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5 Challenging Workouts To Push Your Limits & Increase Your Gains

Build muscle, burn fat, and improve your endurance with these HIIT-style workouts.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If you are in a time crunch when it comes to getting your workouts in but still want to burn fat, build muscle, and boost your metabolism and health, then high-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT) are the way to go. That's why we're here with five of the best challenging workouts to increase your gains and push your limits, so listen up.

HIIT workouts combine multiple exercises in quick succession to minimize the total workout time, maximize the intensity, and get a great combination of strength, endurance, and muscle building from a relatively short training session. The following are our five favorite simple yet challenging workouts you can do if you are short on time and high on motivation. Each workout consists of three exercises. Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Choose a resistance level that allows you to complete the entire 45-second interval. Complete three to four rounds per workout, and aim to do two or more total workouts per week.

Keep reading for five of the best challenging workouts to increase your gains, and when you're finished, be sure to check out The Best Daily Bodyweight Workout Men Do To Build Muscle Over 40.

Workout #1: Lower-Body Focus

1. Barbell Back Squats

woman doing barbell back squats, resistance training exercises to transform your body after 30

To perform a barbell back squat, position a barbell at shoulder level on a squat rack. Stand under the barbell, and place it on your upper back just below the shoulder blades. Unrack the barbell by straightening your legs and stepping backward. Lower your body by bending at the knees and hips, pushing through the full foot. Return to the starting position by pushing through your feet.

2. Walking Lunges

fit woman demonstrating walking lunges at gym to transform your backside

To perform a walking lunge, stand upright with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with your right foot, and lower your body by bending your right knee. Rotate your left foot inward slightly as you lower your left knee toward the floor. Push off with your right foot, and bring your left foot forward to the standing position. Perform the lunge with your left foot stepping forward.

3. Glute Bridges

woman doing glute bridges

To perform a glute bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your sides, palms down. Lift your hips off the floor by pushing through the full foot, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Lower your hips back to the starting position.

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Workout #2: Upper-Body Focus

1. Pull-ups

strong fitness woman doing pull-ups strength-building exercises

To perform a pull-up: Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang onto the bar with your arms fully extended. Pull yourself upward by retracting your shoulder blades and bending your elbows until your chin is over the bar. Then, use control to lower back to the starting position.

2. Pushups

muscular man doing pushups, concept of bodyweight workout for men

To perform a pushup, begin in a pushup plank position with your hands under your shoulders. Engage your core and keep your spine in a braced neutral position. Lower toward the ground by bending at the elbows and shoulders. When your chest is roughly one inch above the ground, push evenly through both hands to return to the starting position.

3. Barbell Bent-Over Rows

fitness man doing barbell row at the gym

To perform a barbell bent-over row, stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip. Bend at your hips and knees, and lower your torso until it's nearly parallel to the floor. Pull the bar to your upper abs by bending your elbows and retracting your shoulder blades, avoiding shoulder shrugging. Lower the bar back to the starting position.

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Workout #3: Full-Body Blast

1. Burpees

illustration of burpees

This next "full-body blast" workout to increase your gains kicks off with burpees. To perform a burpee, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the hips and knees to place your hands on the floor. Kick your feet back to a pushup position, and lower your chest to the floor. Push up to return to the pushup position, hop your feet toward your hands, and jump into the air.

2. Kettlebell Swings

fit woman doing kettlebell swings, concept of exercises to lose inches off your waist in 30 days

To perform a kettlebell swing, stand with your feet hip-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and a kettlebell between your feet on the ground. Hinge at your hips, and grasp the kettlebell with both hands. Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, then push your hips forward to swing it up to chest level, keeping your arms straight. Let the kettlebell fall back down between your legs to repeat the swing.

3. Mountain Climbers

woman doing mountain climbers exercise

To perform mountain climbers, start in a pushup position. Bring your right knee toward your chest, then switch, and bring your left knee toward your chest, as if you're running in place.

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Workout #4: Core Crusher

1. Planks

mature muscular man doing planks outdoors in group fitness class

To perform a plank, begin in a pushup position, but rest your weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your feet.

2. Russian Twists

woman doing russian twists, concept of workout to lose love handles

To perform a Russian twist, sit on the ground with your knees bent, pull your abs to your spine, and lean back a few inches while keeping your back straight. Hold your hands in front of your chest (or hold onto a medicine ball or weight plate), and twist your torso to the right, then to the left to complete one rep.

3. Bicycle Crunches

two women doing bicycle crunches during ab workout on floor

To perform a bicycle crunch, lie flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your head, then bring your knees in toward your chest and lift your shoulder blades off the ground. Straighten your right leg out while turning your upper body to the left, bringing your right elbow toward your left knee. Switch sides.

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Workout #5: Cardio Burn

1. Jumping Jacks

woman doing jumping jacks

This last workout to increase your gains and challenge your body starts off with jumping jacks. To perform jumping jacks, stand straight with your feet together and your hands at your sides. Jump, spreading your legs and swinging your arms over your head. Jump back to the starting position.

2. High Knees

high knees

To perform high knees, stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Quickly bring your right knee up to the level of your waist, then quickly lower it while raising your left knee to waist level.

3. Squat Jumps

woman doing jump squat, saddlebag burner workout

To perform squat jumps, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a squat, then explode upward, jumping up as high as possible. Land softly, and immediately lower into the next squat.

Tyler Read
Tyler Read is a personal trainer and has been involved in health and fitness for the past 15 years. Read more about Tyler
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