Photo: Shutterstock / Igor Kopakov
Interested in the many benefits of HIIT but not sure where to start? Thankfully, Apple's App Store and Google Play are filled with apps that provide workouts guaranteed to make you sweat, and the majority of these routines are high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts.
Why you should give them a try: Researchers at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando showed that just seven minutes of HIIT could help decrease body fat while improving insulin sensitivity, VO2 max (how efficiently your body uses oxygen), and muscular fitness.
"The science behind the seven-, 10-, or 15-minute workout is 100 percent sound," says Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist in San Diego. "These apps are great for people who want to work out at home and learn how to put together solid workouts."
There's only one caveat: HIIT workouts are only as good as the effort you give them. "If you really push yourself, if you say, 'I'm only going to work seven minutes but I'm going to go as hard as I freaking can,' that's where seven minutes can have a really significant outcome," says McCall. (Related: What's the Difference Between HIIT and Tabata?)
These five apps are a great starting point for diving into the DIY HIIT world. "Use them as a learning tool," says McCall. "They'll give you some great circuit ideas, and you can always make adjustments that work for you as you get more comfortable."
The Best DIY HIIT Workout App: J&J Official 7 Minute Workout
If you're looking to try some new moves, this app (which was designed by the director of exercise physiology at Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute) has a library of 72 exercises that can be mixed and matched for over 1,000 workout variations. Sound a little intense? The HIIT workout app also offers 22 preset workouts, or you can choose a "smart workout" based on an assessment of your fitness level. What's more, each exercise offers audio cues throughout the workout to help you maintain proper form. (This 30-day cardio HIIT challenge is also worth a try.)
The Best Virtual Trainer Experience: Nike Training Club
Wish you could work out with celebrity trainers like Joe Holder or Kirsty Godso? The Nike Training Club app delivers over 175 free workouts—from strength and endurance to mobility and yoga—that are inspired by Nike athletes, like Serena Williams and Chloe Kim, and designed (and demonstrated!) by Nike master trainers. You can also create a personalized training plan based on your goals, and the app will adjust your workouts according to your progress. (In other words, the more you use the app, the better it will deliver for you.) Each move comes with a video, so you'll know exactly what to do even if it's an exercise you've never tried before.
The Best Personalized Workouts: Fitbit Coach
You'll need a Fitbit for this HIIT workout app (and ideally a Fitbit watch), but the investment is worth it. Fitbit Coach personalizes every workout you do through the app by recommending exercises based on the daily activity tracked with your device. The seven- to 60-minute workouts come with personalized video and audio coaching, and your feedback post-workout will help the app determine how hard to push you the next time. Upgrading to the premium service for $39.99 gets you an entire year of on-demand, customized programs to help you tone up, slim down, or get stronger. (Fitbit also teamed up with Adidas to bring personalized workouts to your wrist.)
The Best HIIT Strength Training App: Keelo
All of Keelo's HIIT workouts are under 20 minutes and most are bodyweight only, although some may require dumbbells, kettlebells, or other basic gym equipment. Still, you can easily email the coaching team for recommendations on alternatives and advice about workout moves, weight selections, or even what workout to do that day. What you won't have to do is worry about anything except making sure you hit your max intensity—the app shows you exactly what to do with video instructions.
The Best Minimal Equipment App: 12-Minute Athlete
This HIIT workout app offers 185 workouts made from 35-plus bodyweight and minimal-equipment exercises that come with full directions and video demonstrations. But it also includes an interval time and stopwatch for HIIT pros ready to create their own workouts. If you upgrade to the Super Athlete gym for $4.99 a month, you'll get access to 200 more HIIT workouts, plus insights into your personal workout trends and reminders to help you meet your goals.