Fitness

The 4-Minute Cardio Workout You Can Do Without Any Equipment

One thing that’s kept me grounded during this surreal COVID-19 pandemic is moving my body. As I discovered, every little bit of activity helps—and this 4-minute workout is no different.

Small activities, including safe outdoor activities like taking a 10-minute walk in my neighborhood (practicing safe social distancing, of course) or doing a quick core workout in my bedroom, have done wonders to boost my spirits and refocus my attention. That’s huge, since in between the anxiety over the current global pandemic and the psychological weirdness of sheltering in place, it’s been hard to distinguish mornings from afternoons and weekdays from weekends. But working out has helped me hold on to a semblance of normalcy.

This 4-minute workout, created for SELF by celebrity trainer Erin Oprea, helps deliver the mood-lifting, monotony-busting effects we all need right now.

There’s a lot to love about this super-brief workout: It requires zero equipment, it works multiple muscle groups at once, it’ll jack up your heart rate—and you can complete it in approximately the same amount of time it takes to select your next Netflix binge (or, you know, change from your daytime yoga pants into your nighttime yoga pants).

In other words, it’s a nonintimidating, totally doable way to get your body moving right now.

This very short sweat session is a Tabata workout, a style of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that alternates between 20 seconds of maximum-effort work followed by 10 seconds of rest. That 30-second sequence is repeated eight times for a total of four minutes.

“I love Tabatas,” Oprea, who has trained Carrie Underwood for 11 years and currently works with Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, and Kacey Musgraves, tells SELF. It’s fun, versatile, effective, and quick, the Nashville-based trainer previously told SELF.

Consider this particular Tabata workout, which features four different moves, about a 7 out of 10 in terms of overall intensity, says Oprea. The sequence primarily targets your legs, chest, and triceps, but you’ll also sneak in glutes, core, and shoulder work as well. And because the first move in the circuit—the jump squat—includes jumping, you’ll get a dose of cardio too, she says.

So even though it’s only four minutes long, don’t expect it to be a cinch: If you do the moves correctly and push yourself during your work intervals, you’ll definitely feel your muscles working, says Oprea. (Of course, if you want an even greater challenge, you can repeat the four-minute sequence multiple times. Just rest for one minute between rounds—and make sure you take a water break if needed then too, says Oprea)

You can do this workout at really any point during the day, says Oprea, but because it involves jumping, you shouldn’t go into it with cold muscles, since that may increase your chances of injury, like a pulled muscle. Make sure you wake your body up first with a few minutes of warm-up, which should include moves like leg swings, jumping jacks, high knees, or jump rope.

If you’re looking to add a burst of movement into your day, keep scrolling for everything you need to know to do this heart-pumping, mood-boosting, 4-minute workout.

The Workout:

What You’ll Need: Just your bodyweight, and a timer so that you’ll know when to perform each move and when to rest.

Exercises:

  • Jump Squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • Push-Up
  • Bodyweight Tricep Dip

Directions:

  • Perform each move for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next move in the sequence.
  • Once you’ve completed all four moves in the sequence, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat the entire sequence again.

Demoing the moves are Cookie Janee (GIF 1), a background investigator and security forces specialist in the Air Force Reserve; Teresa Hui (GIF 2), a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races, including 16 full marathons; and Amanda Wheeler (GIFs 3 and 4), a certified strength and conditioning specialist and cofounder of Formation Strength, an online women’s training group that serves the LGBTQ+ community and allies.

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