For celebrity trainer Jeanette Jenkins, fitness can double as family bonding. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles–based creator of the Hollywood Trainer posted an Instagram video of her and her 14-year-old niece, Lexi Jenkins, smiling as they moved through a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout together.
“[Lexi] is an incredible athlete so this was an opportunity to just bond, boost her self-confidence, and let her see that at 44, her aunt can still work out with her,” Jenkins tells SELF. “I want to inspire her to continue with athletics and fitness throughout her life.” In the process, both Jenkins women inspired us all with the seriously challenging exercises they tackled in tandem.
You can check out the video, via @msjeanettejenkins, here:
Though Jenkins and her niece make this six-move circuit look easy, it’s definitely not.
As mentioned, this circuit is a HIIT workout, meaning it involves brief bursts of high-intensity cardio and strength exercises interspersed with brief periods of low-intensity recovery.
HIIT, in general, is great for getting in a challenging workout with multiple benefits in a short amount of time. This circuit, which takes just three to four-and-a-half minutes to complete, is an excellent example of HIIT, Stephanie Mansour, Chicago-based certified personal trainer, tells SELF, as it mixes cardio and full-body strength exercises.
The big reason that HIIT is so effective is that it requires you to give close to 100 percent of your effort during the brief bursts of intense work, which causes your heart rate to skyrocket and your muscles to fatigue pretty quickly. This intense effort, even though short-lived, can make HIIT feel very tough in the moment, no matter your fitness level. So while Jenkins and her niece seem to be cranking through the exercises effortlessly, you’ll likely be very tired and out of breath if you do multiple rounds of this circuit.
On the strengthening front, this circuit works pretty much every major muscle group.
The exercises in this circuit are compound movements, meaning they work multiple muscle groups at the same time. Some of them even combine multiple exercises into one. String together lots of compound exercises like these, and you're pretty much guaranteed a total-body workout.
“This circuit will improve strength in the upper body, core, and lower body,” says Jenkins. Do all six moves and you’ll work your rectus abdominis (what you think when you think abs), obliques (muscles on the sides of your stomach), triceps, glutes, quads, hamstrings, chest muscles, shoulder muscles, and back muscles. Whew.
The sequence also features three plyometric exercises, which are explosive cardio moves that train speed and power.
The first three moves in this circuit—the tuck jump to plank, the triple knee to side lunge, and the squat jump heel taps—are plyometric moves. A plyometric is anything that involves explosive movement, like hops and jumps. When done correctly, plyo moves can offer a ton of benefits, including improved overall power, speed, response time, proprioception (body awareness), muscular strength, joint strength, and bone strength, says Jenkins.
Plyometrics are especially great for athletes because many sports require some form of jumping, says Jenkins (think: basketball, soccer, track events, and gymnastics). Incorporating plyometrics into training can help an athlete improve their ability to safely and effectively perform explosive movements on demand. When it comes time to jump or perform this type of move in competition, they’ll be able to do so with greater power, speed, and reduced risk of injury.
But plyometrics aren't just great for competitive athletes—they can also aid us in everyday life, says Mansour. Say you need to chase after your kid, says Mansour, or quickly jump up to catch a falling object. The reaction time, speed, and power developed with plyometric movements can help you react swiftly and powerfully in these situations.
If you’re new to plyometrics, Jenkins advises working with a certified trainer so you can learn how to properly land your jumps and minimize the impact on your joints. Exercising on a shock-absorbing surface, like Astroturf or rubber weight-room flooring, and wearing a quality training shoe can both help minimize impact, too, she adds. You should also make sure that you can perform a movement with correct form before adding a plyometric element (for example, make sure you can squat correctly before attempting squat jumps). And because plyometric moves are high-impact, you shouldn't do tons of reps at a time or build all of your workouts around plyos. Also, if you have a history of joint, knee, or back issues, talk to your doctor first before attempting them.
Last, because the plyometric moves in this particular circuit are pretty advanced, Mansour recommends beginners who are interested in plyometric work start with simpler moves, like quickly stepping or jumping over a line on the ground as many times as possible in 30 seconds.
Here’s how to do the six-move HIIT circuit.
Because “this isn’t a beginner-level circuit,” says Jenkins, if you’re new to fitness, you should follow her suggested modifications below . They’ll make the moves lower-impact and easier to execute.
For a full workout, perform the following circuit two to three times through. Note: Core engagement is important for all six moves, so make sure to keep your core muscles tight and active throughout the entire workout.
1. Tuck Jump to Plank
- Stand up straight and clasp your hands in front of your chest.
- Bend your knees and press your hips and glutes back slightly, then press through your feet and swing your arms to jump up as high as you can, engaging your core and bringing your knees into your chest as you do so.
- Bend your knees as you land. From here, bend forward at the waist to place your palms on the ground and then jump your feet back into a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked over your wrists, back straight, legs extended, and core and glutes engaged. Pause for a moment in this position and then jump your feet forward and stand back up.
- This is 1 rep. Continue performing reps without pausing for 30 to 45 seconds.
This move, which closely resembles a burpee, works essentially every muscle in your legs, plus your core, biceps, triceps, and upper back, says Mansour. Be sure to engage your abs as you bring your knees up to your chest. Then, during the plank portion, press down through your palms (not just your fingertips) and keep your shoulder blades engaged.
Beginner modification: Start with three to five tuck jumps with a double bounce in-between each rep, suggests Jenkins. From there, practice going from a standing position to walking your feet back into a plank for 10 reps.
2. Triple Knee to Side Lunge
- Stand up straight with your chest lifted, feet hip-width apart, and arms resting by your sides.
- Starting with your right knee, quickly drive your knees one at a time into your chest as high as possible while pumping your arms three times. As you do so, keep your chest lifted and core engaged, and land on the balls of your feet.
- After three knee drives (two with your right knee, one with your left), pause with your right leg lifted and knee bent, and then step out to the right side about 2 feet.
- From here, hinge forward at your hips, push your butt back, and bend your right knee to lower into a lateral lunge. Your left leg should stay straight.
- Pause for a second, and then push off your right leg to return to standing.
- Repeat the triple knee sequence, this time beginning and ending with your left knee. Then do a lateral lunge to your left side.
- Continue this pattern, alternating sides, for 30 to 45 seconds.
This high-knee lateral lunge combo will get your heart rate up and also challenge your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, says Mansour. As you move into the side lunge, make sure that you land with a soft knee, she adds. This will help protect your knee and hip from undue stress.
Beginner modification: Break this compound movement into two separate exercises, suggests Jenkins. Do 10 to 15 side lunges and then 30 seconds of high knees; switch sides and repeat.
3. Squat Jump Heel Taps
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes angled slightly out.
- Bend your knees and push your hips and butt back into a squat, keeping your core engaged and chest lifted. As you lower your body down, raise your arms straight out in front of you.
- Pause for a moment at the bottom of the movement and then press through your heels to jump up as high as you can, swinging your arms as you do so and tapping your heels together at the top of the jump.
- Bend your knees as you land and immediately sink back into a squat.
- Continue this movement for 30 to 45 seconds.
You’ll work your inner thighs, quads, and glutes with these plyometric squats. As with the previous move, make sure that you land each jump with soft knees (not locked out straight), says Mansour.
Beginner modification: Remove the jump and just do the sumo squats for 30 to 45 seconds.
4. V-Hold Leg Scissors
- Sit on the ground and place your hands by your butt, palms flat, fingers pointed forward, and elbow slightly bent.
- Lean your torso back, keep your chest lifted, and extend your legs straight out and up so that your body forms a V.
- From here, engage your core, point your toes, and cross your right foot over your left, uncross your feet, and then bring your left foot over your right.
- Hold this position and continue crossing your feet over one another for 30 to 45 seconds.
This core-centric move targets the rectus abdominis and transverse abdominis (a deep core muscle that wraps around the sides and spine) as well as the inner and outer thighs, says Mansour. Also, because of the bent arm positioning, you’ll work your triceps and the muscles that stabilize your shoulders. If you feel too much stress on your wrist joints as you kick, try angling your wrists out to the side, says Mansour. This should reduce some of the pressure. Make sure your chest stays lifted, your elbows stay bent, and your core stays engaged as you perform this move, she adds.
Beginner modification: Bend your knees and simply hold your legs up without kicking, suggests Jenkins.
5. Walk Out Plank to Push-Up
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend forward at the waist to place your palms on the ground and then walk your hands forward to a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked over your wrists, back straight, legs extended, and core and glutes engaged.
- Once you’re in a high plank position, lower your chest to the ground to perform a push-up. After you’ve done a push-up, walk your hands back toward your feet and return to standing.
- Continue this pattern for 30 to 45 seconds.
This burpee regression works your hamstrings and glutes along with your shoulders and core. Make sure you press through your entire palms as much as possible when you walk yourself out and back, and also as you do the push-ups. This will help take some pressure off your wrists.
Beginner modification: After you walk out to a high plank position, drop to your knees for the push-up, says Jenkins.
6. Squat to Plank
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and clasp your arms in front of your chest.
- Bend your knees and press your hips and butt back into a squat, keeping your core engaged and chest lifted as you lower down.
- Pause at the bottom of the movement and then bend forward at the waist to place your palms on the ground.
- Jump your feet back so that your body is in a high plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked over your wrists, back straight, legs extended, and core and glutes engaged.
- Pause in the plank position for a moment and then jump your feet forward.
- Stand halfway up to resume the squat position. Hold for a moment and then transition to the high plank position again.
- Continue this pattern for 30 to 45 seconds.
This is a “really intense strength training move,” says Mansour. You’ll work your lower half in the squat component and then your upper body, core, and glutes with the plank component.
Beginner modification: Walk one foot back at a time instead of jumping both feet back together, says Jenkins.