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10 Best HIIT Workouts for The Holiday Season

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In the run up to Christmas it can be difficult to find the time and the energy to workout. In this article we’ve brought our collective knowledge and experience together to bring you the 10 best high-intensity interval training session.

They’re short, sharp and intense. Best of all they leave you no excuse to keep fit over the festive season. You’ll definitely earn your Christmas dinner this year.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT is a method of training that involves repeated short bouts of high intensity work followed by periods of active recovery. The timings of work and recovery vary but generally lie between work intervals of 30 seconds to several minutes, separated by rest intervals of 1-5 minutes [1].

These workouts are intense but productive. The work bouts are performed at an all out high intensity and the rest intervals are either no or low intensity, active recovery.

When you are busy over the holiday period, and stressed with all of the preparations, you probably just don’t feel like going to the gym. That’s where HIIT training comes in. As a time efficient method of training you can get the same fat burning benefits in a much shorter time than you would with less intense, longer sessions – and you need minimal equipment too.

The magic of this type of training is that not only do you burn a load of calories during the session, you’ll continue to burn them afterwards. The process of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), simply referred to as the afterburn effect. When exercising at high intensity, you accumulate an oxygen ‘debt’ that needs to be repaid after the session has finished. The debt is repaid by an increase in metabolism – the result is a big increase in calorie burn.

High-intensity interval training is a very versatile method of training in that it can be performed as a body weight circuit, running or skipping, or with portable equipment too. It differs from more traditional ‘steady state‘ cardio which is typically performed at the same moderate intensity for extended periods of time lasting 20 or more minutes.

Here are our 10 favorite HIIT sessions to help you earn your Christmas dinner…

#1. Jump Rope Supersets

In this workout you’ll use one of the most versatile and portable pieces of equipment around – the jump rope. No matter where you are you’ll always be able to complete this workout. Just remember , if you can’t do double unders or high knees then practice. One you’ve mastered the movements there’ll be no stopping you.

Total time: 9 minutes



#2. High-intensity Boxing

If you’ve had one of those days – endless hours of shopping for gifts, the hustle bustle of the holiday markets and so on, then there’s nothing better than taking it out on the heavy bag.

What’s more, you don’t even have to have brilliant technique either – were trying to lose fat here, not win points for style. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better we’ve added in some serious ab exercises too.

Total time: 18 minutes


#3. Metabolic Conditioning

In this workout you want to push blood around the body as much as possible – and this means alternating body parts each exercise. By doing this you’ll stop lactic acid increasing in one muscle and reducing your workload. You’ll get a massive increase in heart rate, breathing rate and metabolism which will fire up your calorie burn for hours.

Each exercise works multiple muscles to maximize the fat burn effect.

Total time: 21 minutes


#4. Sprints

There’s nothing gets the heart racing like sprints. As you’re using pretty much every muscle in the body it’ll take a minimum amount of time to increase the metabolic effect. For an added effect you could even add some hills to your sprints.

All out sprints not only require tremendous amounts of energy, they’ll also activate your fast twitch muscle fibers. This means that you’ll add muscle at the sane time as burning fat.

Total time: 20 minutes


#5. Medicine Ball

This portable piece of kit let’s you complete any number of loaded, functional movements. You can use whatever weight ball you prefer, but aim to challenge yourself – the heavier the ball, the more calories you’ll burn.

Medicine balls offer a ‘3-dimensional’ versatility which means you can combine upper and lower body movements that burn fat fast. You can also cover every major muscle group meaning you’ll add metabolism-boosting muscle too.

Total time: 20 minutes


#6. Leg Blast Circuit

The muscles of the lower body are strong and able to generate lots of force. They also require a lot of energy so leg training is great for maximizing fat loss. In this workout we’ve made sure that all of the major lower body muscles are covered – quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

We’ve also incorporated an AMRAP approach which stands for ‘as many reps as possible’. The idea here is that you would count every rep you complete in the 30 minute workout, record it, and try and beat it the next time you do the session. This ensures progression and intensity every workout.

Total time: 30 minutes


#7. Kettlebell Complex

The kettlebell is a simple piece of equipment that can provide you with unbelievable results. Not only will you get a heart-pounding, fat shredding workout, you’ll also target muscles around the glutes and hamstrings, shoulder and arms. This is a total body conditioning workout.

This is probably the most complex workout on this list but well worth getting your head around. You’ll complete 10 reps of exercise 1, then 10 reps of exercise 2. Once you’ve done this you’ll complete 9 reps of exercise 1 and 9 reps of exercise 2. Keep dropping the reps for these two exercises until you do 1 rep of each. Only when you’ve done this do you move onto exercise 3 and 4 – completing 10 reps, then 9 reps and so on.

Total time: 15-20 minutes


#8. Battle Rope Intervals

This relatively new piece of kit is surprisingly difficult. They challenge your functional strength and skill, whilst at the same time incorporating endurance and fat burning.

High-intensity exercises that involve pulsing the ropes whilst challenging the body’s muscular system and balance creates a metabolic conditioning environment that will shred fat in no time.

Total time: 27 minutes


#9. Tabata Training

If you’ve got access to a bike then this workout is second to none for improving your maximal fitness and endurance. This workout originated in Japan and has been shown to improve metabolic conditioning, fitness and body composition. It’s also probably the shortest workout you’ll ever do, so it’s perfect for the busy holiday period.

You’ll be working at an absolute maximum intensity, but only for 20 second intervals. 8 intervals in total means it’s only a 4-minute workout. Well worth the effort.


#10. Calisthenics

The term calisthenics refers to any exercise that is rhythmical and doesn’t use equipment. It is essential big, body weight movements put together in a sequence.

It’s a physically tough workout, meaning you’ll probably need a decent amount of strength to get through it. But if you can, you’ll find that your fitness increases massively.

Gymnastics is a form of calisthenics – if you look at their aesthetics and athleticism it’ll give you an idea of just how potent this type of training can be for your physique.



  1. Gibala MJ, McGee SL. Metabolic adaptations to short-term high-intensity interval training: a little pain for a lot of gain? Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2008; 36: 58–63