Since there’s no such thing as spot reduction, simply planking like your life depends on it won’t help you lose belly fat. Combining cardio and strength work in the form of high-intensity interval training, however, will, says Elyse Miller, the certified personal trainer who created these routines. (Miller is all about quick, no-equipment fitness—aka our kind of trainer.) Research shows that when your exercise sessions include bursts of all-out work, you lose more belly fat (in addition to all-over body fat) than if you’d worked at a lower but steadier intensity. And did we mention that these workouts take about 10 minutes each? You’re welcome, time-crunched women of the world!
Doing HIIT every single day isn’t recommended (your muscles need some R&R so they can properly rebuild, and doing intense exercise every day can increase your risk of overuse injuries), so Miller suggests capping your HIIT sessions at four per week, plus two steady-state cardio sessions and a rest day.
Monday/Day 1: Workout 1
Tuesday/Day 2: Workout 2
Wednesday/Day 3: 20- to 30-minute jog, or speed-walk
Thursday/Day 4: Workout 3
Friday/Day 5: Workout 5
Saturday/Day 6: 20- to 30-minute jog, or speed-walk
Sunday/Day 7: Rest!
For the Workouts
Do each exercise for 20 to 30 seconds, rest for 10 seconds then move on to the next exercise. (When you’re doing a single-leg, or single-side, move, do 20 to 30 seconds on each side before moving on to the next exercise.) Repeat the entire circuit two times. You can bump up the intensity by moving faster, while still maintaining good form, of course.
Run in place, bringing your knees up high and pumping your arms.
Get in a plank position, with your feet hip-distance apart. Pull one knee in toward your chest and continue to quickly alternate knees while keeping your upper body in a steady plank position—don’t let your lower back sag toward the ground.
Make it harder: Do a cross-body mountain climber, bringing your knees across your body as though you’re trying to touch your opposite elbow.
Lunge forward, bending your front leg to 45 degrees and keeping your back leg straight and your back flat. Your hands should be in front of your chest in prayer position. Twist from your core and reach your hands toward the outside of your front foot. Rise back to starting position and repeat.
Stand with legs slightly wider than shoulder-width apart; squat down, pushing your butt out behind you, and touch the ground between your legs. Then hop up and forward, repeat the squat-floor touch, hop up and back and repeat. As you’re going through the move, don’t let your back arch or round when you try to touch the floor in the squat. Hinge forward from your hips instead.
Make it easier: If this is too hard on your knees, take the hop out and simply squat, touch the floor and repeat.
Lay on your back with your legs straight and your hands behind your head. Raise your legs so your feet hover just above the floor. Bring one knee up and in toward your chest, lifting your shoulders off the floor and twisting your torso so your opposite elbow and knee meet. Alternate side-to-side. Your lower back should feel glued to the floor. If you feel it starting to arch, lift your legs higher off the floor.
Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Jump your feet out wide and squat down, pressing your butt and hips back out behind you. Jump your feet back together and straighten your legs, then repeat.
Lay on your back with your arms over your head. Engage your core to raise your legs and upper body simultaneously, reaching your hands toward your toes so your body forms a “V”. Lower your legs and upper body back to the floor and repeat. You want to keep your lower back in contact with the floor throughout the move—keep your legs raised a little higher off the floor if you need to.
Make it easier: Keep your feet on the floor with your knees bent and perform a standard crunch while reaching your hands toward your heels. Make sure your abs are doing the work (not your neck) by lifting your chest up to the ceiling as you crunch.
Stand with your feet together. Hop straight up into the air while swinging your arms up to add momentum. Tuck your knees into your body in the air (let them naturally separate to hip-width-distance apart as you jump), then land back on the ground with knees slightly bent and feet together. Repeat.
Make it easier: If the tuck is too much, just do the jump, as if you’re jumping rope.
Stand with your feet together, hands on your hips. Take one large step forward so your legs are crossed as though you’re about to do a curtsy. Lunge down in that position, rise back up to starting position and repeat.
Side-to-Side Wood Choppers
Stand with your feet together and hands directly overhead, palms together. Hop to the right with feet together, lowering your hands and reaching to touch the outside of your right foot. Hop to the left, reaching your hands overhead, then lowering your hands to touch the outside of your left foot.
Lay on your back and do two crunches, lifting your chest to the ceiling to avoid straining your neck. Roll forward and up a to standing position with your feet wide and do two squats. Place your hands on the ground and pop your feet back into a plank. Do two pushups (lower to your knees if you need to). Hop back to standing and do two squats before lowering your back to a flat position, where you’ll start the sequence over again. Don’t rush this move—go slowly until you get the hang of it, then gradually speed up once you’ve got your form down.
Make it harder: Instead of a regular squat, do jump squats, where you hop up into the air between reps.
Stand with your feet together and your arms hanging at your sides. Press your hips back and squat down, trying to touch your fingertips to the floor. Rise up, by pressing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Lift one knee to hip height, return your foot back to the floor and drop back down into the squat. Rise up and lift the opposite knee to hip height and continue alternating knees as you squat.
Get into a plank position. Hop both feet forward toward your hands, so you’re in a crouching position, with hands still on the ground. Immediately spring back into a plank position and repeat.
Make it easier: Hold a strong, stationary plank instead.
Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Drop into a slight squat and spring up into the air while extending your arms and legs outward into a star shape. Land softly, knees slightly bent, with legs back together and arms at your sides. Repeat.
Get into a side-plank position, with your elbow directly below your shoulder. Try to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet, so that your hips don’t drop.
Make it harder: Add outer thigh lifts by raising your top leg up and down while holding the plank.
Get into a standard lunge position, with both knees bent at 90 degrees and your back knee an inch, or two, off the floor. As you rise out of the lunge, jump up and switch legs in the air then land with the opposite leg in front. Lunge again and repeat. Don’t let your front knee go past your toes in the lunge position.
Make it easier: You can take the hop out and simply do continuous lunges on one leg before switching to the other side.
Stand in an athletic position with your knees slightly bent. Jump to the right, landing on your right foot, and cross your left leg behind your right ankle, softly tapping the ground with your left foot. Repeat the movement to the left, naturally pumping your arms for momentum as you jump back and forth.
Stand with legs slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Squat down, pushing your butt and hips back, so your knees are bent to 90 degrees. Rise up, pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes. Lift one leg up and out to the side. Bring your leg down and squat again. Repeat, alternating legs for the side lift.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lower down into a squat, place your hands on the floor in front of your feet and kick your legs back into a plank position. Do one pushup (go to your knees if you need to). Hop your feet forward, stand up and jump straight up into the air. Repeat.
Make it easier: Take out the pushup or the jump.
Make it harder: Jump into a star position (arms and legs extended out to your sides) instead of a straight jump.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you and your back completely straight. Hug one knee into your chest and lift the other leg about 12 inches off the ground. Slowly lower the leg, lightly tapping your foot to the ground, and repeat. Try not to let your upper back hunch forward.