We all know the type – the people who seem to live at the gym. Whether you go once a week or every day, they always seem to be there. Sometimes you just need to plan some quick workouts at home. Dedicated gym goers look great, so their hard work is definitely paying off. Yet how many hours a week do they spend working out? Is the return proportionate to the investment of their time and effort?
There is no denying the fact that working out pays off. Unfortunately, not all of us have time to spend hours a day (or even hours a week) at the gym. Just because time is a luxury you don’t always have doesn’t mean that you can’t still squeeze some quick workouts at home. In fact, some of the best HIIT exercises are also the shortest.
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a form of full body exercises. These HIIT workouts enable you to burn calories and build muscle in a fraction of the time you’d spend on a traditional workout. You can do HIIT with just about any form of exercise. A HIIT workout routine comprised of the best bodyweight exercises is one of the easiest ways to get started.
Where shall we start...
What is HIIT? (High Intensity Interval Training)
Don’t let the name scare you. The word “intensity” simply refers to the degree of effort you are expending. For your quick workouts at home, you can choose how intense you want your HIIT routine to be.
Basically, HIIT involves alternating between periods of high intensity exercise and low to moderate intensity exercise or rest. The idea is that you get your heart pumping by performing certain exercises at a quick pace, and then you slow it down or take a break before getting it going again.
This cycle enables you to burn calories more quickly than a traditional workout and, better yet, you can achieve the same (or better) results much faster. The best workouts are the quick workouts at home if you are too busy to hit the gym.
Additionally, the beauty of a quick HIIT workout is that you can do it with just about any form of exercise. The key is to keep that alternation going between periods of maximum effort and low effort or rest. For example, if you were doing HIIT on a treadmill, you might run at a 7.0 pace for 60 to 90 seconds then jog at a comfortable 5.0 pace for 20 to 30 seconds. The ratio of work to rest should be about 2:1, though you can make adjustments according to your fitness level.
Above all, the most important thing is that you are exerting the maximum amount of effort during your quick workouts at home. Trying to rush through a HIIT routine could cause injury. However, you still want to make sure you are pushing yourself during these full body exercises.
The Best Bodyweight Exercises for HIIT
You can adapt almost any form of exercise into your quick workouts at home. The best bodyweight exercises provide great benefits as long as you do them correctly. Remember, the idea is to alternate between periods of work and rest, so you’ll need to perform your bodyweight exercises at a quick pace.
They should be fast enough to get your heart pumping and to start breathing more heavily than usual, but not so fast that you put yourself at risk for injury. During your periods of rest, you can walk in place or simply take a breather. You can rest, but don’t sit down or stop completely. At the end of your rest period, get right back into that rapid pace.
Target Muscle Groups
When it comes to bodyweight exercises for high intensity interval training, you want to incorporate exercises that target all the major muscle groups. What are these major muscle groups? Here is a quick list:
- Chest – Consists of the pectoralis major.
- Back – Made up of four primary muscles – the trapezius, rhomboids, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae.
- Arms – These are made up of three muscles – biceps, triceps, and forearms.
- Shoulders – Made up of the three deltoid muscles – anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, and lateral deltoid.
- Legs –The quadriceps (front of the leg), hamstrings (back of the leg), and glutes (butt).
- Calves – Made up of the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
- Abs – Made up of the transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques.
Some fitness experts group the calves in with the legs, giving you a total of six major muscle groups. Others divide the groups even further. Bodybuilders and serious weightlifters often spend an entire day’s HIIT workout routine focusing on a single muscle group, but you don’t have to unless you want to. Mixing up your quick workouts at home will provide variety so you are less likely to get bored.
If your goal is to lose weight and build functional strength, full body exercises that hit all the major muscle groups may be more beneficial for you.
6 Best Bodyweight Exercises To Try
So, what are the best bodyweight exercises for a HIIT workout plan? Here are some of the key exercises you’ll want to include:
- Squat – This exercise targets your lower body including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, as well as the calves.
- Lunge – Depending what type of lunge you perform, this exercise targets the glutes as well as the hamstrings and quadriceps.
- Push Ups – Though these primarily work your chest, shoulders, and triceps, they can also be helpful for your abdominal muscles.
- Planks – This exercise targets your abdominal muscles but can also engage your back, arms, shoulders, and legs.
- Jumping Jacks – Though primarily used for cardiovascular exercise, jumping jacks force you to engage most of your major muscle groups.
- Crunches – This exercise targets your abdominal muscles.
Not only are these exercises easy to perform because you don’t need any weights or special equipment, but they are the best for quick workouts at home. There are also plenty of options for modification. For example, if you have bad knees, you can place a chair behind you when you squat, so you don’t risk going too low. For push ups, if you can’t go all the way to the floor you can place your hands on the edge of a chair or bench. You can also rest your knees on the ground to reduce the effort.
A 15-Minute HIIT Workout Routine Using Full Body Exercises
Finding the perfect quick workouts at home is critical for busy women. Now that you understand what HIIT exercises are and how to engage each of the major muscle groups with bodyweight exercises, let’s put it all together in a simple 15-minute workout.
1. Jumping Jacks | 20 reps
Get your heart rate going by starting off with a set of 20 jumping jacks. Begin with your feet together and your arms hanging down at your sides. Next, jump your legs out wide and swing your arms up over your head. Jump your feet back in and lower your hands to the starting position – that is one repetition. Complete 20 reps.
2. Bodyweight Squats | 20 reps
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, your toes pointed slightly outward. Looking straight ahead, reach your arms out in front of you and engage your core and glutes. Keeping your weight in your heels and your spine neutral, thrust your hips back and lower your body (as if you were sitting in a chair) until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Squeeze your glutes and push up with your heels to return to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 20 reps.
3. Lunges | 20 reps
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart and your hands resting gently on your hips. Take a large step forward with your left leg and lower your body (keeping your back straight) until your left leg is bent at a right angle – your right leg should be bent behind you with your toe on the ground and your heel elevated. Push off with your left heel and return to the starting position – that is one repetition. Repeat for a total of 20 then perform 20 on the other leg.
4. Push Ups | 10 reps
Get down on all fours, supporting your weight on your toes and hands with your wrists directly below your elbows. Lower your chest toward the ground, keeping your back straight, bending at the elbow but keeping them tucked into your sides. When the backs of your arms are parallel to your body, push back up to the starting position. Repeat for a total of 10 reps.
5. Crunches | 10 reps
Lie flat with your knees bent. Put your hands behind your head so that your elbows are out to the sides. Now, using your abdominal muscles, raise your head and shoulders off the floor. Hold for one to two seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
6. Plank | 60 seconds
Get down on all fours, supporting your weight on your toes and forearms. Your elbows should be right under your shoulders in a 90-degree angle. Engage your core and tighten your glutes then hold for 60 seconds, keeping your body in a straight line parallel to the floor.
After you complete this circuit, rest for two minutes. Ideally, you should keep your body moving a little bit during this period of rest. Also, you should focus on breathing deeply to lower your heart rate before you come back for the second round. After two minutes, repeat the circuit then rest another two minutes before repeating it a third time. Once you’ve completed three rounds, you can cool down.
Remember, the best workout is one that you can perform safely and effectively. Quick workouts at home are a brilliant way to fit your HIIT workout routine into your day. This means that if you can’t perform the exercises above as they are described, find a way to modify it so you can! As long as you are working hard and hitting that ratio of work to rest, you’ll reap the benefits. So, go ahead and give this 15-minute full body workout a try!
Chandi Gilbert is a blogger and professional introvert. She has been a freelance writer since 2016, and her work has been featured on Contena, Wag, and Harness Magazine, among others. She is a member of the Freelancer’s Union and a Columbia College Alumni. She lives in Ohio with her husband and dogs who pull double duty as creative directors and heads of security. She writes blogs that help others feel better about themselves, and mentors beginner freelancers in their journeys.