by Ashley Mateo
It’s hard to believe you can actually get a solid workout in within the span of five minutes. But 60-second high-intensity workouts were shown to be just as effective at improving health and fitness as 45 minutes of moderate exercise in a study published in the journal PLOS One. (Full disclosure: That doesn’t mean you can just sweat for one minute; the study involved 10 total minutes of working out with 60 cumulative seconds of strenuous exercise).
But if you’re short on time, you can definitely pack at least 60 seconds of high-intensity interval work into five minutes. You can’t phone it in, though; if you’re only going to work out for five minutes, every minute should leave you breathless and feeling like you’ve pushed your body to the limit. That’s the whole premise of high-intensity workouts, after all.
The following five-minute high-intensity workouts were designed by pro trainers to tax your cardiovascular and muscular strength (and, frankly, your mental strength as well). Just make sure to also set aside a few extra minutes for a warmup that’ll loosen you up and ease your body into movement—going straight from a Netflix marathon on the couch to a lung-bursting, muscle-crippling workout is a surefire way to set yourself up for injury.
5 High-Intensity Workouts to Get Fit in 5 Minutes or Less
1. 2-Move HIIT Workout
Just two moves? Yep. Sometimes the simplest high-intensity workouts are the best. This routine, from Peloton Tread instructor Chase Tucker, really gets the job done. Perform 5 rounds of the following:
- Speed Squats x 20 seconds (10 seconds rest)
- Tension Pushups x 20 seconds (10 seconds rest)
“You’ll want to work as intensely as possible for the duration of each movement, then rest as passively as possible for the 10-second break to maximize results,” says Tucker. For the pushups, “try keeping minimal time at the top or bottom lockout position for greater time under tension,” he adds. (Don’t be afraid to go to your knees if you can’t do a full pushup fast enough or with the proper form.)
2. Ladder HIIT Workout
You’ll do the same three moves throughout this workout from Strava fitness coach Nate Helming, but the number of reps will change. “Perform a descending ladder of reps starting at 10 reps of each movement, then 8, 6, 4, 2,” says Helming. “If you reach the end of the ladder before five minutes is done, work back up: 2-4-6-8-10.”
- Squat Jumps
- Mountain Climbers
For more of a challenge, swap the squat jumps with jumping lunges and add a clap to the pushups. Just make sure to “keep the transitions from one movement to the next tight so your heart rate stays elevated,” says Helming.
3. Max-Effort HIIT Workout
This non-stop workout was designed “to improve upper- and lower-body muscular endurance,” says Army Warrior Fitness Team member and CrossFit competitor Chandler Smith. You’ll start with as many burpees as possible to jack up your heart rate, followed by jumping lunges and hand-release pushups for explosive power, and another round of burpees. “Focus on speed for a more cardio-intensive session, or move through the exercises more slowly to focus on muscle strength,” says Smith.
- Round 1: Burpees x 60 seconds
- Round 2: Jumping Lunges x 20 seconds (10 seconds rest)
- Round 3: Jumping Lunges x 20 seconds (10 seconds rest)
- Round 4: Hand-Release Pushups x 60 seconds
- Round 5: Air Squats x 20 seconds (10 seconds rest)
- Round 6: Air Squats x 20 seconds (10 seconds rest)
- Round 7: Burpees x 60 seconds
4. AMRAP HIIT Workout
In this workout from Niv Zinder, a trainer and Chief Curriculum Lead at Barry’s in New York City, you’re going to do as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the moves (resting as needed) within 5 minutes. “With AMRAP circuits, you’re looking to increase work capacity over time,” says Zinder. “It’s a great tool to track progress and it pushes the intensity factor you might be missing during workouts.” Here’s the sequence:
- Skaters x 5 each leg
- Forearm Plank w/ Alternating Reach x 20 (Reach and tap one hand out in front of you.)
- Broad Jumps w/ Backward Shuffle X 10 (Stay low and move quickly for the shuffle—think fast feet.)
- Bear Kick-throughs x 10 each leg (Come into a quadruped position with knees hovering just above the ground, shoulders over wrists and knees aligned with hips. Brace your abs, then rotate your body to the right as you lift your right hand off the floor and swing your left leg under your body, extending it to the right side. Pivot on your supporting leg’s foot to facilitate the movement, then reverse back to starting position. Repeat on the left side, lifting your left hand off the ground and kicking your right leg to your left side. That’s 1 rep.)
Next time you do the workout, try to increase the number of reps (and decrease your rest time).
5. 4-Round HIIT Workout
Low-intensity, active recovery exercises follow the cardio intervals in this circuit from IRONMAN coach Kate Wheeler. “The purpose of the recovery is to allow your body to work at maximum effort on the next interval,” she explains. Each round starts with 30 seconds of side shuffles up and down the length of your mat. Then you have 60 seconds to complete the next two exercises. “If you finish the two exercises before the 60 seconds is up, you get to rest for the remainder of that minute before starting again,” says Wheeler.
- Round 1: Bear Crawl to Squat Jump x 8 (Bear crawl up and down the length of your mat, then perform a jump squat.)
- Round 2: Pushup Plank Jack to Star Jump x 7 (Perform a pushup, then at the top of the movement jump your feet out to either side. Return to starting pushup position. Jump your feet toward your hands so you’re in a crouched position, then explode up, jumping high as you extend your arms and legs out to form a star. That’s 1 rep.)
- Round 3: Power Lunges (each side) to Broad Jump x 6 (Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lunge back with one foot, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Push off your front leg to jump straight into the air while driving your rear knee up in front of your body. Softly land in the same split stance you started with, lowering that rear leg back into a lunge. Switch sides and repeat. That’s 1 rep.)
- Round 4: Burpees to V-ups x 5
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