The original HIIT research papers studied the benefits of HIIT, but only when the participants were achieving Zone 5 (90-95 % of Max HR)

Are there exercises that lends well with the HIIT 20 seconds HIGH, 10 seconds LOW outside of Cycling and Sprinting?

Popular Google links on HIIT webpages show a bunch of easy workouts that seem very unlikely to hit Zone 5 in 20 seconds.

Is Zone 5 hard to achieve without Sprinting, Swimming or Cycling, or are there other workouts that will work?

1 Answer 1


Yes there's more and I'll include a list below but those are the main 3 because it is very difficult to go "full max, all out" on an exercise with the 20 second high, 10 second low; naturally because the transition stops you and you have to build up to that 95% again burning off a few seconds, or because there is a limit on some exercises as far as how hard/fast you can go. For example jump roping.. you can try to jump faster but you can only go as fast as you can swing the rope, theres a limit to how fast your hands move, and it takes at least a few seconds to build up to that due to the coordination needed. Sprinting is probably perfect because you can transition fast, and push your body to its absolute max easily. Some other exercises that might be good(sled pulls are my fave!):

  • rowing
  • battle ropes
  • sled pulls (you will have to use a low enough weight that this exercise doesnt become weight training, but stays cardio)

The ones below are difficult to pull off, but are possible:

  • jumping squats (can be rough on the joints, use a decent weight, this needs to be cardio, not weight training. you can only jump so fast so you can switch between two weights, using the heavier for the "95%" part.)
  • box jumps (switching between a high height and a low height can be great, but like jump roping, eventually youll need to increase your speed rather than height, and you can only jump so fast in a safe manner, but these will work for most people. Make sure you have the stamina to do so, start with a very low box, and the next highest, or just try to increase the speed of your jumps on the lowest box. as you get more fit you can upgrade the height of the box. if you switch between boxes, do the "95% all out" on the higher box. If you dont feel the burn, use a higher box or faster speed).

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