Can't Run a Mile? We've Got the Perfect Workout for You
Whether you really cannot, or you just don't enjoy pounding the pavement, this routine will fit your fitness needs.
Illustration: David Wyffels
Running is a great cardiovascular workout, but it's far from the only way to get your heart rate up. Another excellent option: HIIT, or high-intensity interval training. With this 20-minute routine created by Jason Tran, a New York City-based celebrity fitness trainer specializing in HIIT, you'll feel your pulse rise, run-free. (We won't even ask you to jog in place or do high knees.)
If you fall into the category of "I want to run, but it feels impossible," this workout will help. It strengthens your legs and core (key for runners), and research has found that interval-style cardio training can make you faster too.
Tran created a Spotify playlist that matches the progression and intensity of the workout (below). Hit play and get started.
Do these 4 moves for 30 seconds each.
1. Jumping Jacks—We're pretty confident you know how to do these.
2. Imaginary Jump Rope—Aka jump up and down as if you're jumping rope.
3. Squats—Remember to sit back like you're lowering down into a chair and keep your weight in your heels. You should be able to lift your toes off the ground.
4. Inch Worm—With feet shoulder-width apart and legs straight, bend at the waist like you're stretching your hamstrings. Bring your hands to the floor (bend your knees if you need to) and walk your hands away from your feet until you're in a plank position, then walk your hands back to your feet, and repeat. (Make it harder: Add a pushup when you're in the plank position.)
Move right into the first section without a break.
Do these 5 moves for 30 seconds each, take a 1-minute break, then do the circuit one more time.
1. Lateral lunges to the left—Step to the side with your left leg, keeping your right leg straight. Bend your left knee to lower your body toward the floor, and be sure to keep your knee facing forward instead of letting it turn outward. Push through your left heel to return to start.
2. Split lunges, left leg forward—Step forward with your left leg into a lunge. Pulse up and down, holding the lunge position. (Make it harder: Add a hop in the lunge position for the last 15 seconds.)
3. Lateral lunges to the right
4. Split lunges, right leg forward
5. Single-leg hip thrust—Lie on the ground, feet on the floor, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Flex your left foot and lift it toward the ceiling. Use your glutes and your hamstring to lift your butt and lower back off the floor, then slowly lower both back down. (Switch to right foot in the air for the second round.)
Move right into the next section without a break.
Do these 4 moves for 30 seconds each, take a 1-minute break, then do the circuit one more time.
1. Jackknife—Lie on the floor, hands over your head, feet together and legs straight. Lift your feet toward the sky, and, at the same time, lift your chest toward the ceiling so your shoulder blades come off the floor. Try to touch your hands to your feet, return to start, and repeat.
2. Bicycles—Lie on the floor, feet together and legs straight, hands behind your head. Lift your legs about 45 degrees off the floor. Bring your right knee in as you lift your chest, twisting your torso to bring your left elbow to your right knee. Return to start and repeat on opposite side.
3. Slide plank with hip dips—Get into a side-plank position on your right forearm, and in a slow and controlled motion, dip your right hip down toward the floor then bring it back up, and repeat. (Switch to left side plank for second round.)
4. Plank-ups—Start in a plank position on your hands. Lower down on your forearms by switching from hand to forearm one hand at a time. Then return to starting position and repeat.
Give yourself a 1-minute break before starting the last section.
Heart Pounding Finisher
You'll be doing these two moves tabata-style, meaning you'll give the first move your all for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds, then do the second move all-out for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat, until you've hit 4 minutes total. The moves:
1. Squat thrust—Start in a standing position, feet a few inches apart, hands by your sides. Squat down and put your hands on the floor next to your feet, shoulder-width apart. Jump your feet out behind you into a plank position, then jump them back in. Stand up to get back to starting position, then repeat.
2. Tuck jumps—Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart, slight bend in the knees. Jump up, and, as you do so, bring your knees up as high as you can so you're in a tucked position (don't worry if you can't bring your knees very high). Land with knees slightly bent, and repeat.