When it comes to short-yet-effective exercise routines, a full-body HIIT workout is tough to beat.
“Probably the number one reason why HIIT workouts are popular is because they’re get-in-and-get-out-quickly kind of workouts,” certified personal trainer Francine Delgado-Lugo, CPT, movement and strength coach and cofounder of Form Fitness Brooklyn, tells SELF.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it’s an exercise method that involves bursts of max-effort work followed by shorter periods of rest. There are tons of benefits of regular HIIT training, including increased VO2 max (how much oxygen your body is able to use during exercise) as well as improvements in insulin sensitivity (how responsive your cells are to insulin), cardiovascular function, and blood pressure, as SELF previously reported. Like we mentioned, HIIT is also super-efficient since the high work-to-rest ratio means you can get a vigorous workout in a short amount of time.
Now, what makes a good HIIT workout? First and foremost, it should feature exercises you know how to do well. Delgado-Lugo explains it this way: “The better you know your form to be on a specific movement, the more efficient you’ll be able to be in your movement, and the more work you’ll be able to get done in that short period of time.”
A good HIIT workout also includes movements that work your muscles and joints through multiple planes of motion and not just forward and backward, as this helps improve your ability to move safely and efficiently in pretty much any scenario. Moreover, a solid HIIT routine features compound movements instead of isolation exercises, since the former involves multiple muscle groups working (versus just one) and thus more effectively spikes your heart rate. Focusing on compound moves also ensures your HIIT workout targets your entire body, instead of honing in on just one area.
With all this in mind, Delgado-Lugo created the below five-move full-body HIIT workout that will spike your heart rate, challenge your muscles, and have you sweating in multiple planes of motion. This 20-minute routine is truly total-body: You’ll smoke every major muscle group with moves like the plank up-down, squat, and sit-up to overhead reach.
Important callout: Given all amazing benefits of HIIT, you may be tempted to do this routine for every workout. But Delgado-Lugo recommends slotting HIIT into your schedule just two to three days a week. That way, you still have time for strength training and recovery—two other super-important aspects of a well-balanced fitness program. (Need some ideas for strength training? Consider this four-move upper-body workout, this five-move full-body circuit, or this beginner-friendly core routine.)
Also important: Before you jump into this workout, take a few minutes to gently warm-up your body. Simple exercises like glute bridges, hip circles, squats, and modified jumping jacks can help prepare you for the movements to come and reduce your risk of injury.
Ready for an awesome full-body HIIT workout that’ll leave you sweaty and breathless? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know.
What you need: Just your bodyweight. You may also want an exercise mat for comfort.
- Jumping jack
- Skater hop to floor touch
- Sit-up to overhead reach
- Plank up-down
- Do each move for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds before starting the next exercise.
- After you’ve done all five moves in the circuit, take a short break to catch your breath. How much rest you need will depend on your fitness level and other factors, but in general, aim for 30 to 60 seconds of rest in between circuits.
- Complete 4 rounds total.
Demoing the moves below are Jowan Ortega (GIFs 1 and 4), a personal trainer, sports performance coach, and partner at Form Fitness in Brooklyn; Nikki Pebbles (GIF 2), a special populations personal trainer in New York City; Heather Boddy (GIF 3), a group fitness instructor and creator of the Geeknasium workout program; and Lanoa Curry (GIF 5), a group fitness instructor in NYC who teaches classes at Mile High Run Club and Crunch Gym.