Are you still dragging yourself through 45-minute steady state cardio sessions instead of trying out the much more efficient HIIT workout style exercise routines? Are you sticking to your usual group classes and long bouts of cardio for your go-to exercise program, at least when you have the time? If so, you may want to pay special attention to what I’m about to share with you. Adding a HIIT workout or two to your current exercise regimen could boost your results, help you achieve the level of fitness you crave, and save you time to boot.
Let’s Review: What Is HIIT?
I know we’ve talked about it before, and I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “HIIT workout,” but what does it mean, and why should you be doing this type of exercise?
“HIIT” stands for “high-intensity interval training.” It typically refers to a short workout in which quick bursts of all-out effort are followed by a small active rest. This is repeated a certain number of times and is preceded by a warmup and followed by a cool down.
There are several advantages to this type of workout:
- It’s quick—this workout can fit into almost anyone’s crazy schedule. And in our time-crunched world, this is awesome! HIIT workouts can range anywhere from 4 – 30 minutes, including warm-up and cool-down phases.
- It’s effective—studies show that using this type of cardiovascular exercise is a great way to get fantastic results and improve your cardio capacity.
- Burn calories longer—by employing a HIIT-style workout, you engage what is called “EPOC” which, according to Wikipedia, is “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. EPOC, informally called afterburn, is a measurably increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity.”
7-Minute HIIT Workout
Think a HIIT workout might be just the thing to squeeze an exercise into an extremely busy day? Give this short 7-minute routine a try. Keep in mind, as with anything in life, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. For maximum results, you must put forth maximum effort during the short bursts of activity. If you don’t, you won’t reap all the potential benefits of the HIIT workout.
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According to the American College of Sports Medicine, this popular 7-minute workout, promoted in the New York Times, is an effective way to ramp up your level of fitness and burn off body fat. Using your own body weight and only a chair and a wall as equipment, you can complete this tough workout in the comfort of your own home with no cost to you—in record time with maximal results. How great is that?!
The Scientific 7-Minute Workout
Start with a 5-minute warmup with slow to moderate walking. Next, perform each exercise for as many repetitions as you can fit into a 30-second interval with 10 seconds rest in between sets. No slacking!
- Jumping Jacks—do as many as you can within a 30-second period.
- Wall Sits—start with your back against the wall and your feet hip-width apart. With your arms crossed in front of you, slowly slide your back down the wall until you are in a “sitting” position. Hold this for up to 30 seconds.
- Push-Ups—do as many as you can within 30 seconds. (Doing knee push-ups is also totally acceptable as long as you’re still challenging yourself.)
- Crunches—while lying on your back with your knees bent and feet facing forward, slowly raise your shoulders and torso off the ground and toward your knees by tightening your abdominal muscles and contracting your torso toward your knees. Make sure you keep your back straight (not rounded) and do not pull your head forward at the neck. If you find you are pulling on your neck, place your hands across your chest. Again, you’ll do as many crunches as you can for 30 seconds.
- Step-Ups—you can step up onto a bench, a chair, a crate, or even a high step. Just make sure it’s on a steady surface. Once you have both feet on the chair, slowly step back onto the ground, one foot at a time. Repeat for 30 seconds.
- Squats—using only your body weight, from a standing position, squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Keep your weight toward your heels, and as you bend your knees, push your rear end back and down as if you were getting ready to take a seat. Return to standing and repeat.
- Triceps Dips—sit on the edge of a secure chair. With your hands flat on the edge of the chair and your legs straight out in front of you, slide forward off the chair and slowly bend at the elbows until they form a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position and repeat. If this is too difficult, you can start with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor and gradually straighten your legs as your triceps and shoulders get stronger.
- Planks—begin in a pushup position (knees off the floor this time), and lower yourself onto your forearms. Your arms should form a 90-degree angle, and the rest of your body should be a straight line. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
- Running in Place—this one is pretty self-explanatory. Continue running for 30 seconds.
- Lunges—from a standing position with your hands on your hips, step forward with your right leg until both knees are at a 90-degree angle with the back knee directly below your hip. Push forward with your opposite foot until you return to the standing position and repeat, beginning with your left leg. Keep lunging for 30 seconds.
- Push-Ups with Rotation—start in a pushup position but do not lower your body. Instead, slowly and under control, lift your right arm and, while keeping it straight, raise it out to your side and toward the ceiling as you twist your torso. Return to the start position with both hands on the ground in front of you and repeat on the opposite side. Repeat alternating sides for 30 seconds.
- Side Planks—lie down on your right side with one foot on top of the other, and position your right forearm under your body and facing perpendicular to your torso with your hand flat on the ground. With your opposite arm held loosely along your left side, lift your hips off the ground to form a straight line and hold this position for 15 seconds. Repeat for 15 seconds on the opposite side.
If you’re super brave and feeling energetic, you can repeat this HIIT workout cycle one or two more times to really ramp up the fat-burning potential. And, don’t forget to cool down afterwards with a slow gentle jog or walk for 5 – 10 minutes.
And, just in case you’re looking for a little extra motivation or an easy way to keep track, there are lots of guides and programs to help you get started. Apps, of course, are all the rage right now, and there are some great ones you can try right on your phone. Here’s a list of HIIT workout apps you might like:
Yes, you really can get results in just 7 minutes if you’re willing to “HIIT it hard.” So, take a few minutes (how about 7?!) to give it a try. You, too, can boost your fitness in no time at all.