I have recently had the opportunity to review ‘The Ultimate HIIT Workout Book’, written by Steve Hoyles. Being a true HIIT-connoisseur, I was excited to try some of the workouts in this e-booklet.
Who is Steve Hoyles?
I know Steve from the UK Fitness Bloggers’ community on Facebook. Steve is not only an established fitness blogger himself, but also a personal trainer with over a decade’s worth of experience behind his back. (One thing we also share in common is that he is also a certified Kettlebell Trainer!) His philosophy is to use realistic, efficient approaches to fitness that help people achieve fantastic results without sacrificing their quality of life. His e-booklet is a reflection of this approach. You will find in it a collection of 52 high intensity workouts, any of which you can easily fit into your daily life – it is not designed to be a progressive programme that you have to rigidly follow week by week, from start to finish. In fact, you can also mix and match them at your leisure. The workouts can be done with minimal or no equipment, therefore you can do these at home if you do not have a gym membership, or some of them when you are on holiday. Steve has carefully designed these workouts and tested them on himself and on his clients, so you are guaranteed to get a good sweat, no matter which workout you go for!
The booklet organises the workouts into equipment category, making the choice easier if you ever find yourself in a dilemma about which one to go for.
1. Kettlebell workouts
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am a huge fan of working out with kettlebells, so I was curious to give some of the workouts in this chapter a go. I have 3 medium weight kettlebells in my home gym (6, 8 and 10kg) which I previously purchased for doing Kettlercise DVD workouts. Steve’s booklet includes a useful ‘kettlebell weight guide’ to help you choose the best weight range for a particular workout as it is often too easy to under-or overestimate the weight you can cope with. What I especially liked about Steve’s kettlebell workouts is that they are all ‘no-fuss’, yet very effective; in some cases, this comes down to the clever combination of only two or three exercises. (Make no mistake though, they are still very intense!) If you have not worked with kettlebells before, I suggest that you get some help to master first the more complex moves, such as deadlift, swing, clean to rack position, and snatch, so that you can perform the more advanced workouts in this chapter safely and effectively.
2. Sprint based workouts
As a runner who wants to get a bit speedier, I found these sprinting sessions especially helpful. I am planning to add these sessions into my regular running routine during the week which I do in local parks with plenty of space and long, flat stretches, with the odd hill. Some of the workouts in this chapter suggest that you lay out some cones to mark the distances, however, you may use trees or other landmarks (such as benches, bins, signs etc.) instead. There is no set speed you need to run at, therefore I suggest that you use your rate of perceived exertion (RPE or Borg scale, as you might know it) to gauge whether you are putting enough effort into the sprints. I personally very much prefer this approach, rather than being fixated on the pace on my sports watch. Some of the sprint workouts are made more challenging with some additional extras thrown in, such as evil burpees or squat jumps. Thank you, Steve!
3. Barbell workouts
My prediction is that this one is likely to be many people’s go-to chapter, with workouts similar to Crossfit’s WOD’s (Workout of the Day). Most of the workouts will no doubt send your heart racing, and you will also build strength and get that nice ‘body pump’ effect. Steve’s key advice is to ‘lift with your head, and not with your ego’. Always respect the weight – start with lighter ones, focus on mastering the correct technique, and gradually build up if you don’t have a close relationship with barbells just yet. (After this chapter, you definitely will be hooked, though!)
4. Tyre workouts
Tyres can give you a surprisingly good, full-body workout, combining resistance training, HIIT work, bodyweight training and strength endurance training all in one go – this chapter is oozing with creativity. To perform the workouts, you will need at least 2-3 different type of tyres – a very big and heavy one; a medium one and a smaller one which you can lift over your head. (If you don’t have a car or tractor tyre at hand – which I suspect many of us don’t – you could easily source one for free from your local scrap yard, tyre merchant or garage.)
As you might have guessed, this was my favourite section in the booklet – so to give you a flavour of what you can expect from the booklet, here is a taster workout, which you will need a bigger tyre for:-
4. Rowing machine workouts
I have never found rowing machines very exciting, however, I kind of get why some people love it – images of Frank Underwood from the TV programme ‘House of Cards’ is cropping into my mind right now. In many of the episodes, we can see Frank determinedly rowing away the stresses of his high pressured job in the US Congress in the evenings in his basement, on his beautifully sleek water rower… I guess I could fall in love with rowing, if I had one like his, I can see myself getting into a trance-like state as the tranquility of moving water and the rhythm of motion blend into a relaxing, yet invigorating form of exercise to let the steam off.
Anyways, back to the booklet… If you are not a huge fan of rowing machines, try adding one of these rowing workouts to your heavy weight session as an intense ‘metabolic finisher’, to completely empty your tank. You know it’s this last bit of effort that might push you for your next level!
Overall, I have found this booklet really handy when I was short of time to find ideas and inspiration for my workouts outside my gym classes; the variety is excellent. Steve also gives you lots of tips for how you can adapt the workouts to suit your needs and abilities. I would really love to see this e-book evolve into a mobile phone app where we can see some video demonstrations of the more advanced workouts which require precision and proficiency in technique, such as with kettlebells and barbells. I find the mini-video options in apps like Nike Training Club and Men’s Health quite handy, especially when I am struggling to visualise the exercises.
You can grab this little gemstone ‘The Ultimate HIIT Workout Book’ by Steve Hoyles from the iBooks store on Apple iTunes, for the price of a Starbucks coffee, just £3.99.
If you have been doing HIIT for a while but have hit a plateau or aren’t seeing the results you had hoped for, you might find it helpful to read my article 5 HIIT mistakes that are hindering your results and how to avoid them.
What is your favourite way to work out? Let me know in the comments!
I have received a free copy of this e-book from Steve in return for an honest review on my blog. As always, the views and experiences expressed here are my own.