High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise centred around doing an exercise at increasing speed or intensity over a short time. Usually, HIIT cardio. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s hard, fast and generally an awesome workout, proven to be one of the most efficient calorie burners out there. The idea is to test how far you can mentally and physically push yourself.

Generally, HIIT exercises are made up of a series of around eight rounds. Typically, they are split with 60 seconds of work time and 60 seconds of rest, alternating throughout. Of course, there is room for variation depending on your goals and your fitness level, but that’s the basis.

On top of that, HIIT workouts are traditionally shorter than cardio workouts, but the results are the same (if not better) than a longer, less intense workout. If anything, HIIT workouts will massively improve your fitness and endurance ability. In addition, the workouts will increase your metabolic rate, which will result in burning more calories in every sense.


Want to move fast? Jump to the right section below.


HIIT Workouts On A Cardio Machine

person on a cardio machine

So, going back to the topic at hand, HIIT on a cardio machine. It’s more than doable, with the treadmill being the most popular choice. Interval training on a treadmill tends to be running at a high speed for 1 minute, then either running at a low speed/walking or jumping off for 30-45 seconds. This type of exercise can be transferred to most cardio machines such as elliptical cross trainers, rowing machines and exercise bikes. It all follows the same pattern.

Essentially, all of the cardio machines that you have at your disposal will do the job you need. They’re all hardcore, and they’re all going to give you more than enough for one workout. Of course, some are better than others, but here’s a general breakdown.

Rowing machines, assault bikes and cross trainers, for example, all follow the design of a full-body exercise. You’re moving your arms and your legs together to use multiple muscles and maximise calorie burn. Add that with a HIIT style workout, and you’re hitting everywhere. Hard.

Even moving past what you’re actually doing with HIIT cardio, the machines you’re doing it on can still give you an edge. They all have varying resistance levels too. That means that you can make things more challenging than you ever could before. You can even adjust it, so it’s more of a strength activity with a lower speed. It’s entirely down to you and what you want to do.

There are different options for performing interval training on any cardio machine, but below are two workouts to get you started.

Before you begin the HIIT exercises, make sure you complete a 5-minute warm-up and a 5-minute cool down after, both on a low resistance setting.

Basic HIIT Workout Plan

RoundWorkoutRecovery
Round 160 seconds60 seconds
Round 260 seconds60 seconds
Round 360 seconds60 seconds
Round 460 seconds60 seconds
Round 560 seconds60 seconds
Round 660 seconds60 seconds
Round 760 seconds60 seconds
Round 860 seconds60 seconds
Round 960 seconds60 seconds
Round 1060 seconds60 seconds

(This workout should last around 20 minutes.)

The beauty of HIIT workouts is that you can change the amount of time spent on the HIIT exercise and recovery too. For example, you could do 30 seconds of high intensity on the cross trainer with a 2-minute recovery phase, which would reduce halfway through the workout to 90 seconds. Of course, this depends on your fitness ability, and once you’re comfortable completing these workouts, you can increase your resistance and speed.

HIIT Workout Plan: Cardio Machine & Circuit Exercises

person planking

If you wanted to mix up your HIIT workouts, you could combine your cardio machine with a range of HIIT circuit exercises too. These can include:

ExerciseRecovery
500m cardio machine (as fast as you can)10 seconds
20 seconds jumping squats10 seconds
20 seconds burpees10 seconds
20 seconds push-ups10 seconds
20 seconds mountain climbers30 seconds
Repeat each set 6 times. The HIIT workout should last around 15 minutes in total.

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As mentioned, these high-intensity short workouts are an effective way to burn fat and speed up your metabolism. HIIT exercises are also great to do at home when you’re short on time to complete a full 45-60 minute session. There are no excuses!

For more specific HIIT Cardio Machine workouts, click the relevant links below.

20 Minute HIIT Rowing Machine Workout

HIIT Exercise Bike Workout

20 Minute HIIT Cross Trainer Workout

For more info, check out this NHS link on interval running here, too, for more performance-focused information.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.