The 30-Day High Intensity Interval Training Challenge

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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


  • Emily

    How many calories would a typical HIIT work out burn? It’s not listed under exercises?

    • Calena

      I have the same question!

    • Gedrick Lee

      Depends on a lot of factors, namely your weight and intensity. Wear a heart rate monitor for the most accurate reading.

  • J

    HIIT, are you kidding? You might want to revisit Peter Coe, Tabata, Gibala, & Timmons regimens.

  • Lisa

    Need to get motivated and stay on track! Hoping this will help!!

  • Lise

    Would 1
    rep consist of 8 repetitions of the move?

    • Courtney Gudat


      • DIA

        Nooo a rep is how many times you do a move so if I calls for 8 reps you do it 8 times if it calls for 15 reps you do that move 15 times

        A set or here refered to as a round is how many times you repeat the assigned number of reps so if it’s
        2 rounds of 6 reps by the end you should have completed 12 repetitions of the move

        • Courtney Gudat

          … thats what the original poster said but in less words…

  • You

    Pretty easy training to me this is just like a warmup session, not even hiit. Try at
    least 6 body weight exercises for 30 seconds and 10 seconds break between each exercise for 5 rounds. Go hard or go home

    • Renlish

      Easy for YOU. Not for me. You are not everyone else so don’t assume that this is a walk in the park for other people.

      • Sam

        Cheer up

  • debk

    Will there be a video to work along with? I find it difficult to keep track of clock while just learning how to do the HIIT program

  • Carla Mathews

    I’m a little confused. On Day 3, do I do all 3 sets of the thrusters and russian twists then move on to the 3 sets of the lunges and push ups THEN move to the 25 seconds of cardio, rest, then 2 more sets of cardio? Or do I do one set of thrusters and twists, rest, one set of lunges and push ups, rest, cardio, rest, repeat? Thanks for the clarification!

    • Kim

      Someone please answer this question.

      • On Day 3, Do this 3 Rounds: 3Thrusts/10sec R. Twist/1min rest; then after that group, do this 3rounds: 3lunges each leg/3pushups/1min rest. After your third round of that, do 25sec cardio-90sec rest off and on 3 times. So if you were on a bike, you’d pedal fast for 25sec then cruise 90sec then fast 25sec then easy 90sec…so you have 3total rounds of cardio/rest.
        Hope that helps!

    • See my response below to Kim. On Day 3, Do this 3 Rounds: 3Thrusts/10sec R. Twist/1min rest; then after that group, do this 3rounds: 3lunges each leg/3pushups/1min rest. After your third round of that, do 25sec cardio-90sec rest off and on 3 times. So if you were on a bike, you’d pedal fast for 25sec then cruise 90sec then fast 25sec then easy 90sec…so you have 3total rounds of cardio/rest.
      Hope that helps!

  • Renlish

    Great list but you don’t state how many moves or seconds per rep for most of these. It’s kind of useless (to me) without this information. I don’t come from a crossfit background.

    • Courtney Gudat

      Each rep is 1 time. So if it says 8 reps, you do the movement 8 times and the 1-2x each meaning you’ll do that movement 8 times 2x.. does that make sense?

  • Amber L. Porter

    I have a question about rest. For example day 8 has thrusters, Russian twist, rest 5x then rest for 2 minutes. What do I do during the 2 different rests? I have been jogging in place but the 2 minute rest in between is throwing me.

    • Hi Amber, I just did Day 8 today (Monday). I don’t normally rest the whole 2 minutes because I get bored, but I usually stretch during the rest, or walk to the drinking fountain during these rest periods. Jogging in place is a good option, but so is mild stretching: think calf/ham stretches after the thrusters and before the lunges; maybe shoulder/chest stretching after the pushups and before the cardio 35sec intervals.
      Hope this helps!

    • Beezeeberger

      You are supposed to do a set of thrusters, a set of Russian twists then rest 30 seconds. Do that cycle 5 times. After the fifth set, rest two minutes.

      • Amber L. Porter

        I understand the order and everything. My question is what do I do for 2 minutes of “rest” – do I lay on the floor, stretch, jog in place, is it the same rest as the 30 seconds?

  • Christin Seegers

    Anyone try and finish this yet?
    Stuff like this is something I would like to try, the problem is that even with consistent moderate exercises, my knees become aggravated and swells. I’m going to try a brace I can use to wear while working out that gives me mobility, yet applies the needed pressure where they won’t swell.
    I can do a little bit of a harder HIIT, but I need a rest day to keep me knees from swelling.

    • Hi Christin, I am only on Day 9 but I am in relatively the same boat. I’ve had two ACL/Meniscus repair surgeries (both on my left knee) so I am always weary of intense plyometric workouts. I have had no issues with this one thus far. The beauty of it is there’s a lot of leeway for modification/personalization: For example, I’ve been switching up the dumbbell weight I use for the thrusters, and whether I jump or step or hold dumbbells during the lunges.
      Have you had any knee injuries? I’m almost fluent in knee braces ;D though it sounds like you have one you like already.
      Hope this helps!

      • Christin Seegers

        No surgeries. That’s where I got lucky. My mom was even surprised.
        As for the support, I have two that I’m debating. But think I’ll buy both to see which one does better. One is just the single pressure strap under the patella. The other are two straps above and below the patella. Both are supposed to apply the needed pressure on the ligaments surrounding the patella in order to keep them from swelling.
        Eventually I’ll get my knees looked at just to see what the problem is, and not have the doctor tell me what I can and can’t do.
        Think I’ll try this the 1st of July.

        • If you can buy both, you can test them out and return the other one – that’s a pretty good strategy. I’ve seen more people with the single strap than the double…wonder if there’s any drifting of the top strap during squats. I guess that would be my only concern because the knee should be able to move a little during certain movements.
          I hope your knee is okay. I regret not having knee surgery sooner than I did. When I first hurt my knee, my mom didn’t have health insurance so we got an X-ray (shocker – no bones broken and you can’t see torn tendons). A year and a half later of resting it, healing it and re-injuring it in gymnastics I was so grateful I could finally get it surgically repaired in college (with my new student health insurance). It made such a difference to get that surgery.
          Hope this personal reflection helps — sometimes surgery is a blessing is what I was trying to convey.

          • Christin Seegers

            I’m more fit than the rest of my family. I did inherent a lot of the family’s bad genes from both sides with the added bonus of being born deaf and having brain seizures as a kid which pushed back my learning and reading to the age of 10. But me being hard-headed anyways, I told myself that nothing was going to stop me from being stronger both physically and mentally. I pushed passed my barriers, and me being born with the most problems out of my entire family I am now the most financially stable one and the most healthiest.
            Not to rag on my family, just didn’t want my own physical problems weighing me down in life.
            I even have equines deformity in both my feet which causes my plantar fasciitis. My podiatrist was surprised I could walk over 6 miles a day and averaging 13-20,000 steps daily. Then he said to keep the pains at bay I will never be able to walk on an incline on treadmill again. But I love the mental push of walking it. Almost a year later of healing and strengthening, I now have learned how to counter the pains with proper insoles, compression sleeves and exercises. Now I’m back to a lower incline without any pain. Eventually, within a year, I plan on being back on the full 9% incline

          • Wow. That’s inspiring!

          • Christin Seegers

            Question, know how to do a body squat with dumbbells? Got the weights out and can’t do the thrusters because the two weights are 15 pounds. Too scared to lift that much above my head the first time. Then for some odd reason, there’s an extra dumbbell but is only one and is 10 lbs.

          • I would start by using the one 10 lb weight and alternating which hand is doing the lifting every rep. So switch hands each thruster. You could also start by holding the 10 lb dumbbell or one 15 lb dumbbell in both hands (so hold it sideways instead of how the images in this article demonstrate). During the squat you can bring the dumbbell to your chest instead of down to your shoulders.
            Hope this helps!

      • Christin Seegers

        How are the exercises so far? Any knee aggrevation?

        • Nope – it’s been a really good experience thus far. I had to drop my weight a little bit (from 30lbs dumbbells in Week 2 to 20lb dumbbells in Week 3), but that was more because the combos had gotten harder, not because I felt any knee pain.

          • Christin Seegers

            Still have to dig out my husband’s old weights out the back of the closet though. But I’m gonna start this July 1st. Working on uneven numbers throws me off track.
            Still got my support braces to order and have brand new running/cross training shoes ordered for the new me. So I’m really looking forward to trying this.

          • Nice. Sounds like a good plan. I always have to start new things on Mondays, so I can relate. Good luck! Keep me posted if you have any other knee questions. 😀 Happy Friday.

  • Veronica Cadena Traub

    Im on day 14. Today I rest but am excited for tomorrow. I love how fast this is and can’t believe how much I sweat. I’m hoping to shed about 15 pds and build up my arms.

    • Christin Seegers

      That’s awesome to hear.

  • kpnut

    I have just started this but I am not sure what to do for the suggested 10 min warm up and 5-10 min cool down any suggestions.

    • Christin Seegers

      Warm up can be dynamic stretches, side lunges, jumping jacks. Cool down can be a slow walk or possibly marching in place, gradually bringing your march down.
      For my other cardio and HIIT, I cool down by walking for 30 minutes.

      • kpnut

        Thanks I will take that on board

  • Shari

    I just completed day 18 — used rest day for yesterday as had to travel, so today’s rest day was actually day 17s reps….and when I started today I was stiff for first round of reps, back even cracked about 3 times with first russian twists….but by 3rd reps I was like oh heck yeah !!!! Love this…have seen results in my thighs BIG TIME !!! BTW I’m 51 years old, and have lost roughly 30 pounds so needed to firm them up….cannot wait to finish my day 30 and measure !!! I too have one bad knee, and all I do is make sure I’m not straining it as much as the other…these are very easy to adapt to what you need…have bad wrists and so bad on them to do bushups…so instead I do different arm exercises with my weights for the….bat wing…anyone have any good ones that dont involve putting my weight on my writs would appreciate some good feedback !!! love love love this HIIT !!!!

  • Jenni444

    Today is my day 2, i see all you guys on day 14 and 18 and i am so jealous. My day 1 wasnt too bad. It was about time i sweat off the fat, and to top it off im eating pretty clean and adding two mile run as my warm up each time so i hope to really see the difference in the end. You guys are such a huge inspiiration…Go team Go…Go team Goooo you guys can do this!

  • Goddess TRiNiTY

    Today is my day 2.. am combining this challenge with 5k training. .the 3 days of jogging I do each week fill my cardiovascular training requirements. It’s all good!