post Best HIIT Workouts & Exercises for Women

Best HIIT Workouts & Exercises for Women

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: December 28, 2023
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As a fitness trainer, I’ve seen how high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can transform clients’ bodies and minds, increasing confidence, energy, and strength.

Whether your goal is to burn fat, build muscle, or boost endurance, this article will cover a range of HIIT options for women to help you improve your fitness and reach your goals.

Let’s get started.

Quick Summary

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for women offers diverse exercises like jumping rope, cycling, and bodyweight movements to enhance fitness, burn fat, and build muscle.
  • HIIT workouts can be tailored for different levels, including beginners, advanced, and those with limited time, emphasizing consistency, proper technique, and a balanced diet.
  • A study by the National Institute of Health reveals that a 30-minute HIIT session can burn up to 30% more calories than weight training.
  • In my view, HIIT is a versatile and efficient workout method for women, offering significant benefits in strength, endurance, and calorie burning.

HIIT Workouts for Women

Consistency, proper technique, and a balanced diet are critical for achieving your fitness goals. At the same time, Consistency, proper technique, and a balanced diet are critical for achieving your fitness goals.

At the same time, pre-workout supplements for women can help you overcome fatigue, push harder, and get the most out of your HIIT sessions. you overcome fatigue, push harder, and get the most out of your HIIT sessions.

I’ve included three of my favorite high-intensity interval training workouts that I have used with beginner, advanced, and time-crunched clients.

Here they are.

Beginner HIIT Workout for Women

A woman doing HIIT exercises

Ready to start a HIIT workout? This low-impact, beginner-friendly HIIT is a great place to start.

In my experience as a personal trainer, I've found that the following are all bodyweight exercises, requiring no equipment. Their low-impact nature means they typically don't exacerbate any underlying pain or discomfort in my clients.

This workout will have you performing a manageable 30 seconds of reps with 15 seconds of rest. In just 20–30 minutes, you’ll get a full-body workout that will have you feeling energized and accomplished.

Squat Twist

The squat twist will activate your hips and glutes.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms crossed in front of you.
  • Slightly face your feet outward and push into the floor, creating tension in your hips and glutes.
  • Lower your body, pushing your knees apart like sitting in a chair.
  • Raise and come out of the squat, and twist your body to the left while raising your left knee at 90 degrees.
  • Keep abs engaged.
  • Lower to the start, then squat again.
  • Repeat the twist motion on the opposite side.

Related: Best Rotational Exercises

Reach and Crunch

A woman doing the reach and crunch

Here’s how to do it:

  • Begin in a standing position and brace your core.
  • Raise your arms overhead.
  • Twist your torso to the right while bringing your right knee up.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Shuffle Punch

The shuffle punch is a great way to work your legs and core.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand with your feet together.
  • Place your arms at your sides with elbows at 90 degrees.
  • Step to the left, beyond shoulder width, and squat.
  • As you squat, punch out with your right arm.
  • Immediately shuffle to the right and punch out with your left arm.

Squat and Reach

A woman doing squat and reach workout

Here’s how to do it:

  • From standing, have your arms bent in front of you, mimicking a barbell curl.
  • Sink into a deep squat until your elbows touch your knees.
  • Quickly propel yourself out of the squat, rising on the balls of your feet.
  • While rising, keep your core engaged and raise your arms straight overhead.

Related: Squat Variations

Side-To-Side Knee Drivers

From my experience training clients, I've found that side-to-side knee drivers are well-rounded exercises that effectively strengthen the core and improve balance.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Begin by standing with feet just wider than shoulder-width and reaching your arms overhead and slightly to the left.
  • Drawing your arms down, lift your right knee and drive it up and to the left as if you were delivering a knee strike.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

Mountain Climbers

A woman doing mountain climber workouts

Mountain climbers will boost your heart rate and engage your core.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Start in a high plank position.
  • Drive your left knee up towards your chest without lifting your hips.
  • Quickly switch to the other side and keep the rhythm switching back and forth.

Table Top Reach and Lift

This move will help you build a stronger core.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit on the floor with your feet flat and firmly planted and your hands underneath your shoulders.
  • Engage your core and brace yourself.
  • Push through your heels to raise your hips off the floor.
  • Stretch your left leg while reaching for it with your right arm.
  • Lower your hips and switch sides to repeat the movement.
  • Then, raise your hips into a tabletop position, tucking your pelvis to avoid hyperextending your lower back.

“Due to the intensity of the workout, HIIT can elevate your metabolism for hours after exercise. This results in burning additional calories even after you have finished exercising.”

- Tyler Read, BSc, Certified Personal Trainer

Advanced HIIT Workout for Women

A woman at the gym doing advanced HIIT

When you are ready to take your workout to the next level, take on this HIIT workout to burn calories and lose fat.

You’ll need a small box or step for these HIIT exercises. Perform reps of each exercise for 20 seconds with a 10-second rest in between.

Once you’ve completed a full round, take a minute to rest, and then repeat for 3-5 rounds. You’ll get 12–20 minutes of intense exercise.

Toe Taps

In my sessions with clients, I've seen how this exercise improves balance and coordination, gets the heart pumping, and significantly boosts energy levels.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Place a box or step in front of you that is about a foot high.
  • Quickly raise your left leg and tap the top of the box with your left foot.
  • Alternate your feet.
  • Get into a rhythm that feels like a spirited run, tapping the box quickly with each foot and staying light on your feet.

Explosive Step-Ups

A woman doing explosive step ups at the gym

This HIIT exercise will boost your lower-body power.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Begin by sitting on a box with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Lift your arms in front of you.
  • Swing your arms back and jump as high as you can.
  • Make sure to keep your knees soft when you land.
  • Lower to the starting position and repeat.

Related: Best Step Exercises

Hop Overs

Hop overs are a great way to increase lower-body strength.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand on the left side of the box.
  • Place your right foot on the box.
  • Push off the box, leaping over it with a lateral hop and landing with your left foot on the box and right foot on the floor.
  • Immediately repeat on the other side and continue with a fluid rhythm.

Quad Hop

A person doing a quad hop outside

Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand behind a box and position your left foot on it.
  • Use the left foot to launch into the air while swinging your left arm forward.
  • Once you land, repeat the motion on the opposite side.
  • After 20 seconds, pause briefly, switch sides, and repeat.

Hands-On Climbers

Hands-on climbers are a variation of the mountain climber exercise described in the beginner workout.

The only difference is that you begin with your hands on the box or step into the high push-up position.

Feet-On Climber

Another advanced variation of the traditional mount climber is that you begin by placing your feet on the box.

Perform the mountain climber exercise and ensure you replace each foot on the box before you lift the other.

Related: Stair Climber Workouts

Single-Leg Switch

A woman doing the single leg switch workout

You will challenge your balance and coordination with this exercise.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit on a box or step and extend your right leg forward.
  • You can use your arms for balance.
  • Stand up using only your left leg and hop onto your right foot before sitting back down.
  • Switch legs and get into a rhythm.

Five-Minute HIIT Workout for Women

Take five minutes to do these well-known bodyweight and cardio exercises with everything you’ve got to reap the benefits of a healthy heart and achieve similar results to an entire cardio session.

This HIIT consists of 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest for each exercise:

  • Squats: total body
  • Reverse Lunge: hamstrings and glutes
  • High Knees: quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves
  • Jumping Jacks: entire body and cardio
  • Push-ups: upper body and core

What are HIIT Workouts?

A woman at home doing HIIT

HIIT workouts are high-intensity interval training sessions, a type of workout that alternates short periods of intense exercise with brief periods of rest or active recovery.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is great for torching calories, boosting endurance, and enhancing overall fitness faster than moderate or low-intensity exercises.

HIIT sessions include diverse activities like jump rope, sprints, cycling, or bodyweight exercises such as burpees and squats. Tailor the intensity and duration of each interval to match your fitness level and objectives.

According to a study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), a half-hour HIIT workout can torch about 30% more calories than weight training [1].

How to Create Your Own HIIT Workouts

A woman doing HIIT workouts at home

If you are looking for more HIIT workouts, you can create your own to tailor to your needs, fitness, and goals.

Here are a few tips I give to my clients:

  • Keep it simple: Select exercises you can do in a single spot. Avoid the stress of running around from station to station and create a routine that lets you focus on maximizing your work and rest intervals. Also, keep the equipment and setup simple.
  • Alternate exercises: Maximize your HIIT workout by alternating challenging exercises with easier ones. Doing so will ensure you don’t sabotage yourself by overexerting yourself too soon. Effective HIIT involves pushing yourself to your limits without sacrificing endurance.
  • The possibilities are endless: Don’t limit yourself to bodyweight or strength training; incorporate mobility drills into your workout format.

Additionally, experiment with workout duration, rest periods, exercise type, and more in order to make your HIIT training uniquely yours.

Benefits of a HIIT Workout for Women

Females can benefit from HIIT workouts in several ways, including improving their overall fitness and endurance.

Evidence suggests women gain a more significant health boost when they consistently do a quick HIIT workout.

According o NIH, women release more human growth hormone (HGH) during HIIT, which can help with muscle growth, weight loss, and even anti-aging [2].

Additionally, as per a study by NIH, regular HIIT exercises can help manage and alleviate insulin sensitivity and PCOS symptoms [3].

Other HIIT Benefits

  • Time-Saving Workouts: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) allows women to achieve significant fitness gains in shorter sessions, making it feasible to maintain a consistent exercise routine amid busy schedules without compromising effectiveness.
  • Boosted Metabolism: HIIT stimulates metabolism, aiding weight management by promoting calorie burn both during and after workouts. This metabolic boost contributes to more efficient fat utilization and overall weight control.
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular participation in HIIT improves cardiovascular health for women by enhancing heart function and circulation. The intense intervals challenge the heart, promoting endurance and long-term cardiovascular well-being.
  • Convenient at Home or Gym: HIIT's versatility enables women to perform effective workouts whether at home or the gym. With minimal equipment required, it offers a convenient fitness solution adaptable to various settings, enhancing accessibility and sustainability.

FAQs

Are HIIT Workouts Good for Women?

Yes, HIIT workouts are good for women. They are an efficient way to boost metabolism and improve overall fitness, and some believe women get a more substantial health boost by keeping workouts short and intense.

How Often Should Women Do HIIT?

Women should do a HIIT workout three times a week on non-consecutive days. Giving yourself at least a day of rest in between sessions allows for necessary muscle recovery.

What Type of Hiit Is Most Effective?

The most effective type of HIIT is full body HIIT. This type of interval exercise is more efficient than a protracted cardio session at shedding weight and developing your muscles.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25162652/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12457419/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4583183/
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