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This Twenty-Minute High-Intensity Interval Training Workout Is Perfect For People Low On Time, Cash Or Both

Warning: It may be quick and it may be free and it may be effective, but it isn't easy.

Surely we aren’t the only ones who have found ourselves too busy at one time or another to even think about fitting in a trip to the gym. Or in a position where a pricey Barre class doesn’t seem to be the best use of our current financial resources. Our go-to in times like these? A high-intensity interval training workout (lovingly referred to as HIIT), which is a series of short, intense workouts followed by brief periods of rest. And here’s why.

HIIT is a quick workout, usually well under an hour in duration (with the popular Tabata style starting at just eight minutes!), as the effort involved in the activity portion of the activity-rest interval is usually fairly intense.

No equipment is required for a HIIT workout, either, other than the weight of your body. Besides being wildly convenient, using your body weight as equipment actually gives you a better workout, since equipment-based training (especially weights) usually targets only certain areas of the body at one time. When you do body weight movements like burpees, planks, high knees, your entire body is “switched on”, which works out the whole body at once and activates additional, less frequently used muscles for strength and stability.

A HIIT workout is really, really good for you, even outside of the obvious benefit that comes with exercising. HIIT has been found to improve your body sensitivity to inulin (reversing type 2 diabetes), to normalize cholesterol levels and to improve bone density (to reverse osteoporosis). Your metabolism is also greatly revved up with HIIT workouts, which results in a prolonged after calorie burn effect, especially in comparison to longer, moderate intensity exercises like jogging. Some people even report a greater flow of endorphins (i.e. happy brain chemicals) after exercising in this way; I honesty always feel amazing after a HIIT workout.

Now, here’s a twenty-minute routine to get you started. Do each of the exercises below for 45 seconds, before resting for 15 seconds and moving on to the next. Go through the list five (yes, FIVE!) times.

1. Burpees: Jump up with arms over head, take your hands to the ground and jump both feet out to a plank position (you can do an optional push up here) and then both feet jump in between your hands to then jump your body straight up again.

2. Jump squats: Squat with your legs wide and push out of your bent legs to jump up as high as you can, landing back to a squat.

3. Plank arm switches: Come to a high push up position (plank) and then lower one elbow down, and then the other to come to forearm plank, walking back up to one hand and the other.

4. High knees running on the spot.

It’s as simple as that! Your body—and mind—will thank you!

A few more of our go-to workouts:

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