The well-documented benefits of aerobic exercise are many: It strengthens heart muscles, slows the aging process, manages chronic conditions (blood pressure, controls blood sugar), increases core strength, aids in weight loss, and provides a spike in endorphins that give off good feels. This is why, of course, so many of us dutifully trek to the gym for an hour or so each day, or head out for that morning jog, or pop into our neighborhood barre class. But! Research shows getting the heart rate up for just 15-20 minutes straight per day improves overall health and wellness. Enter high-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT.
HIIT workouts are all the jazz right now, and are replacing (or supplementing) traditional ideas of the cardio workout, like the aforementioned jogging session or barre class. As Michah Zuhl, Ph.D. and Len Kravitz, Ph.D. of The University of New Mexico reassuringly put it, “Incorporating HIIT (at the appropriate level of intensity and frequency) into a client’s cardiovascular training allows exercise enthusiasts to reach their goals in a very time efficient manner.”
Here is an at home HIIT workout that will only take 16 minutes total (!). You can do it home, too.
A few tips before you begin any HIIT workout:
- Make sure you are hydrated, and have had a meal or protein shake 1-2 hours prior to starting.
- Wear proper sneakers for your body. If you need professional assistance, local running stores can fit your foot to a shoe based on your gate and run.
- Women: It may help to wear a sports bra.
- Men: It may help to wear compression shorts.
- Have a towel, water, and a yoga mat for extra padding if it pleases you.
THE 16-MINUTE HIIT WORKOUT
There are 8 moves total. Do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off. Repeat once for a 16-minute workout (or twice, or nine times)!
1. Cross-country skiers: This will get the heart rate going and the body warmed up as it moves both your upper and lower body. Remember to keep your core nice and tight.
2. Squats/Squat jumps: This fat-blasting exercise will work the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, and will increase strength in the lower back and core.
3. Burpees with oblique crunches: Plank in burpees strengthens the abs, tones the arms and back. Oblique crunches will give you that added core work.
4. High knees: Running in place with knees high, keep belly tight and move the arms. Heart rate should be soaring!
5. Toe taps: You are midway through your workout! This move takes pressure off the joints while maintaining heart rate.
6. Lunge jumps with twist: Works the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core. Improves balance.
7. Push-ups: Fire up the chest, triceps and biceps, lats (back) and delts (shoulders). Coming down on your knees or holding high plank are great modifications.
8. Jumping jacks: Maintain a nice steady pace to keep the heart rate up. Jumping jacks will prepare your body for cool down.
Then: Repeat! Or cool down: Slow your jacks or take a walk until both heart rate and breath return to normal.
Want to increase difficulty?
- Hold 5-8lb weights down at your sides for squats/squat jumps and lunge jumps
- Add a jump to your burpees.
- Instead of high knees, try standing mountain climbers.
- Add cross shoulder taps to push-ups.
Remember, always listen to your body. If you are feeling lightheaded, take longer breaks, stay hydrated, and get back into it. Be aware of any joint strain and practice modifications for moves if needed. Find the balance between pushing yourself to your limit, and going too far. And when you are done, stretch thoroughly, drink water, feed your body a nourishing meal, and shoot for 6-8 hours of sleep.
Good luck and get out there!
A few more resources to support fitness at home:
- Four tools to make your at-home workout better
- A summer workout playlist for every workout under the sun
- The 20-minute morning workout routine to do each day (according to a celebrity pilates instructor)
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