In the middle of a 4-mile run in the park with my boyfriend, I wanted to add a quick workout in (since I never feel like a run is enough, but that’s just me)! I wanted to do something short, yet still effective (AKA, help me burn fat and maintain my muscle gains). That’s what I love about high intensity interval training — it’s a form of cardio you can perform without worrying about decreasing your strength or muscle mass. To be more precise, it is a series of exercise movements that are performed in short bursts at vigorous intensity (can reach intensities up to 80% to 95% of one’s max heart rate). Plus, it’s effective even when performed in a time crunch! Some of the most brutal HIIT workouts I’ve ever done lasted only 6 minutes or less!
Thus, I came up with this…
Let’s break it down. There are six bodyweight exercises. Each exercise is to be performed continuously (as tolerated) for 30 seconds with 15-seconds of rest in-between. After you finish all six exercises, that’s one round done. Rest for 30 seconds more, then start all over again. Complete for a total of 2-3 rounds!
Form Do’s and Don’ts: Make sure your knees are over your ankle (not to exceed your toes) and cross your arms over your chest to allow your legs to do the work! When standing from a sitting position, shift your weight forward to maintain your center of gravity. From standing, sit back slowly in a controlled manner (do not just plop down — you don’t get gains that way!).
Form Do’s and Don’ts: Ensure that your wrists are under your shoulders and that your spine stays in a neutral position (not arched or rounded). Your legs should maintain a straight line from your feet to your head. In the “down” position, ensure that your hands are about chest height and that your elbows are tucked closer to your sides and not splayed outwards.
Form Do’s and Don’ts: Step up onto a height that is comfortable for you (during which your knee does not cave in (causing your leg to rotate inward) and does not protrude outward (causing your leg to rotate externally). Just like squats, avoid having your knee extend past your toes! Step onto a step or bench with one leg, match both feet together, then step off with your opposite leg. Alternate sides so that the muscles on both legs have an equal amount of gains!
Form Do’s and Don’ts: Start with your arms extended and your feet flat on the ground (toes pointing forward). Your chest should be upright with your butt off the chair (if tolerated), and your knees bent (for lower intensity). Lower yourself down until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle, then raise yourself upward by extending your arms back to starting position.
Form Do’s and Don’ts: Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart. Slowly lift your heels off the ground while still standing tall and maintaining good posture (no slouching!). Hold for a second, then lower your heels back down slowly.
Form Do’s and Don’ts: Similar to the incline push-up position, maintain a neutral position with your spine while forming a straight line from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Lift one leg off the ground by bending your knee waist-high, then alternate legs. For higher intensity, you can add a slight hop as you bend your knee (trying to bring that knee as close to your elbow as you can), and alternate legs; you will find that this will boost your heart rate very quickly!
Even though I call this a “beginner” workout (due to the progression exercises I selected), it is easy to increase the intensity by simply increasing the duration of time for each exercise (45 seconds instead of 30) while still minimizing rest between exercises (15 seconds rest). Also, it is possible to increase the amount of total rounds you do once you’re comfortable!
Remember, start at your own pace and do not feel discouraged if you can’t perform the exercises during the entirety of the 30-second interval. Take longer periods of rest if you need to, and maintain proper form instead of focusing on increasing your reps! If you have to start out with only 1 round or 2, do it! Build gradually, and keep moving forward.
Want to give this workout a try? Take a photo or video of yourself while doing the workout and tag #UnbreakableNurse to join the movement to build stronger, happier, and more resilient nurses!