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HIIT Cardio Workout: 20-Minute Routine That’s Great for Small Spaces

There are plenty of ways to get a HIIT cardio workout without lacing up for a run or busting out a ton of jumping movements. One prime hack: Incorporating single-leg, or unilateral, exercises, which is the exact focus of this week’s Sweat With SELF video.

Why are single-leg exercises a good choice for sweaty cardio? Well, they require you to rely on the strength of just one leg to perform a movement, which means they often feel more intense than bilateral moves (moves done with both legs). And because single-leg work demands balance, your core has to fire more too, in order to keep you stable and resist bending or rotating, as SELF previously reported. That means even lower-body moves can take on more of a core focus when you train them unilaterally.

Yet another perk of single-leg work is that it can help you identify, and ultimately correct, any imbalances you have on one side or the other. That, in turn, can increase your performance at the gym while decreasing your risk of injury.

In short, there’s a lot to love about single-leg work, and you can reap all those benefits in our newest Sweat With SELF video. This 20-minute HIIT cardio workout, led by trainers Astrid Swan and Ridge Davis, is the third installment in a six-part cardio series. Slightly more challenging than the previous two videos, this workout combines plenty of unilateral exercises (think single-leg planks, single-leg touchdowns, and drop lunge kicks) with doses of upper-body work too. The result: You get cardio plus balance work plus total-body strengthening—a win-win-win.

So if you’re ready for a super-efficient and effective HIIT cardio workout, grab a mat and follow along with the video below. Or, if you prefer to move at your own pace, keep scrolling for detailed workout directions and GIFs of each exercise.

Workout Directions

Start with the warm-up. Do 5 reps of each move, repeating on each side. After the warm-up, rest 20 seconds before moving onto circuit 1 (right side).

Do each move in circuit 1 (right side) for the designated number of reps. After finishing circuit 1 (right side), rest for 20 seconds, then move on to circuit 1 (left side).

Do each move in circuit 1 (left side) for the designated number of reps. After finishing circuit 1 (left side), rest for 60 seconds, then move on to circuit 2.

Complete circuit 2 by doing five reps of each move. Complete circuit 2 three times, resting 15 seconds in between each round. After finishing circuit 2, rest for 60 seconds, then move on to circuit 3.

Complete circuit 3 by doing the designated number of reps for each move. Complete circuit 3 three times, resting 45 seconds in between each round.

Workout

Warm Up

  • Single-Leg Touchdown x 5 reps (repeat on each side)
  • Drop-Lunge Kick x 5 reps (repeat on each side)

Circuit 1 (Left side only)

  • Single-Leg Touchdown x 5 reps
  • Drop-Lunge Kick x 5 reps
  • Single-Leg Plank x 3 reps
  • Mountain Climber to Plank Jack x 3 reps

Circuit 1 (Right side only)

  • Single-Leg Touchdown x 5 reps
  • Drop-Lunge Kick x 5 reps
  • Single-Leg Plank x 3 reps
  • Mountain Climber to Plank Jack x 3 reps

Circuit 2

  • Broad Jump x 5 reps
  • RDL to Hop x 5 reps (repeat on each side)

Repeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting 15 seconds between rounds.

Circuit 3

  • Small Ice Skater x 15 reps
  • Ice Skater to Shuffle x 5 reps (repeat on each side)

Repeat the circuit 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds, resting 45 seconds in between rounds.

The Exercises


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