On days when exercise is at the bottom of your priority list and making it to a fitness class on time presents a scheduling nightmare, a HIIT workout can be your saving grace. Obviously you can also skip your workout, and you should never feel guilty for doing so. But if you’re someone who feels a little less stressed and a little more in control of a busy day after fitting in time to sweat, then a HIIT workout is pretty much your best option.

HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a workout style that involves brief bursts of high-intensity intervals followed by brief periods of low-intensity recovery. The biggest draw of HIIT is that it lets you fit in more work in less time. Since you give close to 100 percent of your effort during each high-intensity burst, your heart rate skyrockets and your muscles fatigue pretty quickly. And yes, that means the workout is going to be challenging—but on the upside, HIIT workouts are typically really short.

Gerren Liles, NASM-certified personal trainer at Mirror, says that HIIT is a go-to for most fitness professionals because it’s one of the best ways to raise your heart rate and improve strength and performance. “Incorporating HIIT twice a week, along with pure strength training, mobility work, and proper recovery will create a healthy, well-rounded individual with the confidence and stamina to take on the world,” Liles says.

And your HIIT workouts don’t need to be complicated. In fact, since you’re working really intensely, it’s almost better to stick with less equipment and focus on basic movements. That way, you don’t need to worry about form as much and can just really give it your all.

The dumbbell HIIT workout below, which Liles created for SELF, includes compound exercisesthat work multiple muscle groups at once and moves that target specific muscle groups. It only requires one pair of medium-weight dumbbells, and will take you just 10 minutes to do. It’s also scalable for all fitness levels, he adds. “I use all of these full-body exercises (and more), in my MIRROR classes,” Liles says. Each circuit in the workout includes two dynamic (moving) exercises and a static hold. “After the intense, dynamic exercises, the static hold is a smart way to wring the last bit of juice out of your muscles, where you are challenging them to stabilize while in a fatigued state,” says Liles.

The Workout

  • Do the first move for 60 seconds, at an easy, controlled tempo with full range of motion.
  • Do the second move for 30 seconds, at 80 percent to maximum effort, attempting to reach fatigue or breathlessness without compromising your form.
  • Do the last move for 15 seconds, which just requires you to hold a single position.

The goal is to not rest in between each exercise in a circuit, and to take no more than 60 seconds to transition from one circuit to the next, Liles says. “Since it’ll be working a different muscle group, that part of your body should be refreshed and ready to go.”

What you’ll need: One pair of medium-weight dumbbells. Liles says to pick a weight with which renegade rows feel challenging, but doable with proper form (very minimal movement in your torso as you row each arm back).

Circuit 1

  • Alternating Lateral Lunge With Dumbbells — 60 seconds
  • Skater Hop — 30 seconds
  • Sumo Squat Hold —15 seconds

Circuit 2:

  • Renegade Row With Dumbbells — 60 seconds
  • Bent-Over Row With Dumbbells — 30 seconds
  • Bent-Over Row Hold With Dumbbells — 15 seconds

Circuit 3:

  • Alternating Reverse Lunge With Dumbbells — 60 seconds
  • Split Lunge Jump — 30 seconds (switching legs after 15 seconds)
  • Lunge Hold Right — 15 seconds
  • Lunge Hold Left — 15 seconds

Circuit 4:

  • Deadbug — 60 seconds
  • Bicycle Crunch — 30 seconds
  • Hollow Body Hold — 15 seconds

Circuit 5:

  • Push-up — 60 seconds
  • Burpee — 30 seconds
  • Triceps Push-up Hold — 15 seconds

Here’s how to do each move:

Demoing the moves below are Cookie Janee, a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Amanda Wheeler, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ community and allies;Teresa Hui, a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races, including 16 full marathons; Rachel Denis, a powerlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York state powerlifting records; and Crystal Williams, a group fitness instructor and trainer who teaches at residential and commercial gyms across New York City Rachel Denis, a powerlifter who competes with USA Powerlifting and holds multiple New York state powerlifting records.

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Alternating Lateral Lunge
Alternating Lateral LungeStand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand and rest them on the tops of your shoulders with your palms facing in toward each other and your elbows bent. You can also hold one weight with both hands at your chest. This is the starting position.Take a big step out to the right. Bend your right knee, hinge forward at the hips, and sit your butt back to lower into a lateral lunge. Keep your chest lifted and core engaged, and make sure your knee doesn’t move forward beyond your toes.Push through your right heel to return to the starting position.Repeat on the left leg.Continue, alternating sides, for 60 seconds.
Skater Hop
Skater HopStand with your feet shoulder-width apart.Bend your knees slightly, then jump to the right as far as you can, leading with your right foot and swinging your left leg just behind your right. Swing your arms across your body to help you jump farther.Land on your right foot and bend your knee slightly, balancing on that foot for a second.Jump back to the left, landing on your left foot. Try to jump as far and as fast as you can while staying balanced.Continue for 30 seconds.
Sumo Squat Hold
Sumo Squat HoldStand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out, arms by your sides or hands clasped together at your chest (as shown).Engage your core and keep your chest lifted and back flat as you shift your weight into your heels, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower into a squat.Hold here for 15 seconds.
Renegade Row
Renegade RowStart in a high plank holding a dumbbell in each hand on the floor, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, legs extended behind you wider than hip-width apart (it’ll help with stability), and your core and glutes engaged. This is the starting position.Pull your right elbow back to do a row, raising the dumbbell toward your chest and keeping your elbow close to your torso. Keep your abs and butt tight to prevent your hips from rocking.Lower the weight back down to the starting position.Do the same thing with your left arm.Continue, alternating arms, for 60 seconds.
Bent-Over Row
Bent-Over RowStand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a weight in each hand with your arms at your sides.With your core engaged, hinge forward at the hips, push your butt back, and bend your knees slightly, so that your back is no lower than parallel to the floor. (Depending on your hamstring flexibility, you may not be able to bend so far over.) Gaze at the ground a few inches in front of your feet to keep your neck in a comfortable position.Do a row by pulling the weights up toward your chest, keeping your elbows hugged close to your body, and squeezing your shoulder blades for two seconds at the top of the movement. Your elbows should go past your back as you bring the weight toward your chest.Slowly lower the weights by extending your arms toward the floor. That’s 1 rep.Continue for 30 seconds.
Bent-Over Row Hold
Bent-Over Row HoldStand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a weight in each hand with your arms at your sides.With your core engaged, hinge forward at the hips, push your butt back, and bend your knees slightly, so that your back is no lower than parallel to the floor. (Depending on your hamstring flexibility, you may not be able to bend so far over.) Gaze at the ground a few inches in front of your feet to keep your neck in a comfortable position.Do a row by pulling the weights up toward your chest, keeping your elbows hugged close to your body, and squeezing your shoulder blades for two seconds at the top of the movement. Your elbows should go past your back as you bring the weight toward your chest.Hold your arms here, squeezing your shoulder blades to keep the upper back engaged throughout, for 15 seconds.
Alternating Reverse Lunge
Alternating Reverse LungeStart standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms resting along the sides of your legs, palms facing in. This is the starting position.Lift your right foot and step back about 2 feet, landing on the ball of your foot and keeping your heel off the floor. Bend both knees until your left quad and right shin are approximately parallel to the floor. Your torso should lean slightly forward so your back is flat and not arched or rounded. Your left knee should be above your left foot and your butt and core should be engaged.Push through the heel of your left foot to return to the starting position.Repeat on the other leg by stepping back with your left foot about 2 feet and landing on the ball of your foot and keeping your heel off the floor. Bend both knees until your right quad and left shin are approximately parallel to the floor. Your torso should lean slightly forward so your back is flat and not arched or rounded. Your right knee should be above your right foot and your butt and core should be engaged.Push through the heel of your right foot to return to the starting position.Continue, alternating legs, for 60 seconds.
Split Lunge Jump
Split Lunge JumpStand with your feet together. Step back (about 2 feet) with your left foot, landing on the ball of your left foot and keeping your heel off the floor.Bend both knees until your right quad and left shin are parallel to the floor, your torso leaning slightly forward so that your back is flat. Your right knee should be above your right foot and your butt and core should be engaged. Hold your hands in front of your chest.Push through both feet to jump straight up, swinging your arms by your sides to add momentum.As you land, lower into a lunge before immediately jumping again.Continue for 15 seconds on one leg, then repeat with the other leg for another 15 seconds.To modify this movement, keep your feet planted on the floor the entire time and just bend and straighten your legs in and out of a lunge without jumping in between.
Lunge Hold—Right
Lunge Hold—RightStart standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms on your hips (as pictured) or hands clasped in front of your chest. This is the starting position.Lift your right foot and step back about 2 feet, landing on the ball of your foot and keeping your heel off the floor. Bend both knees until your left quad and right shin are approximately parallel to the floor. Your torso should lean slightly forward so your back is flat and not arched or rounded. Your left knee should be above your left foot and your butt and core should be engaged.Hold this position for 15 seconds


























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