Spend five minutes Googling ‘best workouts’ and you’ll quickly discover this thing called HIIT. No, it’s not a bad spelling of ‘hit’ (as in, say, ‘hit the gym’), it actually stands for high intensity interval training, and has quickly become one of today’s biggest fitness trends thanks to its effectiveness in getting super-quick results in the shortest time.
“In the busy world we live in, if you’re too tired after the commute and family time is short, you might tell yourself you can’t spare an hour,” explains Laura Jobes, health and wellness mentor and Beachbody coach.
“But HIIT can be done in a shorter time period, and it raises your heart rate so intensely that your body goes into overdrive to repair the cells. You burn more calories and fat over the next 24 hours, and studies slow that HIIT burns fat stores first, instead of muscle.”
A key exercise in the HIIT arsenal is the burpee. A move involving a jump, a quick get down into ‘plank’ followed by a quick jump right back up again, it’s a Marmite exercise, known for being brutal, yet, unarguably effective.
As intense as it is effective, it works nearly all the muscles in the body –shoulders, biceps, abs, glutes, calves – because you move your own body weight throughout. But if just the word fills you with feelings of dread, try one of these exercises, instead.
Repeat all three times, with 20-second intervals as fast as you can, with a 10 second rest, for a full body blast.
Jumping alternate lunges
These work your legs and glutes but also your core, as you alternate jumping from one leg lunge to the other, and must then stabilise your entire body before launching off into the next one.
Combining stretching of large muscle groups (in your leg and butt) with metabolism-torching jump training, this one’s a real winner for burning fat and getting your heart pumping.
Sound simple but are deceptively good for working up a proper sweat. Down in plank position, keeping your bum raised and your back straight, alternately pull in each knee towards your chest and quickly move between legs, while keeping your arms straight and strong.
Done properly, these will tone your inner thighs and calves, but also demand a tough core to keep you balanced and upright while you power through those legs, and also build shoulder and arm strength as you support your body weight throughout.
Alternate side skaters
Side skaters involve jumping from one leg to the other, and moving your arms to the opposite side simultaneously, in a ‘skater-style’ move. Once again requiring leg and core strength, skaters get your heart rate up while also working your shoulders, and stabilising your entire body weight for a full-on workout routine.
You can make it harder or easier depending on how far your jump and how high.
Jab cross punches
Another deceptively effective exercise, this one packs a powerful punch (literally). Bounce lightly on your feet and punch straight ahead of you (jab), followed by a sideways hit as if you were going for the wall directly next to you (cross). Done with purpose and power, these will get your shoulders, biceps and back working, as well as tighten your abs as you cross, and getting a serious rhythm up will add that cardio hit in too.
Push-up walking planks
These take a number of cues from the dreaded burpees but are far lower impact, so unlikely to damage your joints or cause quite so much stress.
From a standing position, touch your toes without bending your knees, and then walk your hands out in front of you to a starting push up position. Drop down into a push-up (go on your knees at first, if you need to), before walking your hands right back up in reverse, to standing. Not only do these increase flexibility and work the hamstrings, they also ask a serious amount of your core, arms, and shoulders.
As Laura says, “You can totally get fit at home without equipment and no gym membership. I urge you to dig deep. Visualise how you want to feel and what you want to look like, and track your progress. All exercises can be modified, so start at the beginning and work up.”