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Full Body HIIT Workout That Won’t Add Bulk

By Rachael Attard, Updated Jul 22, 2020
full body hiit no bulking

Last Updated May 29th 2020, 11:10 AM

I get a lot of questions about HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and specifically how to do HIIT workouts without the fear of getting bulky.

If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram, you know I am a big fan of HIIT for losing weight (my favourite one is interval running).

But, I do advise the girls who want to get lean legs and prefer a slimmer look to not overdo it.

The reason is that most of the HIIT workouts I see online are focused on leg exercises such as burpees, jump lunges, jump squats, box jumps etc.

HIIT is not necessary for getting lean legs (if that is your main goal) as it can often cause your thighs to bulk up (especially the endomorph body type).

This is why I wanted to share with you this full-body HIIT workout for women that won’t cause you to bulk up.

But, it will still help you to burn lots of calories (both during AND after).

In addition, I’ve covered the rest of the questions related to HIIT and its benefits.

If you want to jump straight to the workout, scroll down for the video, below.

BENEFITS OF A FULL BODY HIIT WORKOUT FOR WOMEN

full body hiit benefits

1. HIIT BURNS A LOT OF CALORIES

HIIT workouts usually last from 10 to 30 minutes, but they can give you the same results as a twice as long moderate-intensity workout.

For example, if you run for 40 minutes, and I do a HIIT workout for 20 minutes, you and I will burn the same number of calories.

This means doing a HIIT workout will save you some time and give you great results.

2. HIIT BURNS CALORIES EVEN AFTER THE WORKOUT

With HIIT, you will still continue to burn calories after your workout.

Studies have shown that HIIT increases your metabolism and keeps it that way even hours after you’re done exercising.

Apparently, just two minutes of sprinting can increase your metabolism over 24 hours as much as 30 minutes of running.

THE BEST HIIT WORKOUT FOR WOMEN (THAT WON’T MAKE YOU BULKY)

HIIT exercises do build muscle, which is a good thing, as it helps your metabolism. But doing too much HIIT, or the wrong type of HIIT exercises, can cause you to gain unwanted bulky muscle.

If you’re a mesomorph or endomorph body type, and you’re overdoing it on the leg exercises (squat jumps, burpees, jump lunges, etc.), you might see your legs starting to get bulky, rather than slimmer.

If you are not sure about your body type, take my FREE Body Type Quiz.

You will learn your body type in just 2 minutes, and you will get tips on how to eat and train to get the best possible results.

FULL BODY HIIT WORKOUT FOR WOMEN [VIDEO]

HOW TO COMPLETE THE CIRCUIT

  • Complete each exercise for 40 seconds, and then rest for 20 seconds.
  • Once you have completed 1 round, you can either rest for 1 minute or go straight into round 2.
  • Aim to complete 3 rounds in total.
  • If it is too difficult, you can just do 2 rounds, and then work your way up to 3 rounds. 

HIIT EXERCISES FROM THE VIDEO

1. BENCH HOPS

bench hops hiit no bulking

2. ADVANCED TOE TOUCHES

advanced toe touches hiit get lean

3. HIGH KNEE RUNS

high knee runs hiit

4. BICYCLE CRUNCHES

bicycle crunches hiit

5. STRAIGHT PUNCHES

straight punches hiit

6. MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

mountain climbers hiit

7. ROLL UPS

rols up hiit no bulking

If you liked this one, you can check out my other workouts here.

FAQ ABOUT HIIT

DOES HIIT BURN FAT?

I used to do a lot of HIIT that included squats, burpees and lunges. And at first, I loved it! It was helping me lose belly fat quicker, and I always felt great after a good HIIT session! 

But does HIIT actually burn fat?

To answer simply, no, HIIT typically DOESN’T burn fat. But it does increase your anaerobic threshold.

Let me explain. 

When you exercise at a lower intensity, you’re in the so-called aerobic or fat burning zone where you actually burn FAT

And when you do more strenuous workouts (like HIIT) you get in the anaerobic zone where your body burns carbs.

You’re typically in the anaerobic zone when you do HIIT or weights and in the aerobic (fat burning) zone when you do low-intensity cardio like walking.

So, if your anaerobic threshold is higher, your body will stay in the aerobic (fat-burning) zone for longer. 

Basically, it means you’ll burn more fat while doing lower intensity workouts.

WILL HIIT MAKE ME BULKY?

I love doing HIIT, but I know that some HIIT routines CAN build too much muscle in the lower body. 

And this is especially true for 2 out of 3 female body types.

Some women, myself included, actually have issues with building too much muscle, so if you feel like traditional HIIT is making you bulky, you are probably right.

When I just started doing HIIT, it gave me amazing results. However, after some time, I noticed something that I really didn’t like. 

Because it had lots of squats and burpees, HIIT was making my thighs grow instead of making them smaller

And I expected that it would help me lose inner thigh fat and make my thighs smaller. Boy, was I wrong!

So, I thought I should do even more HIIT, to get the results I wanted. 

But the more I did it, the bigger my thighs. It made me feel so frustrated! I tried talking to other PT’s, but they weren’t very understanding, which made me feel even worse.

Luckily, that all changed when I started learning about different body types. I then realized my body type (mesomorph) builds muscles very easily. 

At first, I didn’t like it because it meant I couldn’t do some types of training, like HIIT. But since I knew HIIT had many benefits, I wanted to be able to do it without the fear of getting bigger. 

Since then, I’ve designed workout programs and guides for girls that want to get lean and toned but have a tendency to add too much muscle with a standard exercise regime.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I DO HIIT?

It really depends on what is your workout and diet regime in general and what are your fitness goals overall.

If you’re trying to get lean legs, in particular, I advise doing HIIT only once a week. Read my blog post for more details about how to use HIIT to slim down legs.

If you’re trying to lose weight and improve your fitness levels overall (and you’re not too worried about bulking up your legs), I’d advise doing HIIT two or three times a week.

And for the best results, I recommend doing it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (also known as fasted cardio).

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEE THE RESULTS FROM HIIT?

Assuming your diet is also mostly very healthy, you should normally see results from doing HIIT workouts a few times per week after 4-5 weeks.

I also recommend incorporating resistance training together with HIIT as it will help you lose weight and get toned much faster.

If you’re looking for workouts that will help you get lean & toned, check out this full-body workout you can do at home:

HOW TO GET LEAN LEGS WITHOUT THE FEAR OF BULKING UP

If you are looking for the best way to get slim down your thighs and overall body without getting too muscular, you should definitely check out my 3 Steps to Lean Legs Program.

My program combines a well-balanced workout with a full 8-week meal plan. It is designed to get you in the best shape of your life without fear of adding too much muscle to your body frame.

Each week of the program, you can find one full-body HIIT workout similar to the first one above, so if you’re a big fan of interval training, it will definitely work for you.

And for those of you who prefer full-length videos, I also have an 8-week workout video course!

We are all different and to get the best possible results we should train and eat according to our body type. 

That’s why I designed 3 different versions of my program and of my video course, one for each of the 3 body types.

I hope you like it!

Love,

Rachael xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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63 comments on “Full Body HIIT Workout That Won’t Add Bulk”

    Zara says:

    Do you recommend doing kettlebell workouts once a week ?

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      It’s hard to just give broad advice on kettlebells because it really depends on what type of exercises you’re doing in the kettlebell classes.
      If there are lots of squats and lunges, this might bulk up your legs.
      But also everyone is different. :)
      You can continue doing it and just monitor how your legs change. If you think they start becoming too bulky, then perhaps stop.
      But if you’re happy with the results, feel free to continue :)

      Love,
      Ana

    Angela lin says:

    I am 13 years old. My parents are both very tall so I am very tall as well.

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      I don’t recommend these exercises for you since you are still so young and developing.
      You will have plenty of time to tone your body once it’s fully developed. :)

      Love,
      Ana

    Angela Lin says:

    Hi. Im a tall endomorph. I am around 5’9” or so and I am around 155 lbs. Is that fat? My stomach and arms aren’t my concern(although my arms are kind of flabby and I don’t exactly have abs) but my thighs are huge. I don’t need to have a thigh gap but I just want my legs to stop jigglying whenever I walk! And also, my thighs aren’t wide in size, they just look like fat. Like if you were to look at it from the front it would be like ( ) ( ) but from the side it would be be like a huge curve. Its like I have so much front thigh fat and I’ve tried running, hiit, lunges,squats and now I have too much mucles in my thighs. Is there some way I can lose weight and get thigher thighs without the program? My mom and my friends also teases me about how big of a butt I have but I don’t want a big butt or a big booty. Is there some way that I can get rid of my thigh fat and my big butt without the lean legs program? I want to try it out when I get older but I just don’t have the money for it right now. Thank you so much.

      Sanja - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      May I ask how old you are?

      Love,
      Sanja

    Yashika says:

    Hey, I’m 5’1 short endomoph , can I do slow jog daily instead of walking , at the speed of 6km/hr staying in 70-80% heart rate zone (cardio zone) , to slim down my lower body ?
    Will it help and not cause bulkiness in quads?
    Also , can we do low impact- high intensity cardio session thrice a week that doesn’t include squats or lunges or burpees,to slim down thighs??
    What would you suggest?
    Thanks 😊😊

      Sanja - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely!

      Thanks for reaching out<3

      Rachael recommends walking at least 5 days per week for 45 minutes per walk. You should combine low-intensity cardio (walking) with at least 2-3 days of moderate-high intensity cardio only. Running at a steady pace and on a flat surface will work best for your body type and will help you achieve fat loss in your lower body and slim down your legs.

      I hope this helps! If you have any questions, please let me know! xx

      Love,
      Sanja

    Mia says:

    Hey Rachel,
    I am 17 years old and pretty athletic. I have tried to slim down my muscular thighs by doing many workouts focused on sumo squats and leg lifts. I am used to working out just using just body weight training, not resistance or running. Also, I don’t really have an option to change my diet. What do you suggest for workouts and small diet changes?

      Mia says:

      I also have a knee injury so running for cardio isn’t the best option

        Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

        I would suggest doing some extra power walking instead of running as it’s even better for slimming down your legs. :)
        Wishing you all the best! xx

        Love,
        Diana

          Bianca says:

          Hi
          I am 28 years old and a mother or a 2year old. 1.54cm high and 55kg. Would love to weigh 47kg again..I was always active but never really happy with the way I looked. I am short and bulk very easily and I hate it. I would love to loose 7kg (as I have gained it in the last 7months) and tone but NO BULKING, I want to be fit, toned and lean. I follow a low carb high fat and protein diet and did hiit training for the last 3 months but I bulked and stopped as I hate it.. along with the bulk I gained weight too so feel so fat. I do polefit as well and found that this does not bulk me but I would like some variations to my workout and maybe add some cardio? Just no running… Please please help me.

          I do think that weaning my little girl aid in weight gain again? I feel so aweful and really want to change my body for the better.

            Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

            Hi lovely,
            We would love to help you as much as we can :) So that’s why we have created the Lean Legs Program!

            Our Program is an 8 week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you get lean and toned without bulking.
            It will help you slim down your entire legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).
            It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.

            You can find out more about it here:

            Lean Legs Program

            Love,
            Diana
            xx

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      I would recommend downloading our free 7 Day Slim legs Diet and try out some of the recipes. The healthier you eat the better your results will be, but of course you can modify the plan to suit you. You can just use it as a guide, you don’t have to follow it strictly. :)

      As for the workouts, I suggest checking out our YouTube channel with lots of great workout videos.
      Here are some samples of workouts from the Lean Legs Program:

      Day 1 – https://www.rachaelattard.com/free-skinny-legs-ebook-workout-part-1/

      Day 2 – https://www.rachaelattard.com/free-skinny-legs-workout-ebook-day-2/

      Day 3 – https://www.rachaelattard.com/free-skinny-legs-workout-ebook-day-3/

      Love,
      Diana
      xx

    Amy says:

    Hey Rachel,
    I am trying to slim down my muscular thighs. I am used to doing workouts using just my body weight, but not running. Also, I am pretty young (17) and don’t really have the option to cut down / have a strict diet a lot. What do you recommend for workouts and subtle dieting?

    Beige says:

    Hi Rachel!

    I am a mesomorph and have recently started exercising. I’m happy that I’ve lost weight, but I started bulking up. What sort of food should I cut down on for my diet?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      I would recommend a balanced diet comprised of 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein. Also, try avoiding processed food and eating whole foods instead. If you’re trying to lose weight you should eat about 300-500 calories less than you burn.

      We would love to help you as much as we can :) So that’s why we have created the Lean Legs Program!

      The Lean Legs Program is an 8 week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you get lean and toned without bulking.
      It will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).

      It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.

      You can find out more about the program here:

      Lean Legs Program

      Love,
      Diana
      xx

    Stella m says:

    Hi. Im ectomorph . I don’t want to have muscular legs but I want to do hiit. Should I do all of these (1&2&3&4 posts) without doubt. Which one is the best for ectomorph ? I’m so nervous I didn’t know hiit makes me more muscular I started to do hiit I feel really bad I want to have slimming my legs now. What should I do please help Rachel :(

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Since you’re an ectomorph, you could definitely do these HIIT workouts about twice a week, they won’t make you bulky.

      We would love to help you as much as we can :) So that’s why we have created the Lean Legs Program!
      The program has been designed to include the perfect type of resistance training and cardio to give you a lean and toned look, without making you bulky.

      It’s an 8 week workout and nutrition plan that will help you slim down your legs, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).

      It’s completely tailored to your body type and it also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe ebook and demonstration videos.

      If this is what you’re looking for I would definitely recommend giving our program a go. :) You can find out more about it here:

      Lean Legs Program

      Love,
      Diana
      xx

        Stella says:

        Ah thank you for replied :)

    Jenn says:

    Hey Rachel,
    Thanks for the amazing workout. I was wondering, will this workout become ineffective after some time if I do it every week (body will get too used to it?) And if it will, how can I modify it to make it more challenging and effective?
    Thanks!

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      You’re welcome lovely! :)
      I don’t think your body will get used to this workout if you do it once or twice a week, but I definitely recommend adding some variety. If you’d like to make it more challenging, I suggest doing more reps.

      We would love to help you as much as we can :) So that’s why we have created the Lean Legs Program!

      The Program is an 8 week workout and nutrition plan designed to help you get lean and toned without bulking.
      It will help you slim down your legs and reduce cellulite, but will also help you slim and tone your upper body and core too (the workouts are full body).

      It also includes a full meal plan, a separate recipe eBook and demonstration videos.
      You can find out more about the Lean Legs Program here:

      Lean Legs Program

      Love,
      Diana
      xx

    Abbey says:

    Hi Rachel I am a swimmer and I just started your mesomorph training plan. I was wondering if swimming aligns with the cardio for your mesomoroh program?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      Yes, of course :) swimming is a great cardio workout so feel free to add it to your workout routine! xx

      Love,
      Diana