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HIIT refers to high-intensity interval training. It’s a highly effective form of exercise because it keeps your body guessing. What’s coming next? Slow cardio, fast cardio, strength training, lower body, upper body, cardiovascular challenges, balance or core work?
High intensity refers to moving at an increased pace and exertion. Think of sprinting instead of running, or doing jump squats instead of regular squats. In a workout full of these types of moves, you will have little to no rest in between exercises. Interval training refers to alternating between movements that require different speeds or degrees of effort. Think of walking for one block then running for a second block or doing 10 squats and then 10 pushups.
Both high intensity and interval training come with impressive health benefits, including speeding up the metabolism, building muscle, burning fat, and increasing energy and cardiovascular endurance. These types of workouts not only burn more calories while you’re exercising but it creates the “after-burn effect,” which means you burn more calories at rest once the workout is complete.
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31-day HIIT workout
When we think about HIIT workouts, high-impact exercises come to mind. And while jumps and explosive movements do increase calorie burn, muscle strength and mobility, these high-impact movements don’t need to be included in your workout for it to be considered high intensity. If you have knee, hip or joint pain in general, you should opt for the low-impact variations to take pressure off your joints. That’s why this workout plan includes both high-impact exercises and their low-impact modifications.
I designed this month’s workout plan with a strategic combination of both strength training and cardio moves. By alternating between these exercises, we create a workout that is both high intensity and utilizes interval training. The first circuit includes more basic exercises, while the second cranks things up a notch. Listen to your body and remember to modify as needed! In between your HIIT workouts, help your muscles recover with 30 minutes of steady state cardio like walking, biking or time on the elliptical.
HIIT workout 1
Repeat this circuit 3 times total.
Stand straight with your feet as wide as your hips and your hands on your hips. Bend your knees and sit back into a squat, then press down through the heels to come up to standing. Repeat 10 times.
- Modification: Half squat: Perform the same movement as the squat except only lower down halfway.
Grapevine with a jump
Start standing with your arms by your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. Step to the left with your left foot and then step your right foot behind your left foot. Then, step your left foot out to the left again. This is the grapevine. Then, slightly bend your knees as you jump up and clap, landing with softly bent knees. Repeat, moving this time to the right. Alternate left and right, performing 5 times to each side.
- Modification: Grapevine with a clap: Perform the same movement as above, but eliminate the jump.
Lateral squat step with chest press
Stand with your feet hips-distance apart and your arms in a goal-post position, with your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Step to the right and sit down and back into a squat. As you sit into the squat, bring the arms together in front of your body into a chest press. Return to standing and repeat to the other side, stepping to the left foot and squatting down as you bring the arms together into a chest press. Continue alternating. Repeat for a total of three times to the right, and then three times to the left.
- Modification: Lateral step with chest press: Perform the same exercise as above except eliminate the squat. Simply step to the right without a squat performing the chest press and then step to the left without a squat.
Running in place
With your feet as wide as your hips, pump your arms as you run as fast as you can in place. Pretend that you’re sprinting after something, but you’re on a treadmill not covering any ground.
- Modification: Simply walk in place as quickly as you can.
Side shuffle with jumps
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, shuffle to the right for five steps. (A shuffle is when you step to the right and then your left foot follows, stepping toward your right so that you’re moving laterally.) After five shuffles, bend your knees into a half squat and then jump up reaching your arms up toward the ceiling and landing with soft knees. Repeat to the left. Perform five times to each side.
Modification: Perform the side shuffle, but eliminate the jump.
HIIT workout 2
Repeat this circuit 3 times total.
Begin in squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place both hands on the floor and shift your weight onto your hands. Kick your feet back behind you so that you’re in pushup position. Perform one pushup, making sure your back is straight and your core is engaged. Jump your feet forward so that you are back in a squat position and stand up. With your arms above your head, jump up. When you land, go straight into squat position and repeat. Perform 10 burpees total.
- Modification: Because the move incorporates common exercises, it’s easy to eliminate one or two of the steps to make the move more accessible. I recommend skipping the jumps and performing a modified pushup instead of a full pushup. All of the movements remain the same, but instead of jumping after the pushup, simply step forward to return to the squat and then eliminate the jump at the top. When in pushup position, lower the knees and perform a pushup on your knees.
Standing with your feet as wide as your shoulders, put your hands up and pitter patter your feet quickly. Stay in place and up on your toes to do complete 20 steps or for 10 seconds total.
- Modification: Instead of doing the NFL shuffle on your toes, keep your feet flat and simply step one foot up then the other foot up as if you’re walking in place with a wide stance.
Lunge to knee drive
With the feet as wide as the hips, step the right foot back into a reverse lunge. Then, with force, bring the right knee through center and up toward your chest as you jump on your left foot landing with a slightly bent leg. Without stopping at the center, step the right foot back into the reverse lunge again. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
- Modification: Perform the lunge to knee drive, but eliminate the jump on the standing leg. Simply drive the knee to the chest, keeping the opposite foot on the ground. You can also tap the foot through center before stepping back into the reverse lunge if you need to reset your balance.
Side shuffle with jump squat
Shuffle to the side four times and then squat down and jump up. Repeat to the other side.
- Modification: Side shuffle with squat: Complete the side shuffle but instead of doing a jump squat, simply do a squat before moving to the other side.
Begin in plank position, keeping your back straight, your hips low and your core engaged. Bring your right knee under your chest, driving it toward the left elbow, and tap your right foot on the floor. Step it back to plank as you quickly bring your left knee toward the right elbow and tap the foot on the floor. Continue alternating your legs, keeping a steady pace. Remember to breathe and concentrate on engaging your abs, glutes, and hamstrings. Complete 20 total, 10 on each side.
Modification: In the plank position described above, hover your right knee and foot above the ground as you bring the right knee toward your chest, and then step it back to plank. Repeat with the left leg.