The 3 Best 12-Week HIIT Workout Plans Based on Your Fitness Level

If you want to take your physique to the next level and get to single digit body fat then high intensity interval training (HIIT) is the way to go. HIIT involves alternating between high intensity work intervals and rest, and it burns tons of calories which is why it’s a great tool to use to help you lose fat quickly, however you need to have a proper HIIT workout plan set up to avoid reaching fat loss plateaus that will halt your progress.

You also need to ensure that your HIIT regimen is aligned with your fitness level, otherwise you’ll have a high chance of injuring yourself or you’ll be unable to complete the required workouts due to fatigue.

In this article I’m going to show you the exact HIIT workout routines that I’ve used to get down to single digit body fat while maintaining my muscle mass and strength. It’s what allow me to make drastic transformations like the one below, in a very short period of time (~12 weeks).

hiit before and after

Before we get started, I highly suggest that you watch the video below. It will show you EXACTLY how you’re supposed to perform HIIT and how to progressively overload it (which is something you need to do!) in order to avoid fat loss plateaus and enable you to lose fat every single week. Many people don’t perform HIIT in a way that will maximize its effectiveness, which is why so many people fail to get down to sub-10% body fat despite doing tons of cardio and HIIT. So I thought I’d make an effort to clear that up. If you enjoyed the video, please give it a like and subscribe!

 

The Key to Properly Setting Up a HIIT Routine

Before we dive into the various workout plans, let’s take a look at how we are going to set them up. The key when it comes to setting up an effective HIIT regimen is to gradually progressively overload the workouts in order to continuously lose fat and avoid reaching a plateau. There are five ways you can overload your workouts:

  1. Increasing the intensity of your work intervals
  2. Increasing the time of your work intervals
  3. Decreasing the time of your rest intervals
  4. Increasing the number of cycles you perform
  5. Increasing the frequency of your workouts.

What we want to do is increase the intensity of our workouts by changing one (or several) of the variables once they become too easy or they are no longer helping us lose fat despite being in a caloric deficit (fat plateau). This usually happens every 1-3 weeks, meaning that every 1-3 weeks of your program you should be changing a variable, or multiple variables, to increase the difficulty of your weekly HIIT workout plan to lose fat.

We need to also keep in mind that studies show that HIIT requires a very high intensity to be effective, meaning that you need to give about 80-100% effort during the work intervals. You can tell if you’re at this level of intensity if you’ve reached a point where you can’t comfortably hold a conversation because you’re breathing so heavily to get as much air into your body as possible.

The goal of HIIT is to stay at this high intensity for as long as possible during the work intervals, while still being able to reach this high intensity again for several more cycles. The higher intensity you work at and the longer total time you accumulate at this intensity, the more effective your workout will be. This is why it’s vital to take into account your fitness level when constructing a HIIT workout routine. You don’t want to dive into a routine that you won’t be able to finish or will likely cause injury.

Below I’m going to go through 3 HIIT workout plans; one for sedentary individuals, one for those with a decent cardiovascular base, and one for those with a strong cardiovascular base. I’m only taking into account your cardiovascular fitness because it’s the most important form of fitness when it comes to HIIT.

**Please ensure that before and after every workout you perform a proper warm-up and cool-down period. An adequate warm up involves 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching and performing the exercise you will be using for HIIT at a low intensity. An adequate cool down involves 5-10 minutes of walking or light jogging.

1) HIIT Workout Plan for Beginners (Sedentary Individuals)

This workout plan is ideal for those who engage in very little (if any) physical activity. Since HIIT is a very strenuous form of training, this workout plan will be more “low/moderate intensity interval training” than HIIT. This way, you decrease your risk of injury and can ease your way into HIIT which will in the long run provide you with the best results.

The type of exercise we are going to use for this workout plan is cycling (“HIIT bike sprints” on a cycling ergometer at the gym), as it’s easy to control and low impact on the joints. Use the exact workout plan shown below, and after you’ve successfully completed it you should have lost a decent amount of body fat. Then you can progress to the second HIIT plan since you’ll have a stronger cardiovascular base by then.

Beginner's HIIT routine - weeks 1-2

beginner HIIT routine - weeks 3-4

beginner HIIT routine - weeks 5-6

beginner HIIT routine - weeks 7-8

beginner HIIT routine - weeks 9-10

beginner HIIT routine - weeks 11-12

2) Intermediate HIIT Workout Plan

This HIIT regimen is ideal for those with a solid cardiovascular base (basically those who perform aerobic exercise regularly). The biggest difference with this workout plan from the beginner’s plan is the workout intensity. Since we’re working with more fit individuals, we are going to bump up the workout intensity in order to reap all of the benefits of HIIT.

The type of exercise we will be using is rowing (at the gym), as it’s still easy to control but provides a better full-body workout and uses more musculature than cycling. If you have completed the beginner workout plan previously described, then feel free to give this one a try to continue losing fat.

intermediate hiit workout plan weeks 1-2

intermediate hiit workout plan weeks 3-4

intermediate hiit workout plan weeks 5-6

intermediate hiit workout plan weeks 7-8

intermediate hiit workout plan weeks 9-10

intermediate hiit workout plan weeks 11-12

3) Advanced HIIT Workout Plan

If you successfully completed the intermediate HIIT plan, then feel free to give this one a try to further aid in fat loss. This HIIT regimen is the most difficult of the three and involves all-out sprints, which requires that it be performed outside or anywhere that allows you to perform a maximal sprint (which you can’t do on most treadmills).

I recommend that you have a very good cardiovascular base and preferably run on a regular basis and have some prior experience with sprints when considering this plan. The reason for this is because if you do not currently run at all, you will likely experience painful shin splints when diving into this plan causing you to be unable to complete it. But if you regularly perform other high-impact exercises besides running such as jump roping or boxing, then you may be fine.

hiit workout routine advanced weeks 1-2

hiit workout routine advanced weeks 3-4

hiit workout routine advanced weeks 5-6

hiit workout routine advanced weeks 7-8

hiit workout routine advanced weeks 9-10

hiit workout routine advanced weeks 11-12

Important Things to Know:

It is vital that you create a caloric deficit with your diet in order to see the best fat loss results from these workout plans. You need to set up the proper macronutrients for fat loss according to your body, or else you’ll never get anywhere despite how much cardio you do.

You should also be regularly performing weight training in order to maintain your muscle mass which will aid in fat loss. I suggest weight training 3 times a week in conjunction with your designated HIIT plan in order to see the best results. HIIT weight training is also an option, but I wouldn’t recommend totally replacing your weightlifting and HIIT routine with it. You can also add low intensity cardio during your rest days (or on days you don’t perform HIIT) in order to create a larger caloric deficit on those days. But be careful not to overdo it and listen to your body.

One last point is that for maximum effectiveness, you can do your HIIT workouts in a fasted state. This will increase fat oxidation and potentially lead to greater fat loss, but I suggest that you supplement with BCAA’s when performing these workouts. Otherwise, simply perform HIIT at any time of the day and preferably perform your HIIT workout after weight training as opposed to before. 

Summary

  • Choose the appropriate HIIT workout plan based on your level of fitness
  • Eat at a caloric deficit
  • Perform weightlifting at least 3 times a week in conjunction with the HIIT routine
  • Perform steady-state cardio on rest days to increase your caloric deficit, but be careful not to overdo it (~20-40 minutes per session is sufficient, any longer may impair muscle growth)

I hope you guys find this article useful. I personally use these exact routines to get down to single digit body fat during my fat loss cycles. I find that it’s the most effective way to lower body fat to very low levels while maintaining muscle mass and strength. It will be hard, but it will definitely be worth it. Once you’re down to single digit body fat you’ll begin to see all the hard-earned muscle you’ve grown over the years and features you likely haven’t seen on your physique before like the adonis belt or “V-cut lines”. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email. Enjoy!

 

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