High-intensity interval training, otherwise known as HIIT, can be as intense as it sounds. You're putting in maximum effort for short bursts of time and only have brief periods of rest. It's a cardio-based style of exercise that, if done consistently and with proper eating habits, may help you build lean muscle and shed fat — belly fat specifically. HIIT can also be done as a specific form of strength training (here's an example), and you can use it as a way to structure your treadmill workouts. You can torch calories fast and, as it turns out, burn calories even after you're done exercising due to something called the "afterburn effect," or EPOC. Now, who wouldn't want that?
ISSA-certified personal trainer Melissa Kendter knows that starting HIIT can be hard. So, she designed a HIIT workout that will ease you into this type of interval training. "It can be done inside, outside, while you are traveling, at home, at the gym . . . literally anywhere," Melissa told POPSUGAR. This is considered HIIT for someone who hasn't tried it before but still has athletic ability, since she incorporates some compound exercises. It's low impact, has minimal rounds, and requires no added weight.
15-Minute HIIT Workout For Beginners
To warm up, do the following: 10 reps of front to back leg swings on each side, 10 reps of windmill toe touch on each side, five forward and five backward large arm circles, 10 reps of alternating knee hug on each side, and 10 reps of alternating side reach on each side.
Next, do each of the following exercises for 30 seconds followed by a 30-second break. Complete all five moves, then rest for one to two minutes and repeat the cycle one more time.
- High plank: 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest
- Sumo squat to standing oblique crunch: 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest
- Mountain climber: 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest
- Alternating side lunge: 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest
- Bodyweight squat to alternating kickback: 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of rest
Melissa doesn't want you to stand still while you're taking your breaks in between exercises and rounds. You can march in place, do slow arm circles, or just pace around the room, she said. "Studies have proven that when you move and engage in active recovery during rest periods, it actually helps dramatically reduce that burning sensation or fatigue sensation that you get during the intense part of the exercises," she explained. It also keeps you from getting stiff, she said. "However, make sure you always listen to your body and know if you're pushing yourself past the breaking point."
Once you've mastered this workout — which, might we add, has a bonus of targeting your legs and core — and want to make it more difficult, you can decrease the rest periods and increase the work periods. For instance, you can do 40 seconds on, 20 seconds off. You can also add in weights for the moves other than high plank and mountain climbers, or add in more rounds (try three rounds instead of two). Ahead, check out how to do each of the five exercises before you get your sweat on!