20-minute HIIT workout: this lower body cardio is great for when you don’t fancy running

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Build strength and muscle while improving your cardio with this workout (and no, it doesn’t involve running). 

Unless you’ve got a specific goal in mind, getting a good balance of strength and cardio work in is the most beneficial way to look after your brain and body. You might hit that target with a couple of weight lifting or bodyweight workouts and interspersing a run or skipping session throughout the week – but your workouts don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

For example, did you know that running can build leg muscle, as well as being an effective cardio workout? However, while the weather stays wet and cold, we think we’ll stick with indoor sessions, thank you, and this lower body HIIT session is laden with benefits.

While a standard full-body, fast-paced HIIT session might not get your muscles burning, using isolating exercises will fire your legs up. “When you focus on one body part, you’re really pushing your muscles to the max,” says fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana. “You can tap into the muscles in order to really exhaust them.”

You’ll feel the benefits when you do manage to drag yourself outside too, as you’ll be working on muscular endurance which will help to carry you further and faster on runs. Although the idea is that you move fast, form is really key here. Make sure you’re comfortable with the moves, staying stable throughout each exercise, so you don’t injure yourself. 

20-minute lower body HIIT workout

Repeat each move for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. When you’ve completed all four exercises, rest for one minute. Repeat four times.

180° jump squats

  1. Stand with your feet just wider than hip-width with your hands held in front of your chest.
  2. Bend your knees to squat down, keeping your chest up tall. 
  3. When you reach the bottom of the move, push through your feet to jump back up and twist to turn your body 180°. 
  4. Land softly and lower straight back into squat.

Repeat for 45 seconds

Reverse lunge to kick

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and tuck your tailbone under so you aren’t arching through your spine. 
  2. Step your right leg backwards and bend both knees to come into a lunge position. Try to get the right knee as close to the floor as possible, while the left thigh should be parallel to the floor. 
  3. Press through your left foot to straighten the leg. At the same time, bring your right leg up and kick it out in front of you. 
  4. Bring the right leg back to lunge. 

Repeat the move for 45 seconds. Do the same on the opposite leg 

Pop squats

  1. Stand with your feet together and chest up tall. 
  2. Jump your feet out wide and bend your knees to come into a sumo squat position. 
  3. Tap one hand on to the floor between your legs, making sure that you don’t collapse through your chest. You should be lowering through your hips instead.
  4. Jump your feet back together. 

Repeat for 45 seconds 

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Images: Getty

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