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The 10-Minute Workout That Wakes You Up Better Than Coffee

This energizing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routine and super motivating playlist, designed by a master fitness trainer, will invigorate you—even if you're not a morning person.
  • 1
    There's a reason high intensity interval training (HIIT) has become more popular than practically any other exercise (includi
    Illustration: David Wyffels
    There's a reason high intensity interval training (HIIT) has become more popular than practically any other exercise (including Zumba!): "HIIT routines build muscle and burn fat in significantly less time than longer, more moderate workouts," says Yuri Feito, Ph.D., MPH, assistant professor of exercise science at Kennesaw State University. In fact, they're so quick and effective that in the time it normally takes to brew or buy coffee, you can sneak in a calorie-torching routine. Plus, if you listen to the right music, you'll work out even harder, finds research in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise. That means you'll boost oxygen to your brain, which in turn, will help you feel more alert. (According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more oxygen is consumed during a HIIT workout than a noninterval training session.)

    We've got nothing against coffee (it has proven benefits) but if you're looking for a natural pick-me-up, try this energizing routine set to heart-pumping music, designed by Rachel Buschert Vaziralli, a master trainer at Equinox gyms in New York City. Start with this 2-minute, total-body warm up to loosen up your muscles and joints:

    1. Jog in place (30 seconds)
    2. Do squats (30 seconds)
    3. Do jumping jacks (30 seconds)
    4. Do knee push-ups (30 seconds)
  • 2 The Move: Burpee
    "This is one of the best total body moves because it strengthens your upper and lower body muscles, as well as your core," sa
    Illustration: David Wyffels
    "This is one of the best total body moves because it strengthens your upper and lower body muscles, as well as your core," says Buschert Vaziralli. "And since the transitions can be mentally challenging, it's a great way to wake up your brain." Many HIIT exercises require mental energy, says Feito. "Unlike single modality sessions, like running and cycling, where you can 'doze off' for several minutes, HIIT workouts require your full attention," he explains. In other words, you can't just go through the motions and expect results—your mind must be fully engaged.

    The Song: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (first 2 minutes). "Music with a positive message or athletic theme helps boost your energy," says Buschert Vaziralli. "You'll feel like you're in the montage scene from Rocky, training for the world championships."

    The Steps:
    1. Start with feet slightly wider than hips-width distance apart.
    2. Bending your knees, lower down into a squat.
    3. Place your hands on the floor in front of you, about shoulder-width apart.
    4. Step or jump back into a plank.
    5. Lower down into a push up (you can drop your knees for extra support).
    6. Return to plank position.
    7. Step or jump back into a squat.

    Repeat as many times as possible for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat sequence once.
  • 3 The Move: Squat Jacks
    "These are like old-school, gym class jumping jacks but instead of just opening and closing your legs, you land in a wide squ
    Illustration: David Wyffels
    "These are like old-school, gym class jumping jacks but instead of just opening and closing your legs, you land in a wide squat stance, which helps sculpt your glutes," explains Buschert Vaziralli. Even one minute of this stepped-up version of jumping jacks can boost your energy: According to a recent study in PLOS One, people who perform just one minute of intense exercise within a 10-minute routine have higher levels of biochemical substances in their muscles that increase mitochondria—the cells that turn carbs into energy to fuel your brain and help you feel more awake all day.

    The Song: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor (the last 2 minutes)

    The Steps:
    1. Start with feet together, arms at your sides.
    2. Jump feet apart into a wide squat stance, bending both knees and pushing your hips back. Sit as low as you can to active the leg muscles. At the same time, raise your arms over your head like a jumping jack.
    3. Lower arms and jump feet back together. Repeat.

    Perform as many as possible in 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat sequence once.
  • 4 The Move: High Knee Butt Kicks
    "This exercise is aptly named because you literally try to kick your heels to your butt -- and if you do it at the right pace
    Illustration: David Wyffels
    "This exercise is aptly named because you literally try to kick your heels to your butt -- and if you do it at the right pace, it will leave your butt kicked!" says Buschert Vaziralli. While running in place, you'll alternate between kicking your heels back to your behind and lifting your knees high to your chest. "This gets your heart rate way up while working your legs and core," says Buschert Vaziralli.

    The Song: I Lived by OneRepublic ([RED] Remix) (first two minutes). "Fast tempo music is the key to maintaining high energy levels and keeping your mind off the intensity," says Buschert Vaziralli. "Songs with lyrics are ideal because they help you distract yourself."

    The Steps:
    1. Start standing with feet hips-width distance apart.
    2. Running in place, lift your knees high to your chest for 4 reps.
    3. Still running in place, kick your heels back toward your butt for 4 reps.

    Continue alternating as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence once.
  • 5 The Move: Reverse Step/Jump Lunges
    This exercise takes lunges to a whole new level. It's a supercharged way to work your quads, glutes, hamstrings and adductors
    Illustration: David Wyffels
    This exercise takes lunges to a whole new level. It's a supercharged way to work your quads, glutes, hamstrings and adductors, says Buschert Vaziralli. By the end of this circuit, you should be totally breathless—and totally energized. "People often come up to me after class to tell me how invigorated they feel," says Buschert Vaziralli. "There's no better way to pump up your morning and stay energized all day."

    The Song: I Lived by OneRepublic ([RED] Remix) (the last 2 minutes)

    The Steps:
    1. Start standing with feet hip-width distance apart.
    2. Step or jump one leg back behind you while simultaneously bending both knees (you should land with a 90-degree angle in both the front and back legs with the front heel down and the back heel lifted up).
    3. Step back to start position and repeat on other side; or, jump immediately into the other side, landing on the opposite leg.

    Repeat as many times as you can for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the sequence once.

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