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The 5 finest HIIT workout routines of all time

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is an incredibly efficient method to build muscle in the shortest possible time, improve your condition and achieve a killer full-body workout. And good news, as part of your current workout routine, you may already be doing some of the following – the top five HIIT exercises of all time.

It's just that you're probably not getting them right. What do we mean by that? Many HIIT newbies confuse the first "I" in HIIT with an "E": endurance. You do it fast Body weight moves Until the shape falls apart, rest a few seconds before going back to it – the intensity and technique deteriorating quickly.

Yes, exercising this way will burn calories, but it won't effectively build strength, build muscle, or otherwise train your body in the long run, explains Tony Gentilcore, C.S.C.S., strength coach and owner of the CORE training studio outside of Boston.

Compare that to true intensity, which is not just about getting tough. It's about getting tough enough to utilize your anaerobic metabolism and make good use of your size-enhancing, fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Physiologically, nobody has much stamina. (Because of this, exercise intensity always predicts duration.) After about 30 seconds, sometimes less, you run into fatigue and need to rest completely. This rest allows you to meet everyone interval with everything you have. As a result, you get the most out of them and manage more results by logging fewer minutes of actual work.

"The quality of movement and technique is more important than the duration," explains Gentilcore, who explains that when programming HIIT workouts for his clients, he focuses on doing maximum effort for just three to five repetitions.

Speaking of technique, it's worth noting that the most intense exercises are also the most advanced. After all, you need to coordinate a variety of movements and technical cues so that all of the muscles in the body work and high levels of power output are achieved. You also have to move very challenging loads.

Both require a solid foundation for both strength and exercise. Because of this, it's important for HIIT beginners to transition to these movements by first honing their basic exercises like deadlifts, squats, lunges, and overhead presses.

Ready to go? Here are five of the best HIIT exercises ever to help you increase the intensity of your workout. Consider adding one or more to your existing workouts shortly after your warm-up and activation exercises, or merging them all into one intense full-body routine.

1. Kettlebell Swing

Lyashenko Egor / Shutterstock

Why it works: This explosive exercise puts the glutes – the largest muscle group in your body – into full swing while attacking the lats, back, shoulders and quads.

How it goes:

  1. Stand in front of you with your feet hip and shoulder width apart and a kettlebell on the floor. Get into a deadlift position and pick up the kettlebell.
  2. Squeeze your lats together to tone your shoulders and support your core. Hike with the bell behind you, then cycle through your heels to push your hips forward and get up as high as you can so the swing lets the bell float forward in line with your shoulders.
  3. Descend into a deadlift position again by swinging the weight back through your legs. At the end of your set, bring the weight back down on the floor in front of you.

Pro tip: At the top of the movement, the base of the kettlebell should be facing the wall in front of you. If the base of the kettlebell starts to rise or points to the ceiling, you will become heavier!

Do 3 to 4 sets of 6 to 12 repetitions, resting for 90 to 120 seconds between sets.

2. Weighted jump squat

Exercise: How to do a dumbbell jump squatAncheles Scmitt

Why it works: At some point, you've likely done jump squats, which are great for exercising lower body strength and strength – while sending your heart rate through the roof at the same time. This version, which is performed with dumbbells or kettlebells, produces even higher performance and empties the tank in shockingly few repetitions.

How it goes:

    1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, arms outstretched to your sides with a neutral grip. Engage your lats and support your core.
    2. Keep your torso high and lower yourself into a nearly parallel squat. When you get to this depth, do a hard drive through your feet to jump as high as you can and extend through your hips, knees, and ankles.
    3. As you get closer to the ground, soften your hips and knees to cushion the landing.

Pro tip: Instead of going straight down to the next rep, stand up, take a break, inhale, and sit back for the next squat, focusing on the rep quality.

Do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 repetitions, resting for 90 to 120 seconds between sets.

3. Cleaning

Man doing dumbbell squats on the roofJames Michelfelder

Why it works: This whole body movement creates some of the highest power outputs possible. It's fundamental to the jerk, snap, and any movement emanating from a stacked position.

How it goes:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell in line with the balls of your feet. Step into a deadlift to grab the weight with both hands. Engage your lats and support your core.
  2. Travel through your legs to stand quickly, and straighten through your hips, knees, and ankles to propel the weight vertically in front of you. When you reach full extension through your legs, pull through your arms and rotate your elbows so the weight comes to rest in front of your shoulders.
  3. When it approaches your shoulders, do a quarter crouch to catch the weight. Stand up, take a break, lower the weight in front of your hips, and then get back into a deadlift to bring the weight back to the floor.

Pro tip: Grip strength is likely a limiting factor with dumbbells and kettlebells. That means you can use heavier weights with dumbbells and get more work done with each rep.

Do 4 to 6 sets of 3 to 6 repetitions, resting for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.

4. Snap

Snatch from CrossfitShutterstock

Why it works: This HIIT exercise is a variation on the clean and incorporates even more full body muscles by incorporating an overhead press component.

How it goes:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebells in line with the balls of your feet. Step into a deadlift to grab the weight (s) with both hands. Reach into your lats and prop your core up in a strong core position.
  2. Travel through your legs to stand quickly, and straighten through your hips, knees, and ankles to propel the weight vertically in front of you. When you have reached full extension, shrug your shoulders, pull through your arms, rotate your elbows toward the floor, and extend your arms above your head. As the weight approaches its maximum height, lower yourself into a quarter crouch so that you finish the movement with your arms fully extended and weight just above your ears.
  3. Take a break, lower the weight in front of your hips, then get back into a deadlift to bring the weight back to the floor.

Pro tip: Your shoulder strength and mobility are limiting factors here. Only do this exercise if you have healthy shoulders and are always using less weight than cleaning.

Do 4 to 6 sets of 3 to 6 repetitions, resting for 2 to 3 minutes between sets.

5. Press Press

Dumbbell Push Press Man And Woman In GymShutterstock

Why it works: This may seem like just an upper body exercise – and make no mistake, your shoulders and triceps thank you – but it also fries your glutes and core.

How it goes:

  1. Hold a dumbbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell in front of your shoulders with your feet hip-width apart in a rack and pinion position. Firm up your core. Keeping an upright torso, quickly lower it into a quarter crouch (or lower it if you can), then pull vigorously through your legs so your shoulders can push the weight over your head.
  2. The weight should end directly in line with your ears with your arms outstretched. Take a break, then lower the weight on the front of your shoulders and soften your knees to cushion the landing.

Pro tip: If you're really short on time, try a squeeze clean. All you need to know is that you can clean more weight than you can push.

Do 3 to 5 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions and rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

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