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, have a heart like a race horse and the body of a demi-god or goddess. 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 increase your cardiovascular fitness, lose fat and look great.
High intensity interval training is all about fitting in a lot of work in a short space of time. We’ll tell you what a HIIT workout actually 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 make your life easier (and your body better) by using the right tools for the job.
- Torch fat with the ultimate HIIT workout
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.
- Best exercise bike, or for the hardcore, best turbo trainer
How to buy the best HIIT workout equipment
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. t’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.
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.
- Get big arms with these bicep and tricep workouts
The best HIIT workout gear to buy
Skipping is often overlooked, but it’s one of the best ways to get a high-intensity sweat on while developing great co-ordination. 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 think we’re 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.
Once the domain of combat sports, the battling ropes have been adopted by the cult of Crossfit. It’s exhausting, combining strength and cardio training all at once to torch fat, build muscle and annihilate your upper body (in a good way, of course).
It’s not just your arms getting a good workout. As you slam and whip the ropes your feet remain planted while you crouch in a squat position, activating the posterior chain of muscles in your body.
But it’s HIIT we’re talking about: a 30-second blitz on the battling ropes is enough to put your body to work. Get your heart rate soaring and muscles aching with this underrated bit of kit.
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-round 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. Powerbags 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, while 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 cast-iron set by TRX 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
Performing HIIT training on an elliptical machine is dead easy, Simply use the machine at a lower setting to warm up, then crank up the resistance for your 30-60 second set before hitting ‘cancel’ to cool off.
The elliptical motion works the whole 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’ll give you many happy years of excruciating high-intensity exercise pain. Yay!
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.
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 to own one outright, but it is one of the finest bits of fitness kit on the market.