HIIT for beginners: the 30-30

Equipment Needed

  • Running shoes, track (or)
  • Cardio machine where you can adjust levels (stationary bike, ARC Trainer, Eliptical, Treadmill)
  • Timer

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. It’s a cardiovascular workout  that uses cycles of high intensity exercise interspersed with intervals of lower intensity recovery. The best way to think of HIIT is look back at when you were a kid. This is where you run a block, walk a bit to catch your breath, then run again.

HIIT cardio came into the mainstream fitness world starting in the mid 90s. Researchers discovered that using intense intervals over short bursts improved  VO2 max (a measure of aerobic capacity), and improves anaerobic performance. What does that mean in layman terms? You improve your endurance and your strength by doing a shorter, faster workout.

My introduction to HIIT came via the now defunct Muscle Media magazine. In an article by Shawn Phillips, he introduced me to the workout that would help change my life. His method was short and simple. Do a short, intense workout of 30 seconds of all out sprint, followed by 30 seconds of lower intensity recovery. Do this for 4 minutes. That’s it, just 4 minutes. Over several weeks, you add a minute of intervals every few days  until you hit 15 minutes.

I didn’t care about that. All I cared about was 4 minutes. At that point in time, walking up the stairs was hard. Looking at the “simple” cardio workouts in various books and magazines. Even 20 minutes seemed too long. But I could do 4 minutes. I built my life around suffering like a dog for 30 seconds. As hard as it was, I unloaded everything I had into those 30 sprint intervals. At the end of 8 weeks, I was at 15 minutes of work, 20 pounds down, and feeling amazing.

I’ve taken the original Shawn Phillips HIIT and modified it. For this workout you will add a 5 minute warm up and cool down to your overall time.

Downloadable 30-30 HIIT Workout Chart


11 responses to “HIIT for beginners: the 30-30

  • Christina G.

    Interesting, thanks for posting. This looks very similar to tabata training.

    • Clara K. Showalter

      The original study was done by a nice Japanese researcher named Tabata. 🙂 That’s where it comes from. Tabata is in fact HIIT training, just a different flavor. How are you doing with your workouts? What’s your current goal since we’ve got no rocks and houses right now? 🙂

  • Kerryn Woods (@kerrynwoods)

    Love it! HIIT is the BOMB.

    And there’s nothing quite like a short workout to keep you motivated.

  • Christina G.

    Workouts are ok – I very dearly miss working with a trainer. I feel like I get a MUCH better workout that way than on my own. I need a goal – don’t have one at the moment. It has been weighing on my mind. At any rate, something needs to change, I need to find a goal, need to refocus on workouts, something…

    • Clara K. Showalter

      You do need a goal. This is how people slide backwards in a bad way.

      For fun, grab a piece of paper and write at the top: In the next year I will. Then write down what comes to mind. This is a great brain storming exercise and can help you find some clarity. Let me know how it goes. Don’t spiral! I think at a minimum I can toss some curling specific ideas your way to get things going. 🙂

      • Christina G.

        Well, I most definitely don’t want to slide backwards. So I’ll bite and grab that paper. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything interesting. Just for kicks and giggles I made a first attempt at a pistol squat yesterday. That’s definitely going on the list. December seemed so far away until I attempted that squat – I’m not sure 1 year is enough time to master that one!

  • Liz@LastChanceTraining

    I often recommend it, but don’t do it enough myself – might have to change this!

  • maryann

    nice stuff here. i tried it today and nearly puked on the beach after the 3rd sprint. got it together and was very happy i was done at 4. i wore my Garmin watch and when i uploaded the stats to the ‘net i was pretty amazed at my speeds there. gonna give this month a good go at this style of training and see where this leads me. thanks Clara

  • Tammie

    Ok Clara, 30-30’s are they a daily thing?

  • Tammie

    Um never mind I just rechecked and see that it is 🙂

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