You may be missing your favorite HIIT studio class right about now, so here's some good news: You can re-create the experience at home. Plus, this 20-minute high-intensity workout also helps blast belly fat and burns more calories in less time than steady-state cardio.
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It's true! A March 2019 study published in the journal American College of Cardiology, found that patients recovering from a heart attack who did HIIT lost more belly fat than those who did moderate-intensity exercise. Researchers also found that participants gained more lean muscle mass and lost more inches off their waists.
Emily Booth, education manager for cycle and group fitness research at Life Time, says that HIIT workouts provide many of the same benefits of continuous cardiovascular workouts, like burning fat, in significantly less time. "These benefits include improved fat metabolism and the potential for increased excess post-exercise oxygen consumption," she says.
A January 2017 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research, found that because of an elevated post-workout metabolic rate, young women with obesity who did HIIT lost the same amount of body fat as those who did moderate-intensity continuous exercise. The big difference was that the HIIT group cut their workout time in half — 36 minutes instead of 68.
Of course, as with all fat loss, you'll only be successful if you pair your HIIT workouts with a healthy, calorie reduced diet. You'll also want to make sure that your workouts focus on both cardio and strength training — something HIIT is perfect for.
Burn More Belly Fat With This 20-Minute HIIT Workout
This 20-minute workout from Paul Kriegler, personal trainer and program development manager at Life Time, helps you burn belly fat fast and boosts your cardiovascular endurance by alternating between a cardio move and an ab exercise.
Although the main goal is to go through the circuit as many times as possible, Kriegler says to keep in mind that the quality of the workout (i.e. proper form) is just as important, if not more, than the quantity.
Do: 5 minutes of light cardio such as jumping jacks, jogging in place or walking, followed by a few dynamic stretches like hip swings and windmills.
Do: each exercise listed below for the given number of reps, followed by a 30-second rest. Then, move to the next exercise. Complete the circuit as many times as possible in 20 minutes.
If you need additional rest, walk or march in place for one minute after completing the full circuit before doing another round.
- 15 squat jumps
- 30-second rest
- 20 Pilates scissors (10 each leg)
- 30-second rest
- 20 speed skaters (10 each leg)
- 30-second rest
- 30 mountain climbers (15 each leg)
- Repeat for 20 minutes
Move 1: Squat Jump
- Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes turned slightly out.
- Bend your knees and push your hips back as if you are sitting in a chair. Keep your weight in your heels and your back as straight as possible, engaging your core.
- As you squat down, raise your arms out front of you.
- Swing your arms back as you press through your legs and jump.
- Land softly on the balls of your feet with knees bent.
- Go directly into the next squat jump.
Move 2: Pilates Scissors
- Lie on your back on a yoga mat. Lift your legs in the tabletop position (legs at a 90-degree angle, knees pointed to ceiling, shins parallel to the floor). Your inner thighs should be touching.
- Engage your core and exhale as you lift your head and upper back off the floor. Reach your arms toward your ankles.
- Inhale, then exhale as you lengthen one leg toward the ceiling while your other leg lengthens away from you, hovering just above the floor.
- Lightly grip the calf or thigh of the leg pointing up at the ceiling (where you place your hand will depend on your flexibility) and perform a double pulse.
- Change legs and perform a double pulse with the other leg, alternating between legs.
Move 3: Speed Skater
- Clear a space that allows you to jump side-to-side without running into anything.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, eyes looking straight ahead, and arms resting at your sides.
- Engage your core and jump to the right.
- Land on your right foot while simultaneously crossing your left leg behind. The toes of your left foot can touch the ground (or leave it hovering), and your left arm will swing across your body, while your right arm swings behind you.
- Pause for a second, then jump to the left, landing in the same position as when you were on the right side.
- Repeat this motion, jumping back and forth while switching arms and legs.
Move 4: Mountain Climbers
- Press up into a high plank with your hands beneath your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to heels.
- Bring your right knee into your chest, engaging your abs at the same time.
- As you return your right foot to the starting position, bring your left knee into your chest
- Shoot the left leg back, switching legs at your desired pace.
Do: 3 to 5 minutes of static stretches such as a hamstring stretch, standing quad stretch and calf stretch.
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