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Turn your walk into a HIIT workout with this 10-minute routine

Take your walk from a leisurely stroll to an intense workout by adding intervals.
By mixing up your pace you can turn a walk into a HIIT workout.
By mixing up your pace you can turn a walk into a HIIT workout.TODAY Illustration / Stephanie Mansour

If you aren't a big fan of running, are just getting back into the swing of cardio or need to give your joints a break from jogging, walking is a great alternative.

Many people assume walking is a leisurely activity — and it can be. But you also can make it a high-intensity workout by adding intervals.

High intensity interval training has been shown to reduce body fat and improve cardiovascular fitness. These workouts typically alternate between high and low-intensity exercise, which helps boost metabolism and calorie burn (even after the workout is over). You can easily incorporate this style of exercise into your walk by mixing up your pace.

Follow this routine to turn your walk into a HIIT workout. Complete this workout a few times a week and when you feel it becoming easier, increase the amount of time you spend in each interval or begin with a quicker pace.

10-minute HIIT walking routine

Be sure to start with a quick warmup of dynamic stretches, like we do in this warm-up routine.

  • 0-4 minutes: Maintain a steady pace. You probably have a walking pace that you’re used to and that’s a great way to kick off your workout. During this interval, feel free to relax and focus on your breathing, taking in your surroundings and preparing mentally for the next interval. Maintain this pace for 4 minutes before moving on.
  • 4-6 minutes: Pick up the pace. After 4 minutes of walking at a comfortable pace, it’s time to build up your momentum to a brisk walk. Remember to pump your arms and get your body involved. Keep your head up and look forward without slouching your shoulders or back. Engage your abdominals while keeping your back straight and roll your feet from heel to toe. Maintain this brisk walk for 2 minutes.
  • 6-8 minutes: Return to a steady pace. After briskly walking for 2 minutes, you should feel your heart rate increasing. By returning to your original steady pace, you’re giving your body a short break while still moving and burning calories before moving on to the most intense interval: power walking. Maintain your original pace for another 2 minutes before moving on.
  • Optional strength-training break: Stop and complete 3 strength-training moves: a modified pushup on a bench or step, a half squat, and a half squat with criss cross. (Instructions for each exercise are below.)
  • 8-9 minutes: Power walk. The power walk is the most intense pace in this walking workout. In order to reap all the benefits of the power walk, it’s important to maintain proper form. Keep your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and pump them as you walk. Your opposite arm and leg should be moving forward at the same time. Remember to move your feet from heel to toe using short strides at a fast pace. Taking more steps in a shorter amount of time is an important part of power walking and can help increase calorie burn. Power walk for just one minute and make sure you give it your all!

This will give you a 10-minute workout (slightly longer if you choose to do the strength training). You can repeat from the beginning as many times as you’d like for a longer workout!

Optional strength-training routine

This HIIT walking workout can be just as effective without the strength training, but if you’re looking to step it up, add these three moves.

Modified pushup

The modified pushup can be performed on a curb, park bench or half wall like I’m showing. Place your hands on the elevated surface with the wrists directly underneath the shoulders. Walk the feet out behind you so that your body is in a straight plank position. Bend the elbows out to the sides lowering your chest down toward the ground. Press back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Half squat

Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Sit down and back, making sure that your knees stay in line with your toes. Only lower down halfway into a half squat to make it easier on the knees. Pull the naval in toward the spine. Return to standing, squeezing the glutes at the top. Repeat 10 times.

Half-squat with criss cross

Perform the half squat again with both hands behind your head and elbows out to the side. As you stand up, bring your right knee up and reach your left elbow towards the knee into a criss cross. Then lower back down into the squat. Return to standing again, this time bringing your left knee up to meet your right elbow, feeling the crunch in your obliques. Repeat 5 times on each side.