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Strength training: this simple 25-minute HIIT workout only has 3 exercises and is more effective than running

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Looking to supercharge your strength training? This HIIT session only includes three exercises for a full-body cardio workout that is more effective than running

HIIT really is the go-to workout of our times, with searches for the training style peaking and remaining high throughout the previous lockdowns, and even now that we’re back at the gym. It’s understandable as to why: standing for high-intensity interval training, it’s great for those who are short on time and don’t want to mess around with a lot of kit. 

Although all exercise can benefit mental health, a 2019 review suggested that HIIT can provide a range of benefits for people with mental illnesses, including reducing the severity of depression.

Plus, unlike other forms of cardio exercise, it doesn’t involve us facing the rainy, grey weather in order to get cardio benefits. “The most significant benefit of interval training has to do with heart health,” says Lianna Swan, resident personal trainer at fitness app Shreddy. “Intervals can boost cardio-respiratory health in a shorter time period in comparison to continuous forms of exercise.” Essentially, this means a 20-minute HIIT session is more effective for boosting fitness than a 20-minute run

It’s all because of the improved VO2 max, Lianna explains, which is “a measure of endurance that calculates the maximum volume of oxygen the body can use. We’re not talking about bigger muscles, but rather getting you sweaty and your heart rate soaring.”

Don’t be put off if it sounds tough. The short bursts of hardcore exercise followed by even shorter rest breaks are intense, but the workouts themselves are pretty short. “Excluding a warm-up, HIIT usually lasts for a maximum of 20-30 minutes, and instead of working to sets and reps, you are working for a time limit – as hard and as fast as you can.” 

This workout in particular, is great for those who are new to the training style, are extra busy, or simply can’t be bothered to fuss with a lot of different moves and equipment. 

25-minute HIIT session that only includes three exercises

This workout utilises simple full-body exercises to get the most out of your short training session. It’s structured like so: one minute on, thirty seconds off. 

  • 1 minute of burpees
  • 30 seconds-1 minute rest 
  • 1 minute of goblet squats
  • 30 seconds-1 minute rest
  • 1 minute of press-ups

Rest for 1 minute between rounds and repeat five times 

If you need to take a longer rest, by all means, increase the rest period to up to one minute. Repeat that circuit five times with one-minute rest between rounds for a workout that lasts for 25 minutes (or slightly longer if you increase your rest periods). 

Move one: burpee

  1. From a standing position, bend the knees to place your hands onto the ground and jump or step back your feet to a high plank position.
  2. With control, lower your body all the way down to the ground.
  3. Use your upper body and core strength to press back up to a high plank.
  4. Jump or step your feet back towards your hands.
  5. Jump or step back to a standing position. 

Note: if you have joint pain, remove all jumps from the burpee. You can also take the press-up out of the move if it is too intense by simply jumping or stepping out to high plank, then bringing the feet straight back in. 

Move two: goblet squat

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in both hands at chest height.
  2. Bend your knees and sit back to lower into a squat position – keep your back straight and chest upright.
  3. Press through your heels to come back up to standing. 

Note: if you aren’t experienced with performing a squat, remove the weight until you know that your form is perfect. Even if you know how squat, don’t go too heavy, as you’ll be moving fast through the exercise. 

Move three: press-up

  1. Place your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width with your arms straight. Your legs should be outstretched behind you with your toes tucked under – essentially in a high plank.
  2. Draw your belly button in, squeeze your glutes and maintain a straight spine - with no arching through the back - and inhale.
  3. Bend your upper arms and elbows to bring your chest to the floor.
  4. Maintaining the tension, push the ground away and come back to your high plank.

Note: you can do these with your knees on the floor if doing a minute of full press-ups is too intense (we don’t blame you!). 

Want more strength-training workouts? Sign up for the your free 14-day trial to the Strong Women Training Club to receive weekly workouts from your favourite trainers. 

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IMAGE: Getty 

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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