Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day. Exercise offers so many benefits, for both our physical and mental health. If you’re in need of a mood boost today, try this HIIT workout from Dean Hodgkin at TRUCONNECT

From Insta influencers to celebrity trainers, HIIT (high intensity interval training) has become a staple in many people’s workout schedules. According to the annual review of global fitness trends by the American College of Sports Medicine, HIIT has been in huge demand for several years now.

What are the mental and physical health benefits of HIIT?

According to Dean Hodgkin, personal trainer and head of programming at leading community wellness and fitness app, TRUCONNECT by TV.FIT, the fat loss and cardio boosting benefits of HIIT are without question, both anecdotally and scientifically.

However, alongside these physical health benefits, HIIT workouts also offer significant mental health gains. ‘Just a single exercise bout has been shown to tackle a temporary negative mood state and chronic conditions can also benefit from the uplifting effect,’ Dean explains.

‘HIIT workouts impact mindset by temporarily putting your body under stress, stimulating the hypothalamus to release endorphins that act to dampen pain, discomfort and anxiety. In some cases, it can even lead to a ‘natural high’ after the sweating is over.’

A HIIT workout combines cardio, strength and flexibility training. Accoridng to Dean, this encourages neural and chemical changes, including the growth of new nerve cells, which has been shown to improve brain function.

The following workout has been specifically designed to incorporate cardio, strength and flexibility, to help you reap these physical and mental benefits…

How to do this HIIT workout

Take some time to mobilise your joints and warm up your muscles before starting this workout.

Before the workout:

Before any workout, it’s important to take around 3 minutes to gently mobilise your joints. Move your head, wrists, ankles, arms and legs through their normal ranges of movement.

Add to this a couple of minutes of jogging on the spot to raise your body temperature and your breathing rate, then you’ll be good to go.

During the workout:

While completing this workout, complete as many repetitions of each exercise as you are able to in 50 seconds. Then, rest for 10 secs before moving straight on to the next exercise.

Beginners should aim for 1 complete set. If you’re a more experienced exerciser, try tackling 2 sets. Those of you in the elite band, try going for 3 complete sets!

After the workout:

Once you’ve finished your sets, a cool-down is important to avoid dizziness and is achieved by similar exercises to the warm-up.

In addition, try stretches for each of the major muscle groups, holding end positions for 20-30 seconds.

Mood-boosting HIIT workout

hiit workout

1. Toe Tap Sprint

  • Stand close to a step with one foot resting lightly on top, but just the ball of your foot rather than heel.
  • In one movement scissor your feet so they swap over but try not to jump up in the air and make sure your landings are soft and quiet.
  • Use your arms to help generate speed and keep your head lifted, only gazing down occasionally to check your foot position.
  • As the name of the exercise suggests, this shout be like a sprint: full-on, all-out, fast as you can!

hiit workout

2. Thruster

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart or in a split stance, feet facing forwards and your knees slightly bent.
  • Hold 2 dumbbells, filled water bottles or soup tins in front and to the side of your chest with your elbows tucked underneath.
  • Slightly bend your knees then immediately drive through the legs and press the weights overhead.
  • Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to protect your spine and keep the elbows soft at the top of the lift rather than locked out.
  • Lower back down to the start position under control, then repeat.

hiit workout

3. Weighted Side Lunge

  • Stand with your feet together, holding 1 dumbbell, filled water bottle or soup tin, directly in front of your chest in both hands with arms bent.
  • Take a long stride to the side with your right foot, placing it so that it lands pointing slightly outwards, while simultaneously lowering the weight towards your right foot.
  • Hinge at your hip so you are able to drop the weight quite low towards the floor.
  • Now, drive powerfully through your right leg and also lift the weight to return to the start position.
  • Repeat to the left side and at all times focus on keeping the tummy pulled in and the shoulders drawn back to avoid potentially harmful rounding of your spine.

4. Depth Jump

  • Stand on a step platform, bottom stair or box with your feet about hip width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • Take a leap of faith, off the platform and aiming to land about a stride length forward.
  • As you land on both feet, immediately drop into a deep squat by bending your knees. Your upper body should hinge forward slightly at the hips, but keep your tummy pulled in really tight and at the same time, lift your arms high behind you.
  • Now, without a split second’s hesitation at the bottom of your squat, explosively leap upward from this crouched position using a maximal contraction in your thighs and buttocks, also throwing your hands up to help to increase the height to which you jump.
  • Ensure landings are soft to reduce the risk of impact injury to your ankles, knees, hips or lower back, so the quieter the better.

5. Turkish Get Up

This move can be tricky: we recommend watching this handy tutorial from CrossFit and practicing the move slowly, before performing reps!

  • Lay flat on your back holding 1 dumbbell, filled water bottle or soup tin in your right hand with arm extended, directly above your chest.
  • Bend your right leg so you can place your right foot flat on the floor and drive through right foot down twisting onto left elbow
  • Then straighten your left arm taking your weight on your left palm and right foot.
  • Now place your left knee down and lift your left hand off the floor.
  • Finally, stand up tall, feet in line and hip width apart.
  • Now reverse this exactly until you are lying flat again, switch the weight to your left hand and repeat the whole movement on the other side.
  • The greatest challenge with this exercise is when moving both up and down, the weight should stay directly above your head with arm extended.

6. Press Up Crawl

  • From a normal press up position, walk one hand and the opposite foot forwards a short distance.
  • Now lower down into a split press up and return to the raised position.
  • Walk forward another ‘stride’ with the other arm and leg, then again perform a press up.
  • If struggling to perform a full press up, modify by dropping your knees to the floor. -Ensure your elbows do not lock out on the press up and keep your core muscles engaged to prevent your hips dropping to the floor and arching your back. Think low as you walk, try not to stick your bum in the air.

For a wide selection of exciting HIIT workouts you can do anytime and anywhere, visit leading global community wellness and fitness app, TRUCONNECT by TV.FIT.

Click here for a high-intensity MetCon workout from Jenny Pacey!