I would HIIT that.
September 1, 2011 10:36 AM   Subscribe

I need to burn calories like it's my job! For the next 5 weeks (at least!), I will wake up and do a HIIT routine. I work 50-60 hours a week, so time efficiency is key. A maximum of 20 minutes, plus warm up and cooling down, would be awesome. What HIIT routine has worked for you?

My wedding is in 5 weeks, and while I'm at a really good weight and my diet is awesome (low carb, lots of protein and vegetables!), my weight loss has stalled. I want to give my metabolism a final oomph before the big day.

However, I go to work at 8AM and often don't get home til 8PM, plus there's the wedding planning, so I don't have a lot of time to devote to exercise marathons. HIIT appeals to me because it's not supposed to be an extended amount of time, though I understand that the final 3 minutes feel like a damn eternity, so.

I'll be getting up at the crack of dawn, jogging over to the nearby high school track and field, and doing some sort of routine. I wanted to try the circuit training routine from this video, but I don't think there's a bench where I can do elevated push-ups. Can I substitute something else instead? Then again, I'm so out of shape and it's been ages since I lifted weights, so I don't even know how good my regular push-ups are.

In short, calorie burning + time efficiency is crucial!
posted by Hwaet to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
This CrossFit website has some good ideas for workouts you can do when you're travelling. Obviously you aren't travelling but the point is it's full of good ideas when you don't have access to equipment. If you want a really basic and super-hard workout that hits most of your muscle groups, do 100 burpees as fast as you can.
posted by shornco at 10:46 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not HIIT, but kettlebell swings sound like they might work for you. My partner is also losing weight on a low carb/high protein diet and is seeing good results with the swings mixed in - he's doing 3x25 sets with a 20lb kettlebell three mornings a week. Only takes a few minutes.
posted by corvine at 10:56 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you bike to work? I've just started doing it and, while it takes longer than driving, it's more efficient than taking extra time for the gym, since part of the time is just replacing my normal commute.
posted by something something at 11:00 AM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: I do bike to work, but work is close by, and I need more of an intense cardio work out than simply city biking.

I have done kettlebell swings before as accessory work for a starting strength weight lifting routine, but my trainer kept having to correct my form.

So yeah, still looking for a good HIIT routine, not regular cardio. Burpees and kettlebell swings are fine if they can fit into an HIIT scenario, though I'd rather not buy new materials like a kettlebell.
posted by Hwaet at 11:09 AM on September 1, 2011

Do you have gym equipment available? I do tabata intervals on an elliptical machine, because my joints are iffy. If you can do all 8 intervals back to back, it only takes seven minutes. I can't, not without having my heart explode, so it takes me about ten minutes. If you can run or do jumping jacks or something like that, you can do it that way, too.
posted by KathrynT at 11:21 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

The video you linked is just a body weight circuit, not interval training. There's no interval! The whole idea of interval training is that you work (hard) for a certain length of time and then rest for a certain length of time. The rest period allows you to go hard again for the next interval - that's where the intensity comes from. For example, the Tabata interval is 20 seconds of work followed by a 10 second rest. There's a CrossFit WOD, "Tabata This," that does 4 body weight exercises (squats, pushups, sit ups, pull ups) for 8 intervals each. E.g. squat 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat 7 times, then pushup 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds, repeat 7 times, etc. You could use the execises from your video if you prefer. Or kettlebells. Or running. Squats and lunges are great for interval training, but pushups not so much because you tend to hit muscle failure before you really exhaust yourself.
posted by zanni at 11:21 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't know much about tabata, but I don't think it's realistic to keep a 20 second push / 10 second rest rhythm up for 20 minutes. If I were you, I would start with a 3 minute warm up and then do 90 seconds of jogging followed by a 30 second sprint. Do this repeatedly until you have 3 minutes left - then cool down.
posted by kitcat at 12:03 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think there's a bench where I can do elevated push-ups.

Use a chair. You can do dips there as well, and step-ups if your ceiling is high enough.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:04 PM on September 1, 2011

I don't know much about tabata, but I don't think it's realistic to keep a 20 second push / 10 second rest rhythm up for 20 minutes

You don't do it for 20 minutes, you do it for 4 minutes (excluding warmup)... 4 minutes of hell
posted by missmagenta at 12:13 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I have no access to ellipticals or other gym machines.
posted by Hwaet at 1:22 PM on September 1, 2011

Well, I don't know how keen you are to waking up earlier, but I suggest a morning bootcamp. One that's military style to muscle failure will guarantee muscle growth and weight loss. There will be a lot of running.

Also, see if there's a TRX boot camp in your area. It's no joke.

Also, when I travel I design super set workouts for myself. Essentially I make a list of every exercise and variation I know of (for instance pushups, explosive pushups, staggered pushups etc) and I design HIIT super set that I can knock out when I get up in like 20-30 minutes. A create a number of workouts and just do one a day. An example:

Repeat Each Set Twice with no more then 30 seconds rest between
Set 1
A 30 Pushups
B 30 Bicycle Lunges

Set 2
30 Prison Squats
60 Second Plank

Set 3
15 Burpees
25 Dips

You can obviously add more sets depending on your fitness levels.
posted by straight_razor at 1:27 PM on September 1, 2011

Also. If you're blanking on no equipment exercises, just says so
posted by straight_razor at 1:37 PM on September 1, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry to threadsit, I'll back out after this.

Yes, I am banking on no equipment exercises. Ideally I'd like a couple examples of HIIT routines totally spelled out for me, per zanni and straight_razor's answers. Explain them to me as if I were a dumb third grader, with rest sets and total times included.

I assume I need to buy a stop watch of some sort, too.

Also, can I pull off any of these routines in the comfort of my (large, hard-floored) bedroom? We have a rainy spell coming up, and I'm also far more comfortable pushing myself to the brink of puking if a high school track team isn't staring at me. Not a big deal though, just a bonus.
posted by Hwaet at 1:56 PM on September 1, 2011

If you have a smartphone, there's a free tabata timer app that saves my bacon every damn day. I'd give the tabata workout a try with jumping jacks or jumping rope or something.

The whole tabata workout is:

2 minutes warmup
then eight intervals of the following:
* 20 seconds of maximum effort (i.e. running like you are being CHASED BY BEARS)
* 10 seconds of minimal effort (i.e. slow gentle jog)
for four minutes total.
Then a 1 minute cooldown.

There is definitely a point I hit after about the third interval where I realize that if I do this again in ten seconds I am going to suffer some sort of event. So I don't; I chill out for thirty to sixty seconds, or until my heart rate is down below 150, then I leap back in. I'm in terrible, terrible shape, so I do the intervals as 3+2+2+1 rather than a straight set of 8. The extra breaks add about three minutes to the total workout time, but it was explained to me that it's more important to hit the maximal-effort wall than it is to pace yourself.

Some people do tabata sets with kettlebells or what have you. At my level of condition, that's asking for a serious injury, so I don't. I've done them running, swimming, and on the elliptical though, and you could definitely do them with jumping jacks or calisthenics.
posted by KathrynT at 2:24 PM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bodyrock.tv has some great work-outs.
posted by corn_bread at 3:16 PM on September 1, 2011

My doctor just yesterday told me that very good studies have shown that weight training can increase your metabolic rate - while other types of exercise do not. So use your time on weight training not aerobics. No equipment, push ups, planks.
posted by JXBeach at 3:50 PM on September 1, 2011

Timing yourself can be a pain in the ass, works better in a class, as long as you're counting reps and challenging yourself it serves the same effect. Just remember that you want to struggle, aiming for a total of 60 reps and hitting 58 at your limit is good! If you can do the 60 and still have some juice in the tank, turn it up next time. If I was gonna suggest *2* pieces of equipment, a medicine ball and a pullup bar will certainly improve your ability to kick ass.

The first one will be easy compared to the other 2. You can do this at your house for sure.

Do a super set 3 times in row with no more then 30 seconds of rest between anything. You can take a minute when switching to a new super set, max. Again you want your heart rate to flux so don't linger.

Routine 1

Set A
20 Pushups
20 Prison Prison Squats (hold your hands straight in the air!)

Set B
60 Second Plank (do not compromise form, make sure you body is straight)
20 Super Mans

Set C
15 Burpees (do a pushup when you go down, jump up and clap wiht your hands above your head at the top)
30 Crunches with a twist (alternate sides, hold your hands at your ears with your elbows facing forward)

Cardio Set
Run 2 times around a block, alternate between sprinting a side, then jogging a side. 4 Sprints 4 Jogs total.

Stretch (seriously)
Get 30 grams of protein with 15 minutes of finishing. (Whey shakes work, if you wanna eat it a 3.5oz of boneless skinless chicken breast will do to)
Routine 2

Set A
25 Explosive Pushups (launch off the ground, clap if you wanna do it military style, be careful)
30 Bicycle Lunges (stand in a bow stance, jump and switch legs, make you're getting low, stand wide enough that your leading knee is not going past your toes)

Set B
30 Second(each side for a total of 60 sec each set) Side Planks (you can lean on your elbow or hand, hand is harder. Hold your other arm pointing straight up to the sky). Your ankles should be stacked on each other. If you're feeling badass lift the top one up and hold it)
20 Dips (you want to make sure you can get deep enough to get a good range of motion. Keep your elbows tucked to your body)

Set C
25 Leg Lift/Crunch (lay on your back, suspend your feet together 6" above the ground, never let them touch the ground. Raise them slowly to the top. Once there do a crunch and try to touch your toes, it's okay if you can't. Slowly lower the feet back down to the 6" position. Slower you do it, the more it hurts.)
40 Floor Jacks (set yourself at the top of your pushup position, holding a "yoga" plank. Jump your feet out like you're doing a jumping jack on the ground.)

Cardio Set
Same as above, you know the drill on this stuff it sounds like. Blocks are an easy way to measure without a timer, just do more each progressive week)

Routine 3 (spartan set, some equipment required)

Set A
20 Spider Man Pushups (at the bottom of your pushup when you nose is touching the ground, bring one knee to touch an elbow, alternate each time)
5 Pistol Squats per side
10 Dive Bomber Pushups (can't explain this one, google it)

Set B
90 second isolated plank. (Do a normal Plank but suspend your left your arm straight ahead and your right foot in the air so you only have one elbow and one foot on the ground. Switch to the opposite set at 45seconds)
20 Split Leg Lifts (Same starting position as normal leg lifts, but once you come down from the crunch like in Routine 2, bring your legs wide like you were trying to do the splits, that counts as 1)
30 Explosive Squats/Hands Up (with your arms trying to touch the sky, start in a squat position and jump into the air, come down gently and slowly and be gentle to your knees. Accelerate up, very slowly down)

Set C
10 Chin Ups (your palms are facing your face, load up the guns!)
30 Burpees (just like in Routine 1)
60 Second Side Planks w/ hip drop (just like in Routine 2, except lower your hips towards the ground and back up slowly.

Cardio Set

I just threw those out there, I have no idea what your fitness level is at, and some of that stuff is really hard. I know it comes off a little cheesy, but good ol' Arnel's routines for your house with stretch bands are solid. http://iwantsixpackabs.com/workout/week1.html He's got a full 15 weeks (?) program I think.

I use TRX bands a lot. They're a little pricey but they've got tons of videos on the internet and you bring them and set them up almost anywhere.

Medicine balls are great, run with it for that extra Spartan touch.

Good luck! I get married next spring!
posted by straight_razor at 6:07 PM on September 1, 2011 [5 favorites]

I second Bodyrock.tv (though I am conflicted about the, well, porniness of it all). A lot of her workouts are 20 minutes or less, and use body weight or can be modified to be so. She has a ton of workouts, so it's worth looking through her archives. I started her workouts this spring and in 8 weeks lost 10 pounds and 2 inches off my waist, and got arm muscles for the first time.
posted by apricot at 8:33 PM on September 1, 2011

For interval training I used to sprint up a steepish hill right beside my house and try to reach the top, then walk down slowly while my heart calmed down. Usually the sprint was about 45 secs and 90 second recovery. I'd try to do 6 of these. Much less than 20 minutes including some warmup and warmdown jogging. If you don't have a hill, maybe a few flights of stairs?
posted by hannahlambda at 3:48 AM on September 2, 2011

i agree with tabata (or at least the other one, the 20-40 one) intervals, no more than 8-10 of them plus warm up and cool down (so everything 20m or even more like 14m). you don't need a machine, you could do jumping jacks as mentioned, mixed with push ups, burpees, whatever. that's what that jillian michaels' shred thing is vaguely, if i recall. warning: you will want to puke afterward though.
posted by ifjuly at 7:43 AM on September 2, 2011

Hwaet, I'm coming late to the party, but hopefully I can add a few things. This is one of my primary methods of exercise lately—short HIIT workouts—because I am constantly traveling and generally have no access to weights or any sort of gym. So I've learned to improvise. I do carry a set of olympic rings with me but I use them probably just once a week for muscle-ups, if I can find a place to hang them—that can be tough, but rings provide you with an INCREDIBLE strength workout for such a small piece of gear.

I also have a jump-rope. If you can get good at double-unders, and do them in Tabata sets (described and linked above), then you will be burning hardcore. I do three Tabata sets of double-unders—12 minutes total!—and I'm pretty smoked, and my heart-rate is elevated for a while.

The rest of these aren't technically HIIT, but they are high-intensity and short:

Another exercise I'm fond of that I learned about through Crossfit was the wall-walk—you start with your feet against a wall in a push-up position, and basically walk up the wall backwards using your legs and arms. It wipes you out really quickly. Lately, I just basically try to do 35 (recently pushed it up from 30, yay ouch) as quickly as I possibly can, which is about 15 minutes on a good day. That kicks my ass.

Also, if you have two sturdy chairs of the same size, you can do dips with them. I often make up routines, based roughly on Crossfit workouts, like "do as many sets as you can in 20 minutes of: 4 headstand push-ups, 6 dips, 8 (alternating legs) pistols." Of course, if you don't have the chairs substitute something like the explosive push-ups straight_razoer was mentioning.

If I ever settle in one place long enough to justify it, I'm going to buy a few kettlebells so I can do some Turkish get-ups and sets of snatches and swings...the Turkish get-up may be my favorite exercise actually for how full-body and amazingly exhausting it is. But unless you want to get a dumbbell or kettlebell it won't help you. Just putting a word in for it...ha.

Otherwise, I do a lot of stuff like straight_razor's routines (awesome, this thread has been seriously useful...). I think a main thing that helps you burn is to change it up every day, which is part of how Crossfit works too. That makes your body work harder and you burn more. Also, I'm not sure if you can switch your time, but it's good to work out in the evening as your metabolism slows down—so if you kick it up around 6:00 or so you are burning more for longer at a time when you would normally have started to slow down. Just something to think about.
posted by dubitable at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2011

whoa dubitable, you can do muscle ups???? consider me in youe awe.

all this high intensity and cross fit and bodyweight exercise stuff is reminding me--just as a small word of warning, watch it if you decide to do negative pull ups/bodyweight exercises, stuff where the eccentric part of the movement (the part where your body goes down) is emphasized. rhabdomyolosis (sp?), which in short is where you stress muscles beyond what they're conditioned to do (by getting a leg up with a negative/jumping pull up, say, allowing you to have to do more eccentric work than you'd normally be able to do if you had to also pull yourself up in the first place) and the muscle breaks down into your bloodstream and ends up harming your kidneys, is nothing to fuck with. just do a quick read up on it if you decide to do bodyweight stuff and you're pushing yourself hard, so you know to prevent it. which reminds, obviously work hard but don't wreck your body in a crash course fashion either--there's no point trying to get fit for a wedding only to be so worn out you can barely walk or stand, much less enjoy anything, the day of. i hope that doesn't sound too preachy.

posted by ifjuly at 4:56 PM on September 3, 2011

whoa dubitable, you can do muscle ups???? consider me in youe awe.

ifjuly, it took me literally years and a lot of sweat to get to this point. This tutorial in particular was helpful. I started by doing regular dips and pull-ups, then I started doing ring-dips—just those took me a while before I could get even one—then I started adding weight to my pull-ups and dips, which I think helped a lot in moving to a real muscle-up. I also practiced the false-grip a lot to get a feel for it. Honestly, I think the muscle-up is as much about getting the movement right as it is about developing the strength, although of course you do need a certain amount of strength. I remember the day I pulled off a muscle-up for the first time, I was so excited, I really was not sure if I would ever be able to pull it off. Now I can get through three to five at a time on average, and one time I actually did seven in a row. If I can do them anyone can do them, I'm convinced. It just takes time and patience...like most things in life, haha.

posted by dubitable at 10:45 PM on September 5, 2011

3 weeks in, which routine did you go with, and is it working?
posted by cashman at 10:01 AM on September 19, 2011

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