Can Playing the Xbox Kinect Be a Considered a HIIT Workout?

High-Intensity Interval Training, or a HIIT workout, is an exceptionally popular way to exercise nowadays. And although there are plenty of these workouts to choose from, can you get the same benefits by playing the Xbox Kinect?

Actually, it may surprise you that, yes, depending on how you play, standing in front of the Kinect can constitute as a HIIT exercise.

How Does a HIIT Workout Work?

The premise of a HIIT workout is to perform a highly rigorous activity for a short time, take a short break, and then perform the activity again. This would be considered one interval.

The goal of a HIIT workout is to hit 80% of your maximum heart rate.

For example, you would warm up with a jog for a few minutes. Then, you would shift to a fast-paced run for about five minutes. Afterward, you would slow to a jog, walk, or rest for one minute. After the rest, you would run again.

You’d perform these intervals about three or four times, giving you an intense workout that burns more calories than a regular exercise routine.

The reason why these types of workouts are so popular is because many believe the calorie burn can last for several hours after the fact.

How to Play the Kinect for a HIIT Workout

Although the Kinect is a long dead tech, it still has practical use. Especially when you want to melt away some calories and lose weight.

In fact, I still play various games on a regular basis to work up into a sweaty mess. And, the system helped me lose more than 70 pounds over the years.

So, how did I lose so much weight playing games?

Find a Game that Is Ideal

Perhaps the most important aspect of using the Kinect for a HIIT workout is finding that perfect game. Because not all Kinect games are ideal for this type of exercise.

Find a game that:

  • You find fun to play.
  • Has “rounds” of movement followed by rest periods.
  • Utilizes a lot of movement.

For instance, one of my favorite games is Avengers: Battle for Earth. It’s a couple of rounds of fighting followed by a rest period as you load from match to match.

Personally, I set the game to Arcade mode and see how fast I can beat it.

Throw Yourself Into the Game

If you’re trying to get a decent HIIT workout, you can’t just stand there and periodically move your arms. Get into the game and really enjoy yourself.

The more movement you make, the more calories you burn. And that’s the whole idea about exercising, right?

For example, I don’t just stand in place when playing tennis in Kinect Sports Season 2. In reality, I am all over my living room jumping around like an idiot. And when I power shot the ball, I really swing for a power shot.

I’ve seen a lot of players just put in the bare minimum of movement just to play the game. That doesn’t work if you’re actually trying to lose weight and become more fit.

Enjoy yourself and really get into the game.

Strap On Some Weighted Gloves

If you really want to add to the HIIT workout, increase muscle definition, and work up a hell of a sweat, use weighted gloves when you play.

Even just adding an extra pound to each hand forces your body to exert more energy to move the weight. It may not seem like much during the first one or two minutes, but you’ll definitely feel the burn after 20.

As an added bonus, you’ll find yourself getting faster with your hands.

Case in point, I played using weights for about three months straight. Then, I decided to play without because the gloves were soaking in the sink.

They can get nasty with sweat if you don’t keep them clean.

The result was moving faster during the game than I’ve ever moved before. I shattered my score records in Virtual Smash because I was moving so fast.

It blew me away!

Set a Logical Time Limit of Playing

You want to make sure you’re getting the most out of a HIIT workout. Don’t assume that just playing for five to 10 minutes is going to be enough.

Personally, I set certain goals depending on the game. And these goals coincide with specific time frames.

For example:

  • Avengers: Battle for Earth
    Play the Arcade mode to see how fast I can beat the game. This usually averages to around 20 minutes per session.
  • Kinect Sports Season 2: Tennis
    I play until the game says I burned 120 calories, which is usually way off. This averages to about 25 minutes per session.
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved, Virtual Smash
    I usually try for 5 rounds of each Easy, Medium, and Hard difficulties. This can take anywhere from 25 to 30 minutes.

My point is that you need to set aside about 20 minutes for playing if you want to get the most out of a HIIT workout.

Don’t Be Afraid to Mix it Up a Bit

Although the Kinect really didn’t get a lot of support from developers, there are still quite a few games available that can offer a decent HIIT workout.

Remember, it’s all about getting the heart rate to 80% of your max for a few minutes and taking a rest. There are a lot of games that can fall into that category.

I’m currently working on a list of Kinect games that burn the most calories. Just keep in mind these numbers are based on my own physique and style of play. Your experience may be significantly different.

However, it’s a good idea to give a few games a try to find the ones that make the biggest impact on your exercise routine.

It All Comes Down to How You Play

Whether you’re playing the Kinect, Switch, or a VR game like Beat Saber, it all comes down to movement. How you play the game will determine the amount of calories you’ll burn.

The more active you are, the more likely you’ll lose weight.

Don’t just stand there and do the bare minimum of movement. Throw yourself into the game for a great HIIT workout. You may be surprised by how good you’ll feel after a few weeks of playing.

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.