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As a guy who used to weigh 285 pounds, I understand it can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea of only needing to work out for 20 or 30 minutes to burn fat and build muscle. However, the reality is that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to sculpt your ideal physique. You’ll quickly learn that how intensely you train and how you structure your workout drastically impacts your results. 

During my weight-loss journey that inspired me to become a certified personal trainer (CPT), I discovered the power of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Like many others, I found these workouts challenging but efficient and well-suited for my schedule. Luckily, HIIT workouts for men are no different than those for women, as everyone can benefit from this training style. 

RELATED: 8 Benefits of HIIT

Whether you want to improve your conditioning, add lean muscle, or shed stubborn body fat, you can utilize the goal-specific workouts I’ve designed to make your fitness dream come true. While they certainly aren’t for the faint of heart, you’ll undoubtedly feel accomplished once you wrap up the final interval.

What Is HIIT? 

HIIT is a popular workout style alternating between short periods of intense exercise and periods of lower-intensity recovery or rest. Sessions typically range between 20 to 40 minutes, making them an efficient choice for those with busy schedules. This unique, high-intensity approach allows you to enjoy both cardiovascular and muscle-building benefits by pushing your body close to capacity, often with a mixture of exercises like sprinting, jumping, and lifting. 

jumping on to synergee 3 in 1 wooden plyo box

3 Goal-Based HIIT Workouts For Men 

Ready to go hard and get results? Although each workout should take no more than 30 minutes, prepare yourself to give everything you’ve got the entire time. As a CPT who utilized HIIT to shed 80 pounds, I’ve designed three goal-specific workouts: one for building muscle, one for metabolic conditioning, and one for fat loss. 

Use these sample routines as inspiration. If you can’t perform a particular exercise, swap it out with another variation. 

Full-Body HIIT Workout

This muscle-building HIIT workout includes lower- and upper-body strength training exercises to help you sculpt a strong, muscular physique. Perform as many reps as possible for each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by a 30-second rest period. You’ll complete three sets of each exercise before moving on to the next one. 

ExerciseSetsWork IntervalRest Interval
Close-Grip Bench Press330 sec.30 sec.
Kettlebell Thruster330 sec.30 sec.
Reverse Lunge330 sec.30 sec.
Renegade Row330 sec.30 sec.
Bulgarian Split Squat330 sec.30 sec.
Pull-Up330 sec.30 sec.

Expert tip: Increase the work interval or the amount of weight to make this workout more difficult. 

RELATED: Kettlebell HIIT Workout

Metabolic Conditioning HIIT Workout

Looking to level up your conditioning? This intense HIIT workout for men and women alike will force you to dig deep and recover quickly. Instead of a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio, this session uses a 2:1 ratio that tests your ability to catch your breath and get ready for the next exercise. 

Plank Exercises

Perform each movement successively, taking a two-minute rest period after completing the circuit. Then, repeat the circuit at least three or four times. 

ExerciseSetsWork IntervalRest Interval
Burpee3-440 sec.20 sec.
Goblet Squat3-440 sec.20 sec.
Mountain Climber3-440 sec.20 sec.
Hanging Leg Raise3-440 sec.20 sec.
Spiderman Push-Up3-440 sec.20 sec.
Weighted Plank3-440 sec.20 sec.

Expert tip: If 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest is too intense, dial it back to a 30:15 ratio. 

RELATED: HIIT Cardio Workout At Home

Fat Loss HIIT Workout

This fat-loss-focused HIIT workout includes a mix of bodyweight exercises and moves that require equipment. The key is to keep moving, as you will go from one exercise to the next to complete the circuit. Once you finish, rest for two minutes and repeat the circuit at least three or four times. 

ExerciseSetsWork IntervalRest Interval
Diamond Push-Up3-430-40 sec.None
Squat Jump3-430-40 sec.None
Mountain Climber3-430-40 sec.None
Kettlebell Swing3-430-40 sec.None
Russian Twist3-430-40 sec.None
Bear Crawl3-430-40 sec.None

Expert tip: As you progress, try more difficult variations or add more exercises to the circuit to test your endurance.

Benefits of HIIT Workouts

Why do I regularly program HIIT workouts for both clients and myself? From their efficient nature to their ability to help you build muscle and lose fat, here are the benefits of incorporating this type of training into your fitness regimen. 

Can Help Improve Cardiovascular Health 

You won’t find many cardio workouts that challenge your mind and body quite like HIIT. Research shows that HIIT is an efficient exercise protocol for improving your cardiovascular health, including your VO2 max1—a measurement of how well your body uses oxygen during exercise. HIIT workouts can also help you increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacity, which can carry over to your other lifts and daily activities. 

RELATED: Steady-State Cardio Vs HIIT

Can Be Effective For Weight Loss 

The No. 1 key to losing weight is eating in a calorie deficit. Pairing a well-formulated diet with a well-devised training plan that includes HIIT cardio sessions can help support your fat-loss efforts. According to a 2011 study2 published in the Journal of Obesity, high-intensity intermittent exercise has been shown to significantly lower insulin resistance and enhance skeletal muscle fat oxidation. In addition, research shows it can result in modest reductions in subcutaneous and abdominal body fat in both males and females2.  

RELATED: How To Lose Body Fat

Help Build Muscle 

Although it’s not the same as hypertrophy training, HIIT is still an effective method to pack muscle onto your frame. According to a 2023 study3 on healthy older and younger people, high-intensity interval training promotes increases in lean mass, maximal strength, and lower-limb muscle power. 

A person is shown lifting weights

Adaptable to All Fitness Levels

One of my favorite aspects of HIIT is how it can be customized to suit people of different abilities. Beginners can focus on fundamental movement patterns and adequate rest periods to build strength and stamina. More advanced athletes can challenge themselves with short periods of rest or more complicated exercises that work multiple muscle groups. Ultimately, you have plenty of flexibility to design an interval-style workout appropriate for your current fitness level. 

Efficient Form of Exercise

If spending an hour in the gym doesn’t appeal to you, HIIT is the ideal solution. Most sessions range between 20 to 40 minutes, or about the time you need to get through an episode of your favorite Netflix show. As long as you’re willing to work at a higher intensity, you’ll be able to finish your workout efficiently, giving you more time for other responsibilities and activities.

No Equipment Required

You can still knock out an effective at-home workout even if you don’t have access to a barbell or pair of dumbbells. Because HIIT is more about structure than exercise selection, you can accomplish your muscle-building and fat-burning goals with nothing but your own body. You may be surprised at how challenging it can be to get through a circuit of bodyweight exercises like crunches, push-ups, mountain climbers, and lunges. 

Coop doing lunges during a workout with the NordicTrack Vault - NordicTrack Vault Review

RELATED: At-Home Bodyweight Workout

Common HIIT Mistakes

HIIT may sound simple, but you can easily make mistakes and derail your progress. Avoid these errors so you can stay on track. 

Overtraining 

There’s nothing wrong with being committed to crushing your fitness goals. However, just because you’re eager to get in shape doesn’t mean you need (or should) train at maximum intensity daily. 

Many beginners go full steam ahead on the HIIT train without thinking about the toll these types of workouts can take on your mind and body. Going too hard too often can leave you feeling physically and mentally fatigued, leading to burnout and opening the door to abandoning your workout plan. Including rest days and active recovery techniques like foam rolling and stretching into your regimen can help prevent overtraining. 

RELATED: 10 Signs of Overtraining

Using Improper Form 

While you may be tempted to blaze through a set of kettlebell swings or knock out as many burpees as possible in 30 seconds, you shouldn’t neglect your form for the sake of time. Failing to execute fundamental movement patterns with proper mechanics will prevent you from maximizing your strength- and muscle-building potential. 

In addition, using improper form increases your chances of injury. For example, allowing your knees to cave in during a squat (knee valgus) can add stress to your tendons and ligaments. Conversely, letting your elbows flare out during a bench press or overhead press can compromise your shoulder health. 

Skipping the Warm-Up and Cool-Down 

Although HIIT workouts typically take less time, you shouldn’t go from zero to 100 without preparing your body for what’s ahead. Start your session with a thorough warm-up, including dynamic movements like jumping jacks, high knees, and bodyweight squats. You can grab a jump rope or hop on a treadmill to perform light cardio to get your heart rate up and increase blood flow. 

woman doing hamstring stretch

After you finish your HIIT workout, dedicate at least five to 10 minutes for a cool-down period. Use this time to stretch, bring your heart rate back down to baseline, and allow your muscles to relax. I use the cool-down to let my brain switch off of “training mode” and focus on other tasks I need to accomplish. 

RELATED: Best Warm-Up Exercises

Going Too Intense Too Soon

You have to learn to walk before you can run. Take the same approach with HIIT—especially if you’re a beginner. While you may be motivated to push yourself to maximum capacity, you can easily empty your tank by going too intense at the start of your workout. Adjust the intervals and overall intensity based on your current fitness level so you can enjoy sustained success rather than a short-lived moment of triumph.   

Tips For Maximizing Your HIIT Workouts

From what you put into your body to how you treat it after you’re done training, these strategies can help ensure you’re maximizing the benefits of your HIIT workouts.

Fuel Up Properly 

Despite being a big proponent of intermittent fasting, I’ll admit it’s wise to put something in your system before you take on a HIIT workout. The anaerobic demands of this method require a steady stream of glucose. While your body can tap into its glycogen stores, you can also give it the proper fuel by consuming fast-digesting carbohydrates shortly before your session. 

Man pouring Momentus Fuel into a shaker cup

I prefer something light that won’t cause any digestive issues. That typically means fruit (I’m a huge fan of oranges, berries, and grapefruit) or even some Gatorade if I’m in a pinch. Fueling up also means taking care of your hydration, which can majorly impact your performance. 

RELATED: Aerobic Vs Anaerobic Metabolism

Implement Progressive Overload 

Whether it’s increasing the load, ramping up the reps, or altering the tempo, manipulating these variables will allow you to continue progressing. Your body will get accustomed to performing the same movements with the same weights, so you must provide a new stimulus. Progressive overload can help you gain muscular strength, size, and endurance—even if you perform the same types of exercises. 

RELATED: 5 Signs You’re Making Progress In Your Workouts

Prioritize Recovery 

Unlike steady-state cardio or low-intensity aerobic workouts, HIIT sessions will leave you feeling gassed. As much effort as you put into completing each interval, put an equal amount into taking care of your body after your workout. 

woman-using-foam-roller-on-lats

Active recovery techniques like foam rolling, red light therapy, or using a sauna or cold plunge can be highly effective for preparing for your next session. If you’re performing multiple HIIT workouts per week, include at least one full rest day in your schedule, along with dedicated time for stretching and mobility work. This should help keep you physically and mentally fresh as you progress with your fitness journey. 

RELATED: Foam Roller Exercises

Take Advantage of Technology

Since HIIT workouts involve specific periods of intense exercise and rest, you want to be as precise as possible. Take away the guesswork by using tools like smart watches, workout apps, heart-rate monitors, and interval timers. These modern conveniences can make your workouts more effective and efficient. Plus, you can get more insight into your performance by tracking data like calories burned and average heart rate.

RELATED: Best Heart Rate Monitors

Experiment With Different Intervals

Many HIIT workouts use a 1:1 work-to-rest ratio. However, just like there are many types of workout splits, there are different ways to structure your HIIT sessions. If a 1:1 ratio seems too easy, try cutting down the rest period. Or, you can increase the work interval to test your endurance and metabolic conditioning. 

HIIT Workouts for Men: Final Thoughts

Honestly, I wouldn’t be where I am today without HIIT. When I faced the reality of needing to shed some serious weight, I relied on this intense but rewarding form of training to lose fat, build muscle, and get in the best shape of my life. Whether you’re in a similar situation or simply want to switch up your current routine, interval training might be the solution. 

Ultimately, even though this article is titled HIIT workouts for men, I have no doubt that anyone can benefit from trying them. 

HIIT Workouts for Men: FAQs

What are HIIT workouts?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief rest periods. They generally last between 20 to 30 minutes and can include everything from bodyweight exercises to common strength training movements like the back squat and deadlift. 

Is 20 minutes of HIIT per day enough?

A 20-minute HIIT session should provide a sufficient stimulus for building muscle and losing fat, especially if you incorporate compound exercises and train at a high intensity. However, it’s important to include other types of training in your workout routine since performing HIIT every day can lead to overtraining and burnout.

Is HIIT good for men?

HIIT is effective for both men and women. Alternating between intense exercise and rest periods can help people of all genders accomplish their fitness goals. 

What are the best HIIT exercises for men to build muscle?

HIIT exercises that work several major muscle groups simultaneously are the most effective for those trying to build muscle. Examples include squat variations, kettlebell swings, lunges, push-ups, thrusters, and mountain climbers. 

References

  1. Ito S. High-intensity interval training for health benefits and care of cardiac diseases – The key to an efficient exercise protocol. World J Cardiol. 2019 Jul 26;11(7):171-188. doi: 10.4330/wjc.v11.i7.171. PMID: 31565193; PMCID: PMC6763680.
  2. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305. Epub 2010 Nov 24. PMID: 21113312; PMCID: PMC2991639.
  3. Caparrós-Manosalva C, Garrido-Muñoz N, Alvear-Constanzo B, Sanzana-Laurié S, Artigas-Arias M, Alegría-Molina A, Vidal-Seguel N, Espinoza-Araneda J, Huard N, Pagnussat AS, Sapunar J, Salazar LA, Marzuca-Nassr GN. Effects of high-intensity interval training on lean mass, strength, and power of the lower limbs in healthy old and young people. Front Physiol. 2023 Sep 27;14:1223069. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2023.1223069. PMID: 37829114; PMCID: PMC10565117.

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As a guy who used to weigh 285 pounds, I understand it can be difficult to wrap your head around the idea of only needing to work out for 20 or 30 minutes to burn fat and build muscle. However, the reality is that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym to sculpt your ideal physique. You’ll quickly learn that how intensely you train and how you structure your workout drastically impacts your results.   » Read more about: 3 HIIT Workouts For Men That Will Help Anyone Get In Superior Shape  » Read more