Like most people, I don’t have the luxury of time to spend an hour everyday working out. Well, yes, there are those of you who make time for it, but for majority of us, having even half an hour is a blessing. On days that I do have time, I try to keep my workouts no longer than 45 minutes (unless I head out for a run). I’m the type of person who gets bored easily with workout routines, so I like to push myself hard for those 45 minutes or so and move on.
That’s why I’m a little obsessed over HIIT routines, that can take as little as 20 minutes if you’re really pressed for time. For those not in the loop, HIIT stands for ‘High Intensity Interval Training’. It consists of several moves done at a fast, intensive pace for 20 to 50 seconds (depending on your fitness level) and resting for 10 to 15 seconds in between each round. It’s similar to the Tabata protocol of 20 seconds of hard work and 10 seconds rest, but HIIT is more flexible in its intervals so even a beginner will be able to keep up.
I relied (and actually still do) on HIIT routines a lot when I started my weight loss journey while juggling a full-time job because when I came home late, the last thing I’d want to do is spend an entire hour working out. I ensured I got in at least 25 to 30 minutes of sweat by incorporating HIIT routines into my weekly schedule on at least 2 to 3 days. Besides torching some serious calories, the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into overdrive, translating into extra calories burnt up to 24 hours after you’ve worked out.
HIIT also improves the health of your heart (by improving its efficiency in pumping blood), doesn’t require any equipment if you really are stuck with only you and your trainers and allows you to preserve your hard-earned muscles while ensuring most of the weight lost comes from fat stores (and not muscles!). You’ll also increase your metabolism and challenge your body so your muscles will never stay in that ‘comfy zone’ for too long – which can lead to a fitness plateau for some.
With that said, I’ll share with you 10 of *my favourite bodyweight moves that I like to incorporate into my HIIT routine. Depending on how much cardio I’ve gotten in for the week, I usually go for 30 seconds of work, and 15 seconds of rest OR 50 seconds of work and only 10 seconds of rest. Here are the 10 moves:
- Jumping Jacks
- Jumping Lunges
- Push-ups (for those still not strong enough to do regular push-ups, drop down to your knees)
- Mountain Climbers
- High Knees
- Jump Squats
- Toe Touches
- Thigh Slap Jumps
These moves are simple, yet very effective when put together and done at a very quick pace with little rest in between. In fact, if you need some idea on how to start, you can use these 10 moves and use them in a HIIT routine with a 30/15 interval (for beginners). I can guarantee you that by the time you reach the Thigh Slap Jumps, your legs will feel like Jell-o and you’ll be breathless! Interval training can also be progressive, so you don’t have to worry about out doing someone else’s speed; as long as you’re pushing yourself to your maximum potential is all that counts.
If you can only do 4 or 5 push-ups in that allotted time, then make sure those few push-ups count, with proper form. Remember, FORM OVER SPEED. There’s no point in going as fast as you possibly can, when your form’s poor and you could potentially injure yourself and not benefit fully from the move(s). With that, I’m off to do my weekly Tuesday workout, and I hope you’ll incorporate some HIIT routines into yours!
*Note: As HIIT routines can be quite taxing on the body, those with prior injuries or weak joints may want to seek alternate moves so you don’t injure yourself in the process. My personal choices of plyometric moves is only because I’ve worked up to that level of fitness, so please listen to your body and rely on your personal fitness level to gauge how much your body’s able to handle. :)