The 5 Best 15-Minute HIIT Workouts, According To Fitness Pros

Get HIIT done.

Trainers share their favorite 15-minute HIIT workouts.

Maintaining an at-home fitness routine can be hard between never-ending Zoom calls, routine fatigue, or just not being in the mood to dedicate an hour of your day to a sweat sesh. So if you want to switch up your exercise or crave a tough workout in less time, just hit up a 15-minute HIIT workout to get the most bang for your fitness buck.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves bursts of intense activity followed by short rest periods — think 20 seconds of all-out jumping jacks followed by 20 seconds of rest. Though this challenging training style may sound intimidating, anyone can try it, says personal trainer Curtis Christopherson, founder of virtual personal training platform WRKOUT. It’s customizable, too — he recommends picking anything you like, from boxing to running to bodyweight exercises, and applying interval timing to it. Then, voila: You’ve got yourself a personalized HIIT workout. “You don’t always need equipment, you don’t need a ton of space, and you don’t have to be uber-fit to have a strong HIIT workout,” he tells Bustle.

Whatever your activity, sweating HIIT style comes with plenty of benefits. The rapid-fire spurts of maximum-effort exercise drive your heart rate up quickly, says Bethany Flora, certified trainer and master coach at Row House. This can improve your endurance and strengthen muscles in less time than a lower-intensity workout, she says. And if you’re feeling cooped up from being confined to home, getting your body moving can be especially important to help combat stress, boost your mood, and help you think clearly, adds Christopherson.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect workout to squeeze in between meetings or want to try HIIT for the first time, these 5 15-minute HIIT workouts are the short and sweet circuits you’ve been looking for. (Don’t be fooled though: They’re definitely not a walk in the park.)

1. Bodyweight HIIT

No equipment? No problem: Flora’s bodyweight HIIT circuit will get your heart pumping and muscles burning without a single dumbbell in sight. For each pairing below, perform 40 seconds of the first exercise, 20 seconds of the second exercise, then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the entire list three times for a killer 15-minute workout. If you’re up for a challenge and have a few extra minutes on your hands, Flora recommends doing five rounds for a 25-minute session.

- Alternating lunges into squats

- Alternating V-ups into hollow hold

- Plank up-downs into hand-release push-ups

- Rest for 1 minute.

- Repeat two more times.

2. Full-Body Tabata

Want to crank up the intensity of your bodyweight HIIT? Try Tabata, where you work longer with shorter rest periods. Traditionally, this form of HIIT involves 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, though Christopherson says you can customize the work-to-rest ratio based on what’s best for you. Repeat the exercises below three times through with 45 seconds on and 15 seconds off to challenge your body from head to toe.

- Push-ups

- Jump lunges

- Burpees

- Plank

- Back extensions

- Rest for 1 minute.

- Repeat two more times.

3. Single Dumbbell Workout

If weightlifting is more your style, Flora’s single-dumbbell workout is the perfect way to introduce equipment into your HIIT session without overly complicating things. She recommends performing 30 seconds of each exercise below followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat it three times for a complete 15-minute sweat sesh. And if you don’t have dumbbells lying around, grab a water bottle or canned good as a substitute for weights.

- Squat with a cross-body knee raise (alternate sides)

- Reverse lunge with a twist (right side only)

- Deadlifts

- Walkouts

- Push-ups

- Cross-body mountain climbers

- Walkouts

- Deadlifts

- Reverse lunge with a twist (left side only)

- Squat with a cross-body knee raise (alternate sides)

- Rest for 1 minute.

- Repeat two more times.

4. The Grand Finale Workout

If your home workouts are starting to get stale, this dynamic sequence from Barry’s Bootcamp instructor Mercedes Owens is the remedy. It takes you through a range of bodyweight exercise intervals, plus an explosive final round that’ll leave you in a sweaty puddle. If you’d like to make the workout more challenging (though no one can blame you if you don’t), Owens recommends swapping in some plyometric exercises to keep things interesting.

- Do 1 minute of squats. Rest for 30 seconds.

- Do 1 minute of push-ups. Rest for 30 seconds.

- Do 1 minute of squat walkouts to push-ups. Add a rep to the squat and push-up every time you complete the exercise, starting with one squat and push-up in the first round, then two squats and push-ups in the second round, and so on.

- Do 30 seconds of mountain climbers. Rest for 1 minute.

- Do 1 minute of in-and-out crunches, then 30 seconds of a dead bug hold. Rest for 30 seconds.

- Do 1 minute of glute bridges. Hold and pulse for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds.

- Do 1 minute of reverse burpees.

Finisher: The goal here is to complete all the exercises in less than 5 minutes.

- 10 right-leg skater squats (or reverse lunges if you prefer), 10 push-ups, 10 left-leg skater squats

- 8 right-leg skater squats, 8 push-ups, 8 left-leg skater squats

- 6 right-leg skater squats, 6 push-ups, 6 left-leg skater squats

- 4 right-leg skater squats, 4 push-ups, 4 left-leg skater squats

- 2 right-leg skater squats, 2 push-ups, 2 left-leg skater squats

- 10 burpees

5. DIY HIIT Workout

If you’ve already tried all of the above routines and are looking for something new, Christopherson has the recipe for a make-your-own HIIT workout. The basic formula? Pick five exercises to cycle through three times with a 45 seconds on/15 seconds off work-to-rest ratio. You can customize your workout for leg day by focusing more on lower-body exercises (like squats and lunges), or cardio drills if your goal is to build endurance. For a well-rounded, full-body workout, Christopherson recommends doing an upper-body exercise (like tricep dips), a lower-body exercise (like squats), a cardio activity (like jumping jacks), a core exercise to allow the heart rate to come down (like side planks), and then a back exercise (like a reverse fly).

Studies referenced:

Alansare, A. (2018). The Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training vs. Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training on Heart Rate Variability in Physically Inactive Adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6069078/

Kong, Z. (2016). Comparison of High-Intensity Interval Training and Moderate-to-Vigorous Continuous Training for Cardiometabolic Health and Exercise Enjoyment in Obese Young Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS One, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4930190/

Tabata, I. (2019). Tabata training: one of the most energetically effective high-intensity intermittent training methods. Journal of Physiological Sciences, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31004287/


Curtis Christopherson, personal trainer, founder of virtual personal training platform WRKOUT, and CEO of Innovative Fitness in Vancouver, B.C.

Bethany Flora, certified trainer and master coach at Row House in New York City

Mercedes Owens, instructor at Barry’s Bootcamp in Chicago