One of my pet peeves as a personal trainer is hearing people tell me they're "too busy to exercise."
In the past, when I was unaware of the amazing benefits of efficient, high-intensity workouts, I was a bit more sympathetic, as carving out time to drive to a gym, lift weights, run on the treadmill and drive home again is often as feasible as hopping into a trashcan and flying to Mars. Many people think that in order for exercise to be effective, it has to be done inside a gym and last at least an hour. This simply isn't true.
Today, I'm going to guide you through one of my favorite total-body HIIT routines that you can do anywhere. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity, or even complete rest. These often consist of body-weight movements only, though light dumbbells, kettlebells and other equipment are sometimes used.
Before I continue, I don't suggest you kick weights and lengthier workouts to the curb. Most fitness professionals endorse well-rounded fitness regimens that include a wide variation of modalities, from heavy weightlifting sessions that focus on building muscle and strength, to long runs, bike rides or swims that increase one's endurance and support heart health. Engaging in just one modality will yield results for a while, but eventually our bodies adapt and cease to respond, which signals to us that it's time to change up our routine.
So, if your current workout routine has hit a plateau, or if you're on vacation or experiencing an especially busy day, the following workout is just the ticket. HIIT workouts allow you to burn fat while preserving muscle, boost your metabolism for up to 24 hours after you've finished, and improve your cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic and mechanical functions. All in 30 minutes or less!
Important: Be sure to take time (5 to 10 minutes) to stretch at the end of every workout, focusing on the muscles most emphasized that day, as well as any areas that feel particularly tight or sore.
Stretching improves circulation, increases flexibility, helps maximize the range of motion in your joints and reduces soreness and stress! Each stretch should be held between 15 and 30 seconds and should feel good. If it becomes painful, ease up a bit, breathe deep and go slower.
Also essential to any workout, no matter what it is, is a proper warmup.
Why Warm Up?
Because warming up properly is full of benefits, including:
- Elevation of body temperature
- Increase blood flow in the muscles
- Improves efficient cooling
- Improves range of motion
- Reduces incidence and likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries
- Supplies adequate blood flow to heart
- Provides rehearsal of movements performed in the workout
- Mental preparation
As you can see, the warm-up prepares us for an effective and rewarding workout. When the workout (the fun part!) begins, our blood is flowing hot, our hearts are pumping strong, and our minds are thinking fast, each part of us giving 100 percent to the exercises at hand.
And now, without further ado, here is your 10-minute workout ... with a five-minute warmup for good measure!
20 Butt Kicks (10 each leg)
10 High Kicks (10 each leg)
5 Slow Air Squats (lower for 5 seconds)
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. Repeat the series of exercises five times for a total of 10 minutes.
Exercise Instructions (in the order they appear):
- Begin by jogging normally, either in place or traveling for a short distance.
- Then begin raising your heels up toward your bottom as you jog, using rapid, forceful movements. Again, you may either do these in place or traveling.
- Stand up straight with your kicking leg just behind your planted leg.
- Kick your leg in front of you. Take it up as high as it will go while maintaining a straight spine as much as possible.
- Return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side. You may do these in place or traveling.
- Stand with your feet spread apart at a distance slightly wider than the shoulders. Position your feet so that your toes angle out. This angle varies from person to person, but should be about 30 degrees. Keep your weight on the heels to prevent yourself from rolling up onto the balls of your feet.
- Keep your chest up, shoulders back, head up. This helps promote a nice, safe, intact lumbar curve.
- Place arms straight out in front of your chest. The arms should be in a comfortable position as they act as counter balance to the motion of the exercise.
- Bend your knees as you lower yourself down. Pretend there is a chair behind you that you're reaching back to sit on. Your knees should track over your feet and never jut out over them. In other words, your knees should be pointing in the same direction as your toes. If you find your knees starting to cave in, focus on pushing them out. A good way to achieve this is by imagining you are tearing the floor apart with your feet.
- The push back up should be generated from your hamstrings and glutes. Your chest and head should remain pointing straight forward. As you rise, your arms will probably lower back to your sides naturally. Make sure your knees keep tracking with your toes and do not begin to buckle inwards. Also, be sure to keep your lumbar curve intact (curved). Generally speaking, if you have your chest and head up, your lumbar curve will be in the correct position.
- Lower your body down using proper squat form. Place hands on the ground in front of you.
- Jump your feet back to a plank position, then quickly lower your chest to the ground.
- Push yourself back up to a plank position and jump your feet back in toward your hands.
- Jump back up and simultaneously clap your hands behind your head. Stand up all the way, extending the hips fully before beginning your next rep.
NOTE: To modify this exercise, you may eliminate the push-up component. To further modify for beginners, you may also walk your feet out and back in instead of jumping them out and in.
Sit on the floor. Lift your feet off the floor a few inches and cross your ankles. Keeping your core tight, twist to one side, bringing your hands toward your hip. Repeat on the opposite side.
"For You will cause my lamp to shine; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap a wall" (Ps. 18:28-29, MEV).
Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House's Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman's Guide to Total Fitness, Perfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness, and her latest book, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God's Love. Her popular website can be found at dianaandersontyler.com and she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.