HIIT Warmups – An Absolute Must
Unlike exercises such as walking, swimming or cycling which don’t require much warming up, when you’re about to start a HIIT full body workout, you absolutely MUST warm up for it.
Warming up will loosen your muscles, improve blood circulation and get oxygen to the muscles. This is crucial for deepening the plasticity of the muscles so that they can be ready for a hard workout.
You want your warm up to last for about 3 to 5 minutes. The goal is to get the blood flowing and your heart pumping a little harder as it gets ready to exert. You don’t want to exhaust yourself during a warm up by going too long, and you don’t want to be insufficiently warmed up by going too slow/short.
If you live in a cold climate, you may use a heater to warm up the room you’re working out in. This will keep your muscles warm. Training harder just to warm up during winter time is not productive. You’re better off in a warm room or wearing a few layers of clothes to stay warm.
Do not engage in long static stretches. This is the ‘old school’ style of training. In the past, people would spend a good 15 minutes stretching their muscles before a workout.
Recent studies have shown that excessive stretching prior to a workout diminishes your ability to exert maximum strength. Your muscles are too relaxed to work hard. So, you’re better off with a few quick dynamic stretches and some light cardio to warm yourself up.
Walking on a treadmill is a good warm up. Using a jump rope at a relaxed pace is a warm up. A few minutes on the rowing machine is also a good idea.
Doing heavy deadlifts is NOT a warm up. Such heavy exercises are not warm ups even if you only do 2 or 3 reps. You’ll still be exhausting yourself.
Besides warming up, you should make time for stretching and flexibility training. However, stretching is best done a few hours before your training. It’s just to keep you limber and flexible.
Stretching upon waking is wonderful practice. After sleeping the whole night, your body will be stiff and could do with a good stretch. Alternatively, you may wish to attend yoga sessions to help relieve the tension in your body.
Being flexible will help prevent you from getting injured easily. Your body will be more pliable and less susceptible to getting sudden cramps or muscle tears.
Two key areas you should focus on are your lower back and your hamstrings. The connective tissue in your hamstrings tend to be ‘tight and stiff’.
This usually causes back pain and even knee pain. Try to stretch your hamstrings daily. Do the same for your back too. If you’re short on time, stretching these 2 areas alone will help to relieve the tension in your body.
So many people suffer from back problems because the muscles in the back and body are tight. Flexibility training can and should be done daily – just don’t do it immediately before your HIIT full body workout.
To conclude, warming up is necessary to performing your best during your HIIT workouts, and being flexible will help you to move better during your training. Give both the attention they need.
“You are only as young as your spine is flexible.” – Joseph Pilates
Best Core HIIT Workouts
Your core is much more than an attractive set of six pack abs. Millions of men are so focused on doing crunches and getting the abs that they fail to realize that their back muscles and their oblique muscles are all part of their core.
Having a strong core is not just about aesthetics and turning heads at the beach. When your core is strong, your stomach will not stick out like a ‘pooch belly’. Your posture will be better, and you’ll be less prone to back pain and injuries.
Even in your training, your speed and movements will be faster and sharper because your spine is stable. Training your core is simple in concept but NOT easy to execute.
It would be a good idea to have a core exercise at the end of each HIIT circuit. For example, if you’re doing a circuit of burpees, box jumps, pushups and jumping lunges, add a plank as the last exercise.
It may not seem like much to do a plank for 30 or 45 seconds. Is that even high intensity? You’re not even moving!
Yet, when you’re exhausted, holding that plank for a short span of 30 seconds will be torturous and feel like an hour. Your body will tremble and wobble as you struggle to hold the plank. This is core training at it’s finest. You’ll only know how difficult it is when you’re in the throes of the workout.
Now let’s look at some of the most common core HIIT full body workouts that you can do:
- Reverse plank with leg raises
- Hanging leg raises
- Knee tucks with stability ball
- Renegade rows
- Seated crunches
- Kneeling cable crunches
- Reverse wood chops (with medicine ball)
These are just a few of the many core exercises that you can use. There are so many ways to work your core that you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Important note: High intensity interval training requires maximum effort and speed. However, you should NEVER sacrifice form for speed. Doing this will not only reduce the efficacy of the exercise but make it dangerous as well.
If you’re not sure of any move/exercise, you can always search online or look for demonstration videos on YouTube. Practice each move slowly until you can execute it well. From there you can try and do it faster while maintaining correct form at the same time.
You may wonder, “Don’t exercises like squats and pullups work the core?”
Yes, they do. However, the core merely stabilizes the body so that it can execute the exercise. There’s not much focus on the core itself. It does get a little stronger from the other compound exercises, but this is a part of your body that requires more focus and attention.
It’s probably the most important area in your body. So, you absolutely must spend time training it purposefully and not as an afterthought.
A strong core equates to a strong body. Every other exercise you do will become simpler when your core is strong. Give it the attention it requires.
HIIT Lower Body Exercises
In high intensity interval training (HIIT), it’s crucial that you train your legs too. Unlike bodybuilding where people train for size and aesthetics, with HIIT full body workouts you’re aiming for excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
In other words, you want to train at an intensity that leaves you panting and breathing hard so that your anaerobic fitness improves. The best way to do that is by training legs. Your leg is made up of large muscles and capable of much more effort and explosive power than your arms.
A squat will always burn more calories than a pushup. So, by focusing on your legs, you’ll burn more calories, lose unwanted fat faster and you’ll gain more lean muscle overall. You’ll be surprised to find out that training legs makes it easier for you to gain muscle on your upper body.
Now let’s look at some of the best lower body exercises that you can do to tone your legs and raise your heart rate.
Yes… it doesn’t get better than this one. You can do bodyweight squats or goblet squats or use dumbbells/barbells when you squat. Using weights will make your workouts more challenging and help to burn more calories.
You can choose to do either half squats or full squats depending on how good your knees are. Both types of squats have their pros and cons. So, it’s up to you which way you do it.
Watch This Video Of Squats Exercise
- Box jumps
Similar to squats but with an explosive element to it. You’ll be squatting and jumping on to a box repeatedly. It will require more effort and using this exercise in a HIIT circuit workouts will really take things to the next level. It’s a very powerful exercise.
Watch This Box Jumps Video
Another staple when it comes to leg training. If you hold a dumbbell in each hand while doing the lunges, you’ll be training at a higher intensity.
Watch This How To Do Lunges Video
- Skater hops
This exercise will increase your agility and train muscles that you don’t normally train because of the side-to-side movement.
Watch This How To Do Skater Hops Video
Besides the exercises mentioned above, there are many other leg exercises such as pistol squats, deadlifts, hack squats, lateral shuffles, step ups, pelvic peels, etc. that will all help to train and tone your legs.
What really matters is that you include at least a few leg exercises in your HIIT full body workouts. Many people abhor leg training because of how tiring and painful it can get. Yet, it’s these exercises that will really take your stamina and strength to the next level. Start training your legs today.
HIIT Workout Upper Body
Incorporating upper body exercises in your high intensity interval training (HIIT) circuit will help to tone the muscles in your arms, chest, back, etc. An effective HIIT workout at home will usually be a full-body workout… and should include leg exercises too.
This is the best way to promote weight loss. However, if you’re already lean and just want better tone in your upper body, the entire workout can be comprised of upper body exercises.
Since most of the exercises listed below are compound movements, you’ll be working several muscle groups at the same time. Let’s look at some examples of upper body exercises that you can do.
Everybody knows what these are, and you can do them fast if you’re strong enough. Even people who can’t do a pushup can always rest their knees on the ground and do kneeling pushups.
This is an easier version of the pushup and it still works the same muscles. Over time, you’ll build the strength to do proper pushups.
There are a wide variety of pushups such as: pike pushups, military pushups, diamond pushups, plyo pushups, sphinx pushups, Spiderman pushups and so on. In fact, just doing a variety of these will be enough to work your entire upper body.
Watch This Push Up Exercise Video
This exercise is the benchmark of all upper body exercises and will require strength too. If you can’t do a single pull-up, this exercise can’t be part of your routine. Ideally, you should be able to do 10 to 15 pull-ups. Then you can do them at a fast pace that’s required when doing HIIT full body workouts.
Watch This Pullups Video
- Using weights
Using dumbbells, barbells and other gym equipment will take your upper body workout to the next level. The weight you use should challenge you but not annihilate you. Doing overhead presses with dumbbells or barbells will work your upper body hard.
Watch This Dumbbell Overhead Press Standing Video
The same applies if you do exercises like:
- Rope pulldowns
- Overhead cable triceps extensions
The exercises above should be enough to keep you challenged for months. About 2 to 3 months of regular HIIT will get you lean and shredded, depending on how much excess fat you carry.
From there, you can either decide to focus on hypertrophy based training where you train specific body parts, or you can stick to the HIIT low impact workouts and vary them. It all depends on your fitness goals and how you wish to look.
HIIT full body workouts give you a lot of flexibility and are highly effective if you do them right. In fact, it’s best for most people to start off with them and build a good foundation of strength and fitness before progressing to other forms of training.