Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional Tania Presutti, who now resides in Clonakilty, delivers a series of efficient DIY fitness exercises you can do at home.
Thank you for tuning into my column again. As summer gets closer, jackets and sweaters come off, and for some of us, there’s also a wish to shed a few pounds along with the winter clothes. If you are not part of the ‘getting ready for summer’ gym-crowd, but still want to tune your body into summer-mode, here’s another efficient DIY Fitness for your inspiration.
This month I’m going to take a look into doing HIIT training at home, thanks to a question sent to my email (found in the end of this article). HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and is most commonly associated with the sweat-dripping fitness class, Tabata drills or short sprint sessions on the track. Besides the obvious positive of getting work done in half the time, HIIT is also known as one of the most efficient ways of burning fat, thanks to a high after-burn rate. So there are plenty of reasons for trying out a HIIT session at home.
HIIT training at home can be done by both beginners and experienced. All you need is space on the floor, a towel (to wipe your forehead) and maybe a mat. You will also need a timer, preferably one with a big screen, so it’s easy to see the numbers and/or has sound setting. Personally I’m using a free app called BOXEUR, which I found in the app store, but you can also use the Timer function on your smartphone. Lastly you need a good soundtrack to keep you moving.
There is no limit on how to structure your HIIT session. As with all kind of training, what we perceive as intense or easy is very individual. I will outline two different approaches, which work both for me and the baby nap. They’re both short (10 and 16 minutes) and can be tweaked to be easier or harder, depending on fitness level. To get the best results, it’s important to keep changing things up and not get comfortable. Once your body has gotten used to a specific drill, it’s time to switch things up again, by either choosing a more complex drill or adding one extra repetition to each round.
The 10 Minute HIIT
The first HIIT session is the short one. It’s very simple: 30 seconds with exercise A and 30 seconds with exercise B, alternating for 10 minutes straight.
For beginners or people with a lower fitness level, I would suggest doing 30 seconds of Jumping jacks (exercise A), followed by 30 seconds of Squats (Exercise B) for 10 minutes.
To get the most from this exercise, count how many Jumping jacks and squats you can do the first round of each, and subsequently try to reach or go higher on each of the following rounds.
If your fitness level is higher, my suggestion would be to do 30 seconds of Burpees and 30 seconds of Mountain Climbers for maximum intensity or Push ups for adding strength. Again count how many of each exercise you are capable of doing in the first round and try to reach or add to that number in the following nine rounds.
For best results remember to keep the form (technique) for Squats, Burpees, Mountain Climbers or Push ups. Correct techniques involve the right muscle groups and prevent injuries.
16 Minute TABATA HIIT
The second HIIT session is Tabata. Tabata training was invented by a Japanese scientist Izumi Tabata, who wanted to study the results of HIIT training compared with moderate intensity training. For six weeks he studied two groups of speed-skaters. The first group trained at moderate intensity for one hour, five days per week. The second group did a four-minute, high-intensity workout four days per week (20 seconds all out, 10 seconds rest). The scientists’ results concluded that the athletes who performed HIIT saw increases in aerobic and anaerobic system capacities; whereas the moderate-intensity group only improved on aerobic performance.
The original Tabata session was only four minutes long, because it was made for professional athletes, who have a higher work capacity. But for us mere mortals, the Tabata session in April’s column, consists of four sets of four minute each, with one minute break in between the sets. In every set you work full power for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 continuously for four minutes.
For beginners, I would recommend Jumping Jacks as the exercise in sets one and three, and Jumping Lunges for two and four. For the experienced or people with a high fitness level, I would suggest Burpees for sets one and three, and Jumping Jacks for two and four. Alternatively if you’re using this instead of a hard sprint session, I would do Burpees for all four sets, but it is very hard and I would only recommend this, if your fitness is very good.
Like the 10 minute HIIT session, count how many repetitions of the exercise you can do within the first 20 seconds. Try and keep this number or add more to it, for the whole of the TABATA session.
So, if you can do eight Burpees in the first 20 seconds, try and do eight in all of the following rounds, in all four sets.
There are several versions of Burpees, but the one I like to do is the ‘with a jump at the top and a Push Up at the bottom’. Start by standing straight up, jump up in the air and land with your hands and feet on the ground (kind of like a cat would do), ‘shoot’ your legs out behind you, so you end up in the push up position. Do one push up (and keep your core and backside tight while doing this), ‘jump’ your feet back up to your arms, stand up and jump up in the air again.
As usual please email
any questions to