Most of us don't have the time (or patience) to log hours on the treadmill or elliptical each day. Fortunately, short bursts of high-intensity work followed by brief periods of recovery can burn just as many calories as steady-state cardio, but in less time. It's called high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The best part is that these workouts can usually be completed in 30 minutes or less!
HIIT not only burns a large amount of calories in a short period of time, but it can also result in EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This means that you're still burning calories after you've finished training.
In fact, you're burning approximately six to 15 percent more calories than during steady-state cardio. Imagine: Working out, and then still burning calories while you're stuck at the office, watching your kid's soccer game or even sitting on the couch.
But since HIIT training is physically intense, it's recommended that you only do these kinds of workouts a few times a week. For each workout, make sure you warm up beforehand and cool down afterward. Get ready to burn, baby, burn with these five calorie-burning, fat-busting workouts.
1. Tabata Trimmer
Tabata training involves eight rounds of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. That means you're only actually "working" just over 2.5 total minutes for each exercise, but you're still burning a ton of calories. The trick is to give it everything you've got for each 20-second bout of work.
Do each exercise for 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, and then move to the next exercise. Perform eight rounds.
Stand on your left leg. Bend down and place your hands on the ground. Jump your feet back into a single-leg plank and perform a single-leg push-up. Hop your feet up to your hands. Stand up and jump up off your left leg. Repeat on the other side.
Russian Kettlebell Swings
Start by holding a kettlebell with both hands. Hinge at your hips and swing the kettlebell between your legs, and then swing it up to eye level.
Grab the ends of a battle rope in each hand and sit back in a squat. Raise your arms up above eye level as you stand up. Lower down into a squat as you quickly lower your arms and slam the rope on the ground.
Start in a high plank. Quickly alternate bringing your left knee toward your left armpit and then your right knee toward your right armpit.
2. Plyo Power
This workout is all about power! Plyometrics, or jump training, will increase your heart rate and push your anaerobic threshold. Just make sure your joints are free of injury (especially your knees) and that you're in fairly good shape before attempting.
Do each exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and then move to the next exercise. Do this five times total.
Choose a box you can comfortably jump up onto with both feet. (Try 24 inches for men and 20 inches for women.) Standing six to 12 inches in front of the box. Bend your knees and load your hips. Jump up, swinging your arms forward and raising your knees. Land on the box, stand up, and then step down.
Start by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and jump upward, driving your arms up to shoulder height and bringing your knees to your arms. Land and explode off quickly with elasticity.
Elevated Lunge Jumps
Stand in front of a box or bench with one foot on top of it so that your knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Explode off of one foot by jumping upward and aggressively swinging your arms up for added momentum. Switch legs in the air and repeat.
3. Booty Burner
For buns of steel, follow this EMOM — a workout that involves working every minute on the minute. Once you've finished the prescribed reps, rest for the remainder of that minute.
At the start of each minute, do the listed number of reps for each exercise. For example, to start, do 20 speed skaters, and then rest until the next minute starts. Then move to 16 walking lunges. Go through the list of exercises five times.
20 Speed Skaters (10 each side)
Stand on your right foot with your knee slightly bent. Jump a few feet to your left side and land on your left foot, bending your left knee and touching the ground with your right hand. Continue hopping back and forth.
16 Walking Lunges (8 on each side)
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Step forward, lowering your back knee to the ground while keeping your front knee at a 90-degree angle. Stand up and step forward with your opposite leg.
20 Air Squats
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat, keeping your back straight and your core tight. Drive your knees out as you push off the ground and stand up.
16 Sumo Kettlebell Squats
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your toes out as wide as possible. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in your hands and lower down into a sumo squat so that the weight touches the ground. Keep your back straight as you push off the ground. Stand up and repeat.
4. Cardio Crush
For all the cardio lovers out there, rejoice in the fact that you can get your heart pumping and burn calories without spending hours on the cardio machine.
Do each exercise for 45 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and then move to the next exercise. Repeat the circuit four times total.
Start with your feet hip-width apart. Bend your knees and place your hands on the ground. Jump back to a plank and do a push-up. Jump your feet to your hands. Stand up and jump off the ground, clapping your hands over your head.
Row for Calories
Use a rowing machine, placing your feet in the hooks and your hands on the handle. Push away with your legs, as you pull the handle toward your chest as if you're rowing a boat. Then let momentum (and the recoil of the rope) pull you back to the starting position.
Jump rope, allowing the rope to pass under your feet twice as you're up in the air.
Alternating Rope Slams
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and the end of a battle rope in each hand. Lower into a slight squat as you alternate raising and slamming your ropes with each arm.
5. Push It Real Good
This workout involves push training, or exercises that require a push motion. With strength and cardio exercises wrapped into one workout, you'll get a full-body cardio workout without ever having to step on a machine.
Do one minute of each exercise, and then rest for one minute. Repeat for a total of five rounds.
Start in a high plank. Lower your chest down to the ground and explode off the ground, clapping your hands underneath your chest.
Medicine-Ball Chest Pass
Stand four to five feet away from a wall, place your feet hip-width apart and hold a medicine ball in your hands. Throw the medicine ball against the wall, catch it on the rebound and repeat.
Load a sled with enough weight to challenge you, but an amount that's light enough for you to push without stopping. Lean your body forward and drive your knees up as you push the sled in front of you.
What Do YOU Think?
Do you prefer steady-state or HIIT workouts? Will you try any of these workouts? If you have tried them, what did you think? What are some of your other favorite HIIT workouts? Share your thoughts, suggestions and questions in the comments below!
- McCall, Pete. Steady State vs. Interval Training: Which one is Best For Your Clients? American Council on Exercise. July 30 2015.
- Tabata, I and Nishimura, K. et al. Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max. Medical Science Sports Exercise. Oct 28 1996.
- Emberts, Talisa et al. Exercise Intensity and Energy Expenditure of a Tabata Workout. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. Sep 1 2013.