The best HIIT workout gear isn't necessarily expensive, and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is, by this point, definitely not a fitness fad. It's a well-established and proven way to get fit, improve your overall health, and have a heart like a racehorse and the body of a demi-god or goddess. Need more encouragement?
Although there is no magic wand you can wave to tone up, lose weight and gain muscle quickly – so don't believe all those spurious 'get ripped in two weeks' claims from dodgy products – a HIIT workout, performed a few times a week, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to get fit, lose weight and get a six-pack. You might need some workout shoes, though, and maybe one kettlebell.
High-intensity interval training is about fitting in a lot of work in a short time. We'll tell you what a HIIT workout is, how to get started, and the gear you'll need to torch all that holiday fat and build your perfect body this year. Yes, it's hard work, but you can improve your life (and your body) by using the right tools for the job.
Best HIIT workout gear to buy right now
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Skipping is often overlooked, but it's one of the best ways to get a high-intensity sweat on while developing great coordination. Used by everyone from Crossfit pros to world champion boxers to small girls, a skipping rope is one of the best ways to burn fat. Never tried it and thought we were kidding? Try skipping for two minutes and see how far you get…
This is one of the best ropes on the market, too. The BeMaxx Speed Rope II is adjustable, so you can get the perfect length no matter your height. It's durable, lightweight and portable: a bit of open space is all you need for a great beginner-friendly HIIT workout.
Skipping is a majorly underrated type of exercise, despite it being used by boxers to improve endurance and cardio performance. The Mirafit Battle Jump Rope combines the best aspects of jump ropes and battle ropes and provides a full-body workout without having to fix one end of the rope to an anchor point.
This makes the Battle Jump Rope highly portable and practical: you can use it at home, in the park or in the gym. That said, given the weight of the ropes, it can be rather noisy when doing skips using this rope, something a downstairs neighbour might not appreciate all that much.
The black polyester weave the rope is made of is super durable, while the rubber-coated handles provide a comfortable grip and prevent fraying. The Mirafit Battle Jump Rope can be bought in a variety of sizes, and even the most expensive option is comparatively cheap.
If you're wondering what on earth a slam ball is, it's a heavy rubber ball that you heave, slam down into the floor and repeat until you feel dizzy from exertion. If you've ever seen someone at the gym throw a medicine ball on the floor ad nauseum; that's what they're up to.
Slam balls are noisy and obtrusive, so they're not for people who don't like unwanted attention at the gym, but they are also versatile and work a huge array of muscle groups, giving an excellent all-around workout.
Performing HIIT with a slam ball requires dedication, lots of power and good form to avoid any unnecessary strains or injuries. It's worth it, though, as repeatedly mashing a heavy ball into the ground gets the blood pumping and feels awesome. You can also use them as a traditional medicine ball if you feel so inclined, using them to twist while doing sit-ups and other core exercises.
Anybody who's trained for rugby has encountered one of these. Power bags are simply weighted leather sacks, usually filled with sand, that you can lift, throw and swing around your body. Available in several different weights, ideal for both the beginner trainee and seasoned pro, the RDX Weight Training Power Bag can be unzipped, allowing you to adjust its weight further by pouring out (or adding more) sand to the receptacle. The tough leather will ensure it won't split, and the bag is also waterproof, so it can be used outdoors.
You know what this one is. The kettlebell is a light-ish weight that can be used in dynamic movements such as kettlebell swings to get you sweating. Five one-minute sets of kettlebell swings, with one minute of rest in between, is sure to get your heart rate up. The Primal kettlebell range from ONNIT is about as good as it gets. There's a finite amount to say – it's a good-quality lump of metal with a handle, in the weight you expect – but it's pleasant to handle, has a splash of colour and will last you forever.
Best home gym machines for HIIT
The JTX Mission Air Bike is a robust home exercise bike that can provide a full-body workout in itself. It is small enough to be transported around the house if needed but stable enough to stay still when it’s time to work out on it. The fact that it doesn’t require an external power source makes it ideal for non-communal spaces such as garage gyms or home gyms that set up spare rooms.
And it is probably best to keep the JTX Mission Air Bike away from communal areas at home as it can generate quite a lot of noise when the fans are going full speed. If you don’t mind the noise – or have a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones at hand – we would recommend getting the JTX Mission Air Bike, especially if you are after a cardio machine that can work your whole body hard.
Read our full JTX Mission Air Bike review
Many of the studies that have looked into the effects and benefits of HIIT have centred on the humble exercise bike, as it's one of the easiest ways to exert maximum effort – you simply spin furiously until it feels like your lungs are about to explode. No wonder Soulcycle is so popular.
The Wattbike Atom is one of the most realistic riding experiences you can get without venturing outdoors, as it looks and feels like a lithe carbon road racer, yet it is easily connected to Zwift and other interactive apps that make the business of working out more fun. If you have a suitable bike of your own, you might alternatively consider one of the best turbo trainers.
This isn't the cheapest piece of home gym equipment, but it is also in no way near the most expensive treadmill, yet it offers some extremely competitive features. These include a generous 12 per cent incline gradient, a built-in workout fan, 32 pre-set workout programmes and an LED display that offers all sorts of fitness metrics to suit various training regimes.
Great for heavy use, the treadmill features a professional-grade motor that is built with high-grade components and features a dynamically spin-balanced assembly (whatever that means) to power the treadmill up to a top speed of 22 kph / 13.6 mph. That might not be a full commercial gym sprint pace, but it's more than enough for a domestic jog.
How to buy the best HIIT workout equipment for you
When it comes to buying fitness equipment, you need to approach it realistically. You could fill your house with pull-up bars and Wattbikes, but you need to make sure you'll be using the kit you buy. It's worth being truly honest with yourself and coming to a solid conclusion regarding fitness levels. It's no good investing in pull-up bars, slam balls and heavy ropes if your base fitness level doesn't stretch to lifting a can of beans above your head.
Plyo boxes (boxes that you jump on and off), Power Bags (heavy sacks for lifting), skipping ropes, and kettlebells are a good place to start, as they can be specified in a sliding scale of height – with regards to the plyo boxes – and weights. Beginners can start off sweating with a relatively small investment, with a whole range of ways to use a few inexpensive pieces of kit.
However, for a really effective HIIT workout, it's hard to beat the more esoteric, hardcore likes of a 50ft Battle Rope or high-end cardio machine. The Technogym Skillmill or Wattbike will give your exercise a new level of intensity. They will also provide a pretty testing workout for your wallet, whether you're buying outright or going to the sort of high-end gyms that have them.
What is a HIIT workout?
High-Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT for short) is all about working out at maximum intensity over short intervals, pushing your heart rate up as fast as possible. Instead of jogging for 20 minutes, you'd be running flat-out for 30 seconds to a minute, resting for one minute, and doing that 10 times. HIIT has been a staple of the fitness community over the last decade, with good reason: a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that HIIT workouts burned fat 28% faster than moderate-intensity exercise like jogging.
Sounds good, right? It's an efficient way to spend less time in the gym because HIIT achieves a calorie burn faster than steady-state cardio. It makes exercise easier to fit into your schedule and improves your capacity for aerobic exercise. In terms of equipment, what you'll need is something that will make you sweat and sweat quickly. This can be anything from a skipping rope to a full-blown skillmill. All exercise machines are a great way to get a HIIT workout, but you can also get an effective workout with just an inexpensive skipping rope. Also, what's metcon and is it good for getting fit at home?