This HIIT Workout Will Empower You to Conquer Whatever Comes Your Way This Week

This 45-minute endorphin-boosting workout is perfect for taming your election-related stress.

Photo: Samantha Jacoby of Sjphotostudio

Between the 2020 Presidential Election, a seemingly never-ending pandemic, and the fight for racial injustice, it's quite likely and totally okay if you've turned into a total ball of nerves. To some degree, it's impossible to keep your mind from racing, but there are things you can do to help you feel less frazzled — and this exclusive 45-minute HIIT and strength workout will do just that.

Featured on Shape's Instagram Live, this full-body workout was designed by Mary Onyango, a personal trainer in New York City, and is all about helping you build strength — both physically and mentally. "With all that's going on in this country right now, it's hard not to feel like you're being knocked down over and over again," says Onyango. "While it's so easy to get swallowed up in the negativity, my goal with this workout is to encourage people to get their heart racing and blood pumping to de-stress healthily and productively." (

To break it down, the workout starts with a 10-minute Tabata round that's made up of two moves: crunches and alternating plank lunges. In standard Tabata workout fashion, you'll do each one of these moves for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. (New to Tabata? Try this 30-Day Tabata-style workout challenge that will have you sweating like there's no tomorrow.)

From there, the workout is divided into three blocks, each of which includes three minutes of strength training, two minutes of cardio, one minute of core work, followed by a one-minute recovery. The first block focuses on the lower body and includes moves such as glute bridges, dumbbell halos to squats, dumbbell squat jumps, and dumbbell plank toe touches. Block two targets the upper body with exercises such as knee tucks with a dumbbell overhead, squat with dumbbell curls, drop squats, and skaters. And then block three features a series of compound movements that target both the upper and lower body. (

The workout ends with a six-minute finisher made up of three moves: inchworm shoulder taps, half burpees, and squats. Do each exercise for one minute, for a total of two rounds, with no rest in between. (

If at any point you find the moves too challenging, Onyango says to simply ditch the dumbells and use your body weight: "You'll still be working the same muscle groups, just at a lower intensity." In the workout video, she also includes several different modifications for each move, ensuring that the routine is accessible for all fitness levels.

"I want to empower people to know when too much is too much," says Onyango. "It's okay to say that you're struggling to catch your breath or that you're losing your form. Stop as many times as you want to. The goal is to be able to build up to work through the entire minute."

What's more, the workout is also designed to be done at your own pace. So you can make it as hard or as easy as you want. "You want to try and perform anywhere between 10-12 reps of each exercise, but that is just a marker," she says. "Ultimately, it's most important to listen to your body."

The 45-minute workout challenges pretty much every muscle in the body, so warming up and cooling down is pivotal, explains Onyango. "I actually think that's more important than the actual workout," she adds. "The warm-up sets the precedent for how your body is going to move."

Onyango suggests warming up for at least five minutes and doing movements that take your muscles and joints through a full range of motion. "Think of stretches that open up the hips and shoulders, challenge shoulder mobility, fire up your core and get your heart warmed up too," she says. (These warm-up exercises might be a good place to start.)

The cooldown is equally important. "Aside from allowing your muscles and heart rate to calm down, cooling down is so important for you mentally," she shares. "It allows you to refocus your mind, come back into reality, and prepare for whatever lies ahead of your day. You should use it almost as a meditation to recenter and organize your thoughts."

Logistics aside, Onyango's biggest hope is that you have fun doing this workout and that it helps you put your worries aside and focus on you. "I wanted to challenge people to move differently and in a different kind of mindset," she says. "I hope that the workout allows people to loosen up, relax, and within those 45 minutes, forget everything that's going on in their lives."

Most of all, it's about having a good time: "Don't take yourself too seriously. If you get tired, great. If you mess up, start all over again. Just don't knock yourself down, because there's already enough of that going on."

If you're feeling ready to get your sweat on with Onyango, hit play on the workout above or head over to the Shape Instagram page to access the full workout — and if you're looking for more ways to escape from the election stress, here's an election anxiety playlist and mental health tips to keep your stress at bay.

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