Its winter and the time of year where everyone is so busy with life that exercise doesn’t really get a look in, it happens to the best of us. So, while I was on the train home a couple of week’s back I was looking for a quick workout to do before I started dinner and came across HIIT-High intensity interval training.
12 mins and enough of a workout to burn calories for a while after I’d finished seemed like a win win situation to me. After all who doesn’t have 12 minutes to spare? In the spirit of trying something new I decided to give it a go for 2 weeks and then document it for you lovely readers.
Day 1 – Optimism
I’m feeling pumped by the time I get in the door at how much time this new workout will save. I estimate I can exercise, make dinner, shower and be in bed by 10pm. Score! The downside is my boyfriend is home already so I am afraid of looking like an absolute loon in front of him. Undeterred I leave him to try and divide my timer into 30 sec intervals for 12 mins while I get changed but when I get back he tells me it can’t be done.
The workout I got from the internet said this would be easy. I’m not amused. I decide instead to just set a 30 sec timer and restart it every new interval until I reach 12 mins. It’s not the easiest way to go but it solves the problem, I just need to keep count until 24. My workout is at an intermediate level due to the dire warnings about how intensive this is but I am fairly fit so I don’t need the beginner level. I set out my plan on the floor, set the timer and get ready to start.
First off air squats-as many as I can do in 30 secs and my timer is beeping before I’m even tired so I move onto push ups and still not even broken a sweat. In fact I’m halfway through and wondering if I should have picked a harder one as this seems too easy. Now I’ve also lost count of where I am so the boyfriend has to yell what number I’m on from the kitchen. He obviously knew this was going to happen.
I’m at 20 when I notice I’ve missed 2 rounds of burpees so this means I have 2 rounds in a row with 30 sec rests between. I do the first set and on that 30sec rest I am dying. I don’t think I can even do the last one but in a show of heroism and commitment to this account I power through it and then collapse. Let me tell you that was hard. I am covered in sweat, hurting everywhere and completely out of breath but I do feel good. Mainly because I didn’t die trying! The boyfriend watches as I groan my way up the stairs to shower and then groan my way back down. My calves and glutes are on fire, probably from the two different kind of squats which shows that you really can target areas in such a short amount of time. I’m in agony but impressed.
The workout follows below. I got the general gist from numerous websites but changed it to fit my needs. This is a 12 min workout where you pick an exercise, do as much as you can for 30 secs and then rest for 30. It is better if you do as many burpees as you can in this to really get the full effect. But a word of warning, if you are not that fit then please pick an easier one. The internet is full of them and it really isn’t worth sustaining an injury if it can be avoided.
- AIR SQUATS
- SQUAT JUMPS
- ALTERNATING LUNGES
- PUSH UPS
- DIVE BOMBER PUSHUPS
- GLUTE BRIDGES
Day 2 – Aftermath
I hurt, I hurt all over. HIIT works by depriving your body of oxygen so because your body is still fighting to get it back you keep burning more calories long after you’re done. It’s because of this reason though that I hurt so much and why I have to keep taking bathroom breaks to try and stretch my poor legs. I can’t even touch my toes.
Day 5 – Going Backwards
Yes it’s taken that long to get back in the saddle. The pain has subsided to bearable level and I’m ready for another attack at it. This time I’m armed with a new downloaded app which yes, the IT department had to try and help me figure out because it was that complicated but its set and I’m good to go. After much fuss I decide there was nothing wrong with my first workout so I’ll stick to it.
Despite giving myself a long recovery period this is worse than the first time around. My arms feel as strong as spaghetti when I try and do a plank and my legs are collapsing on the lunges. I have to huff and moan my way through it and at the end I still feel like I did not put enough work in.
Day 7 – I Love my Couch
I was going to go for a run today as HIIT is meant to be used with your normal workout routine to be most effective. I can just about walk and as I’m not trying to be an Olympic athlete I give my run a miss and lie on the couch instead. Eating crisps.
After the first week of this new routine I’m exhausted and amazed at how effective a workout it is. I have always thought that the longer the exercise the better it is for you but I was very wrong. Next week I’m going to try the running version of this to see how it compares to my normal long runs but for now I’m going back to bed.
It’s Monday, the train is late again and I’m in the door thinking thank god today is a HIIT day. This may be a devil of a workout but it really does fit the time constraints of modern life. My usual run lasts 40 mins to an hour and today will only take up 12 mins of my time in comparison.
It’s a bonus that has me racing to get changed and out the door. Again, I have used the wonderful resource that is the internet for a routine but the basic principal stays the same.
For beginners keep the sprinting short and recovery long and just reverse it the fitter you are. As I was dying last week I have picked a much more sensible option of 30 sec sprints with 2 mins jogging for 12 minutes.
It’s raining outside so I’m not exactly thankful to be out but I keep going with the intention of getting to the end of my street and onto a large stretch of dual carriageway by the end of my 2 min jog. This way I can run straight with very little road crossings to break my stride.
As planned the 2 mins is up when I get to it and I’m off as fast as I can go on the beep. Apparently this doesn’t work as well if you don’t give it all you’ve got on the high intensity side and the best thing is it doesn’t matter how fit you are. Each person’s ‘all out’ is individual so to get the most out of this you really do have to ensure you push yourself.
Beep and I’m done.
I feel ok but then sprinting is part of my normal routine I just do them at the end not all the way through! The jogging does feel good now though and the rain is cooling me down nicely. I’m just getting into a comfortable stride when it’s time to speed it up again.
I have to admit I’m ok for a few rounds but at the 6 minute mark I start checking my timer and hanging my head at how much I’ve got left. The sprinting is getting hard to do with lead legs and my lungs are burning. I’ve also got a stitch, something I haven’t suffered with in a long time.
I feel like I haven’t got any fitter since day 1 of this routine. I groan out of bed and attempt to stretch a little to ease some of the tightness in my muscles but my hands yet again don’t go to my toes.
I can move enough today to do a little yoga to loosen up. Going about everyday life has been excruciating, especially walking up flights of stairs. Unlike last week it’s my thighs that are screaming at me but I do think when it comes to exercise that pain really does mean gain.
I’m back at it!
I know a lot of you must be thinking that there has been a large gap between my exercises but you have to listen to your body. Rest is an essential part of getting fitter, without it you are just going to burn out so I’ve waited until I’m fully capable of handling the intensity before I pull my trainers back on.
This time around it’s a little better. I am still finding the sprints majorly painful but although it’s only the second time around I am finding an ease in knowing what to expect. The changes between the speeds are happening more fluidly and I am enjoying the burn of racing past cars.
I pass a few people who look at me oddly as I careen past them at high speed but this just adds to the overall enjoyment. Plus when I get home I can still touch my toes.
I would definitely keep this routine as part of my overall fitness. It’s only meant to be practised a couple of months at a time and then you can return back to your normal fitness activities. My only warning would be that you need to research carefully based on your fitness level as I’m sure it’s really easy to give yourself quite a nasty injury.
Remember, its high intensity for you, meaning you need to feel like you can’t take anymore but you are still able to finish!
So if you are feeling a little sluggish this winter and are too busy for the gym then give it a go. You can’t talk yourself out of 12 minutes after all.
Another great reader story, tell us ur story yousing Contact page or email Ben at [email protected]
Having trouble getting outside for some winter running? Check out our survival guide for running in winter