Many of us turn to exercise when things feel overwhelming—and this 10-minute HIIT workout is a great example of a routine that can help your day go just a little bit better.
If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed about, um, everything these days, you’re not alone. There’s a lot to be anxious about right now, and with Election Day looming closer, politics in particular are creating “a massive amount of stress in people’s lives,” Charlynn Ruan, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, founder of Thrive Psychology Group in Los Angeles and New York, tells SELF.
While as individuals, we can’t singlehandedly control the outcome—part of the reason why it’s so stressful—we can do small things to feel strong and empowered again. And that’s where this 10-minute HIIT workout comes in.
OK, we get it: A HIIT workout is probably the last thing you feel like starting when you’re tense. But raising your heart rate and blood pressure—which happens naturally when you exercise (especially intensely)—can help you break out of a “dissociative freeze state,” or the state of shutting down in response to stress, and instead feel successful and powerful, explains Ruan.
With that in mind, Daphnie Yang, an ISSA-certified personal trainer in the Bay Area and creator of The Body High Experience, developed this 10-minute HIIT workout for SELF. It’s an intense, total-body routine that will raise your heart rate, challenge lots of different muscles, and, most importantly, help you feel strong and capable. It certainly won’t fix everything, but every little bit helps, right?
Do this no-equipment workout and you’ll get sweaty fast, thanks to two rounds of Tabata—20 seconds of maximum effort work followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times—interspersed with two challenging sets of core exercises. The goal with Tabata, explains Yang, is to go all out during each 20-second burst. To encourage 100% effort throughout the entire four-minute sequence, Yang suggests counting the number of reps you do during the second to last round. Then, without sacrificing form, try to beat that number by one—with clean form—in the final round.
As you tackle the six moves in this sequence, you’ll work pretty much every muscle in your body, including your triceps, shoulders, back, glutes, hips, hamstrings, quads, inner thighs, and outer thighs. You’ll also smoke multiple muscles in your core, including your obliques (side of your abdomen), rectus abdominis (what you think when you think abs), and transverse abdominis (the deep core muscle that wraps around your spine and sides).
Because this routine is quite vigorous—Yang rates it as a nine out of 10 in terms of intensity—it’s a good idea to do a brief warm-up with dynamic movements before you get started. Even something as simple as 30 to 60 seconds of arm swings, marching in place, or butt kicks can help get your blood flowing and prime your body for what’s to come, says Yang. Also, though the workout is designed for you to do it straight through with no breaks, it’s definitely OK to take breathers as needed, especially if you feel like your form is faltering. Another tip: Think about engaging your core during the entire routine, says Yang. This will help you keep proper form and protect your low back from strain.
Lastly, make this workout a (safe) social experience if possible, suggests Ruan, whether that’s in person—while outdoors and masked—with those in your bubble or virtually with friends. Getting connected to others and feeling like you’re part of a team can help you further combat stress and regain a sense of safety and security in today’s increasingly uncertain world.
What You Need: Just your bodyweight and an exercise mat for comfort.
180-degree pop squat
Forearm plank hip dip
Forearm plank hip dip
For Tabata 1, perform the 180-degree pop squat for 20 seconds at maximum effort, then rest 10 seconds. Perform the burpee push-up for 20 seconds at maximum effort, then rest 10 seconds. Repeat four times.
For Core Set, perform the bicycle crunch for 30 seconds. Then, without resting, perform the forearm plank hip dip for 30 seconds. Focus on form, not speed.
For Tabata 2, perform the side shuffle with floor tap for 20 seconds at maximum effort, then rest 10 seconds. Perform mountain climber twists for 20 seconds at maximum effort, then rest 10 seconds.
Repeat Core Set.
Demoing the moves below are May Yu (GIF 1), an avid yogi and gardener; Amanda Wheeler (GIF 2), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Formation Strength; Cookie Janee, (GIFs 3 and 6), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Erica Gibbons (GIF 4), California-based personal trainer and graduate student becoming licensed as a marriage and family therapist; and Tiana Jones (GIF 5), a dance and fitness instructor based in New York City.