Remember when Thanksgiving was literally just about eating good food and spending the day watching some Snoopy float make its way through Midtown Manhattan? The holiday used to be so sweet and innocent, and now that we’re older, we literally need three bottles of Merlot just to get through the first course. Like, if I’m asked one more time about what the “dating scene” is like at my age, I’ll throw this turkey across the room. Being home with family for the holidays can make you a little batshit, so we’ve decided to put together a short HIIT workout that’ll help get out your rage, release some much-needed endorphins, and obv burn a few calories before you stress-eat your way through all your mom’s side dishes. Perform each of these moves for 30 seconds with 20 seconds of rest in between, and then repeat the circuit two more times.
1. Mountain Climbers
Starting a HIIT workout with mountain climbers is a good call, because you’re engaging your core and getting your heart rate up at the same time. Plus, they’re basically a full body move. If you’re doing these right, you should feel it in your abs, shoulders, and legs. Place your hands on the floor with your shoulders over your wrists and your legs straight back in a plank position. Then, climb your knees into your chest one at a time while engaging your core. The faster you go, the higher you’ll get your heart rate and the more calories you’ll burn.
2. High Knees
High knees are one of those moves that look like they’d be really easy, but once you start doing them you’ll hate yourself for thinking that. High knees are so much more than just running in place. You need to lift your knees high enough—like, at least to your waist—and engage your core to bring your legs up each time. You’re warming up your leg muscles while working your hip flexors and increasing your heart rate, so there’s a lot going on here. Plus, pumping your arms at the same time helps burn more calories, so even though you’ll look like an idiot, you’ll be using more muscles and expending more energy than you would by just using your legs.
3. Plank Jacks
Sometimes people think workouts need to be so complicated to get results, but when you’re in a time crunch, simple movements do the trick, and that’s why plank jacks work. They combine the two classic exercises of planks and jumping jacks, so you’re getting an ab workout while also doing cardio. Everyone wins. Start in a forearm plank with your feet shoulder-width apart and your core engaged. Then, jump your feet in and out, making sure your butt stays low the entire time and your abs stay engaged. If you can’t stay still while jumping, just hold a plank for the 30-second interval.
4. Squat Jumps
Because your legs are the biggest muscle group in your body, any leg-based cardio movement will burn the most amount of calories in a short amount of time. Squat jumps use multiple muscles in your glutes and quads to burn calories, and that’s why we’re obsessed (and also why they’re so damn hard). Start in a squat position, making sure your knees are behind your feet so you don’t hurt yourself. Get super low, and then jump up explosively while straightening out your legs and arms. Your butt might be on fire by the end of the 30 seconds, but that just means you’re doing something right.
5. Bicycle Crunches
Bicycle crunches are such a winning ab move, but sometimes people get carried away with how fast they can go, and they end up screwing up their form and completely missing the point. I know this is a HIIT workout, but for this one move you’ll have to slow down a bit and feel the burn in your abs without trying to die in 30 seconds. The point is to lie on your back with your hands behind your head, crunching your right elbow toward your left knee, and then doing the same on the other side. When you bring the opposite leg in, make sure you’re twisting with your core and not just pushing your elbow toward your knee without the crunch. Try doing 20 seconds super slow, and then speed up for the last 10.
If there’s anything more painful than your aunt asking you why you’re not married yet, it might be burpees. Burpees are the ultimate HIIT move because they force you to use every muscle in your body to get down to the ground and back up as fast as you can. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Then, lower your body into a squat and place your hands on the floor in front of you, jumping your feet back so that you’re in a plank position. Once your body is in a straight line, lower your chest to the floor and then bring it back up as quickly as you can. Jump your feet forward outside of your hands, and jump up with your arms in the air. You’ll be pretty dead after 30 seconds of these, but then again, it’s *probably* better than the screaming political debate currently going down in the living room.