HIIT workouts for Beginners

HIIT is an acronym for “High-Intensity Interval Training” and focuses on high-speed short exercises separated by short rest periods. The goal of HIIT is to train as fast and as hard as possible with little rest in between each exercise; doing so results in tremendous weight loss and muscle gain. But what is a beginner HIIT workout?

HIIT is a very intense form of exercise and should be done by those already in decent shape. However, the speed at which you are supposed to do HIIT can throw off some beginners. The best way to become accustomed to the speed of HIIT is to do easier exercises and focus on the speed at which you do them. With that said, we have come up with two fantastic examples of beginner HIIT routines.

These routine works are to do each exercise in the circuit for about 20 seconds, then take a 45-second rest before continuing onto the next exercise. Once you have finished the circuit, take a more extended rest, around 2 minutes, before restarting the circuit again. You will want to repeat the circuit two or three times to finish your workout. 


Circuit 1: This circuit requires no equipment and can be done anywhere at any time.

  • Jump Squats
  • High Knees
  • Push-ups
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Mountain Climbers

Circuit 2: This circuit is a little more challenging than the previous example. This circuit also requires some dumbbells to perform.

  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull
  • Dumbbell Thrusters
  • Dumbbell Side Punches
  • Thrusters
  • Dumbbell March

Remember, the key to HIIT is to do each exercise as fast as possible and do as many reps as possible in a short amount of time. HIIT requires you to give it 100% every time for every exercise. Giving anything less devalues the benefits you gain from HIIT.

As you continue to read this article, we will explain what HIIT is precisely and give you a list of the essential benefits associated with HIIT. Furthermore, we will give you a detailed guide on how to perform our beginner HIIT routines to ensure you are using the proper form and technique.

What Is HIIT?

HIIT is a training method that generally refers to alternating between bursts of high-speed exercises with intervals of short rest periods. In other words, HIIT is the complete opposite of steady-state exercises where you get into a comfort zone and do the same exercise for very long periods of time without rest. The difference is that HIIT requires you to push past your limits while also focusing on short workouts, usually 30 minutes or less. 

One of the main difficulties of HIIT is that it requires you to go as fast and as hard as possible for every exercise you do. Giving HIIT anything less than 100% will decrease the quality of your benefits from HIIT. This is because when you are doing HIIT, your body is starved of oxygen due to the speed of the exercises. During HIIT, your body relies on anaerobic pathways to break down glucose without the use of oxygen. 

When your body breaks down glucose without oxygen, your body gains a burst of energy which will allow you to keep training. This gives you an immediate source of energy to keep training at maximum effort. However, this energy is finite. During your rest period between each exercise, you will replenish some of the oxygen you just expended. The oxygen you intake will help kickstart the anaerobic pathways during the next exercise. 

When you are doing HIIT exercises, you will need to keep each interval of training to around 20 to 30 seconds, depending on the intensity of the exercise. Afterward, you should take a short break that should be twice as long as the exercise you just performed. For example, if you were doing mountain climbers for 20 seconds, your rest should be 45 to 50 seconds before continuing to the next exercise in your circuit. The key is to go all out, give every exercise everything you have. Do those mountain climbers as fast as you physically can in those 20 seconds. 

©Les Mills

The Benefits Of HIIT

When you are doing your HIIT workouts, you will have the potential to gain a myriad of benefits. Some of the benefits include increasing your metabolism, losing weight, and increasing your strength, among others. Here we have gathered a list of the most important benefits you can gain from doing HIIT.

HIIT Workouts Are Fantastic For Busy People

If you are a busy bee and have errands to do every day, then HIIT is perfect for you. Whether you are looking to shred some excess weight or want to get your endorphin rush for the day, HIIT is what you need. HIIT is designed to be an all-encompassing workout that you can do in 15 to 30 minutes. According to 2011 studies, if you do 15 minutes of HIIT three times a week, you can make more improvement than someone who does jog or rides a bike for an hour straight three times a week. That is a massive time saver in our books.

HIIT Is An Excellent Way To Shred Fat

HIIT has an exciting way of helping you lose weight. While doing the exercises in your HIIT routines, you are burning tons of calories. However, one of the significant weight loss benefits of HIIT is that it kicks your body’s repair cycle into overdrive. 

After your HIIT workout, your body will start to produce the EPOC effect. EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, is a state in which your body needs to work extra hard to make up for the lack of oxygen in your system. Due to the high-intensity and high-speed nature of HIIT, you use all of the oxygen in your body. Once you finish working out, your body’s repair system kicks in to replenish its missing supply of oxygen through the EPOC effect. During the EPOC effect, your body continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours as it replenishes its supply of oxygen. However, while you can burn calories for 24 hours after your HIIT routine, you will burn most of the calories in the first hour or two after your workout.


You Don’t Need Equipment To Do HIIT

While some exercises need some equipment like dumbbells or kettlebells, not all HIIT exercises require equipment. Exercises like high knees, mountain climbers, jump squats, sprints, and jump lunges can all be done without equipment and are perfect for any HIIT routine. Furthermore, HIIT routines that only rely on your body weight can be done anywhere. All you need is the space to do them. You can even do some HIIT routines in the comfort of your living room. 

HIIT Can Help Increase Your Metabolism

Studies have shown that after your HIIT workout, your human growth hormone synthesis can increase up to 450% in the 24 hours after your workout. HGH is responsible for increasing the number of calories you naturally burn and slowing your aging process.

Beginner HIIT Routines

We have come up with two separate HIIT circuits that are perfect for beginners to HIIT. Both of the circuits are composed of easy exercises to focus on the speed at which you do them. The goal of these HIIT circuits is to get you accustomed to the speed at which you need to do HIIT to gain all of its benefits.

You should do each of the exercises in each circuit for at least 20 seconds. Remember to go as fast and as hard as you physically can for each exercise. After the 20 seconds, take a short rest for about 40 to 45 seconds before continuing on to the next exercise in the circuit. Once you have completed the circuit, rest for two to three minutes before repeating the circuit. You should do each circuit two to three times to complete your workout.

Circuit 1

  • Jump Squats
  1. Start in a standing position with your feet spread shoulder width apart
  2. Lower yourself into the squat position until your thighs are parallel with the floor
  3. Push off the ground with your heels and jump as high as you can from the squat position
  4. As you land, immediately lower your body back into the squat position
  • High Knees
  1. Start in a standing position with your feet together
  2. Raise your right knee as high as possible
  3. Lower your right knee until your right foot touches the floor
  4. As soon as your right foot touches the floor, raise your left knee as high as possible
  5. Lower your left knee until your left foot touches the floor
  6. As soon as your left foot touches the floor, raise your right knee
  • Push ups
  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart
  2. Bend your elbows, and lower your body until it touches or barely touches the floor
  3. Extend your arms until you return to the starting position
  • Reverse Crunches
  1. Lie on the ground on your back with your feet on the floor and your hands underneath your head. 
  2. Engage your core to lift your feet off the ground and bring your knees as close to your chest as you can.
  3. Lower your legs to the starting position
  • Mountain Climbers
  1. Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder width apart and your feet hip width apart.
  2. Jump your right leg upwards, bending at the knee while bringing it as high as you can
  3. Jump your right leg back to the starting position
  4. As soon as your right leg returns to the starting position, jump your left leg upwards, bending at the knee while bringing it as high as you can
  5. Jump your left leg back to the starting position
  6. As soon as your left leg returns to the starting position, jump your right leg back up

Circuit 2

  • Sumo Deadlift High Pull
  1. Start in a standing position with feet slightly wider than shoulder width while holding dumbbells in each hand in front of your hips with your palms facing towards you.
  2. Start to lower your body into a sumo squat by pushing your hips back and keeping your back straight.
  3. As soon as the dumbbells pass your knees, engage your hips and shoulder, raising them both at the same time.
  4. As you are returning to the standing position, pull the dumbbells up to your chin with your arms, keeping your elbows lifted and to the side.
  5. Lower the dumbbells back to your hips
  • Dumbbell Thrusters
  1. Grab your dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height
  2. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart.
  3. Drop into a squat
  4. Once in the squat position, start standing back up.
  5. As you are standing up, raise both dumbbells above your head.
  6. As soon as you are standing up and both dumbbells are fully extended above your head, start to drop back down into the squat position.
  7. As you are returning to the squat position, lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height
  • Dumbbell Side Punches
  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip width apart while holding two dumbbells in front of your chest with your elbows pointing down.
  2. While keeping your chest and core tight, twist your torso towards the right and punch with your left hand fully extending across your chest.
  3. Return to the starting position
  4. Twist your torso towards the left while punching with your right arm fully extending across your chest.
  • Dumbbell March
  1.  Start in a standing position with your feet hip width apart, holding two dumbbells at your ship height while facing your palms away from you.
  2. Shift your weight to your left foot and raise your right knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor.
  3. As you are raising your right knee, lift your left arm in a curling motion with the dumbbell.
  4. Lower your right foot back to the ground.
  5. When your right foot touches the ground, lift your left knee until your thigh is parallel with the floor.
  6. As you are lifting your left knee, raise your right arm in a curling motion with the dumbbell.

Final Thoughts

HIIT is a fantastic way to mix up your workout routine. If you are looking for something challenging and different, give HIIT a shot. With our beginner HIIT circuits, you will get used to the speed and intensity of HIIT. Eventually you can even make your own circuits and increase the difficulty to perfectly match what types of workouts you are aiming to do.

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