14 Best Types of Interval Training

Looking for the best types of interval training to boost your training?

Interval training stimulates both the aerobic and anaerobic systems, making it a fantastic way to get some bang for your buck. The anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity during high-intensity efforts, whereas aerobic exercises focus on the cardiovascular system. 

There are many different types of interval training, but we’re going to focus on 14 tried and tested methods. 

Here are 14 interval training exercises that actually work:

  • Fast Pace Burpees
  • Walking Lunge 
  • High Knees
  • Squat Jumps
  • Stair Running
  • Superman Floor Stretch
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Plank Jacks
  • V Sit Hold
  • Plank Pull Through
  • Push Ups
  • Pull Ups
  • Targeted Swimming Exercises
  • Sit Ups

What’s immediately apparent is that you don’t have to buy expensive equipment to start interval training. Your body weight is an excellent tool for most interval training exercises.

14 Best Types of Interval Training Exercises

Best types of interval training

All of these workouts can be combined in to a HIIT program (high-intensity interval training). Or they can be done separately.

Experiment, see how you get on, and enjoy!

1. Fast Pace Burpees

A burpee aims to do multiple compound movements targeting numerous muscle groups in quick succession repetitions.

The proper form for doing a burpee is as follows:

  1. Stand up straight with your feet apart
  2. Lower yourself into a squatting position
  3. Place your hands down on the ground, standing on all fours
  4. Kick back your legs into an extended plank position (Like you would do if you are doing a push-up)
  5. Then immediately bring your legs back under your chest
  6. Push up with your hands to get back into the squatting position
  7. Stand up straight and get back into your starting position 
  8. Repeat for a set time or set repetitions. 

If simple burpees are too easy for you and you feel like increasing the difficulty, you can do a push-up while in the plank position (#4) and do a jumping squat (#6-7), bringing your legs up to your chest or as high as you can instead of just standing back up. 

2. Walking Lunge 

Dumbbell variation of a walking lunge

Walking lunges mainly focuses on your leg muscles like the glutes, hamstring, hips, quads, and calves. 

Here is the best way to perform a walking lunge:

  1. Take one step forward with one leg
  2. Keep your front-facing foot straight
  3. Keep the back leg in the starting position
  4. Lower your torso to the ground by bending your back leg until your knee is touching the ground; aim for a 90-degree angle on your back leg
  5. Keep your hands next to your body and your back straight
  6. Once your knee is on the floor, push up your back leg and bring it forwards next to your front leg
  7. Alternate each leg as you step forward
  8. Repeat. 

If walking lunges are too easy for you, try ramping up the difficulty by adding additional weights, using dumbbells, a weighted vest, or a weight bar.

3. High Knees

High knees types of interval training

High knees primarily focus on your leg muscles, namely your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and hip flexors. High knees are performed by jogging in one place, bringing your knees up as high as possible.

To increase the difficulty, add ankle weights or dumbbells. If you decide to add dumbbells, jog in one place, bringing your legs up as high as possible while doing dumbbell presses.

4. Squat Jumps

Squat jumps are a great exercise that targets your glutes, quads, hips, and hamstrings. To perform a jump squat:

  1. Start the squat jumps by standing up straight with your feet apart, facing outwards at a slight angle, 
  2. Keep your arms relaxed next to your body,
  3. Bend your knees until you are low enough for your upper legs to be parallel to the ground or 90 degrees, 
  4. At the same time as you go down into the squat position, move your hands together like praying hands with your elbows bent,
  5. Jump up off the ground pushing your hands to your sides, straightening them out, using them for extra momentum as you jump off the ground,
  6. When landing back on the ground, do not keep your legs straight; instead, ensure your legs bend with the landing and immediately go back into another squat,
  7. Repeat.

To increase the difficulty, you can add a weighted vest or dumbbells.

Spot a trend here? Weighted vests and dumbbells are a great way to turn simple exercise routines in to significantly tougher interval training workouts.

5. Stair Running

Running upstairs Hiit training

Running upstairs is easily one of the best fat burner workouts that strengthens your lower body, like your thighs, calves, glutes, hamstring, and quads. All You need for stair running is a flight of stairs long enough where you can run or jog up them. 

The aim is to run up as fast as you can and slowly catch your breath on the way down. Then, immediately run back to the top when you reach the bottom. It is advised not to run downstairs.

If you don’t have easy access to any flights of stairs, try finding a ledge about below knee height (this can vary between persons). Jump up the ledge one leg at a time, then drop back down, alternating on which leg you land. 

An extra tidbit to remember is that while landing, be sure not to keep your knees straight. That ensures that your knees do not take the brunt of the impact, which could cause mild discomfort or injury.

6. Superman Floor Stretch

Superman stretch for interval training

Superman is an exercise that primarily focuses on your back muscles, mainly your lower back, glutes, and hamstring. 

  1. Start by laying down on your stomach, having your hands stretched out above your head keeping your arms straight, 
  2. Lift your hands and feet so they don’t touch the ground, balancing on your hips and your abs, holding that position for 5-7 seconds,
  3. Slowly bend your elbows, bringing them down to your sides while keeping them off the ground like a dumbbell press,
  4. Stretching your arms above your head, slowly lowering your hands and feet to the floor,
  5. Repeat the process. 

For extra difficulty, add dumbbells and ankle weights.

7. Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are probably one of the most straightforward workouts you can do but they are highly effective. In fact, they’re one of the best cardio alternatives to running.

  1. First, you want to start with your feet together and your arms to your side, 
  2. Then, when you jump, you spread your legs apart, simultaneously lift your straight arms in an arch from your side and let them meet above your head,
  3. The first move is finished when you land feet apart and hands above your head,
  4. After that, jump again and return to your starting position, 
  5. Repeat. 

Give yourself 30 seconds to go all out without stopping, and then take a 10-second break before starting again. Jumping jacks burn about eight calories per minute for a 120-pound person and about 16 calories per minute for a 250-pound person.

8. Plank Jacks

All your core muscles get activated during plank and plank variation exercises, including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and obliques. 

  1. You want to get into the extended push-up position, but you will work your legs instead. 
  2. Start with your feet together, then jump with only your feet and spread your legs apart, then jump again to bring them back together. 

9. V Sit Hold

V Sit Hold Exercise, via Urbacise
V Sit Hold Exercise, via Urbacise

Finish your workout with a minute or two of ab work by performing the V Sit Hold. The V-sit is an excellent way to work on your rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, and hip flexors while improving core and trunk balance. To do a V-sit-hold, sit on the ground, lean back, lift your legs, and keep a steady balance. 

To make this exercise harder, you can extend your legs forwards and keep them straight. To make it easier, you can bend your knees. The average amount of calories this exercise can burn is around 70 calories per 5 minutes. 

10. Plank Pull Through

Plank pull through intervals

The plank pull-through is a plank variation that incorporates trunk and hip stability anti-rotational elements. 

  1. Place a dumbbell to the right or left of you, 
  2. And start in the extended push-up position without curving your back while keeping your head and spine in line. 
  3. Look about an inch ahead, and don’t tuck your chin,
  4. Then you want to grab the dumbbell with your opposite hand and pull it through the arch behind your supporting arm,
  5. Place the weight next to you on the floor,
  6. Now take the other hand and grab the dumbbell and pull it through your arch behind the supporting arm,
  7. Repeat.

11. Push Ups

Push up HIIT exercise

Push-ups are by far the most common form of exercise and are also one of the most straightforward. To be able to perform a push-up, you do not require any specialized training or equipment of any kind. 

You can burn approximately seven calories per minute on average by doing push-ups, but this amount can vary depending on how much you weigh and how fast you are doing the push-ups. When performed correctly, push-ups not only help strengthen your triceps, pectoral muscles, and shoulders, but they can also help strengthen your lower back.

12. Pull Ups

Intense pull ups as a good type of interval training

Pull-ups primarily work your lats, biceps, deltoids, rhomboids, and core. You lift your entire body mass with one movement when you do a pull-up. 

  1. Grasp the pull-up bar with both hands, 
  2. Pull your body up towards the pull-up bar until your chin touches the bar, (bending your elbows and raising your upper body toward the bar until you have your chin over the bar)
  3. Repeat.

There are several ways to increase the difficulty.

  • Move your hands as far apart as you can, or as far as the bar allows,
  • Do the pull-up as slow as possible up and down, creating maximum resistance,
  • Add weights to your body,
  • Lift your legs 90 degrees in front of your body.

This exercise can significantly improve your body’s strength and even your health. Pull-ups expend more energy and help you burn more calories because they engage various muscle groups. This bodyweight exercise can help you get in shape by increasing your metabolism and ability to burn fat. 

13. Targeted Swimming Exercises

Swimming is a great full-body, low-impact physical activity for staying fit and cooling off while doing it. While swimming slow, steady laps can be easy, incorporating interval training into your swimming routine will increase your heart pumping and the number of calories you burn per minute.

Full-body strokes, such as the butterfly and breaststroke, engage your core muscles while improving endurance and speed. You can work a lot of different muscles with swimming, depending on the stroke you choose.

Concentrate on tightening your core muscles and using them to assist you in getting your arms out of the water. Swimming leisurely burns approximately 430-575 calories per hour. The number of calories you burn while swimming gets determined by your weight and the distance and speed at which you swim. 

14. Sit Ups

Sit ups interval training

Two of the most popular exercises are sit-ups and crunches because they can be done without special equipment.

When you do a sit-up, you work your rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, and hip flexors. Sit-ups burn three calories per minute at a moderate pace and up to nine calories per minute at a vigorous rate. 

Try Different Types of Interval Training For Faster Results

Interval training, as the name implies, involves alternating periods of intense activity with intervals of resting in between.

There’s no reason why you have to stick to one type of interval training, and from our experience, variation is the key for seeing rapid results. We recommend experimenting with the exercises listed above and mixing it up until you find a group of routines that works for your goals.

Interval training is a cheat code for high performance. Any exercise that works both the aerobic and anaerobic systems (stamina and speed) is a sure-fire winner, especially if you have limited time to work out.

Let us know your favorite types of interval training!

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Alex Randall

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Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

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