts, such as HIIT or jumping, require your body to work in several facets. To avoid injury, make sure you warm up and cool down properly (check out options for this on Aaptiv under the stretching section). During your workout, stay hydrated and make adjustments as necessary.

Fitness HIIT

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