This inventive circuit features both slow and explosive reps to fire up your muscles and metabolism.

By By Mary Anderson
March 27, 2018
Photo: Undrey / Shutterstock

Many HIIT routines have you revving hard right out of the gate, but not this one.

"People always think that fast is the only way to raise your heart rate," says Nike master trainer Max Artsis, the director of exercise science and continuing education at Rokke Performance gym in Portland, OR. "But by instead increasing the time your muscles are under tension, you can send your heart rate through the roof, even when you're decreasing the number of reps." It's all about tempo: At certain points you're strategically stretching out how long it takes to do a single rep, at others you're doing them rapid-fire. (First things first: Find your personal heart-rate zones.)

"Tempo work will show you where you're strong, where you're weak, and what you are made of," Artsis says. (Try these agility cone drills to skyrocket your speed.)

You have basically five recurring moves (with a few progressions) in the tempo workout Artsis created here. The first time around, you'll do a single slow-motion rep of each exercise. ("This helps to create a strong mental awareness of your body and activate your core," he explains.) Your next set of reps is done on a four-count lower, quick lift-up tempo followed by 20 seconds of reps at max speed.

In this way, you've overloaded the muscle so that it firms, but each rep feels like less of a slog as it speeds up. "After lifting a monster truck tire, a Prius tire would feel pretty light by comparison, right?" Artsis says. And that's pretty motivating too.

Series 1

Do 1 full repetition of each exercise in 60 seconds. (Scale down: Do each rep in 30 seconds.)

  • Split squat: Stand with feet hip-width apart and lift left leg behind you, resting foot on a chair or a bench. Lower for 30 seconds until right knee is bent 90 degrees; take 30 seconds to stand. Switch legs; repeat.
  • Push-up: Start on floor in plank on palms. Lower chest to floor for 30 seconds; take 30 seconds to return to plank.
  • Deadlift: Stand with feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand, with palms facing fronts of thighs. Hinge forward from hips for 30 seconds until back is parallel to floor, arms hanging down. Take 30 seconds to slowly return to standing.
  • Inverted row: Stand facing a low crossbar (like a chin-up bar at chest height) or a TRX Suspension Trainer. Grasp bar with underhand grip, stepping feet forward so body is at a 45-degree angle to floor, arms extended. Slowly bend elbows to bring chest to bar in 30 seconds. Take 30 seconds to lower. (Scale down: Do a bent-over row with dumbbells.)
  • Hollow body hold: Lie faceup on floor with arms stretched behind head, legs extended forward. Engage abs, raising arms, shoulders, and legs about a foot off floor. Hold for 1 minute.

Series 2

Do eight reps of each move, lowering on a count of 4 and then immediately lifting. Alternate moves with those in Series 3: Go from split squats to split jumps; push-ups to plyo push-ups; deadlifts to broad jumps; inverted rows to fast inverted rows; V-ups to alternating V-ups.

  • Split squat
  • Push-up
  • Deadlift
  • Inverted row
  • V-up: Lie faceup on floor with arms behind head, legs extended. Engage abs, lifting arms, torso, and legs off floor into a V shape, then slowly lower to starting position on a count of 4. Do 8 reps.

Series 3

Do each move for 20 seconds, performing as many reps as possible.

  • Split jump: Start in lunge, left leg forward, knees bent 90 degrees. Jump up, switching legs in midair to land in lunge with right leg forward. Continue alternating. (Scale down: Quickly alternate lunges without jumping up.)
  • Plyo push-up: Perform a push-up, powerfully pressing upward so palms come off floor for a split second. (Scale down: Do from knees.)
  • Broad jump: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, arms bent by sides. Jump forward as far as you can, landing with knees soft; immediately repeat.
  • Inverted row
  • Alternating V-up: Lie faceup on floor with arms by sides, legs extended forward. Lift torso as you reach right hand to left foot directly above you. Quickly return to starting position; switch sides, repeat.