20-Minute HIIT Workout

Grab a mat, a jump rope and go! Tackle cardio and strength with this quick, effective circuit.

May 09, 2019

This high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a “Go-For-Time” workout. You’ll complete all exercises – in a circuit format – as quickly as possible. Personal trainer Jaime Filer says this plan will take the average person about 20 minutes to complete.


The best part? You’ll hit every major muscle group with cardio and strength training in less than a half hour.


Here’s what to do.




Jump Rope: 100 skips


Filer describes the “buy in” or warmup this way: “You only have to do it once and then your workout can start. Someone who only wants a 20-minute workout is clearly constrained for time, [so] we incorporate that cardio warmup in the beginning, get that heart rate up, then your body will be warm and ready to go.”


As you jump rope, avoid landing flat-footed. Instead, stay on the balls of your feet. “You also want to make sure that your arms don’t start to fly away from you. Keep [the movement] tight and contained, and just do little flicks of the wrists [otherwise] your shoulders are going to exhaust before your legs,” Filer says.




Plank Into “T”: 5 reps (each side)


Not only is this a strength exercise, it’s also a balance and stability challenge, targeting your core, glutes and upper body. “It’s also a great stretch because you’re opening up your chest,” Filer says.

  • From a side plank, reach under your body. Avoid rotating too much, as this will throw you off balance.
  • Reach up, then repeat.
  • Squeeze the muscles in your core and legs.

You can modify this exercise by dropping your bottom knee to the mat.



Backwards Lunges: 30 reps


This exercise focuses on your glutes and hamstrings, which, Filer says, are not the easiest muscle groups to target. “In everyday life, we’re walking forward, whether it’s running to catch a bus or just walking to meet a friend or even walking up stairs. It’s very front of your leg, quad-centric. The backwards lunge gives us an opportunity to use the muscles that we should be using.”

  • When you step back to lunge, move at a steady pace, up and down. Don’t step back too far, as this will throw you off balance.
  • To complete a full rep, tap your knee to the mat, but avoid slamming your knee to the ground — this will take some control. Remember: Your knee doesn’t have to touch the ground. Move at a pace that is suitable for your body.


Speed Skaters: 20 reps


Tackle agility, balance, and core and leg strength all in one exercise.

  • To start, shift your entire body weight to one foot, then push off and shift to the other leg.
  • Use your core for stability so you don’t go too far in one direction.
  • Move your opposite arm with opposite leg.

“It’s a plyometric, dynamic exercise, great for fat burning, getting the heart rate up and agility. Be quick and explosive off each leg,” Filer says.



Push-Ups: 10 reps


Filer describes these as “the most basic upper-body bodyweight exercise,” as well as “exceptionally difficult.”


“A proper rep begins with your chest on the floor and ends with your elbows locked out at full extension and then going all the way back down again,” she adds.


To modify, drop to your knees.



Sit-Ups: 10 reps

  • Place your hands loosely behind your head and neck.
  • Engage your core to pull your chest forward toward your knees. Avoid curving your back.
  • Keep your heels down on the ground. If they start to lift, that indicates you’re using momentum, rather than strength.
  • Relax your shoulders back and down.


Air Squats: 10 reps


“This is one of those anytime, anywhere, regardless of where you are, you can get them in type of exercises,” Filer says.

  • Hold your hands in front of you or place them behind your head.
  • Open up your chest and keep your shoulders down and back.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your knees should track out slightly, with your ankles directly underneath them.
  • For a complete rep, drop your hips slightly below the crease of your knees.
  • Stand up to full hip extension and squeeze your glutes.



Run: Half Mile


After the prescribed workout, you’ll do a cash out, or a “burner finisher,” to make the most of this short, but effective circuit.


“This is great to finish off a workout [and] completely exhaust yourself. Whatever you have left in the tank at the end of the circuit, get it out on your run,” Filer says. She adds that you can sprint, jog or walk, depending on your fitness level. Just make sure to take a few minutes at the end to cool down and allow your heart rate to return to normal.


Up for the challenge? Add this routine to your workout schedule, keep track of your times and watch how you progress!


Looking for a more targeted workout? Try these low belly exercises.