This 12-Minute Cardio and Abs Workout from Kayla Itsines Is Perfect If You're Short On Time

Don't let the total time fool you — this workout is anything but easy thanks to a combo of high-intensity cardio and strength training that’ll get your heart pumping.

ICYMI, the SWEAT app recently released four new HIIT programs that offer a wide range of levels for beginners and advanced athletes alike. One you'll be super jazzed about is from none other than fitness powerhouse Kayla Itsines herself. The HIIT Cardio and Abs program was designed by Itsines to level up your high-intensity interval training by introducing new moves that push you outside your comfort zone.

"We often put a limit on ourselves based on what we think we can do," says Itsines. "There are so many women out there who haven't yet discovered what they are capable of and that's why I'm so excited to launch my HIIT Cardio and Abs program. I want to help even more women reach their fitness goals and realize that they really can do it."

The new six-week program features a blend of strength and cardio exercises with a strong emphasis on core work. To help you get a feel for what you might expect, Itsines created the exclusive 12-minute cardio and abs workout below.

By alternating between high-intensity cardio exercises and traditional bodyweight strength moves, this circuit will keep your heart rate elevated while still giving you a chance to recover in between. The dynamic exercises will fire up your glutes, quads, shoulders, and core as well as challenge your coordination to help build functional strength. (Related: Try This 15-Minute Lower-Body Workout from Kayla Itsines' New Low-Impact Program)

Keep in mind that the below routine doesn't include a specified warm-up or cool-down, but Istines recommends getting a few movements in ahead of the sequence to increase your range of motion and reduce injury. For a warm-up, aim for three to five minutes of moderate-intensity cardio, such as jogging in place or jumping rope, to help rev up your heart rate and warm up your muscles. She also recommends doing some dynamic stretches, such as leg swings and torso twists.

Similarly, following your session, Itsines suggests doing a three to five-minute cool-down, which could include going for a short walk to slowly bring your heart rate back down to a resting state or practicing static stretching by holding a single position for at least 20 seconds. This will increase your flexibility and mobility and also help you recover faster from any lingering soreness. (See also: This Weekly Workout Plan from Kayla Itsines Takes the Guesswork Out of Exercise)

Try-This-12-Minute-Cardio-and-Abs-Workout-from-Kayla-Itsines'-New-HIIT-Program-Courtesy-SWEAT
Courtesy of SWEAT

12-Minute Express Cardio and Abs Workout

How it works: Complete each exercise for the designated amount of time back to back with no rests in between. Repeat four times through.

What you'll need: a yoga mat and open space

Pop Squat

A. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out. Clasp hands in front of chest and inhale.

B. Inhale and push through heels to explode upward, bringing feet together and extending arms at an angle behind body while jumping into the air.

C. Reposition legs to land in a sumo squat position, maintaining soft knees to avoid injury and keeping back within a 45- to 90-degree angle to hips. That's one rep.

Repeat for 20 seconds.

Plank Rotation

A. Start in a forearm plank position with elbows directly under shoulders and forearms under chest so that right fist is in front of left elbow and left fist is behind right elbow. Brace core and keep spine neutral.

B. Shift weight to the left side, release right forearm, and extend right arm upward while simultaneously turning torso to face the long edge of the mat. Lower right arm, untwist torso, and return to starting position. (There should be tension in the left shoulder and core throughout the movement.)

C. Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.

Repeat for 40 seconds.

Modified Jump Lunge

A. Start in a lunge position with right foot forward and left knee back. Make sure both knees are at a 90-degree angle.

B. Push through heels, engage core, and jump up into the air. Reposition legs mid-air to land in a neutral standing position so that core is engaged, chest is aligned with the pelvis, and feet are shoulder-width apart.

C. Without resting, jump back up into the air, but this time, land in a lunge position with the left leg forward and right leg back. Continue alternating.

Repeat for 20 seconds.

Bent-Leg Sit-Up

A. Start by lying flat on back with knees bent and feet pressed firmly on the mat. Place hands behind earlobes and engage core by drawing belly button to spine. This is starting position.

B. Inhale. Exhale, slowly lifting head, shoulder beds, and torso off the ground. Lengthen spine to sit up tall.

C. Inhale. Slowly lower down to the mat to return to starting position.

Repeat for 40 seconds.

Broad Jump and High Knees

A. Stand at one end of the mat with feet shoulder-width apart and engage core.

B. Inhale. Swing arms backward, hinge at the hips, and bend knees until upper legs are parallel with floor. Make sure knees are in line with toes and back remains between a 45- and 90-degree angle to hips. Prepare to jump.

C. Exhale. Swing arms forward to do a broad jump, exploding as far forward as possible. Land softly to avoid injury.

C. Readjust standing position so that feet are hip-width apart. Prepare for high knees.

D. Transfer weight to left foot, bend right leg to bring right knee to chest, then lower right leg to plant right foot on the floor. With weight on right foot, bend left leg to bring left knee to chest. Continue to perform high knees like such, moving backward toward the other end of the mat at a running pace

Repeat for 20 seconds.

Bent-Leg Raise

A. Start by lying flat on back with hands tucked beneath glutes for stability. Draw ribs to hips to engage core and lift legs so that they're slightly off of the mat. This is starting position.

B. Inhale. Bend knees and, using abdominals, draw them toward chest. Make sure to keep back glued to the mat and feet sinched together.

C. Exhale. Slowly extend legs to return to starting position.

Repeat for 40 seconds.

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