You made promises to yourself to get in shape. So why go gently into that fight? There’s no better way to jumpstart fitness than with a HIIT workout (aka “high intensity interval training”) with moves done in short, hard bursts of exercise followed by shorter rests. The good news? Fitness science has shown these workouts are one of the most effective ways to get into full-body shape. Even better news? You can get a full, hard workout in 20 minutes. The less great news? HIIT is freaking hard. But you probably already guessed that.
So where to start? While classes and trainers are probably the best way to motivate while keeping form perfect, they’re also pricey. If you’re looking to get started on your own, below is a list of killer moves that aren’t too complicated, many of them bodyweight moves. As a general rule, you’ll want to do the moves in bursts with rests that last about one-third of the time. In other words a 30-second burst of pull-ups is followed by 10 seconds rest. Then do it again, or move on to the next move. It’s essential to keep good form, so if you find you’re exhausting yourself past the point of being able to, say, hold a perfect plank while doing push-ups, dial back the time. The idea here is to seek gain, not pain (although discomfort will be had). Ready? HIIT it.
HIIT Bodyweight Moves
These are quintessential HIIT moves — the kind of bodyweight move you can’t keep up for long without collapsing on the ground. Start in a plank, engage the core, and bring your right knee forward under your chest and back to plank. Now, bring your left knee forward and back. Keeping your plank straight as an arrow, pick up the pace.
Start with 30 seconds and work your way up. Oh, and that form better be perfect.
From quads up to the core, the squat is an essential full-body move. An effective squat is all about the form, so make sure you don’t overdo these or move too vigorously. Keep legs slightly wider than hip width, toes pointed forward, and drive your hips back as you bend your knees to sit into a squat position. Be sure to keep your heels and toes on the ground, chest up and shoulder back. Also, keep track of your breath, inhaling before you begin the movement, holding your breath for the duration, and releasing it once you’ve returned to standing.
We get that you might not be up to full pull-up bursts (and if you are, by all means…). Work your way there with reverse pull-ups. Using a mixed grip and step by the bar, jump up so your chin is above the bar and steadily (and fairly slowly) lower yourself down. Repeat.
Focus on keeping your back flat and your elbow trailing directly back and aim for one push-up per second.
Split Squat Jumps
Stand with right leg about a foot in front of the left. Bend knees and lower into a lunge, keeping your left knee from touching the floor. In one explosive movement, straighten knees and jump, switching legs. Now squat with the opposite leg in front. Keep it going.
Feet together, feet apart. Hands together, hands apart. You know the drill. Now do it like you mean it.
Jump lunges are like jumping jacks, except your legs go front and back rather than out to the sides, this move works your quads, glutes, and core. Start in a deep lunge, both knees bent, right foot in front. Push through the floor and your jump in the air and scissor your feet so that the left foot lands in front.
Keeping yourself tall and shoulders back, bring your legs back to repeatedly kick your butt. Sounds easy, right?
Burpee Twister With Push-Up
From standing, bend your knees, crouch down to the floor, place your hands on the ground, and jump your feet back so you are in an extended plank position. Do a push-up. Then jump feet forward toward your hands again, push off the floor and jump, doing a 180. Now that you’re facing the other way, do it again. Why the twist? Let’s say it’s to give you a break from the one wall.
Lower yourself down into an extended plank position (arms straight). Focus on maintaining a straight line from your head to your feet. Jump your legs out to the sides, then back together again. Form trumps speed, but nevertheless aim for about 15 plank jacks in 30 seconds.
Sit on the floor, legs straight in front of you, arms at your sides. Shift your weight back as you raise both legs off the floor, contracting your abs until your body form the shape of a V. Stretch arms out in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds.
Lie on one side with your legs stacked and fully extended. Prop your body up with your elbow and forearm, lift your hip off the ground and squeeze your abs so your body runs in a straight line. For added difficulty, lift your high leg off the lower leg. Switch sides.
With upper arms by your side, forearms at a 90-degree angle, and hands open, bring your left knee to your hand, then right. Repeat, fast.
HIIT With Weights
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hold a kettlebell or barbell with both hands close to your chest. Squat until your thighs are below parallel with the floor, keeping your chest up and your back straight. Keep your chest and head up and your back straight. Push your knees out with your elbows. Return to stand.
Standing Cable Row
Stand facing the cable machine, about two feet away. Position the cable at chest height. Grab cable handle with your right hand. Bend your left knee and raise your left leg in front of you. Bend right elbow and pull your hand to the side of your chest. Straight arm again, keeping left foot in the air. Reverse side on next set.
Single Leg Dead Lifts
Grab a light barbell in both hands and stand with your weight over your right leg, arms straight in front of you. Hinge forward at the waist, raising your left leg behind you while lowering the barbell to the floor. In one strong motion, return to standing (focus on keeping your back straight). Switch legs and repeat.
Kettlebell Squat Jumps
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold kettlebell handle with both hands. Bend knees until your quads are parallel to the floor, allowing kettlebell to drift back between your legs. Push through the ground as you leap straight up in the air, extending your arms in front of you. Land back in a squat position.
Lie back on an incline bench at about 45 degrees. Grab two dumbbells heavy enough to make 15 reps challenging. Bend elbows and hold the weights at your chest. Breathe in, then exhale forcefully as you straighten your arms and raise both dumbbells directly overhead. Inhale as you bend elbows and lower weights. Aim for 15 reps in 30 seconds.
Using two kettlebells or barbells, get into an extended plank position, resting one hand on the handle of each bells. Shift your weight to the left side and hike the right weight toward your chest, then lower. Shift weight to your right side, and repeat the weighted pull with your left arm.
Lie on the floor, legs outstretched, resting a kettlebell or barbell on your torso with both hands. Inhale, then as you exhale, raise legs and torso off the floor to create a V-shape, lifting the weight above your head as you do. Relax back into prone position.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell by the handle with both hands at your centerline. Lower into a squat, letting the bell swing back through your legs, the swing it forward again on a horizontal plain and plant it 2 to 3 feet in front of you. Keeping your hands on the bell, jump feet forward, then straighten legs and raise bell to start position.
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, pick up two kettlebells or barbells and pull them towards your shoulders. With kettlebells, rotate your wrists so your palms face in, resting the weights on the top of your forearms. Press the weight up above your head until your arms lock. Lower slowly to your shoulders. Repeat.