How to Create a HIIT Class Plan

How to Create a HIIT Class Plan

In this article we’re going to walk you through what to consider when creating a HIIT class workout plan in 5 simple steps:

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Step 1: Choose a Style of HIIT For Your Class

 hiit class plan

HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, classes consist of a series of high-intensity exercises that are carried out in succession across a short period of time, with minimal breaks between.

However, this is merely a holistic answer to ‘how is a HIIT session carried out?’, as there are a range of popular HIIT class variations.

Within this section we’re going to dissect 4 popular styles, highlighting how they’re typically structured and how you can plan this style of HIIT class:

Option #1 - Tabata HIIT Session Plan

hiit session plan

Developed in 1996 by Dr Izumi Tabata, this style of HIIT specifically focuses on its interval timings, with shorter recovery periods between exercises. On average, Tabata classes are typically run at a higher intensity than other variations of HIIT.

Those questioning 'what does a fitness instructor do during sesessions' should know that a Tabata HIIT class workout plan typically consists of 8 intervals spanning a total of 4 minutes. Participants will exercise at an intense rate for 20 seconds, followed by a 10-second period of rest

If you want to create a Tabata HIIT class plan should focus on exercises that engage the glutes, core and quads, such as:

  • Squats 
  • Lunges 
  • High-knees 
  • Push-ups

A typical Tabata HIIT class will look something like this:

  • High Knees - Eight rounds of 20 Second intervals - With 10 seconds of rest between each round
  • 60 Seconds Recovery Time
  • Squats/Lunges - Eight rounds of 20 Second intervals - With 10 seconds of rest between each round
  • 60 Seconds Recovery Time
  • Crunches: Eight rounds of 20 Second intervals - With 10 seconds of rest between each round
  • 60 Seconds Recovery Time

how long should a hiit session last

As a result of engaging with Tabata participants can expect to feel a plethora of HIIT-related benefits including:

  • Boosted Metabolism 
  • Improved aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels 
  • Raised heart rate 
  • Increased muscle mass 

Tabata classes usually last for a total of 20 minutes, but you can adapt your plan to suit both beginners and those with more experience.

Option #2 - Cardio HIIT Session Plan

hiit class plan explained

Cardio HIIT classes are great for those looking to burn fat and lose weight, requiring participants to push themselves through long durations of movement. 

When curating a cardio HIIT session plan keep in mind that each section will typically last 20 seconds, with 10 second intervals of rest between. It’s recommended that each attendee perform the routine 3 times in total, for it to be classified as a HIIT workout. 

Throughout the class importance will be placed on the:

  • Glutes
  • Thighs 
  • Core 

However, during the planning process keep in mind clients with heart-related conditions may need to receive medical clearance, prior to enrollment in the class. 

how is a hiit session carried out

An example of what a cardio HIIT session plan may look like can be seen below:

  • Jump squats (20 seconds) 
  • Break (10 seconds)
  • Jump squats (20 seconds) 
  • Break (10 seconds)
  • Jump squats (20 seconds) 
  • Break (10 seconds)

Following this participants will move on to the next workout, such as push-ups, which will likewise be repeated 3 times at 20 second intervals.

Option #3 - Full Body HIIT Class Workout Plan

Hiit class workout plan

If you’re questioning ‘how is a HIIT session carried out to target the full body?’ then this is the section for you. 

The primary objective of this HIIT variation is to simultaneously build muscle whilst improving your cardiovascular fitness. 

Unlike the previous entry on our list, full-body HIIT workouts incorporate a mixture of bodyweight and cardio-based exercises.

Naturally, as the name implies each section of the full-body workout should target separate sections of the body. In this instance your plan can look something like this:

  • Barbell Squat x 60 seconds 
  • Rest x 30 Seconds 
  • Bodyweight Push Up x 60 seconds 
  • Rest x 30 Seconds 
  • Kettlebell Swing x 60 seconds
  • Rest x 30 Seconds 

(Repeat this routine 4 times or for a total of 18 Minutes) 

how to create hiit session plan

For those wondering 'how long should a HIIT session last when it targets the entire body?' We can say that full-body HIIT classes will typically be shorter than other variations, and will incorporate longer rest periods to avoid injury or exhaustion on the attendees' behalf. 

Similar to the other entries within this section you can tailor this HIIT class plan to suit the needs of those in attendance. For example, if you’re largely catering to beginners then it may be beneficial to reduce time spent on exercises.

Option #4 - HIIT Class Workout Plan With Weights

hiit session plan explored

Incorporating weights into your HIIT class plan is a great way of observing your class’ progress over the course of time. In doing so, you can push participants to improve their fitness levels by increasing the weight of their equipment.

This can include the likes of adjustable dumbbells and kettlebells, all of which will aid in the pursuit of goals such as:

  • Building muscle mass
  • Building strength 
  • Burning higher numbers of calories

As part of your HIIT class workout plan you could choose to create a cycle that allows participants to move from one piece of equipment to the other, like so:

  • Kettlebell Swings (40 Seconds)
  • Rest (30 Seconds) 
  • Walking Weight Lunges (40 Seconds)
  • Rest (30 Seconds) 
  • Dumbbell Renegade Rows (40 Seconds)
  • Rest (30 Seconds) 
  • Weighted Sled Pushes (40 Seconds)
  • Rest (30 Seconds)

This cycle would be repeated until the participant has completed each routine a total of 3-4 sets.

how to create a hiit class plan

However, that’s not to say every plan must follow this method, instead of having attendees alternate equipment every turn, the switch could take place following the completion of all 3-4 sets. 

This form of HIIT training is viewed favourably among fitness professionals, as it allows for a constant stream of progression. In contrast, relying solely on body weight will result in participants becoming accustomed to the resistance, meaning their progress will plateau. 

Naturally, like all of the other forms of HIIT on this list, you can tailor your class plan to ensure that it’s suitable for different skill levels. 

For example, if you’re dealing with newcomers then you may want to reduce the time spent exercising with weights until they become accustomed to the practice.

Therefore, we can undoubtedly state that different variations of HIIT can influence the overall class plan. However, regardless of which approach you choose to follow, there are a number of variables that must be taken into account during the planning process.

If you’re looking to learn more about creating a HIIT class plan then these other OriGym articles may be of use:


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Step 2: Determine How Long Your HIIT Session Will Last

how long should a hiit session last explored

Determining ‘how long should a HIIT session last?’, is not as straightforward as you may expect.

Expert Les Mills instructors suggest that a 60 minute class is best, however, the New York Times argue that you can benefit from workouts as short as 7 minutes. 

how long should a hiit session last  example

As a rule of thumb, we advise that these sessions should run anywhere between 20-30 minutes

This is the perfect middle ground, allowing class attendees to push themselves to their limits and have an effective workout without the session being so long that you run the risk of anyone getting injured.

With that being said, you should also think about who will be at your class when considering how long it should be.

Hiit class workout plan example  time

Newcomers are likely going to struggle with a 20-30 minute class, and will need to build their cardiovascular endurance prior to tackling this challenge. As a result, you should be planning shorter classes to compensate for this lack of experience.

Meanwhile, those who have years worth of experience in HIIT may feel the need to push themselves, meaning that you can create a plan to utilise the entire 30 minutes.

Step 3: Consider the Difficulty of Your HIIT Class Plan

Hiit class workout plan difficulty levels

Similar to the previous tip, determining who is in attendance should also influence how difficult of a HIIT class you plan.

For example, those who have experience with HIIT are going to require a greater challenge compared to beginners. So, you should create a HIIT class plan that reflects the ability level of those in attendance.

Within this section we’ll provide you with an example of a holistic HIIT workout plan suitable for:

  • Beginners 
  • Intermediate 
  • Experts

However, please keep in mind that regardless of what skill level your class is at, they should always be pushing themselves and exercising at a high level of intensity.

Beginners HIIT Workout Class:

how is a hiit session carried out for beginners

When training beginners your HIIT class workout plan should be shorter than average, with longer rest periods between exercises. 

This is purposefully selected to ensure that beginners can become accustomed to the somewhat demanding nature of the practice. Here is an example that we have created to reflect the ability level of a typical newcomer:

  • 20 x Squats 
  • 40 Seconds of Rest
  • 20 x Lunges on Each Leg
  • 40 Seconds of Rest
  • 10 x Step Burpees 
  • 40 Seconds of Rest
  • 10 x Push Ups
  • 40 Seconds of Rest
  • 20 x Mountain Climbers 
  • 40 Seconds of Rest
  • 40 x High Knees
  • 40 Seconds of Rest
  • 3 x 50m Sprints and walk back

The total workout time for beginners should be around 15 - 20 Minutes.

Please make note of the length of the rest periods, as newcomers should be provided with an appropriate amount of time to catch their breath and rest before the next workout begins. 

Remember, this class will act as an introduction to HIIT, allowing class attendees to gradually build their cardiovascular stamina and strength, before progressing onto more difficult classes.


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Example of Intermediate HIIT Classes:

how is a hiit session carried out for intermediate skill levels

For those wondering ‘how is a HIIT session carried out for those of intermediate skill level?’, there isn’t that much of a drastic difference between what we have just shared.

You should plan your classes so that there is a smooth transition from one difficulty to another. 

You can achieve this by:

  • Incorporating more intense variations of exercises, such as replacing lunges with lunge jumps
  • Reducing rest gaps
  • Making the session longer

Adding these elements whilst still keeping elements of the lower difficulty class will allow you to avoid an abrupt jump in difficulty. 

intermediate hiit class plan

Here is our recommended intermediate class plan:

  • 20 x Squats 
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 20 x Lunge Jumps (each leg)
  • 30 Seconds of Rest
  • 15 x Burpees
  • 30 Seconds of Rest
  • 10 x Push Ups
  • 30 Seconds of Rest
  • 30 x Mountain Climbers 
  • 30 Seconds of Rest
  • 15 x Tuck Jumps
  • 30 Seconds of Rest
  • 4 x 50m sprints and walk back

The total workout time for classes of intermediate skill level should be anywhere between 18 - 25 minutes. 

Not only is this longer than the beginner variations, but the rest periods between each exercise should be shorter. These factors will naturally make the classes more challenging, without being a drastic change for those in attendance.

HIIT Session Plan for Experts:

expert hiit session plan

Finally, when it comes to HIIT classes for experts we’d advise you to avoid shortening rest times. 

This may seem like an easy way to make the class more ‘challenging’, but due to the intensity of the workout you must provide participants an adequate amount of time to rest. Regardless of skill level, rushing someone into the next activity could result in injuries.

With this in mind, here is what we’d recommend for expert HIIT classes:

  • 20 x Squat Jumps
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 30 x Lunge each leg
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 20 x Chest to Ground Burpees 
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 10 x Clapping Push-ups 
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 40 x Mountain Climbers 
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 20 x Tuck Jumps
  • 30 Seconds of Rest 
  • 5 x 50m Sprints and Walk Back

The total workout time for these expert classes should range between 10-25 minutes. In this instance, due to the intense demands of this particular workout, a shortened class may be just as effective as a longer one.

Within this section, we have looked at HIIT classes from a holistic approach, but these teachings can also be applied to any different variation of the workout. 

For example, if you teach HIIT classes with weights you can increase the difficulty by upping the weight that the attendees need to lift. 

Step 4: Factor in What Equipment You Need When Creating a HIIT Class Plan

hiit class plan equipment list

Our next piece of advice is to plan your HIIT class and exactly what equipment you’ll need ahead of time. For example, if you intend to conduct a full-body HIIT workout you will likely need:

  • Kettlebells 
  • Free Weights 
  • Resistance Bands 
  • Skipping ropes

Creating a HIIT session plan ahead of time means that you can ensure that the equipment is ready for the clients to use when class begins. 

If you work in a busy gym or somewhere that runs multiple classes at once, one thing to plan ahead of time is whether that equipment will be available at the time that you’ll be running your class.

There is simply no point in planning a session that primarily focuses on the uses of kettlebells if they’ll be in use elsewhere during the class.

Failure to prepare an equipment list for the class ahead of time will result in an unorganised session, and unsatisfied customers.

Step 5: Create the Framework for Your HIIT Sessions

Designing your own Hiit class workout plan

With the importance of planning a HIIT class in mind, you can use the teachings of this article to create your own HIIT session framework. 

This doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be as simple as creating a table on Google Docs or Microsoft Office. 

When filling in these tables you should only include information that is relevant to the class at hand. For example, you can label the varying difficulty levels next to one another, as this will allow you to see how one class differentiates from the other.

Be sure to note other variables that can influence the class, such as its length and the equipment required to complete it. For convenience we have created an example below: 

Designing your own Hiit class workout plan blank

You can use the example table above in order to plan your own HIIT sessions. Just be sure to use the teachings we provided within the previous section and consider:

  • The overall time of the class
  • The difficulty level of the class
  • How many reps/How long each workout will last
  • What equipment is needed for the session
  • How many times the routine will be repeated

By taking all of these variables into account you can guarantee the creation of a highly organised HIIT class plan. For reference we have created an example of a holistic HIIT class plan:

Designing your own Hiit class workout plan example

Remember, this is only an example that we have created for the purpose of this article, in order to show you how you may fill in said table with your own plan.

Naturally, if you operate classes that focus on a specific niche of HIIT such as strength training, it may help to provide yourself with further information such as the weight of the equipment. 

Ultimately, we can say that there is no one ‘correct’ way to create a HIIT class plan. Each programme will be unique, and you will therefore need to create a framework that is specific to the session at hand, and the variables which may affect it. 

Before You Go!

With all this in mind, you should now feel comfortable with creating a HIIT class plan of your own.

Just remember to always ensure that the plan is specific to the class at hand, as even the slightest variable can influence the overall delivery of the session. 

Remember, as a level 5 personal trainer you will be able to teach HIIT classes to niche clients, such as those looking to lose weight. This will allow you to hone your classes onto a specific topic, helping to make the planning process simpler for you in the process.

Alternatively, download our course Prospectus for further information relating to all of our other industry-leading courses, the best part it’s completely FREE!


Enquire now to become a Level 5 Personal Trainer with OriGym!

Enrol in one of OriGym's specialist Level 5 Personal Trainer courses 

Written by James Bickerstaff

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

James holds a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies and has recently gained a MA degree in Film, both of which he attained from Liverpool John Moores University. After taking up the couch to 5K challenge on a whim, James found a new passion for running, which he combines with his love for healthy cooking and writing. All of this led him to becoming a copywriter for OriGym.  

When he is not writing content for the site, James can be found researching new recipes, writing music reviews, reading and watching latest film releases.

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