Best HIIT gear 2020: top gear to help you burn fat faster and more efficiently

Get high intensity interval training right with the best HIIT machines, ropes and weights

best HIIT gear

Those in search of weight loss and muscle growth know there's no magic solution, but arguably the most effective way to lose weight, tone up, increase cardiovascular fitness and look bad ass is via HIIT (high intensity interval training). Yeah, it is bloody hard work but you can at least do it (and HIIT) more efficiently and whilst looking more flash, if you have the best HIIT workout equipment that money can buy.

So, what is HIIT?

High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT for short) is all the rage at the moment amongst the fitness community, and for very good reason. 

California State University has published in excess of 12 extensive papers that support the theory that short bouts of very intense exercise, followed by periods of rest, are as beneficial to your health as long, drawn-out aerobic sessions. In fact, possibly more so.

HIIT means, at least in theory, that you could vastly improve your fitness in ten minutes or so a day, rather than pounding the treadmill for hours on end, like an absolutely massive hamster.

Sounds good, right? It's also pretty easy to achieve, so long as you don't mind almost bursting your heart. That's because most HIIT sessions involve exercising absolutely flat out for, say, 30 seconds and then resting for a minute or less before spiking that heart rate again. Simply repeat 5-10 times and you're golden.

As such, all you need in terms of equipment is something that will make you sweat and sweat quickly. This can be anything from battle ropes to dumbbells, a rowing machine to slam balls.

One study undertaken by the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that repeating 10 to 20 seconds of "all-out" cycling on a stationary bike, with sets broken by a couple of minutes rest, significantly improved aerobic capacity in participants, in six weeks.

That's a total of ten minutes exercise per day for six weeks with tangible results. Other health experts have said that HIIT helps torch fat, and continuing to do so long after the exercise routine is over.

How to buy the best HIIT gear for your workouts

It's worth being truly honest with yourself and come 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.

The fact of the matter is, CrossFit and functional fitness regimes are hard work: short, very sharp bursts of energy that require good technique and commitment to get the most out of them.

Plyo boxes (boxes that you jump on and off), Power Bags (heavy sacks for lifting) 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.

This allows newcomers to start off light and manageable, and then work up to the heavier, more taxing stuff.

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.

The best HIIT gear, in order of price

best HIIT gear: Bodymax Battle Training Rope

1. Bodymax Battle Training Rope

The most iconic crossfit accoutrement, if not the most convenient

Material: Nylon
Weight: 9.5kg
Suitable for outdoors: Yes
Thickness: 40mm
Reasons to buy
+Great all-over body workout +Rapid sweat initiation +Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up space-Noisy

Once the reserve of combat sports professionals, the chunky battle rope is now the darling of Crossfit lunatics across the globe and that's because it absolutely annihilates the upper body… in a good way.

As you slam, whip and wave the ropes, your feet remain planted, which also activates the glutes, claves and hamstrings, while seated exercises can shred abs in seconds.

• Bodymax Battle Training Rope sold out? Amazon has numerous excellent rope alternatives

But we're talking HIIT here and put simply, a 30-second thrash on a set of battle ropes is enough to see heart rates reaching crazy levels. Plus, you get a full muscle workout to reach those swole patrol goals.

best HIIT gear: Bodypower Slam Ball

2. Bodypower Slam Ball

A more compact HIIT must-have

Weight range: 3-15kg
Construction: Textured rubber
Filler: Moving
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Easy to store+Multi-use
Reasons to avoid
-Noisy-Demands good form

If you're sat there wondering what on earth a slam ball is, let me explain: it's a heavy, rubbery ball that you pick up, slam into the floor and repeat until you feel dizzy from exertion.

• Browse the range of Slam Balls at Amazon 

Slam balls are noisy and there's no way to avoid looking a bit touched whilst using them but they are also versatile and work a huge array of muscle groups, giving an excellent all-round workout.

Performing HIIT with a slam ball requires some dedication and it's important to focus on good form to avoid any strains or injuries. It's worth it, though, as repeatedly mashing a heavy ball into the ground gets the blood pumping and feels awesome.

best HIIT gear: Nordictrack E10.0 Elliptical Trainer

3. Nordictrack E10.0 Elliptical Trainer

Elliptical cross trainer that can take a pummelling

Dimensions: H203 W81 L169 cm
Foldable: Yes
Flywheel weight: 10kg
Built-in speakers: Yes
Stride length: 18-inch
Reasons to buy
+Foldable for storage+Perfect for torching fat+Adjustable to suit user
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky-Data screens aren't great

Performing HIIT training on an elliptical machine is a doddle, as it's easy to get warmed up and then crank the resistance for your 30-60 seconds of intense exercise.

The elliptical motion works both the upper and lower body, while the built-in data screens - even though they are slightly budget - work well to judge interval timings.

It's a more pricey purchase than the balls and ropes, but one that give you many happy years of high intensity exercise pain.

best HIIT gear: Wattbike Atom

4. Wattbike Atom

Best exercise bike for HIIT

Gears: 22
Gradient range: 0 - 24 per cent
Smartphone connectivity: Yes
Connectivity: ANT+ FEC/ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Control
Reasons to buy
+Realistic riding experience+Great connectivity+Plenty of resistance levels

Many of the studies that have looked into the effects and benefits of HIIT have focussed 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. Easy as pie.

• Buy Wattbike Atom direct from Wattbike for £1,600

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 also consider one of the best turbo trainers.

best HIIT gear: Technogym Skillmill

5. Technogym Skillmill

The ultimate crossfit dumbbell replacement

Max speed: No limit
Smartphone compatible: No
Equipment weight: 180kg
Surface width: 480mm
Reasons to buy
+More intense than a treadmill+Improves agility
Reasons to avoid
-Bum-clenchingly expensive

Unlike a traditional treadmill, Technogym's advanced Skillmill uses a resistance belt, rather than a traditional powered deck, to improve power, speed, stamina and agility.

It takes a bit of getting used to but the harder you work, the more the Skillmill pushes back, until it becomes a vicious cycle of glorious, healthy, HIIT-induced agony.

Throw in some funky high knees or a professional-style sprint and it's possible to see heart rates spiking 170bpm in a matter of seconds, so in terms of HIIT fitness, it's a proper gem of a machine.

It's no wonder Olympic athletes and professional sports folk like to see a Skillmill in their local training facilities but for us mere mortals, it's an expensive fitness shortcut. You can either shell out around £10,000 to own one outright, or join one of the select handful of Virgin Active gyms that have a Skillmill.