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Use This 20-Minute HIIT Workout To Relieve Stress

Man after workout
(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

Life can seem relentless, but taking time out to move your body can be a great way to ease stress and feel good about yourself. Personal trainer Nicole Chapman has put together a quickfire 20-minute HIIT workout using Tabata timings, which involves 20-second intervals of maximum effort followed by a 10-second rest.

“I am a huge fan of Tabata,” Chapman says. “The 20-second bursts of high intensity are short enough to support all fitness levels and allow you to push yourself that little bit harder knowing it will be over quickly.

Tabata training can be hugely effective in relieving stress. The vigorous workout style has been shown in studies to significantly increase the flow of endorphins – effective in improving the brain’s cognitive function and mood regulation.”

20-Minute HIIT Workout

This workout is split into four sections with four exercises in each section. Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, repeat that sequence for the exercise, then move on to the next exercise. Once you’ve completed all the exercises in the section, rest for one minute, then move on to the next section. 

In Tabata training you perform each exercise at high intensity so it’s imperative that you warm up thoroughly beforehand. Since there are 16 exercises to cover, do a few practice reps of each to perfect your form, then perform some cardio exercises like running on the spot or jumping jacks to raise your heart rate. 

Section 1

1 Jump lunge

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

From standing, take a big step forwards with your left leg and lower into a lunge, bending both knees to 90°. Then explosively jump up and swap the position of your legs in mid-air so you land with your right leg in front. Lower into a lunge and repeat. 

2 Press-up

Press-up

(Image credit: Getty Images / Hirurg)

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Start in a high plank position with your body in a straight line, hands under your shoulders and arms extended. Keeping your core tight, bend your elbows and slowly lower your chest to the floor, keeping your arms close to your body. Then push up through your palms to rise.

3 Jump squat

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat position. Push explosively through your heels to jump straight up. Land softly and drop immediately into another squat.

4 Plank jack 

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

In a high plank position, with your hands under your shoulders and arms extended, jump your feet in and out, keeping your core tight and the rest of your body as still as possible.

Section 2

1 Butterfly sit-up

Butterfly sit-up

(Image credit: Getty Image / Alex Potemkin)

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Lie on your back with your feet together, knees bent and arms extended behind your head. Using your core muscles, raise your torso and bring your hands forwards to touch the floor in front of your feet. Reverse the move back to the start.  

2 Burpee

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down, place your hands on the floor and jump both feet back to land in a high plank position. Drop into a press-up, then jump both feet back to your hands and jump straight up. 

3 Mountain climber

Mountain climber exercise

(Image credit: Getty Images / Hirurg)

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Start in a high plank position. Drive your left knee towards your right elbow and then, as you bring it back to the start, drive your right knee to your left elbow. Your toes should touch the floor only briefly as your speed increases.

4 Pop squat

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees and push your hips back to lower into a squat position and touch the floor with your left hand. Push through your heels to rise and jump, landing on the balls of your feet with your feet together. Immediately jump your feet back out to shoulder-width apart and drop into the next squat, this time tapping the floor with your right hand. Alternate hands with each rep.

Section 3

1 Bear crawl

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Start in a tabletop position, with your arms extended and hands under shoulders, knees and toes on the floor, and your knees under your hips. Lift your knees just off the floor then move forwards, keeping the 90° bend in your knees. Once you run out of room, crawl backwards. 

2 Broad jump to reverse fast feet

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

With your feet hip-width apart, lower into a quarter squat and swing your arms behind you. Leap forwards as far as you can, swinging your arms forwards to generate more power. Then use small, quick steps to run backwards to the start.

3 High knees

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Standing tall, lift your knees up one at a time to belly height. Continue at pace. 

4 Commando plank

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Start in a forearm plank position with your body held in a straight line, your elbows directly under your shoulders and your legs together. Push up on your left side to place your left hand on the floor under your shoulder. Do the same on your right side to get into the high plank position. Then drop onto your elbows one arm at a time. Keep going up and down, keeping your hips as still as possible.

Section 4

1 Triceps dip

Triceps dip

(Image credit: Getty Images / mihailomilovanovic)

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

You’ll need a stable raised surface, like a chair or bench, for this exercise. Sit on the edge of the bench with your legs extended and heels on the floor, then place your palms next to your glutes and slide your bum off the bench. Bend your elbows to lower yourself slowly, keeping your back close to the chair. Then push through your hands to rise. 

2 Skater jump

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Swing your left leg behind your right and bend your right knee to 90°. Swing your left leg back and leap to the left, landing on your left foot, bending your left knee to 90° and swinging your right leg behind your left. Keep leaping from side to side in an exaggerated skating movement.

3 V-sit

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Keeping your legs straight and together, raise them as high as you can, and lift your torso up towards your thighs so you form a V-shape. Keep your back straight. Slowly lower back to the floor. If that is too difficult, try the leg raise instead, keeping your back on the floor and raising just your legs. 

4 Frogger

Sets 2 Time 20sec Rest 10sec 

Start in the high plank position. Jump your feet to the outside of your hands, then lift your hands off the floor and lift your chest to finish in a deep squat with your palms pressed together in the prayer position. Return your hands to the floor and jump your feet back to the high plank position.

To find out more about Nicole Chapman’s online strength and high-intensity cardio programmes, designed for all abilities, visit nicolechapman.com and follow @iamnicolechapman on Instagram.

Lucy is a freelance journalist, and former health and fitness editor across various UK women’s magazines. She is also a level 3 personal trainer and is trained in pre- and post-natal fitness.