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August 04, 2021 4 min read

HIIT: your best friend and worst enemy. It’s great for making strides towards your fitness goals, whether you’d like to lose weight, make some serious muscle gains, or anything else in between.

If you’ve done a HIIT workout, you know that this fat-burning workout means serious business. So, just how long do you need to suffer through those tough HIIT sessions in order to see results?

HIIT: The Basics

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a cardio workout that also involves a lot of strength-training aspects. HIIT exercise is highly dynamic in nature and is meant to get your heart rate elevated, your sweat flowing, and increase aerobic and anaerobic exercise capability!

oung Man in Face Mask doing Exercise on Spin Bike in dark Fitness Gym

What really makes a workout a HIIT workout is the structure of the workout. In HIIT, you only exercise for a certain period of time, usually anywhere from 20 seconds to 1 minute, then you take a small recovery period. This cycle is repeated for several rounds in order to formulate a full HIIT workout.

While taking some recovery time between each movement may seem odd, it is actually quite effective and efficient. The small rest period between exercises allows for maximum energy during the exercise portions of the workout, giving you a great boost in cardiovascular health.

Additionally, despite the short bursts of exercise, there is a lot of evidence that  HIIT increases stamina and endurance.

Types of HIIT

There are several different types of HIIT training that may determine the amount of time your HIIT workout should last. Determining which type of HIIT you should do mostly depends on your goals, but like any physical activity, all HIIT workouts are highly beneficial. The main goal is to work hard enough to reach your maximum heart rate, or at least get very close.

Tabata HIIT is a type of bodyweight HIIT that specifically requires 20-second intervals of exercise followed by 10-second intervals of rest. One Tabata session only lasts a total of 4 minutes. However, you can repeat Tabata sessions several times to make your HIIT session longer if desired.

Weighted HIIT workouts are perhaps the most difficult varieties of HIIT. Adding resistance to already highly dynamic movements is great for making muscle gains. However, with added difficulty comes more energy exerted. Therefore, resistance training HIIT sessions might be on the shorter end of the spectrum. Typically, weighted HIIT utilizes kettlebells or dumbbells.

Runners usually do a form of steady-state cardio, such as running itself, to increase performance. However, HIIT has proven to be even better than alternative training methods in increasing endurance and athletic ability. Since the only aspects of HIIT that are really definitive are interval timing and high-intensity exercise, you can apply HIIT to any workout.

Runners can hop on a treadmill or head to the track for a HIIT workout. With running HIIT, you can focus on explosive power through a shorter more intense session or endurance through a longer session. To complement your endurance HIIT session, try the Steel Supplements Enhanced Pre-Workout Stack!

How Long to HIIT

Now that you have a good understanding of HIIT, let’s discuss how long a HIIT workout should last. Answering such a question depends on many factors, such as your goals and personal level of fitness. In other words, there is no one right answer to how long your HIIT sessions should be.

However, some sources say just a few minutes of HIIT exercise is enough to have an effect, but others suggest much more.

It is easy to conclude that doing longer HIIT sessions would result in better and faster results. However, this simply isn’t true. Most good HIIT workouts last no longer than 20 to 30 minutes. Why? Because this encourages you to go as hard as you absolutely can the entire way through.

If you end your 30-minute HIIT session feeling like you could go another round, you’re likely not pushing hard enough. Though, it is important to take into account your fitness level. If you’re a pro-athlete, then you may be more comfortable with longer HIIT sessions.

However, even pro-athletes can suffer from overtraining, which occurs when you workout too hard and too much, leading to many health issues such as injury and depression. Another way to determine how long your HIIT sessions should be is to take into account your main goal. If you’d like to boost your endurance through HIIT, you should strive for a longer high-volume workout.

A 30-minute HIIT session would be considered a great endurance workout. If your goal is more power and strength-oriented, your HIIT sessions should last no more than 20 minutes. This allows you to put out your maximum effort in each round.

If you’d like to use HIIT to lose weight and burn fat, you’re in luck. Pretty much any length of HIIT, whether that be 10 minutes or 30 minutes, can make an impact on weight loss.

Sample HIIT Session

If you’re still lost about how long your HIIT sessions should last, here’s a play by play on a sample standard full-body 20 minute HIIT workout:

Group of people doing jumping jacks at gym


    30 seconds running in place

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds jumping jacks 

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds bodyweight lunges

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds arm circles 

    10 seconds of rest


    30 seconds burpees

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds push ups

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds bodyweight squats

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds bear crawls 

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds fire hydrants

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds side lunges

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds jumping jacks

    10 seconds of rest

    30 seconds glute bridges 

    10 seconds of rest


Repeat this cycle three times.

Low Intensity Cool Down:

    30 seconds butterfly stretch 

    30 seconds shoulder squeeze 

    30 seconds side stretch

    30 seconds tricep stretch 

    30 seconds toe touch

Length of HIIT Workouts: Conclusion

Determining the length of your HIIT workout can be a difficult task. However, this highly effective workout is meant to be efficient, so stretching HIIT for even one more minute more than is necessary can defeat the purpose.

Not only this, but one minute doing HIIT can feel like a lifetime! If you’re looking to HIIT exercise for weight loss, also check out these 10 bodyweight exercises for losing weight!