High-intensity interval classes are a fast and fun way to fitness.

Get Fit in a Flash

When a busy week has you short on time, an hour-long run or gym trip might not be realistic. So how to keep exercise at the top of your list? Scale back on duration, but turn up the heat. These high-intensity workouts will help you stay fit on a tight schedule: 


For a total-body workout that boosts strength, balance, plus aerobic fitness — and burns calories like you’re running a 6-minute mile — use kettlebells. Proper technique is important to prevent injuries, so get it right by learning from a certified fitness pro. The American Sports and Fitness Association’s Kettlebell Training Book is a good place to start.

Nordic Walking

Grab a pair of poles and get out there — Nordic walking is good for all fitness levels. You might attract some curious looks, but you’ll burn more calories, strengthen your upper body, and get a great cardio workout. The American Nordic Walking Association website has all the information you’ll need to get started.

Tabata Training

Whether you prefer cardio, weights, or circuit training, Tabata training teaches you to alternate 20 seconds of all-out effort with 10 seconds of rest. Work up to 6-8 cycles for 3-4 minutes total; set your timer to stay on track. 

Free Weights

Adding free weights is a good way to up the intensity of any workout. Run with hand or wrist weights, wear ankle weights during your fitness circuit, or use rubber bands during your morning stretch routine.

Note: Work your way up to full kettlebell and Tabata training. If you’re a beginner, or have a condition that could be made worse by exercise, ask your health care provider if high-intensity workouts are right for you. 

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.