If you’re short on time and looking to work up a sweat, high-intensity interval training is one of the best things you can do. HIIT training can burn a huge amount of calories in a relatively short amount of time, plus it boosts your metabolic rate, meaning you’ll burn calories for a few hours after you’ve finished your workout.
Unlike heading out for a 30-minute jog, or spending time spinning on an exercise bike, during a HIIT workout, intense exercise is alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. Typically a HIIT workout will be between 10 to 40 minutes long.
But where do you start? If you’re looking for a home-workout to get your heart rate up, we’ve found it. Alex Crockford, the creator of the CrockFit fitness app, has created a beginner-friendly HIIT workout that requires zero equipment for Tom’s Guide. All you’ll need is an exercise mat (we’ve found the best yoga mats that double as exercise mats here) and yourself.
A 35-minute HIIT workout suitable for beginners:
The key focus in this workout is to build full-body strength and cardio fitness. It will take a total of 35 minutes to complete, with a warm-up of four minutes. The main part of the workout is a circuit of eight exercises — you’ll work for 40 seconds, and rest for 20 seconds, repeating the circuit three times.
For the warm-up, perform each of the following exercises for 30-seconds:
Arm circles: To do arm circles, stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your arms outstretched to your sides. Think about drawing small circles with your fingers as you move your arms.
Torso rotation: To do a standing torso rotation, slowly move your torso from side to side, focusing on moving with your trunk.
Reach down, reach up: This one is as simple as it sounds, reach down to your toes, then reach your arms up above your head to the sky.
Downward dog walk: Start in a downward dog position, and slowly bend and flex each knee, as if you are walking.
Climb stepper stretch (left): Step your left foot forward and keep a slight bend in the front knee, your right leg should be straight, and you should feel the stretch down your back leg.
Climb stepper stretch (right): Repeat the stretch above, but step your right leg forward.
Bird dog: To do a bird dog, start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Slowly extend your right arm and stretch your left leg out behind you, pause, before returning to your starting position and repeating the move on the opposite side.
Jog on the spot: This one is exactly as it sounds — jog on the spot for 30 seconds to get your heart rate up.
For the main circuit, repeat the following circuit three times, with a 60-second rest between each circuit. This part of the workout will take 28 minutes. Perform each exercise for 40 seconds and rest for 20 seconds.
Alternate forward lunge: To do a forward lunge, start at the back of your mat with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your glutes (squeeze them together) and brace your core as you step forward with your right or left foot, making sure your legs stay shoulder-width apart and your hips stay facing forward. Keeping your spine perpendicular to the floor, lower your body to the ground until both legs are at a 90-degree angle. The front knee should be over the front ankle, and your back knee should be underneath your hip. Press back from the front foot into your starting position and repeat the move on the other side.
Read more on how to do a lunge here.
Push-up: To do a push-up, start by getting into a plank position, with your weight underneath your shoulders and your palms flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Straighten your arms and engage your abs, thinking about sucking your belly button into your spine.You should have a straight line from your heels to the crown of your head. Slowly, with control, bend your arms and lower your chest to the floor, pause, then raise back to your starting position.
Read more on how to do a push-up here.
Squat: To do a squat, stand with your feet a little further than shoulder-width apart. Imagine you’re standing on a clock-face, and point your toes to 11 o’clock and one o’clock. To start the squat, bend your knees and hips as if you’re sitting on a chair that’s directly beneath you.
As you squat down, push your knees outwards so that they track directly over your middle toe. As you squat lower, push your chest out, and keep your eyes looking straight ahead to keep your back flat and avoid hunching or rounding your spine. Squat down as low as you can while keeping your knees in line with your feet and your back flat, then push with your feet to stand back up to your starting position.
Read more on how to do a squat here.
Running on the spot: This one is as simple as it sounds, run on the spot for 40 seconds. Think about driving your knees up and swinging your arms.
Mountain climber: The easiest way to explain the movement involved in mountain climbers is running in a plank position. To do a mountain climber, start in a plank position, with your hands shoulder-width apart, your back flat, and your core engaged (think about sucking your belly button into your spine). From here, bend your left knee and bring it into your chest, as far as you can. Pause, then straighten your leg back to its starting position and bring your right knee in underneath your body. Keep repeating this movement and build up speed until you’re running your knees in and out.
Here’s more information on how to do a mountain climber.
Broad jump with shuffle back: For this exercise, start with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with your feet slightly turned out, jump your body forward, and as you land, squat down. After the squat, shuffle backward and repeat the movement.
High plank rotation: Get into a high plank position, with your core engaged and your shoulders over your wrists. Think about keeping your core engaged, sucking your stomach muscles into your spine, slowly lift one hand off the ground and lift it towards the sky, rotating your torso to follow your hand. Rotate it back to your starting position, and repeat on the other side.
This part of the workout should take three minutes. Do each exercise for 30-seconds.
Child’s pose: To do a child's pose, kneel down and sit on your knees. Lean forward, and lie your torso on the ground with your arms outstretched in front of you and your forehead resting on the floor.
Cobra stretch: Start by lying on your stomach on the mat. Bend your arms underneath your shoulders and push your torso up and off the ground. Take your eyegaze slightly up. You should feel the stretch in your lower back.
Hip flexor stretch right: Start by kneeling on your mat and place your right foot forward, so there is a 90-degree bend in the knee. Keeping your left knee on the floor, lean your torso forward until you feel a stretch in your right hip.
Hip flexor stretch left: Repeat the same stretch above on the opposite side.
Standing forward fold: Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, fold forward, reaching your hands towards the floor. It doesn’t matter if you can’t reach the floor, but you should feel a stretch down the back of your body.
Standing side bend: Lifting your arms above your head, take your arms and upper body out to the right, holding the stretch for a few seconds, before slowly moving your lean over to the left.