I don’t recall the ‘physical training’ classes—aka PT classes—back in school with much fondness. Forget improving my fitness, they mostly killed me with boredom, with the mindless repetitions, and zero information on why we were doing, what we were doing. Much later did I realise that what we did was basically athletic conditioning and cardio exercises.
As kids, we lead an active enough lifestyle, burning calories without even thinking about it. Our bodies function at close to optimal levels when we are younger, so no wonder I felt absolutely no need to actually concentrate on acing PT in school. It’s only as we grow older, and become more sedentary, that actually seeking fitness becomes more important.
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That’s what happened with me, and when I started exercising in earnest, some six or so years ago, I started with HIIT or high intensity interval training. I was surprised to find out that many of the things that I had learned in those long-ago PT classes still held true. It’s just that, the way that HIIT workouts are structured—alternate short, intense bursts of exercise with lower intensity periods for recovery—make them extremely effective for both cardiovascular conditioning, as well as strength.
These days, I do strength training most days of the week, and leave one day for HIIT. However, every few months, I just do HIIT workouts, especially if I’m preparing for a mountain hike. The beauty of HIIT is that you can do it anywhere, and you don’t need equipment. Of course, there are plenty of HIIT workouts with weights, like dumbbells, you can get as much use out of one by just using your bodyweight.
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So here are three excellent bodyweight HIIT workout videos that I came across on YouTube. I’ve tried all of them, including with some variations that I’ve introduced, and I must say that they’re great. However, I must point out that if you're a newbie, take it slow, and make sure you're doing each exercise with the correct form.
10-minute HIIT/Cardio workout: Chris Heria of ThenX is an excellent YouTube fitness instructor, and I especially like his only-bodyweight routines. This 10-minute HIIT workout hits the sweet spot. If you have any energy left at the end of the first round, go for a second one. But always remember, form is key.
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30-minute HIIT workout: Try this one if you really want to sweat it out for 30 minutes straight. Believe me, once the initial fatigue has worn off after you finish it, you’ll feel indestructible. The good thing about this follow-along is that it also features a set of cooldown stretches.
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30-minute HIIT workout with warm up routine: This is another great one to get the heart pumping and calories burning. Just as it says in the title, the follow-along workout also includes a warm up routine. Frankly, you must never do any kind of workout without a warm up and then later a cooldown.
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