How to do a 20-minute HIIT workout at home

insider@insider.com (Kelly Burch)
·5 mins read
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It's easy to do this HIIT workout at home, without much space or equipment.
  • HIIT workouts, or high-intensity interval training, are one of the most effective ways to exercise at home. 

  • That's because HIIT workouts don't require any equipment or weights, as they focus on bodyweight exercises instead.

  • This example HIIT workout is perfect for beginners or experts, and includes basic moves like squats, push-ups, planks, crunches, and burpees. 

  • This article was medically reviewed by Joey Thurman, CSCS, CPT, FNS, a Chicago-based fitness expert and MYX Fitness coach.

  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are highly effective and can be done at home with little to no equipment. 

"At home HIIT workouts that use body weight exercises are a good option for people of all fitness levels," says Stephen Navaretta, a fitness trainer specializing in functional movements and calisthenics

Here's what you should know about HIIT workouts, including an example workout that's easy for you to do at home. 

What is a HIIT workout? 

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. There are many different exercises you can do as part of a HIIT workout, but the format is key — you'll do short periods of intensive exercise, followed by even shorter rest periods. 

Navaretta recommends the following HIIT workout, where you'll do each exercise for 30 seconds, with 15 seconds of rest in between.  Each cycle will take just under four minutes, and you'll want to complete five cycles. In total, this workout will take about 20 minutes (although it's always a good idea to add a short warm-up, like jumping jacks, as well as a cool down, like taking a brief walk). 

 

You can try to do this HIIT workout three to five times per week. Because it combines strength and cardio training, it should be all you need. Follow the instructions and video tutorials, courtesy of Navaretta. 

Here's how to do your HIIT workout at home: 

1. Burpees

Burpees are one of the best full-body exercises you can do. Start in a standing position and quickly drop down into a push-up position, before jumping back up. Navaretta recommends jumping up with your legs wide to create more hip flexor mobility.  

"This is a functional, total body movement that also builds strength," Navaretta says. 

2. Air squats

Although air squats may sound fancy, they're simply bodyweight squats without any equipment. 

 

With your feet flat and at shoulder-width apart, squat with your hips moving down and back, like you're sitting in a chair. Keeping your arms extended above your head will help you keep your back as straight as possible. 

"This movement helps build a stronger foundation for your body," Navaretta says. You can also try more challenging modifications, like jump squats. 

3. Push-ups

There are many different ways to do a push-up, and depending on your strength level, you can challenge yourself with modifications. However, for most people, a regular push-up will be all you need to feel the burn in your arms and chest

If you want to make these easier, you can also start on your knees while keeping the basic push-up form. But remember, your HIIT workout should be challenging, so try to work your way up to a basic push-up or one of these modifications. 

4. Bicycle crunches

Lay on your back, with your legs extended and arms behind your head. Bring your opposite knee to meet the opposite elbow, shifting to the other side quickly. 

"This is a great abdominal exercise that works the full abdominal wall. With bicycle crunches, you work your obliques and all abdominal muscles," Navaretta says.

You can also switch things up with regular crunches or heel touch crunches, but Navaretta recommends staying away from sit-ups, which may increase your injury risk when compared to crunches

5. Planks

Planks are one of the best core exercises, and they can improve your balance, stability, and posture. To do a basic plank, all you have to do is hold a plank position, staying low to the ground on your forearms. 

For more challenging modifications, you can try side planks or reverse planks. 

Takeaways 

HIIT workouts are short, but intense. It's important to remember that to get maximum health benefits, you need to give the high-intensity bursts your all. 

If your workout begins getting easier, it's time to customize it to step up the intensity, Navaretta says. You can increase the challenge by making the high-intensity intervals longer, or making the exercise more challenging. 

No matter what specific exercises you're doing, incorporating HIIT workouts is a good way to improve your fitness. 

"There is no better way to get the most out of your workout if you are looking to be in the best physical shape possible," Navaretta says.

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