Science shows everyone can benefit from high intensity interval training – the concept is so simple that anyone from a couch potato to a weekend warrior can use it to improve their health. High intensity interval training is all about fast-paced workouts that torch calories in a fraction of the time, so there is no need to spend hours in the gym — praise the lord! And the beauty of timed workouts is that you set your own pace — just make sure it challenges you. HIIT should be as intense as you can make it. Here’s how to do HIIT yourself and discover Emerge Fitness for more inspiration:

HIIT for beginners

Do three rounds of jumping jacks for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds of rest before moving on to three rounds of high-knees for 20 seconds, with 10-second breaks; followed by three rounds of squats, and three rounds of crunches before going back to jumping jacks.

Repeat this for 10 minutes 

Turn it up for 20 minutes

Three rounds, each with 45 seconds of activity followed by 15 seconds of rest:

Jumping Jacks down to your toes

Mountain climbers
Jumping squats
Bicycle crunches
Tricep dips (on a bench)

Advanced for 30 minutes

Three rounds, each with 45 seconds of activity followed by 15 seconds of rest:

Press ups
Ice skaters (lateral side jumps)
Crossed mountain climbers (opposite knee to elbow) Jumping lunges
Tricep dips (on a bench)
Plank, jumping legs out laterally

Walk Tall

Harvard researchers have shown that a brisk one-hour walk every day will also slow down different genes which promote obesity; while studies closer to home at Exeter University found a 15-minute walk helps curb cravings for chocolate.

Baby steps

“If you haven’t been doing much activity, start with three 10-minute walks a day and gradually increase your pace and time until you can walk at a brisk pace for at least 30 minutes without feeling uncomfortably out of breath.

Step it up

“Walking is not just about the distance you cover, for maximum results, it’s also important to maintain a brisk  pace and keep your heart rate up. If you can already manage a brisk one-hour walk try adding some power pit-stops:”

“You could also use the bench for press ups, tricep dips and side step up and landing in a side lunge. Adding these short bursts of energy along your walk will transform the level of your workouts.” 

Box Clever 

“Boxing doesn’t have to be all about aggression,” says Olivia. “Though it is a great way to de-stress while you burn calories.”

She suggests teaming up with a boxing buddy, but if that’s not possible a few rounds of solo shadow-boxing can also bring benefits.  A study by the American Council on Exercise found boxing provided the best Wii Sports workout, burning 216 calories in just 30 minutes. Lead researcher Dr John Porcari adds: “If you want to get as good a workout as you can with Wii Sports, you really need to mimic the real movements as closely as possible.”

 Spar starter

Grab two pairs of boxing gloves or one pair of gloves and a pair of pads and head for the park. Boxing buddy No 1 holds up their gloves or pads, and BB No.2 cross punches with the basic ‘jab’ ‘cross’ punches at a regular one, two, one, two… rhythm for as long as they can. When BB2 needs a rest allow 30 to 60 seconds, to fully recover, before doing a second round.

After the second round, switch their roles with BB1 punching and BB2 blocking.

To advance your workout, check ‘hooks’ and ‘upper-cuts’ online and incorporate different combinations into your workout.

Be the greatest

BB1 cross punches with the basic ‘jab’ ‘cross’ punches at a fast pace for four rounds of 25 punches, with a short 10-second rest between each round. BB2 can count the punches and 10-second rest. After four rounds, swap over, with BB2 punching and BB1 blocking.

Aim for speed and intensity as these short sharp bursts elevate the heart rate even more than the rhythmic punches of the spar starter. You can also add body-weight exercises. My favourites are:

25 jab cross punches followed by four burpees — try this for three rounds; or 25 upper cut punches followed by 10 full sit ups, for three rounds; or 25 hook punches followed by 10 x press ups, for three rounds.