The 30-Minute HIIT Workout You Can Do Anywhere, Anytime

woman doing a one-legged plank on a ledge
Karla Tafra

Sometimes you really only have 30 minutes, and instead of deciding you don’t really have time for your workout, you can put on your athleisure and let your hair down with this simple and efficient set of exercises.

High-intensity interval training is the best option if you’re short on time. It’s designed to keep your heart rate up throughout your workout, so you can jump from one exercise to another (sometimes literally) without much “rest” time in between. This provides a much more powerful experience and makes a 30 minute workout as effective as a full hour.

The exercises in this workout are divided into three major sections or circuits, and they should be performed one after the other, resting only after you’ve completed the full circuit. Each circuit should be repeated two to three times, depending on your fitness and stamina.

Circuit one

1. Squat

You start the circuit with a large compound movement called squats. You can do simple air squats using only your body weight, you can put a resistance band around your thighs, or you can grab a set of dumbbells and challenge yourself with extra weight. Whatever your choice, get your technique right and go for 12-15 reps.

Inhale on your way down, exhale on your way up. Keep your core tight and active, your back straight, and squeeze at the top of your exhale, really feeling your glutes and hamstrings burn.

2. Shelf Shoulder Taps

Immediately after your last squat, go down into plank position. Place your palms directly under your shoulders and engage your core muscles. Keep your legs straight and make sure your hips are in a neutral position so they don’t rise or fall.

Hold your breath and raise your right hand to tap your left shoulder. Bring the hand back down and repeat with your left hand. Continue alternating for 20 full reps (10 each hand), focusing on your hips. Make sure they don’t move around a lot. The goal is to keep them as still as possible while tapping your shoulders.

3. Reverse Lunges

After the pat on the back, stand back up and prepare for lunge. Again, you can use your body weight or add some resistance. You may lose weight after the first round, so don’t start with a heavy set.

Stand in a neutral position, feet hip-width apart. Inhale and step back with your right foot, bending to the left at a 90 degree angle. Exhale and bring your back foot forward. Inhale and step your left foot back, exhale and step forward. Keep alternating for a total of 20 reps (10 per leg).

4. Jumping Jacks

The cardio portion of your first circuit belongs to jumping jacks. It’s one of the easiest ways to get your heart rate up, using every muscle in your body.

Stand in a neutral position, legs together, hands by your side. Inhale and jump, spreading your feet into a wider stance, while raising your arms overhead at the same time. Exhale and jump back to the starting position. Repeat 15-20 times.

Rest for a minute before repeating the entire circuit once or twice.

cooling towel

Keep your workouts dry with these great cooling towels.

Circuit Two

1. Toe Taps

Lie on your mat and lift your legs vertically into the air. Keeping your legs straight, inhale and on your exhale, lift your right hand and try to touch your toes. Then raise your left hand and do the same. Repeat this a total of 20 times. Make sure to keep your torso up during each toe tap and try to keep your shoulder blades off the floor.

2. Dog down to low lunge

This is a great, dynamic pose that will help you increase your mobility while increasing your heart rate. Start in a down dog (inverted V shape). Inhale deeply and on your exhale, step your right foot outside your right palm. Lower your hips and open your chest. Breathe back into the dog and repeat with your left leg. Do a total of 20 reps (10 per leg).

3. Side Lunges

Immediately after you finish your last low lunge, stand. Come into a neutral position, feet together. You can choose to add or subtract some weight, but make sure your core is active and you’re really focused on feeling your leg muscles.

Inhale and step to the right, bending your right knee almost 90 degrees and keeping your feet parallel. You want to feel like you’re trying to sit in an imaginary chair behind your right gluteus. Keep your back straight and core active throughout the movement. On your exhale, use the power of your leg to push yourself back to a standing position.

Repeat with your left leg. Go for a total of 20 reps, 10 on each leg.

4. Mountaineers

Start in plank position, making sure your form is good and your back is protected by engaging your core and keeping your hips in a neutral position. Start by lifting one knee toward your chest and bring your foot back, then lift the other knee toward your chest and bring the foot back. Increase the pace so that you are almost running. Go for a total of 30 reps (15 per leg).

Rest for a minute and repeat the entire circuit once or twice.

practice mat

A staple when it comes to any type of HIIT exercise.

Circuit Three

1. Glute Bridges

Start by lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet one foot away from your sit bones. Separate your stance hip-width apart and place your palms on the floor beside you, using them as leverage.

Inhale and on your exhale lift your hips as far as possible. Inhale down, exhale up, squeeze up. Repeat 20 times and stay at your highest point on your last exhale. Hold for 15 seconds or challenge yourself with small pulses. This will really burn your muscles.

2. Hip dips

Get into a plank position and lower down to your forearms. Activate your core and bring your hips to a neutral position. Inhale and lower your hips to the right, without moving your feet. Exhale to the center and lower your hips to the left.

Continue to alternate hip dips from right to left for a total of 20 reps. Your obliques should be tired by the end.

3. Curtsy Lunges

Curtsy lunges are a great exercise for your outer hips and thighs, you really manage to isolate them even when your whole body is in motion.

Start in a standing position, feet hip-width apart and arms at your sides. You can place your hands on your hips, bring them in front of your body, or even use a set of dumbbells for extra weight. Inhale and step your right leg diagonally behind your left, bending your left knee to 90 degrees. Exhale and bring your foot back up to the starting position.

Inhale and step back with your left leg, bending your right knee. Exhale back to the center. Repeat 20 times (10 on each leg).

4. Split Squat Jumps With Knee Drive-Ins

Start in a split squat position, right knee forward and bent 90 degrees. Inhale and exhale from your squat by pushing your left knee toward your chest and jumping high off your right foot. Inhale and bring your foot back down. Repeat 12-15 times before doing the same with your left leg.

As you begin to tire, your technique will begin to decline, so make sure your back is straight and your core tight. You can use your arms to help you power the movement and make it even more powerful. When your knee rises, the opposite arm also rises, propelling the force from below.

After you’ve completed all reps, rest for a minute and repeat the entire circuit two or three more times.

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