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The 30-Day Cardio HIIT Challenge That’s Guaranteed to Boost Your Heart Rate

What's a surefire way to know you're working hard? Well, besides sweat, a telltale sign is your heart rate. While a steady but elevated number can indicate that you're exercising at a steady pace (or you're anxious/nervous about something, LBH), a number in your target heart rate zone or maximum heart rate zone means you're really getting after it and giving that workout all you've got. (Learn more about resting heart rate, target heart rate, and max heart rate and how these numbers are different for everyone from the American Heart Association.)

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With that in mind, we tapped certified personal trainer Diana Mitrea (@diana.fitness) to create a 30-day challenge that will challenge your heart rate and cardiovascular fitness—you'll break a sweat, track your progress, and oh yeah, have some fun, too. 

How it works: Each week you'll be given a new four-exercise circuit, and each day you'll increase the number of rounds you complete of each circuit. There's a strength training day built in toward the end of each week to balance out all the cardio with some toning moves. Then, you'll tackle your toughest circuit yet, and finally, close out the week with a much-deserved rest day. Repeat the pattern all over again with a new circuit.

When you hit that strength-training day, you can grab some dumbbells, hit the weight room, opt for bodyweight moves, or choose from some of our favorite strength training workouts here:  The 5-Minute Rockstar Arms WorkoutThe Full-Body Kettlebell WorkoutThe Heavy Dumbbell Workout That Builds Strong Legs.

Each circuit is designed using the 30-20-10 model: You'll do 30 seconds of moderate intensity, 20 seconds of increased intensity, and 10 seconds of give-it-all-you've-got intensity for each exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest before moving on to the next exercise. (This works especially well if you're monitoring your heart rate, as you will see your heart rate jump not only for those last 10 seconds, but throughout the daily workout. Plus you'll be able to track your recovery heart rate and how much you progress throughout the month.)

And FYI, AMRAP = 10 reps of each move in that week's circuit; as many rounds as possible. Sorry, no rest breaks here. Make sure you keep track of how many rounds (or partial rounds) you were able to complete in the allotted time. 

Focus more on crushing your workout and less on keeping track of time with the Fitbit Charge 2, which has an interval timer built into the tracker. Just set the interval length and choose the number of rounds, and you'll be good to start sweating. Join the Cardio HIIT Challenge today or any day, and don't forget to share your progress, your sweaty selfies, and your motivational pics by using #CardioMaxChallenge on social. 

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30-Day Cardio HIIT Challenge

Week 1

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Week 1 Cardio HIIT Circuit

High Knees with Arms Overhead
Place palms together and bring both arms directly overhead, keeping them straight and pointing up. Quickly run in place, bringing knees up toward chest in fast succession.

Plank Jack
Begin in plank position, hands under shoulders and feet hip-width apart. Jump feet wider than hips, and then back to hip-width apart. Repeat quickly.

180-Degree Squat Jump
Come down to squat position (chest up, weight in heels, butt back and down). Propel yourself upward, twisting so as to land facing opposite direction. Repeat twisting in opposite direction.

Squat Thrust
Begin by standing, then bring hands down to floor and jump feet out into plank position. Jump feet forward to outside of hands and stand up tall, squeezing glutes to rise. Repeat.

Week 2

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Week 2 Cardio HIIT Circuit

Plyometric Lunge
Bring one foot forward and the other back to come to lunge position (legs at 90-degree angles). Push evenly up in both feet, propelling body upward as you switch feet midair. Land softly in lunge position with opposite leg in front. Repeat, alternating legs.

Push-Up with Hand Release
Begin in plank position with hands just outside shoulders. Slow and controlled, bring chest ground and lift both hands just slightly off ground. Quickly return hands to floor and press back into top of push-up position. Repeat.

Touchdown Jack
Stand tall with arms by your sides. Jump feet wide into sumo squat (wide squat) and tap one hand to ground in between legs; other arm rests at your side. Jump feet back in and stand tall. Repeat movement, jumping feet into sumo squat, tapping opposite hand to ground. Repeat, alternating sides. 

Flutter Kicks
Lying on back with legs stretched straight and long, reach arms toward lower body, and lift chest, bringing shoulder blades off ground. Keep upper body still while kicking legs up and down in small range of motion, repeatedly.

Week 3

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Week 3 Cardio HIIT Circuit

Lateral Lunge with Arm Extension
Stand with arms overhead. Lunge to right and bring arms down to sides. Push into right heel to return to standing, bringing arms back up overhead. Repeat movement on left side and continuing alternating.

Triceps Push-Up with Side Hop
Begin in plank position with hands under shoulders. Lower chest toward ground (hover just above floor) and press into palms to lift back up. Jump both feet to right side (both knees toward right elbow), then quickly jump feet back to starting position. Repeat triceps push-up and jump both feet to left side (both knees toward left elbow). Return to starting position and repeat.

Tuck Up with Jack Knife
Lie on back with feet extended, hovering just above floor and arms overhead. Sit up and bend knees, reaching hands to toes. Return to starting position, then sit up, reaching right hand to left foot. Return to starting position, then sit up reaching left hand to right foot. Repeat movement pattern.

Mountain Climbers
Begin in plank position with hands directly under shoulders. Quickly alternate bringing right and left knee toward chest.

Week 4

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Week 4 Cardio HIIT Circuit

Reverse Plank Toe Tap
Begin in reverse plank position—facing up, hands under shoulders, feet under knees (knees bent at 90-degree angle). Lift left foot and reach for it with right hand, return to reverse plank, and then bring right foot up to meet left hand. Repeat.

Fast Feet
Begin with chest lifted and feet just wider than hips, knees softly bent. Run in place quickly, keeping feet very low to the ground.

Sprinter Sit-Up
Lie on ground with arms by your sides. Propel upper and lower body up toward center with arms in running position (think: sprinter start) bringing left knee to meet right elbow. Return to starting position and repeat on opposite side, bringing right knee to meet left elbow. Repeat.

Lateral Jump Burpee
Begin standing and bring hands to ground shoulder-width apart. Jump feet out to plank position, then drop chest to the ground. In one quick movement, push chest off ground and jump feet forward to meet hands. Return to standing, then quickly jump to right side. Repeat burpee, then jump to left side. Continue movement pattern.

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