Strength training vs HIIT – who says you need to do just one within a workout? This session, devised by personal trainer Lavina Mehta MBE, combines both for bang-for-your buck results: we’re talking building muscular strength and endurance, as well as raising your heart rate to build cardiovascular fitness and burn calories. Win, win, for sure.
If you’d prefer to do just one or the other, have at it. The session is built out of Lavina’s favourite ‘exercise snacks’ – that is, short bursts that you can squeeze into your day whenever you have time. In other words, both the strength portion and the HIIT portion can be done in isolation too.
Before we get into it, let’s get to know our trainer.
Meet your PT: Lavina Mehta MBE
Lavina was awarded her MBE for services in health and fitness, thanks to her consistent free live workouts during the first national lockdown in March.
What’s your favourite exercise?
‘A plank. When done correctly, the plank strengthens the entire body as well as your core. It can reduce injury, improves posture, strengthens your back and enhances overall movement, stability and coordination. The best thing is that you can plank anywhere and keep progressing with duration and variations!’
And which exercise do you think is the most overrated?
‘Crunches – you’re not really building core strength that you can actively use, to help you in real life. You should train your entire core as one integrated unit, whenever possible. Plus so many people do crunches wrong and injure their neck when compromising form!’
Give us your best training tip
‘Get lifting, ladies! Strength training helps build and maintain muscle mass. It increases bone density, and reduces risk of osteoporosis. It can also help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism to help you burn more calories. Trust me, it’s more effective than cardio, plus you’ll never get bored! Strength training will boost your mood, thanks to the release of feel-good endorphins!
What words do you never want to hear again?
‘Weights will make me bulky!’ They definitely won’t. With the right training (with progressive overload) you’ll look more defined, toned, leaner and sculpted.
The workout: Full-body strength and HIIT
Need to know
- This workout can be done without kit or with for added intensity dumbbells
- The mobility snack should be performed as a warm-up
- Finish off with some of the cool-down stretches here
Mobility warm-up – 3 min
Walkout to side open
a) Start standing with your feet hip-width apart, and bend from the waist to place your hands on the floor close to your feet – you’ll feel your hamstrings stretch.
b) Next, walk your hands away from your legs, keeping your legs straight as you move forward, until you’re in a high plank position.
c) Lift your right hand and raise it skyward and twist your torso to open your chest and come up into a high side plank. Pause for a moment before reversing the move to bring your hand back down to the floor, in high plank once more.
d) Walk your hands back towards your feet to come up to standing. Then bend down and walk your hands forward again as before, but lifting your left hand towards the ceiling. Keep alternating for the time remaining.
HIIT circuit – 5 min
In this tabata-style circuit, perform each move for 20 seconds then rest for 10 seconds before going on the text. Perform 2 rounds.
a) Start standing with your feet hip-width apart. Squat town to touch your hands to your feet.
b) Explode upwards, lifting your arms above your head and spreading your legs wide as you jump. Land soft knees, feet hip-width apart – and repeat.
a) Stand straight, with your arms bent at 90°, elbows tucked into your sides, palms facing the floor.
b) Run on the spot as fast as you can. Each time lift your leg high enough so your hand slaps the top of your thighs. Get those knees up!
a) Cross your left leg behind your right and lower into a half‑squat, your right arm out to the side, and left arm across your hips.
b) Quickly hop to the left, switching legs and arms.
TIP: Try to keep up the pace but if you find balancing difficult, slow the movement down until you feel steady.
a) Standing with feet hip-width apart punch each arm out alternatively in front of you. To make this move tougher, shuffle from side to side (taking small, quick steps) as you punch.
a) Bend your knees and put your hands under your shoulders then jump both feet behind you, bending your elbows to get into a push-up position.
b) Quickly reverse the motion, then jump straight up and clap your hands overhead. That’s one rep.
Strength circuit – 12 min
Perform each move for 40 seconds, rest for 20 seconds and move onto the next exercise. Go for 2 rounds, resting for 30 sec to 1 min between rounds.
a) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight out in front of you.
b) Keeping your chest up, lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Pause, then slowly push yourself back up.
a) Get into plank position, with your hands under but slightly outside of your shoulders.
b) Bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest nearly touches the floor.
c) Pause, then push back to the starting position as quickly as possible. Keep your core braced the entire time.
a) Keeping your back straight, engage your core muscles and place your hands on your hips to stay balanced.
b) Take a big step backwards with your right foot and bend your knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Allow your back heel to lift, but don’t let the knee touch the floor.
c) Step back to the starting position, then repeat on the opposite leg.
a) You know the drill – get planking.
b) Jump your legs wide and then back together as fast as you can. Keep your hips steady and don’t let your bum rise.
a) Lie on your back, knees bent. Pushing down with your heels, lift your hips until you have a straight line from your knees to shoulders.
b) Without over-arching your lower back, squeeze your bum as hard as you can at the top, then roll down
a) Lie on your back on the floor and place both hands underneath your coccyx. Extend both legs and engage your abs by drawing in your belly button to your spine. Keeping your feet together, slowly raise your legs off the floor until they form a 90° angle with your hips.
b) Slowly lower your legs to return to the starting position.
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