Create HIIT Workouts at Home With These 15 Exercises
by Evelyn Valdez·
Can't make it to the gym and need short, yet effective workouts? Learn how to create your own high-intensity interval training (HIIT) - your home workout bestie!
HIIT is still one of the most popular ways to get a quick cardiovascular workout and work your entire body at once! It involves alternating periods of high-intensity and hard effort with periods of recovery. So, even though HIIT is typically short, the high-intensity involved will help you burn an insane amount of calories in one short session! And you're able to tailor your workout to accommodate the amount of time you have and your goals. You can alternate cardio exercises with strength training exercises, or have a full cardio workout!
This makes it an excellent workout choice for busy stay-at-home moms, anyone with a hectic work schedule, or lifters who are weightlifting for weight loss. The point is, HIIT is fantastically effective and time-efficient. The best part is that there are so many ways to create different effective HIIT workouts, so you'll never get bored working out at home or at the gym!
To help you put together the best HIIT workouts at home, we've gathered 15 different HIIT exercises that work your entire body! These are all home-friendly exercises that involve your body weight, but we also threw in a few that include resistance bands for those who want to increase the intensity.
Whether you're a beginner or a lifter who's looking to change up your routine, here are 15 HIIT exercises and tips to help you create your own HIIT workouts!
Best HIIT exercises for all fitness levels
One of the reasons HIIT is so popular is how versatile it is! There are various exercises you can choose to include in your HIIT workout, so you can still get creative with your home workouts even if you don't have equipment!
Target your upper body by doing bear crawls! This is an excellent bodyweight mobility exercise that uses your shoulders, quads, and core. Plus, it's apartment-friendly, so you don't have to worry about annoying your neighbors downstairs!
- Start on all fours. Lift your knees so that they are hovering an inch off the ground at a 90-degree angle. Make sure that your back is flat, arms are shoulder-width apart, and legs hip-width apart.
- Begin by moving your left hand and right foot forward at an equal distance. Try to stay low to the ground as you move.
- Switch sides, moving the opposite hand and foot. Keep repeating the movement, going forward and backward.
Target your lower body while working up a sweat by doing jumping squats! Although you can do traditional bodyweight squats in your HIIT routine, jumping squats will really fire up your glutes and leg muscles while also increasing your heart rate.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, head up, and arms by your side.
- Go into a squat position, keeping your back straight and chest up. Squat down until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Press on the balls of your feet and jump up as high as possible.
- Once you touch the floor, immediately get into a squat position and jump again.
For those who want more of a challenge, you can add a short resistance band to it to increase the intensity!
Plank to shoulder tap
Ordinary planks are great for challenging your core, upper body, and stability. It's an excellent HIIT exercise for beginners, but if you want something a little more challenging, give this one a try! This exercise involves a shoulder tap to further challenge your stability, core muscles, and upper body.
- Get into a high plank position. Make sure that your wrists are directly under your shoulder and your core is engaged (pssst, here's how to engage your core) so that your lower back and hips aren't sagging towards the floor.
- Maintaining your stable high plank, tap your right hand to your left shoulder and then place it on the floor. As soon as you place your right hand down, tap your left hand to your right shoulder. Keep your core engaged and hips steady.
- Keep alternating shoulder taps until your active work period is done!
Yes, we've added another plank exercise! There are so many great ones to choose from, but we've chosen our two favorites. Plank to shoulder taps places a greater focus on your upper body, while plank dips to target your abdominal muscles, specifically the obliques, and lower back.
- Start by getting into a low plank position by placing your forearms on the floor and legs straight behind you.
- Keep your elbows beneath your shoulders and palms pressed together, tuck your tailbone and engage your core, glutes, and quads.
- Begin to tilt your right hip toward the ground, twisting from the waist. Repeat on the left side and continue alternating sides.
Squat to curtsy lunge
Squats and curtsy lunges work multiple muscle groups in the lower body, but they specifically target your quads and glutes. So, if you want to fire up your quads and glutes this is the exercise for you!
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core. We suggest holding your hands out in front of you, at about chest height.
- Hinge at your hips to get into a squat position until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- As you stand, begin to move your right foot behind your left leg, place it down diagonally behind you. Bend both knees as you move into a curtsy squat.
- Return to the starting position and repeat the entire motion, except do the curtsy lunge on the other side! Continue alternating until your work interval is up.
Reverse lunge to kickback
We love lunges because whether you're using a weight or not, you can still feel the intense burn on your lower body! Reverse lunges are great at targeting the hamstrings and glutes, and adding another movement like a kickback will further work and fatigue the muscle for better results.
- Start by standing upright, then step back with one foot to perform a reverse lunge, keep the other foot planted on the floor.
- Instead of just returning to the standing position, push with your planted leg to kick your other foot out in front of you.
- After you kick, alternate legs and perform another reverse lunge and kickback. Keep alternating legs.
Lateral lunge with hop
Lateral lunges are great for working your inner and outer thighs, and adding a little hop to it makes it a killer HIIT exercise!
- Take a big lateral step to the side with your right foot, and bend the right knee so you shift your weight to that foot. Lower down into a lateral lunge.
- From that position, use your quads and hamstring to explosively hop back in and drive your right knee towards your chest so that you're jumping straight up.
- Repeat the movement on the other side.
Supermans with pulldown
It's easy to find good lower body exercises that don't require weights, but upper body exercises are another story! Superman's sounds like a silly, and simple, exercise, but don't be fooled. This is a great bodyweight exercise that works your lower back muscles, glutes, and even your hamstrings. The additional pulldown movement helps to target the lat muscles on your back!
- To begin, lie straight and face down on the floor or exercise mat. Your arms should be fully extended in front of you. This is the starting position.
- Engage your core and upper body, keep your gaze down toward the floor and neck neutral. Simultaneously begin to raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor, and pull your arms down at your sides so that your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Hold this position for two seconds to really engage your muscles.
- As you exhale begin to move back to the starting position by lowering back to the floor and moving your arms extended in front of you.
Push-ups are probably one of the most challenging bodyweight exercises, and it's great at working multiple upper body muscles at once. It mainly targets your chest muscles, but it also works your shoulders, triceps, and core.
We know this is a challenging one, so beginners can start by doing kneeling push-ups or incline push-ups. These exercises help take some of the tension away from your upper body while still targeting the intended muscle groups
- Lie on the floor face down and place your hands about 36 inches apart while holding your torso up at arm's length.
- Lower yourself downward until your chest almost touches the floor as you inhale.
- Now breathe out and press your upper body back up to the starting position while squeezing your chest.
This is a great low-impact exercise that works various upper and lower body muscles. It works your shoulders, triceps, chest, glutes, hamstring, and of course, your core!
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend forward towards your feet, and then walk your hands forward, one in front of the other, until you're in a high plank.
- Pause for a few seconds during the plank before walking hands back to feet.
Resistance band sidewalks
You'll be needing a resistance band for this exercise (and the ones below)! Sidewalks help to loosen the hip joint, but adding a resistance band adds an extra resistance that helps fire up your glute muscles.
Use a short resistance band in a light or medium resistance, or use a heavy resistance if you want more of a challenge.
- Place a resistance band above your knees and separate your feet to shoulder-width.
- Set a slight bend in your knees while you keep your chest up. Slowly step to the side with the right foot while doing a squat.
- Pause then step with the left foot in the same direction as the right. Keep alternating sides.
This is an excellent short resistance band exercise that targets not only your hamstring but also your lower back and calves.
- Place a short band around your thighs, slightly above the knees, and lie down on your back facing up. Bend your knees, and lift your hips into the ground.
- Begin to lift and move your left foot a couple of inches forward, followed by the right. Reverse the movement to the start.
You don't need a pair of dumbbells to get a decent upper body workout at home, all you need is a long resistance band! You can include banded bicep curls in your HIIT routine as an active recovery rest period. This will give you a break from all the jumping and high intensity!
- Loop the band under your feet, stand with both feet on the resistance band shoulder-width apart.
- Grab the band and hold it with your palms facing forwards. Lift your arm toward your shoulders until you get a good contraction on the biceps, hold for a few seconds, then lower slowly back to the start.
Overhead tricep extensions
Isolate your triceps during your HIIT workout by including banded tricep extensions! You can also use this exercise as a low-intensity rest period. You'll be needing a long band for this exercise.
- Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other and place the center of the long band under the back foot.
- Take the opposite end of the band with both hands, the band should be behind you (not in front), and extend your elbows above your head, your arms should be up towards the ceiling.
- Slowly lower the band behind the back of your head until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure to keep elbows close to the side of your head.
- Press hands back up overhead slowly. And repeat.
Front raises work the front of the shoulders (anterior deltoids), as you can tell by the name! You'll be needing a long band for this exercise.
- Loop the band under your feet, and stand on it hip-width apart. Hold the band in each hand with your arms at your side.
- Raise your arms straight in front of you until they're parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your torso, your arms should be at shoulder level.
- Hold that position for a few seconds then slowly lower back to the start.
How to create your own HIIT home workout
Now that you have a good amount of HIIT exercises to choose from, it's time to start creating the perfect home workout!
HIIT is really versatile, so there are many ways you can go about setting yours up. Take into consideration the amount of time you have and what your goals are. Aside from that, here are some guidelines to help you create the perfect HIIT workout anytime.
- Make sure you're pushing yourself to the max during your active work periods! The intensity of the workout must reach 60% of your maximum heart rate.
- Keep your HIIT workout anywhere between 10-30 minutes. The key is to alternate short bursts of high-intensity work with a short rest period in between. It could be 30-60 seconds of hard work, with a 10-15 second rest period in between exercises, and repeating for 3-5 rounds.
- The number of exercises will depend on the amount of time you have, and how many muscle groups you want to HIIT. For beginners, a good starting point for a full-body HIIT workout is five exercises. Choose one upper body, lower body, and core exercise, and two cardio-focused exercises.
- Choose exercises you can do in one place. You don't want to be using your short rest period running around to the next station. Instead select exercises that you can easily do in one place, and keep any equipment you may be using and your water nearby!
- Alternate hard exercises with easier ones to give yourself a short active rest period. You want to push yourself, but not so hard that you can't finish the workout with high intensity. So to avoid burning out early on is by alternate harder exercises with easier ones. For example, you don't want to do jumping lunges after jumping squats. You'll be working your lower body and heart back to back. Instead, do an upper body, then a lower body, or cardio exercise.
- Play with your work-to-rest ratios. You may want to use shorter work intervals and longer rests when you’re just getting started, and add work and subtract rest as you make progress.
Don't overcomplicate things, or think about it too much! Simply select the amount of time you want to spend working out, select the exercises, number of rounds, and the amount of time active and resting.
Now you have HIIT exercises and tips on how to create your very own HIIT workout! However, these are just 15 HIIT exercises you can try, there are so many more you can do! And don't think you only have to do these at home. You can easily create a quick HIIT workout with these exercises after your strength training sesh at the gym!
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