HIIT is a very useful tool for fat loss, time-saving cardio exercise and better heart health.

Yet few personal trainers actually instruct this to their clients. Why is this?

There’s more than one reason why most personal trainers don’t have their clients doing HIIT.

Perhaps you’ve recently learned about HIIT and are skeptical of its claims simply because you hardly ever see, if at all, any personal trainers having their clients perform this kind of exercise.

Reasons Very Few Personal Trainers Teach High Intensity Interval Training

#1. Not up-to-date on research. The research (e.g., Gibala et al, Talanian et al) that proves HIIT is superior to fat-burning than is steady state cardio is actually beginning to get old.

Amazingly, many personal trainers are unaware of this research and still cling to the myth that the best way to lose weight is to jog or pedal at a medium or slow pace nonstop for an hour.

HIIT also benefits fitness and heart health.

Studies, such as Buchan et al and Rakobowchuk et al, show that high intensity interval training beats out traditional aerobics for heart health and boosting overall health. More personal trainers need to know this.

#2. Don’t want to bother teaching it. Teaching high intensity interval training is a lot more challenging than simply telling a client, “On your non-weight training days, make sure you do at least 30 minutes of cardio.”

Personal trainers need to take the time and tolerate the tedium of instructing HIIT.

I see too many personal trainers having their overweight clients spend a lot of time on the floor doing various body-position holds or balancing acts, when instead they can be on cardio equipment for just 20 minutes of HIIT and reap enormously more benefits. 

However, this requires work on the part of the personal trainer.

The PT needs to convince the client that 20 minutes of HIIT burns much more fat over the next 24 hours than does 60 minutes of steady walking, jogging or pedaling.

Of course, after 20 minutes of high intensity interval training, the client won’t need a lecture. My clients have told me that it was the hardest 20 minutes they’ve ever exercised.


Another issue is that of pep-talking the client. Some clients will whine and gripe during this form of exercise, and many personal trainers don’t want to deal with this.

I’ve had my clients warm up on a treadmill, elliptical machine and revolving staircase in preparation for their first HIIT session – and they had no idea what was coming.

But I found it fun, rather than tedious, to stand by their side and operate the settings of the machine, giving them pep talks as well as explanations of why HIIT is so effective.

For the clients who preferred the revolving staircase, I’d be standing on the one next to them to reach their control settings.

It was all worth it. They learned a form of exercise they never knew existed, and it helped them become more tuned in to what was happening to their body during hard exercise.

Personal Trainers Owe It to Their Clients to Teach HIIT

Teaching HIIT must be hands-on – an actual session – rather than just handing your clients a printout from your favorite fitness site of how to do HIIT.

  • Make sure the client does not have any medical conditions that contraindicate exercising much harder than they’ve ever done before.
  • Very overweight clients can do HIIT, but scaled down – to what would be better termed as just “interval training.”
  • Their HIIT sessions should be on their favorite cardio equipment. If they can’t make this choice, then select a mode that best fits their condition. For example, a morbidly obese client would do better on a recumbent stationary bike than on a revolving staircase.

High intensity interval training WORKS. It’s been proven, time and time again. The fact that few personal trainers instruct HIIT should not dissuade you from doing it.

Links to the HIIT Studies

Gibala et al

Talanian et al

Buchan et al

Rakobowchuk et al

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: Shutterstock/OSTILL is Franck Camhi