HIIT It!

Looking for a workout that will torch serious calories in a short amount of time? Check out high-intensity interval training—a fitness trend that lives up to the hype.

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is getting a lot of attention these days. So much, in fact, that the American College of Sports Medicine recently named HIIT workouts one of the top fitness trends.

As you might suspect, HIIT workouts are more demanding than your average fitness session. “They alternate between intense structured workout moves and short rest periods,” says Kim Truman, a professional fitness consultant and high-performance athletic trainer in Dallas. With higher-intensity sets, you reap more rewards than, say, a 60-minute walk on the treadmill.

Those benefits include burning a higher amount of calories, thanks to the more intense work periods. “That intense exertion causes a metabolic disturbance, which burns more calories,” Truman says. You’ll also build muscle and cardiovascular endurance. Better yet, you’ll save time, as most HIIT workouts typically take less than 30 minutes.

Although anybody can do HIIT, you may need to start at a less intense pace if you’re new to exercise or have fallen out of your routine. As you get fitter, you can work harder.

Truman developed this full-body routine that can be done anywhere, no equipment required. To get the most out of it, push yourself to go almost breathless during the tough periods. Just make sure you pay attention to your body and back off a little if the workout feels too intense. She also points out that HIIT workouts aren’t meant to be done daily. “Your body needs to rest and recover,” Truman says, adding that three times a week is the maximum. On days when you’re not doing HIIT training, you can do steady-state training (where you work at a moderate pace the entire time; for example, a walk or a Zumba or spin class) or strength training.

THE PLAN

Do the following workout no more than three times a week on nonconsecutive days. After the warm-up, do the three HIIT circuits; then repeat all three circuits up to three times. Note that any of these moves can be modified by not jumping or by limiting your range of motion.

WARM-UP

1 minute:  March in place

1 minute:  Jumping jacks (or alternate tapping feet to side)

1 minute:  Front kicks

1 minute:  Boxer shuffle (shift weight back and forth between legs, bouncing as you do this)

HIIT CIRCUIT #1

30 seconds:  Jump squats

Start by standing with feet together; jump legs apart about two feet as you lower into squat; jump back to start and continue.

30 seconds:  Mountain climbers

Get on floor in push-up position; holding there, alternate bringing knees to chest quickly.

30 seconds:  Plank

Get in push-up position on floor; hold position, either supported by your hands and feet or by your forearms with knees on floor.

10 seconds:  Rest

HIIT CIRCUIT #2

30 seconds:  Alternating jump lunges

Stand with feet together; then step right foot back about two to three feet as you lower left thigh to almost parallel with ground; jump up and switch feet midair; continue alternating.

30 seconds:  Front kicks

From standing position, kick right leg forward, then left leg; continue alternating.

30 seconds:  Plank with shoulder taps

Get on floor in push-up position; holding there, alternate between tapping right hand to left shoulder and left hand to right shoulder; lower knees to floor if necessary.

10 seconds:  Rest

HIIT CIRCUIT #3

30 seconds:  High knee run

Run or march in place, lifting knees as high as you can.

30 seconds:  Side-to-side lunges

Stand with feet together; step right foot to right about two to three feet and, keeping right knee over ankle, lower to floor; return to start and repeat on other side, moving quickly.

30 seconds:  Alternating jump lunges

See HIIT Circuit #2.

10 seconds:  Rest

COOL-DOWN

March in place for 3 minutes, gradually slowing pace and taking deep breaths in and out.

 

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