Today I’m excited to share an effective HIIT running workout that’s outside!
This workout is great for anyone who’s got a little bit of steady-state cardio under their belts, such as 2-4 weeks of consistent running 4-5x/week.
If you’ve read my post on how to perform high intensity interval training (HIIT) properly, you’ll know that HIIT is actually very simple. There are a few principles you should abide by, but otherwise you can apply it to any form of cardio you like.
What are these principles?
While I cover them most thoroughly in my post How to Perform HIIT Correctly for Maximum Results, these are the basics to follow:
- Short, vigorous intervals followed by longer, recovery intervals
- Vigorous intervals should be above 85% max intensity
- Complete 30-40 minutes total per week with a heart rate above 85% (studies show this has the maximum HIIT benefits with the lowest risk of overtraining) – to achieve, you’d need to perform two 30 minute HIIT workouts per week, you’ll likely hit around 15 minutes at >85% each session
- Eat 1-2 hours prior to HIIT (you only have so much glycogen stored and you don’t want to start breaking down your muscle)
Keep in mind, when you’re performing HIIT, you’re aiming for above that 85% max heart rate. This means you’re not just pushing up to a slightly higher, slightly more tiring intensity – you need to be pushing it!
You’ll note that the vigorous intervals during this workout are short at just 30 seconds. That’s because you shouldn’t be able to do much more than that based on the effort you’ll be exerting. Each 30 seconds is followed by a twice-as-long recovery jogging interval that you should take extremely easily.
The work is done during the vigorous intervals, not during the recovery ones.
With these basic principles in mind, you can see that this running HIIT workout could easily be adapted with any other type of cardio.
But since you’re here for the running, let’s get straight into the workout!
HIIT Running Workout Outdoors
Don’t forget to stretch before starting. Target your legs such as your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hips. It’s also not a bad idea to stretch out your shoulders and throw in some dynamic arm swings. Hold each static stretch for 30 seconds each (making sure you get both sides!).
5 minute easy jog
20 minutes alternating between 30 seconds on, 60 seconds off (14 vigorous intervals total)
Etc. until you reach 20 minutes
5 minute easy jog
Be sure to stretch again once you’re done with your cool-down. Hit all the same stretches again, focusing on your legs and holding each static stretch for 30 seconds.
And you’re done! While it’s simple, completing this HIIT running workout outside – especially if on any hills – is sure to burn! It’s up to you to continue pushing through those tough “on” intervals so you can reap the full benefits of HIIT.
How to Assess Your Vigorous Intervals
Not sure how to know if you’re pushing hard enough? Well, if you’re feeling pretty spent by the end of your vigorous intervals, then you’re probably doing it right.
But another way to know is by actually monitoring your heart rate. First, you need to calculate your max heart rate. Then calculate what 85% of that is, and check your heart rate at the end of one of the vigorous intervals.
It’s pretty simple to calculate your max heart rate. The most accurate equation is:
Maximal heart rate = 208 – (0.7 x Age)
For me (currently 25 years old), this would be as follows:
208 – (0.7 x 25) = 208 – 17.5 = 190.5 (which I’ll round to 191 bpm)
Knowing this number, I can easily calculate what heart rate I need to achieve to be above 85%
191 x 0.85 = 162.35 (or 162 bpm)
How to Check Your Heart Rate
The absolute easiest way to check your heart rate while performing this HIIT running workout outside is with a fitness smartwatch that has a built in heart rate monitor. Lucky for you, I’ve written a post on 8 such running watches.
Another technique you could use is stopping after one of your vigorous intervals and counting your heart rate. You’d still need a timer, but you would check your pulse at either your carotid artery (side of your throat) or your radial artery (on the thumb-side of your wrist). Count for 10 seconds – no longer because your heart rate will start to slow down – and multiply by 6. This will tell you if your heart rate has reached higher than your calculated 85% mark.
The major drawback is that you’ll need to stop completely to check your heart rate this way. You also may have a difficult time counting because you’ll be breathing heavy and your heart rate will be going very quickly. But it is possible and is definitely an option if you don’t have a smartwatch or other heart rate monitor.
I hope you enjoyed this 30 minute HIIT running workout outside. If you liked this post, please give it a share on Pinterest! Thanks so much!