Regular movement is an important component of any strong fitness routine. While there are no rules on what that looks like, one type of exercise that has been proven to yield results is HIIT. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), is a type of exercise that involves short periods of intense exercise interspersed with short periods of rest. There have been a number of studies showing the unique benefits of this form of exercise, including increased cardiovascular strength and calorie burn. If you’re new to HIIT and want inspiration for exercises to try, what are some fool proof circuits to do? We asked Erica Ziel, a nutrition coach, personal trainer, and deep core exercise specialist, what you can gain from HIIT and what exercises you can try as a newbie.
According to Ziel, one of the biggest bonuses of HIIT is its covnenience. “The best thing about HIIT is it doesn’t take much time and you can choose exercises that don’t require any equipment, which means you’ll actually get your workouts in when short on time and can do them anywhere,” she says. However, this also means that you need to give extra effort and exertion in the short time you’re active. “The key with HIIT is that you need to push yourself with short intervals, typically 30-40 seconds of movement and 20-30 seconds of rest.” Through the intensity of periods of movement, you are increasing your oxygenation, and in turn improving your cardiovascular endurance. Another unique benefit of HIIT is that you burn more calories, not only during the workout but afterwards too.
It is also important to note that high intensity doesn’t always mean high impact. “I like to teach my clients that with HIIT you can be super creative, all the exercises don’t have to be high impact, because high impact is not for everyone (especially in the beginning for many). It’s really important to choose the right level exercises for where you are today,” Ziel says, “HIIT isn’t worth doing if it leaves your body in pain – bad pain that is. Muscle soreness is okay, but if you are experiencing any back, knee, neck pain, etc then you need to re-think what exercises you are doing.” It’s all about awareness to how your workouts make you feel, and adjusting to your own needs.
“Squat jumps are great because they require no equipment. They are easy to incorporate in any HIIT workout. If squat jumps bother your back or knees then instead of jumping lift to your heels when you stand up. While this may not get your heart rate up as high and fast, it’s still better to modify and not have pain than to go too hard leaving yourself feeling awful afterwards.”
1. Standing in a wide squat position with your pelvis in a neutral position (avoid tucking your pelvis), exhale as you stand.
2. Inhale as you lower back down into your wide squat.
3. Exhale as you jump up out of your wide squat, being sure to use your hamstrings and glutes to jump while also engaging your core.
4. Inhale as you land softly back down into your wide squat.
5. Repeat for your 30-40 second interval.
“Kettlebell swings are great for all levels because they are low impact and you have options of the kettlebell’s weight and how high to swing it. To modify, start with a lighter weight and only swing the kettlebell to chest level.”
1. Standing in a wide squat hanging onto your kettlebell, be sure to lengthen tall through the top of your head (avoid rounding your spine).
2. Exhale as you stand quickly out of your squat while swinging the kettlebell out in front of your body (avoid tucking your pelvis).
3. Inhale as you lower down with control.
4. Repeat for you 30-40 second interval.
“You can do this exercise anywhere you can find something to use as a step. You could use a short step, a couch, a chair, etc. If stepping up doesn’t feel good for your body, in particular your knees, then I recommend modifying with a stationary lunge. Typically for step ups I recommend you stay on one side for a 30-40 second interval then switch sides for the next 30-40 second interval.”
1. Begin with your left foot up on your step or chair.
2. Exhale as you engage your core, while pulling your left hip back and up to bring your right leg to the step/chair.
3. Inhale as you slowly lower your right leg back to the ground (keeping your left foot on the step/chair).
4. Repeat on the same side for the entire 30-40 second interval then switch side for the next interval.
“Plank slides are a great exercise that strengthens your entire body. Especially when you focus on engaging your quads, lengthening tall through the top of your head, while moving slowly and focusing on connecting your breath with your core engagement. These tips can help give even more benefit from these plank slides. Feel free to modify by placing your forearms on the edge of your couch or hands on the edge of a countertop.”
1. Begin in a plank position on forearms and toes, keeping your legs together.
2. Exhale as you engage your core and press your body forward (think “calf raise”).
3. Inhale as you press your heels back (think stretching those calves).
4. Repeat for your 30-40 second interval.