Best High-Intensity Cardio Workouts to Do in 20 Minutes from Best High-Intensity Cardio Workouts to Do in 20 Minutes

Best High-Intensity Cardio Workouts to Do in 20 Minutes

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Best High-Intensity Cardio Workouts to Do in 20 Minutes

High-intensity interval training has been a trending fitness routine for several years. “HIIT is such a big hit because it's the quickest way to burn the most amount of calories you can in a short amount of time,” according to Famisha J-Millman, a Master Personal Trainer and owner of Glisten Girls Fitness, because this type of training can literally transform your bodyInterval training has proven to burn more calories because of the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide by the body. Also, it takes longer to recover after an HIIT workout, which means you’re still burning calories even though you’re not exercising. 

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Treadmill and BOSU ball squats

“I have always enjoyed putting a client on the treadmill at a 5 incline with an 6 RPM for 1 minute, then recover with 30 BOSU ball squats,” J-Millman says. “Or row machine at level 10 for 1 minute followed by a 30-second plank or my PRECOR elliptical machine at level 15 going backwards for 1 minute,” she adds. This is really targeting the hamstrings and glutes. Finish by working the quads with leg extensions for 20-30 reps.

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Fat burning workout

J-Millman uses less intense but impactful HIIT programs for people who may not be athletes, but are looking to be challenged, while finding a fat burning workout that works for them in limited time such as 30 minutes. “Squat thrusts with a med ball for 30 seconds followed by an elliptical sprint with 3-pound kettlebells (pumping their arms) for 60 seconds will get their heart rate up quickly,” she says. After both the squat thrusts followed by elliptical sprint have been completed back to back, there may be a longer rest recovery of 60-90 seconds. “I have found that 60 seconds has been more than enough time for the client to get their heart rate down, pass the ‘talk test’ and be ready for what's up next,” she adds. “If they're not ready by 60 seconds, I increase the rest period to a total of 90 seconds.”

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Run hard and rest for half your effort time

“Resting for half your effort time will produce results,” J-Millman says. A 2:1 ratio allows enough time for recovery. As always, it depends on the fitness level of the person exercising. “If I'm working with an athlete and I have him sprint at 90-100 percent effort up a long hill which takes about one minute to get to the top, this client is going to have a 30-second rest recovery period,” she adds. “If I have another athlete sprinting a 400 meter dash and it takes approximately 70 seconds from start to finish, they should be ready to go hard again within 35 seconds.  If I have them run for about 4 minutes for endurance training, then their recovery time is going to be about 2 minutes.”

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Plyometrics

Exercises that involve jumping are often recommended by personal trainers. The muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power and speed. Studies have shown that plyometric exercises induce greater cardiovascular responses. These workouts also burn a lot of calories –  more than just running. They also help improve strength and balance. However, “if someone suffers from knee issues or back issues, I highly recommend steering away from doing ‘pounding’ exercises, such as Plyometrics,” J-Millman says. “Plyo is a great way to get your heart rate up fast [but] it can put too much pressure on the knee joints and, depending on the particular exercise being performed, it can also jolt the lower back,” she adds.

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Stair workout

This is a great workout because it can be done inside or outside at any time. “Do fast feet – 2 feet each step – to the top, then walk or jog back down,” Andrea Claassen, a certified personal trainer at SaFire Training, who specializes in 30-minute workout sessions, says. This is your rest time. Go back up but do walking lunges instead or fast feet again but this time one foot each step. “You can also do side step squats as you’re moving up,” she adds. “Set a timer for 15 minutes and keep repeating these exercises until the end,” she says.

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Bunny hops and step-ups

You are basically jumping forward in a crouched position. “This is only for people who know they can do it without tripping,” Claassen says. “Otherwise they can just step forward really quickly instead.” People can also do crossover hops, a low-intensity jumping exercise. (When done with one leg, it is also a great balance test.) One of Claassen’s favorite moves is the step-up. It works the inner thighs, a muscle group women don’t really engage, she adds. Go faster for a bigger cardio response.

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Bodyweight strength and cardio

Do each of the following moves for a minute and rest for 15 seconds in between, Claassen says. Start with push-ups with jump squats (or replace with goddess squat). Then do pop squats where you start with feet shoulder-width apart, squat, jump your feet together, and jump feet wide – as seen in this video. Then do up and down planks where you start at a pushup position, and lower your elbows one at a time to the mat while going down into an elbow plank. Then do burpees or single-leg burpees for the more advanced, Claassen says. And finish with a walkout plank. “This one is very deceptive, “she adds. “Everybody thinks it’s easy.”

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Tabata Training

This type of training – super-high-intensity exercises in a specific 20-seconds-on, 10-seconds-off interval for 4 minutes – may work for people with higher fitness levels that are trying to challenge themselves, J-Millman says. “I find -[…] that an exercise must be performed for at least 1 minute with at least a 30-second recovery vs 20 seconds of going hard and 10 second recovery,” she adds. “When it comes to high intensity exercises, most people need at least 30 seconds to 1 minute for a recovery period.” Even the fittest person can get his or her heart rate up high when challenged properly. It is not safe if you go right into another exercise without proper recovery time for your heart rate to go back down, she adds.

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Treadmill, dumbbells and bodyweight

Geoff Rubin, an ACE certified personal trainer and owner of Fitness Propelled, suggests a highly-effective, quick 15-minute treadmill, dumbbell and bodyweight interval set. Do a treadmill walk & warm up, speed 4.0, for a minute –30 seconds step to the rails and do bodyweight squats and 30 seconds step off the treadmill and do reverse lunges. Then 1 min back on the treadmill incline 4 percent and a light run at 6mph – break it down to 30 seconds of walking and jogging at 4 mph and 7.5 to 8.5 mph. Continue walking at 4mph while picking up the dumbbells and doing hammer curls for 1 min. Do 1 min of bicep curls while walking at 4mph and 1 min preacher curls while walking at 4mph.

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Weights down and incline sprints

Do 1 min of incline at 6 percent and speed at 6.5 mph, Rubin says. Break it down into 15 seconds rest at 6 percent incline, 45 seconds at incline 6 percent and speed at 7.5mph; 30 seconds rest at incline 6 percent, 30 seconds sprint at 8.5 to 9mph at the same incline. Then 1 min walk/ rest at no inline but 4mph. Grab the weights, he says, and do 1 min dumbbell shoulder presses while walking at a speed of 4mph and 0 incline, followed by 1 min dumbbell hammer presses while walking at speed 4mph and 0 incline. Rest and recoup for a minute at 3.5 mph and 0 incline.

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Kickboxing with dumbbells

Kickboxing is a fun and intense cardio workout. It includes straight punches, push-ups, upper cuts, oblique mountain climbers, around the world kicks– alternating legs, and squat jumps. For a more intense workout, hold dumbbells. The recovery is longer so you burn more calories. “What I have people do is as many sets of 3 sidekicks into a squat in 40-45 seconds as possible,” Vicki Tri from Fit w/ Vic in Oklahoma City says. Hold the dumbbells by the shoulders; arms should be in guard position.

Best High-Intensity Cardio Workouts to Do in 20 Minutes