Shake It Up with this Full-Body HIIT Workout
We’re Talking Blood Pumping, Sweat Dripping Success
A full-body HIIT workout is nearly impossible to beat when considering short but highly effective exercise routines. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an exercise method that involves short bursts of maximum-effort work followed by shorter rest periods.
HIIT boasts many benefits, from increased oxygen intake to enhanced blood circulation and coordination. And a solid HIIT workout includes compound movements involving multiple muscle groups and full-body training to increase your heart rate effectively. That said, the optimal number of HIIT workouts each week is around 2-3, as it’s essential to slot in traditional strength training and recovery for a well-balanced fitness program.
Interested in trying your hand at a full-body HIIT workout? Here’s an excellent one to start with. Even better? It only requires your body weight (and a yoga mat for comfort, if desired).
First thing’s first, to have a high-quality HIIT workout, you need to warm up. Warm-ups gradually increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation, delivering more oxygen to your muscles and activating the connections between your nervous and muscular systems, ultimately improving your efficiency and coordinated movements. A warm-up can include the following:
- A reverse lunge stretch hold, alternating sides
- Shifting from foot to foot in a squat position to loosen the groin
- Left arm and right arm stretch across the body
In total, your warm-up should take around five minutes to complete.
Stellar HIIT workouts include multiple movements that work your muscles and joints through various planes of motion, not just forward and backward. Ultimately, this enables you to improve your total body control—the ability to move safely and efficiently. It also increases your range of motion and overall flexibility as your body becomes well-rounded and more stable.
Certified personal trainer Francine Delgado-Lugo, CPT, movement and strength coach, and co-founder of Form Fitness Brooklyn, shares this: “The better your form on a specific movement, the more efficient you’ll be and the more work you’ll be able to get done in that period.”
With this in mind, let’s discuss the full-body high-intensity interval training workout in detail. The bodyweight exercises include jumping jacks, bodyweight squats, mountain climbers, bicycle twists, and plank up-downs. While the workout is intended to be easy to follow with no equipment required, you may incorporate dumbbells or kettlebells to further build muscle and increase the workout from moderate intensity to all-out intensity.
This full-body HIIT workout aims to complete as many repetitions as possible in 50 seconds, then take a 10-second rest period before moving on to the next exercise. Upon completion of the circuit—a term used to describe many movements completed simultaneously without stopping—take a 30-second break before diving into round two. The goal is to complete four to five rounds in total.
The first exercise in the HIIT training circuit is jumping jacks. Jumping jacks are excellent plyometric exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals to increase power rapidly. With a minor adjustment, this exercise is relatively easy to perform for individuals of all ages and skill levels.
To complete this movement:
- Stand in an upright starting position with your left foot and right foot flush together, core engaged, and your left arm and right arm straight down against your hips on their respective sides.
- In one quick movement, jump so your feet are slightly wider than hip-width apart, bringing your arms directly overhead before jumping and returning to the starting position.
For a low-intensity variation, you can instead tap each foot out to its respective side and return it to the center one at a time.
The second exercise in the circuit is bodyweight squats. Squats are an excellent lower-body exercise that can strengthen your bones, ligaments, and tendons around the leg muscles. Ultimately, this helps to strengthen your core, improve posture, reduce the risk of potential injury, and crush calories.
To complete this movement:
- Stand in an upright position with your feet hip-width apart.
- With your core engaged, slowly move your hips back while bending your knees to drop your body into a squat position. Your right knee and left knee should bear the same amount of force and bend at a 90-degree angle with your hamstrings and quads parallel to the flood.
- Return to the starting position in one swift movement, squeezing your glute muscle. This is considered one rep.
Mountain climbers are an excellent addition to a full-body HIIT workout as they’re a high-intensity movement that involves more than one major muscle group. To complete this movement:
- Begin by lowering your body into a high plank position. Your right hand and left hand should be shoulder-width apart on the ground, your spine in a straight line, shoulders parallel to the floor, and toes on the ground.
- Isolate your left leg, core engaged, and drive your left knee toward your right elbow.
- Return your left leg to the starting position and isolate your opposite side (right leg), core engaged, while driving your right knee toward your left elbow.
- Return your right leg to the starting position.
This is considered one rep. To increase the intensity of the exercise and shoot for max effort, you can place a slight bend in your elbows to raise the exertion of the tricep muscles. Remember to focus on proper form, as this will reduce the risk of injury and guarantee you build muscle.
Bicycle twists are an excellent exercise to incorporate into your full-body HIIT workout as they strengthen your core muscles, improve posture, and burn calories for weight loss. Active gym goers and newbies alike can reap the benefits of this simple yet challenging, full-body movement. To complete this movement:
- Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed firmly on the ground and your knees bent.
- Place your feet flat on the floor with your hands behind your head, supporting the proper alignment of your neck.
- In one swift movement, engage your core muscles and, with a stable spine, pull your right shoulder back while bringing your right knee to your left elbow. Reverse the movement, pulling your left shoulder back while bringing your left knee to your right elbow.
- This is considered one rep.
Remember to exhale and move in slow, controlled movements. The key is to rotate your torso in a smooth and steady movement.
The fifth and final exercise in the circuit is plank up-downs. The plank up-down is an excellent full-body strength training movement that targets your core, shoulders, and arms. To complete this movement:
- Place your forearms firmly on the floor, parallel beneath your upper body, hands flat, shoulder-distance apart.
- Push up onto your right hand, then your left, so you’re in an extended, high-plank position.
- Return to the starting position. This is considered one rep.
To guarantee both arms are targeted equally, alternate which arm you extend first.
Marc Perry, a certified personal trainer and founder of BuiltLean, shared that this exercise has several common mistakes that can prevent you from reaping the full strength training benefits and build muscle. This includes “allowing your hips to sway back and forth, your head and neck to drop, and your hips to drop.” The key is to focus on proper form.
For a low-intensity variation, you can instead place your knees on the ground, feet in the air, core engaged.
A cool-down involves transitioning from your full-body HIIT workout to a more standard activity level. It allows your heart rate to slow to its resting rate, reduces the risk of lactic acid buildup, and enables you to stretch and relax your muscles. A cool-down can include a gentle jog and stretches. This includes:
- A seated forward bend (on your bottom with your hands touching your toes)
- Downward dog (a traditional yoga pose in which your hands and feet are placed firmly on the floor, and you fold into an upside-down v position)
- The butterfly stretch (sitting on your bottom, place the soles of your feet together, and lean forward until you feel a pull in your hips)
HIIT boasts many benefits, from increased oxygen intake to enhanced blood circulation and coordination. And a solid HIIT workout includes compound movements involving multiple muscle groups and full-body training to increase your heart rate effectively. If you enjoyed this entry-level workout, visit your local Crunch for more HIIT workouts and group fitness opportunities.