The 30-Day High Intensity Interval Training Challenge

Erik Taylor
by Erik Taylor
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The 30-Day High Intensity Interval Training Challenge

If you are new to the fitness world, or have taken a prolonged break, things have changed a bit. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) made popular by CrossFit have become the “it” workouts. These types of workouts are a combination of both strength and cardiovascular training. Each workout can be as short as 10 minutes, but are typically no longer than 20 minutes.

Benefits of HIIT Training

The are several benefits to HIIT training. If you are like most of us who have a job, family and social life, your time is tight. Twenty-minute workouts—not counting warm-up and cool down—work in our favor. HIIT workouts burn a ton of calories, which never hurts if you’re trying to lose weight. An unexpected benefit: HIIT training builds mental toughness. Ask anybody familiar with these types of workouts and they’ll tell you that they can be one of the more challenging workouts you’ll ever do.

Things to Keep in Mind

The challenge is to complete five rounds of a HIIT circuit in 30 days. The program follows a 3-day-a-week plan. On the days that you don’t have a HIIT workout scheduled, you should rest or do some easy walking or bike riding.

If you don’t feel comfortable with a selected exercise, substitute it with another exercise, or remove it altogether. If you are not feeling comfortable with an exercise you can always substitute the exercise. For example, do bodyweight squats instead of thrusters. Do planks instead of Russian twists if you have back pain; complete step-ups instead of lunges if you have knee pain. If you’ve been working out for a while, you can decrease the rest in between each round, or increase the weight to make the circuit more difficult.

Safety is a major concern when it comes to this type of training—the number one goal is to avoid injury. You should expect some muscle soreness initially, but as the program progresses, the exercises remain the same so muscle soreness should be little to none over time. Be smart when you’re training, and listen to your body. If muscle soreness becomes a problem and is lasts more than a few days, take more rest days during the week. Do not push through pain—it will only aggravate the issue. If you feel beat up, had bad sleep, and work is stressing you out, take an additional rest day. As my college running coach always said, “One workout cannot make you, but one workout can break you.”

Complete whatever cardio exercise you prefer during the cardio portions of each workout. Some suggestions: If you’re at home, ideal cardio moves include: jumping jacks, jump rope, or running in place. If you’re at the gym and have access to cardio equipment, ideal activities include spinning on a stationary bike, running on a treadmill or up stairs, and rowing.

Your effort during the cardio portion should be 85% or higher, depending on your level of fitness, so pick a cardio exercise that you are comfortable doing at a high intensity. Complete a 10-minute warm-up and a 5- to 10-minute cooldown for every workout. The only equipment you’ll need is a pair of light dumbbells; remember, you can increase or decrease weight as needed.

You’ll perform only four strength-building exercises—thrusters, Russian twist, lunges and push-ups—during the entire challenge.

Each HIIT workout is structured the same:

  1. Strength moves: Complete AMRAP for prescribed time OR complete number of assigned reps
  2. Rest
  3. Repeat suggested intervals of strength moves
  4. Cardio for prescribed time
  5. Rest
  6. Repeat circuit sequence

The goal on day 30: Complete five rounds, with 90 seconds rest in between each round, at the end of four weeks.

Print This Training Plan

HIIT challenge training plan

Print This Training Plan

How to Perform the Exercises

HIIT exercise illustrations

Thrusters

  • Set your feet shoulder-width apart, and rest dumbbells on your shoulders.
  • Squat down, making sure to push your knees out as you descend, so your hip crease is below your knee.
  • As you rise, keep your knees out and press the dumbbells over your head as you stand tall.
  • Bring the dumbbells back to the starting position and repeat.

Russian Twist

  • Hold a light dumbbell with both hands in front of your chest (elbows pulled in at your sides).
  • Sit on your butt with your knees bent and, if you can, raise your feet off the floor slightly.
  • Lean back a little bit, take the dumbbell and move it from your left side to your right side.
  • If you have a hard time with this exercise, keep your feet on the floor.

Lunges

  • Start by standing tall with your abs pulled in and your eyes focused on a spot ahead.
  • Step forward with your right foot, making sure your knee stays over your foot.
  • Lunge low and then return to the starting position.
  • Switch sides and repeat.
  • To make this move more challenging, hold dumbbells in your hands.

Push-ups

  • Get into the push-up position, pull in your abs, and keep your back rigid.
  • Keep your elbows tight against your body, lower your chest to the floor, pause, and then return to the starting position. Repeat.
  • If you don’t have the strength to complete these types of push-ups, no problem. Just drop down to your knees and do them.

Looking for more fitness challenges? Check out our other plans:

The 28-Day Squat Challenge
The 30-Day Walking Challenge
The 28-Day Run-Yoga-Meditation Challenge
The 30-Day Plank Challenge

Infographics designed by Tierra Wilson

About the Author

Erik Taylor
Erik Taylor

Erik is a NASM-certified trainer who works with clients online to build their fitness and nutrition plans. He works with people at all levels, from first-time exercisers to weekend warriors and endurance athletes. Erik lives in one of the beach cities of Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters. Connect with Erik on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat (eriktaylorsfit) and Taylorsfitness.com.

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