The Hardest HIIT Workout You Can Do for Better Strength and Cardio Only Takes 20 Minutes

HIIT workouts offer a ton of benefits — like improving strength and cardio — in a minimal amount of time.
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High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an amazing workout for your heart. This type of workout — which involves short bursts of intense exercise with rest periods in between — improves endurance, and with the added component of strength, it creates a powerfully intense and efficient workout.

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One of the best things about a HIIT workout is you get maximal benefits — for instance, improving your muscles' ability to use oxygen (which prevents muscle fatigue), according to a July 2016 study in ​PLOS One​ — in minimal time.

After all, we're all busy people with important things to do, and it's not always so easy to block off an hour of our time to get in a solid workout. So, adding any HIIT workout to your training routine will offer variety and give you a little extra time in your day to get to the other things in life that you value.

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Ready to break a sweat and take things to the next level? Check out the following advanced HIIT workout — all you need are a pair of dumbbells and some floor space to feel the burn.

How to do it:​ Perform each exercise for 50 seconds, resting 10 seconds before starting the next exercise. Complete the sequence three times total, resting 1 minute between each round. The entire workout should take you around 20 minutes.

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Things You'll Need

  • 2 medium-weight or heavy-weight dumbbells

  • Exercise mat

​Check out more of our ​​20-minute workouts here​​ — we’ve got something for everyone.

1. Weighted Squat

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. You can turn your toes slightly out or point them straight ahead. Rest dumbbells on your shoulders, palms facing in.
  2. Fill your chest with air to set your core. Maintain a tight, vertical torso throughout the movement with a natural arch in your low back.
  3. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as close as possible). Keep your chest up and your weight in your heels.
  4. Push your feet into the ground to stand back up.

2. Double Hop Squat

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand with your feet together, arms down at your sides.
  2. Hop twice pushing through your toes to get your feet off of the floor.
  3. After the second hop, bring your hands to your chest land softly with your feet shoulder-width apart in a low squat position.
  4. Repeat.

3. Bent-Over Row

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Upper Body
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing each other.
  2. Push your hips back and soften your knees to lean your torso forward until it's nearly parallel with the ground and your weight is centered in your heels. Let the weights hang straight down in front of your knees.
  3. Brace your core and think about keeping your back completely flat.
  4. Leading with your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and then pull through your arms to raise the dumbbells up toward your ribcage. Pause at the top of the movement.
  5. Keep your core and spine stable as you reverse the motion, extending your arms to lower the dumbbells so that they hang by your knees.

4. High Plank to Low Squat

Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Full Body
  1. Start in a high plank position on your hands and toes, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  2. Then, hop your feet forward to the outside of your hands.
  3. Keeping your chest up, lift your hands off the floor and hold a low squat position.
  4. Return your hands to the floor between your feet and hop your feet back into high plank position.
  5. Repeat.

5. Weighted Curtsy Lunge

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Lower Body
  1. Start standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells at your sides with your palms facing each other.
  2. Without rotating your hips, lift your left leg and take a big diagonal step back, crossing it behind your right leg.
  3. Bend both knees and slowly lower down toward the floor in a curtsy.
  4. Once your back thigh is parallel with the floor (or as close as possible), stand back up and return to your starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other leg.

6. Skater Jump

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Lower Body
  1. Start on the left end of your mat with your feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees.
  2. Leap to the right side of your mat, pushing off of your left foot and landing on your right leg only on the right side of your mat. Your left leg should tuck behind your right calf.
  3. Jump across to the other side of the mat onto your left leg. Your right leg should now be tucked behind your left calf.
  4. Repeat.

7. Push-Up

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Upper Body
  1. Start in a high plank position on your hands and toes, with your hands under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
  2. Contract your abs so that your hips don't sag and your back doesn't arch.
  3. Bend your elbows as you lower your chest to the ground, keeping your hips level. Your elbows should be at about 45-degree angles from your body.
  4. Once you lower as far as you can, push yourself back up to a plank.

8. Hammer Curl to Sprawl

JW Player placeholder image
Time 50 Sec
Activity HIIT
Region Full Body
  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, core braced.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, holding the weights with a neutral grip, palms facing your body.
  3. Keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, curl the weights up to shoulder height.
  4. Lower the weights down to the floor and hop your feet into high plank position.
  5. Hop your feet forward toward your hands.
  6. Keeping your chest upright, return to your standing position.
  7. Repeat.

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