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