If you want to burn the most calories possible in the least amount of time, then you need to try these HIIT circuits.
You probably know that in order to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you take in everyday. But this is definitely easier said than done. And to make it even more difficult for you, as you lose more and more fat you will have to start burning more calories through cardio in order to reach a lower body fat percentage. Typically, the lower body fat percentage you are means the more cardio you will have to add into your routine in order to continue burning fat. If you’re like me and don’t really enjoy cardio, then this becomes no fun and can often lead you to quit altogether.
But what if I told you in just 10 minutes you could burn over 400 calories from a 10 minute HIIT workout?
Yes, you read that right. You don’t need to always be doing 45 minute cardio sessions when you can be doing HIIT workouts instead. HIIT circuits makes it possible to burn heaps of calories in a fraction of the time of typical cardio workouts and has tons of other benefits as well. One of these benefits is the afterburn effect. This is what allows you to continue burning calories for hours (and even days) after your HIIT workout and is one of the reasons why HIIT burns so many calories. Although studies show that this effect has been overrated by the fitness industry, it still provides a decent amount of extra calories burned after your workout.
There are a variety of ways to do HIIT, but in this article I’m going to show you 3 specific HIIT workouts that will allow you to burn over 400 calories in under 10 minutes.
**On a side note these workouts are advanced, vigorous, and very straining on the body. I recommend them only for those with appropriate fitness levels and no current injuries or health problems. The goal here is to burn as many calories as possible in the quickest amount of time, which is not easy to do and requires a solid cardiovascular base.**
1.The Sprint Workout (~440 calories burned in 10 minutes total)
This is one of the most basic ways to do HIIT, yet is one of the most effective HIIT workouts you can do. Don’t believe me? Look at the bodies of sprinters. They’re lean, muscular, athletic and the majority of their training comes from sprinting in a HIIT manner.
To do this workout you can either perform it on a treadmill or outside on a soft surface. I prefer doing my sprints outside on a field or track because it allows myself to sprint faster and harder than I would be on a treadmill.
If you’re doing this workout on a treadmill, adjust the settings to an appropriate incline and speed. You want to be working at a perceived rate of exertion of about 8 or 9 out of 10. This basically means that throughout the workout you should be working so hard that you wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with someone because you’re so out of breath. When sprinting outside, simply sprint with 90-100% of your effort (sprint as fast as you can). The reason why I want you to work so hard is because studies show that you need to reach between 80 to 100% of your VO2max during your HIIT workout in order to reap the majority of HIIT’s benefits.
Now that we cleared that up, let’s take a look at the workout. The “work interval” represents the time that you will be sprinting. The “rest interval” represents time that you will be actively resting, which is as simple as walking.
Work Interval: 30 Seconds Sprint (or 200m sprint on the Track)
Rest Interval: 30 Seconds Rest (walking)
So in total you will be doing 10 sprints that last for 30 seconds each, with a 30 second rest interval in between each of them. Studies have shown you can burn 220 calories (including afterburn calories) for just 2.5 minutes of working time when performing all-out exercise such as sprints. In our workout, we are doing ten 30 second sprints which equates to 5 minutes of working time. This will bring us to a total of around 440 calories for a 10 minute workout.
If you don’t believe that you can burn that many calories per 30 second interval while sprinting or cycling, then take a look at this guy burning 87 calories in just one minute of all out exercise. Keep in mind that he probably would have burned even more calories in total if he had performed the one minute exercise in two 30 second intervals with a rest in between.
2.The Cycling Workout (~440 calories burned in 10 minutes total)
This workout will look identical to the sprint workout. The only difference is that we will be cycling instead of sprinting. One of the benefits of using cycling as your HIIT exercise is that it closely mimics the movement of a squat and uses similar muscles. And research has shown that the more a cardio exercise mimics weight training movements (like the squat), the less it will hinder strength and muscle growth. Thus, we can clearly see the benefit cycling has when it comes to using it as a tool for fat loss.
Once again, focus on going all out during the “work interval”. You want to pedal as fast and hard as you can with an appropriate resistance. But focus on increasing your speed more than increasing your resistance, as the former is more important when it comes to HIIT. For the “rest interval”, instead of walking you will simply continue cycling but with a very low resistance and speed.
Work Interval: 30 Seconds Fast Cycling
Rest Interval: 30 Seconds Rest (light cycling)
This calculation will look identical to the sprint workout, which will once again give us a total of 440 calories burned in a 10 minute workout.
3.The HIIT Weight-training Circuit (~ 432 calories burned in 10 minutes total)
This next HIIT circuit is a little different from the two previous HIIT workouts. It will involve performing some weightlifting in a circuit training style. One benefit of using weightlifting in a HIIT workout is that the afterburn effect is fairly long (15 to 38 hours). In some cases, the afterburn effect from a weightlifting workout can last up to days after your workout. This is because you’re essentially damaging your muscle throughout your workout. This requires your body to repair itself and use up more oxygen after your workout.
For this workout I encourage you to pick a moderately heavy weight for the weight training exercises. We want to use heavier weights and compound exercises for this workout in to burn as many calories as possible. Stick to a weight that you can perform consecutively for 30 seconds and will leave you exhausted after that time is up. However, ensure that you are keeping proper form throughout the whole circuit to prevent any injury.
Perform the following exercises with no rest until you reach the 30 second rest period. This will allow us to burn as many calories as possible in 10 minutes, but it definitely won’t be easy. Push through it as best as you can and remember to keep proper form throughout the exercises (neutral back, engaged core, etc). This can also be used as a full-body workout when using moderately heavy weight with each exercise.
Barbell Back Squats – 30 seconds
Standing Overhead Press (dumbbells or barbell) – 30 seconds
Cycling (max intensity, all-out effort) – 30 seconds
Barbell Row – 30 seconds
Rest – 30 seconds
This HIIT circuit is a little more tricky to calculate. Based on the calculations from above, we can assume we burn 44 calories per 30 second interval of cycling. This alone already brings us 176 calories just from cycling, which includes the afterburn effect it provides.
Now, for the weightlifting exercises. According to What’s Cooking America, to calculate the calories you burn during bodyweight squats per minute you can simply multiply 0.096 by your weight. However, in our circuit we are using moderately heavy weight on top of our body weight.
Let’s assume the average person will squat 135lbs with a body weight of 175lbs. Based on the information above, we can calculate that they will burn 15 calories per 30 second interval. Since we’re doing this 4 times, we can expect a total of 70 calories from squats alone. There’s no real current data on calories burned during other weightlifting exercises as they vary based on several factors. But, we can assume that you will burn around 12 calories per interval during the overhead press and barbell row. This is because they are both compound movements like the squat. These two exercises will bring us a total of 96 calories burned throughout the workout.
We can add on another 90 calories to our total to account for our afterburn effect, which is more significant after weightlifting compared to aerobic exercise. This brings us to a total of 432 calories in a grueling 10 minutes.
Keep in mind that the calories burned are complete estimates and vary for each individual!
There are so many factors that can affect the number of calories burned. Getting an accurate number is near impossible without access to a lab. Nevertheless, you can be confident that you will be burning a lot of calories in a short amount of time with these 3 HIIT workouts.
I recommend performing these workouts at a maximum of 3x per week. Start out with just 1 of these circuits per week and build your way up to 3x per week. You can check out this article for a full HIIT workout plan that shows you how to progress your workouts. Also, when used in collaboration with a weightlifting routine I recommend you space them out accordingly so they don’t interfere with your leg day. These workouts are hard on the legs and you want to provide them with adequate rest after your leg day. With that being said, enjoy the workouts and let me know what you think!