As instructors, we like helping our students achieve the best results possible. In today’s busy world, people want better results in less workout time. The high-intensity interval training philosophy caters to this need. HIIT features short, intense cardiovascular exercises that improve athletic conditioning and many other markers of health and wellness. I call the HITT workout provided here the “Trainer’s Triple Threat,” or Triple T.

A Triple T session begins with a brief warm-up to elevate heart rate and warm the muscles, and then progresses to a variety of exercises done with an all-out, intense effort for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of active rest/transition. The workout finishes with a cool-down/
stretching component to reduce heart rate and improve joint flexibility. Perform the Triple T workout in three groups of three exercises, repeated for three rounds each.

Triple T Details

TOTAL TIME: approximately 20 minutes
GOAL: to train the whole body and improve results while reducing training time
EQUIPMENT: body weight, one dumbbell
MUSIC: fast-paced, high-energy (130 beats per minute or faster)

Triple T works the entire body. The first exercise of each group focuses on the large muscles of the legs. The goal is to work as many muscle fibers in the lower body as possible. This demand increases heart rate and helps develop lower-body strength and definition.

The second exercise of each group focuses on the midsection. The blast of intensity for the core improves balance and stability and protects against low-back pain. The final exercise of each group targets the large muscles of the upper body. Strong arms and shoulders aid in performing activities of daily living, not to mention having aesthetic appeal.

Warm-Up (3 minutes)

Perform each of these six exercises for 30 seconds:

  1. marching in place
  2. arm circles in both directions
  3. cross crawls (From standing position, bring right [R] knee up and across body as you bring left [L] elbow down toward R knee. Repeat on opposite side.)
  4. bird dogs from tabletop position (Keep hips level, and lengthen spine.)
  5. jumping jacks
  6. stationary butt kickers

During this phase, explain the purpose of the warm-up and the fact that it’s important to use big movements to increase blood flow and prepare the body for the intense workout to come. Emphasize that the purpose of the Triple T workout is to burn as much fat as possible and stimulate maximum fitness improvement in minimum time. The warm-up is an essential part of the process and helps improve performance, increase results and decrease risk of injury.

At the end of the warm-up, have students grab a weight that will challenge them for dumbbell pull-overs. A good rule of thumb is 8–20 pounds—heavier or lighter depending on participants’ abilities.

Work Phase (15 minutes)

Remind students that the purpose of the workout is to train as hard as possible during each exercise for 20 seconds. This may be very uncomfortable for some people, especially beginners, so give them permission simply to do the best they can, and explain how the body will adapt over time. Have them perform as many quality repetitions as possible and then rest for 10 seconds. Emphasize the importance of the rest period, as more athletic clients may try to blast through without a rest. Encourage students to improve their performance with each set. Quickly explain and demonstrate the three exercises in group one, and let the work begin!

Exercise Group One

  • Squats: Move through full range of motion, as determined by ability and good form.
  • Crunches: Place no pressure on neck.
  • Push-ups: Modify by dropping to knees.
    Repeat twice.

At the end of round three, take a 30-second break to recover and explain/
demonstrate the exercises in group two.

Exercise Group Two

  • Alternating lunges: Make them multiplanar if applicable.
  • Reverse crunches: Bring pelvis toward rib cage in supine position.
  • Dumbbell pull-overs: Keep shoulders down and away from ears.

Repeat twice.

At the end of round three, take a 30-second break to recover and explain/
demonstrate the exercises in group three.

Exercise Group Three

  • Squat-thrusts: Progress by adding jump.
  • Bicycle crunches: Keep shoulders away from ears (but off floor); move from obliques.
  • High/low plank (power plank): Alternate between high plank with straight arms and low plank on forearms.

Repeat twice.

At the end of round three, take a 30-second break to recover and explain/
demonstrate the exercises in the cool-down.

Cool-Down (3 minutes)

Lead class participants in lowering their heart rates, and congratulate everyone on a job well done. Perform the bird dog exercise once for 30 seconds. Teach each stretch, holding for 10 seconds. Repeat for a total of three sets.

  • Bird dog: Keep hips level and lengthen through spine.
  • Seated toe-touch: Stretch hamstrings, calves and low back.
  • Butterfly stretch: Place soles of feet together, allowing adductors to lengthen.
  • Upper-body expansion: Open arms wide and clasp them behind back.
  • Right/left arm-overhead triceps stretch: Tilt to opposite side to deepen.