Chances are you’ve at least heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), if not participated in a workout yourself. And there’s a reason why HIIT workouts are so popular — science proves that they work.
Workouts that alternate between short, but intense, bursts of exercise (where you go all out for a period of time) and less intense active recovery, have been shown to be more effective for heart health, fat loss and strength gain than traditional cardio and strength training. And the kicker? You get all those results in less time.
Compared to longer stretches of moderate-intensity running, cycling, or other aerobic exercises, studies show show that HIIT improves cardio fitness nearly twice as much among people with heart disease. In terms of strength improvements in the body, not only have HIIT workouts proven to yield as much strength gain as more traditional resistance training in a shorter amount of time, but in some cases there were also greater improvements in strength compared to traditional resistance training. If your goal is to lose weight, research shows that HIIT workouts may outperform traditional cardio when it comes to fat loss. This is because HIIT workouts can increase fat burning and energy expenditure for hours after exercise.
As a weight-loss coach, I encourage all of my clients to engage in HIIT workouts. If you’re short on time, equipment or motivation, all it takes is a few minutes to squeeze in a full-body workout, anywhere. Ready to give it a try? We’ve got a full HIIT program for March that’ll take you 15 minutes a day, 3 days a week. That’s only a commitment of 45 minutes a week for a program that will help speed up your metabolism, aid in weight loss, and build muscle to tighten and tone your entire body.
THE WORKOUT STRUCTURE
We’re breaking down the exercises into two circuits. You will start with circuit 1 the first week, move on to circuit 2 the second week, and then begin alternating between them (while increasing intensity for some of the moves). Listen to your body and make the suggested modifications as necessary — dialing it back to a beginner move or kicking things up a notch with an advanced progression.
In addition to performing a circuit 3 days a week, pick a 4th day to perform 20 minutes of interval cardio (30 seconds slow, then 30 seconds fast), whether that be in place (running, jumping jacks or high knees) or moving (running or biking). After 2 weeks, add in another cardio day, to total 5 workout days per week (still no longer than 20 minutes each!)
Day 1: Straightforward HIIT
Day 2: REST
Day 3: Sideways HIIT
Day 4: REST
Day 5: Straightforward HIIT
Day 6: REST
Day 7: Sideways HIIT
Day 8: REST
Day 9: Sideways HIIT
*Try an advanced move
Day 10: REST
Day 11: Straightforward HIIT
*Try an advanced move
Day 12: REST
Day 13: Straightforward HIIT
Day 14: REST
Day 15: Sideways HIIT
*Complete an additional round
Day 16: REST
Day 17: Sideways HIIT
Day 18: REST
Day 19: Straightforward HIIT
*Complete an additional round
Day 20: REST
Day 21: Straightforward HIIT
Day 22: REST
Day 23: Sideways HIIT
*Increase side plank hold to 30 secs each side
Day 24: REST
Day 25: Straightforward HIIT
*Hold your plank for 45 secs
Day 26: REST
Day 27: Straightforward HIIT
Day 28: REST
Day 29: Sideways HIIT
Day 30: REST
Day 31: REST
CIRCUIT 1: Straightforward HIIT
This circuit is comprised of exercises that keep you moving forward, back, up and down, and focus on the front and back of the body. Hence the name, “straightforward HIIT.” Repeat this circuit 3 times for a total of 15 minutes.
Jumping High Knees
In place, bring one knee up to your chest as you press your arms up in the air; lower that leg and then bring the other knee up to your chest. Alternate, and once you feel comfortable you can add in a bounce so that this turns into jumping high knees.The purpose of this is to get your heart rate up! Perform for 60 seconds (30 high knees on each leg).
Beginner: Marching. Simply march one leg at a time, bringing the knee up towards your chest and pressing your arms up towards the ceiling. This is a low-impact way to get your heart rate up.
Stand with your feet as wide as your shoulders, toes pointing forward. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and then sit back by bending at your knees and reaching your glutes back as if you’re sitting in a chair. Press down through your heels and then stand back up. Repeat this 10x.
Beginner: Half squat. Perform the regular squat but only sit down halfway.
Advanced: Jump squat. Instead of pressing back up to a standing position at the end of each squat, add in a jump. When you land, softly bend your knees and then sit back into the squat. Repeat 10x.
Start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Pull your naval in towards your spine and then tuck your toes under, pushing back into a plank position. Look two inches in front of you and bend your elbows out to the sides to lower down into a push up, then press back up. Repeat 10x.
Beginner: Push ups on knees. Perform the same exercise except lower down onto your knees. Make sure your knees are slightly behind your hips (not directly underneath them), so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your knees. Repeat 10x.
Advanced: Burpee. From the push up position, perform a push up and then jump forward in between your hands. Jump up into a high jump, then jump back into a plank position. Repeat this 10x.
Ab lower & lift
Lying on the ground, pull your naval in towards your spine and lift your legs straight up to the ceiling. Lower the legs down a few inches or halfway down towards the ground, and bring them back up to the starting position. Keep your low back pressing into the ground for the duration of this exercise. Repeat 10x.
Beginner: Use bent knees. Lying on your back, bend your knees so that your legs are in a table top position. Keeping your knees bent, lower the legs down towards the ground, and then bring them back up to the starting position. Repeat 10x.
Start on hands and knees and then press up into a plank position. Reach forward through the crown of your head and reach back through your heels while pulling your abs up and in. Hold this for 20 seconds.
Beginner: Plank on your knees. Modify plank by lowering down onto your knees from plank, and holding for 20 seconds.
Advanced: Burpee. Perform another set of burpees here to kick it up a notch!
CIRCUIT 2: Sideways HIIT
This circuit is comprised of exercises that keep you moving laterally, side to side, and focus on the right and left sides of the body. Hence the name, “sideways HIIT.” Repeat this circuit 3 times for a total of 15 minutes.
Side to side runs
Standing up, jump to the right, landing on the right foot and using your abs to pull your left knee up, engaging the obliques. Then jump to the left, landing on the left foot and pulling your right knee up. Alternate between them for 60 seconds.
Beginner: Toe taps. For lower impact, stand in place and tap the right foot to the right then back to center; then tap the left foot to the left and then back to center. Alternate for 60 seconds.
Standing, step your right foot to the right a few feet and sink back as if you’re sitting into a chair with your right glute. Keep the left leg straight. Push down through the right heel to press yourself back to the starting position. Then switch to the left side. Repeat 10x on each side.
Beginner: Half side lunge. Instead of lowering all the way down into the side lunge, lower your glute halfway down and then press back up to center.
Advanced: Side lunge then jump. To step it up, side lunge to the right and then return to center, jump straight up towards the ceiling landing in a squat. Side lunge to the left and then return to center, jump straight up. Repeat 10x each side.
Sitting on the ground, reach your hands behind you, palms on the ground with your fingertips pointing towards your butt. Press down firmly with the palms of your hands. Bend your knees in front of you, and press yourself up onto your feet and hands, so that your butt is hovering above the floor. Bend the elbows straight back to dip down, and then press back up. Repeat 10x.
Beginner: Halfway dip. Only lower down halfway before pressing back up.Repeat 10x.
Advanced: Straight legs. To make this more challenging, straighten your legs out while performing the exercise.
Lying on the ground, bring your knees up to a table top position. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and place your hands behind your head. Curl up, reaching your left elbow to your right knee as you extend the left leg on a 45 degree angle. Switch side and crunch the right elbow to the left knee as you extend the right. Do this 10x to each side.
Beginner: Head on ground. Keep your head placed on the ground and neck relaxed while you perform this exercise.
Advanced: Legs lower. To step it up, perform the bicycle abs with the extended leg reaching lower than 45 degrees(closer to the floor) to make it more challenging for the abs.
10 seconds side plank then switch sides
Starting in a plank position, turn your body towards the left as you balance on your right hand and the outside edge of your right foot. Stack your legs on top of each other, and reach your left arm straight up towards the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds, move through plank, and then switch sides, turning your body towards the right and holding for 10 seconds.
Beginner: Side plank on knees. Come into a plank position, and then drop onto your right knee as you turn towards the left. Same as regular side plank except you're using your right knee as a kickstand to make this less challenging.
Advanced: Lift top leg. To make this side plank more challenging, lift the top leg up off of the bottom leg and suspend in the air while in side plank.
TRY THESE FITNESS ROUTINES
- Back to basics: Your one-month treadmill workout
- A one-month resistance band workout you can do anywhere
- 10 core exercises that are better for your back (and body) than crunches
- A 10-minute cardio workout you can do at home
- 5 complex exercises that will give you a full-body workout