High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. It is without question one of the most effective and efficient ways to burn fat and boost aerobic capacity, but what most people don't realize is that it doesn't have to be high impact. If you're nursing an injury (or want to avoid ever doing so in the future), you can still reap the fat-burning, metabolism-boosting benefits of a HIIT workout.
This quick workout plan was designed to help you push to your max without pounding your joints. You don’t need a single piece of equipment or a lot of space (and you won’t be bothering your neighbors with loud, thumping jumps), so this "quiet cardio" routine is perfect for a hotel room or small apartment.
How it works: Three days per week, do 1 set of every exercise in the circuit, performing each move at maximum intensity for 45 seconds, followed by 15 seconds of active recovery (step side to side or walk around the room to catch your breath). Complete 2 to 4 total rounds, depending on how much time and energy you have.
Total Time: up to 15 minutes
1. Stationary Skater
Stand with feet wider than hip-width apart. Bend right knee into a side lunge, extending left leg and pointing left foot, driving left arm forward and right arm back with elbows bent.
Staying low in squat position, quickly shift weight to left leg, lowering into a left side lunge, bending left knee and pointing right foot. Swing right arm forward and left arm back. Repeat "skating" from side to side as quickly as possible for 45 seconds.
2. Jump-Free Burpees
Stand tall with feet hip-width apart, arms extended overhead.
Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Place hands on the floor and quickly walk feet back into a full plank position. Immediately lower into a pushup. Press up, walk feet back into squat, and return to standing, reaching arms overhead. That's one rep.
3. Seated Tuck Jumps
Sit on the edge of a sturdy chair or box, leaning back slightly. Pull abs in tight, and bend knees about 90-degrees. Point toes lightly on the floor, and bend elbows and hands in front of shoulders.
Quickly lift knees up and lightly tap thighs with hands, sitting upright as you draw legs in. Immediately return to start and repeat as quickly as possible for 45 seconds. Tip: Think 'up' during this movement—try to accent the lift, rather than the lowering, of the legs to work your abs more and help keep your heart rate high.
4. Kickin' Plank
Begin in a full plank position with feet hip-width apart.
Quickly kick right leg to the left, as left hand reaches toward right foot and torso rotates to the right, pivoting on left foot. Return to start (rotate back to full plank) and repeat on the other side. Continue alternating sides, moving as quickly as possible for 45 seconds.
5. Butterfly Squats
With feet slightly wider than hip width, lower into a squat position with arms extended in front of chest. Place left palm on top of right.
Lower arms down by hips in preparation to quickly stand up, reaching arms overhead and lifting heels off the floor. Immediately return to start position and repeat as quickly as possible for 45 seconds. Tip: This move should feel like a squat jump without leaving the floor. Make your movement quick and explosive, but instead of jumping up just lift the heels off the floor.
6. Rising Lunge
Begin in a lunge with left leg forward, arms bent by sides, hands in fists.
Quickly extend legs and rise up onto balls of feet as arms extend overhead, fingertips reaching to ceiling. Immediately return to start and repeat as quickly as possible for 45 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. Tip:This move should feel like a lunge jump without leaving the floor. Make your movement quick and explosive, but instead of jumping up, just lift the heels off the floor.