I always say all you need is 15 minutes to dramatically change your life. This is because high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts can achieve more in 15 minutes than an hour’s run on a treadmill or a two-hour walk in some cases. All you need is a coffee break, half your lunch hour or 15 minutes in the evening.
The key to HIIT is to work to your absolute limit during short blasts of intense exercise. A session can last as little as 15 minutes and the exercises can include repetitions of stomach crunches, burpees, push ups and fast rowing.
If you are looking to drop body fat and trim up, HIIT training two or three times a week combined with a well-balanced diet will see noticeable changes.
And don’t just take myword for it: HIIT is a firm favourite with celebrities looking to get in shape quick smart for any flesh-baring roles, with Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore and David Beckham all flying the high-intensity circuit-training flag.
Short exercises get you fit
Aside from spending less time in the gym, clients love this type of exercise as it’s varied and you can tailor the workout around any niggles and avoid stressing joints. You don’t need any equipment and can do it just about anywhere. Each session can be different, and it’s so vigorous there’s no time to get bored.
It increases your metabolic rate so your body continues to burn calories long after you stop a hardcore 15-minute session. Studies have also shown that HIIT burns fat rather than diminishing muscle.
High intensity training should not be undertaken by those with cardiovascular problems or pregnant women.
If you suffer from knee or back pain try high-intensity sets on kit that offers guided foot movements such as spin bikes or cross-trainers.
Top three HIIT circuits to get you fit
All of the below exercises should be done at your highest intensity until your rest time.
1. Intense training for toned arms and a flat stomach
This method, was developed by Professor Martin Gibala, has a slightly longer rest time.
Take three minutes to warm up your body. Rowing machines are my favourite weapon of choice, or soft jogging if you don’t have equipment.
High-speed rope skipping for 60 seconds. This is amazing for toning the upper arms and getting the heart rate soaring. Follow with one minute and 15 seconds of slow walking to keep your joints warm.
Sit-ups with double punch at the top for 60 seconds. Squeeze your abs to raise the torso, then throw two punches as you come up toward your knees.
Using handweights is an option if you want to up your game. Don’t go too fast but keep movements well controlled. Follow with one minute and 15 seconds of slow walking.
Repeat the whole routine four times.
As with any new physical challenge you should always get the OK from a medical professional before beginning an intense fitness regime.
2. The Tabata full-body circuit
This form of interval training, developed by professor Izumi Tabata, the Japanese founder of Tabata HIIT, has increased in popularity over the past three years.
Do jump squats for 20 seconds. Keeping the weight through your heels, sink back into a seated position, drive through the heels to jump directly up and land softly into same position.
Then rest for ten seconds. Repeat eight times. Then take one-minute rest.
Next, do press-ups for 20 seconds (you have the option of performing them on your knees if you’re new to training), then a ten-second rest. Repeat eight times. Then take a one-minute rest.
Then do bicycle crunches for 20 seconds (lying on your back with your knees pulled up to chest, cradle your head in your hands and lift your torso. Extend one leg at a time in a controlled movement while keeping the abdominal muscles squeezed). Then take a ten-second rest.
Ensure your back keeps in contact with the floor throughout. You should feel only the abs controlling the leg movements. Repeat eight times.
3. High intensity in the pool
Give the following low-impact circuits a try in water for a cool summer holiday workout.
Breaststroke swimming for 20 seconds; ten-second rest.
Underwater running on the spot for 20 seconds; ten-second rest.
Pool crunches for 20 seconds (hold on to the poolside with your back to the pool wall and bring your knees to chest and kick back, using your abs to control the movement). Ten-second rest.
Repeat eight times.