July 29, 2021 9 min read

High-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short, is a fan-favorite among the fitness community. The hype surrounding this fat-burning super workout, commonly referred to as HIIT, is well-deserved.

Not only is it a highly variable form of exercise with HIIT options like bodyweight Tabata workouts or resistance-focused HIIT, but it’s also an efficient way to get great results. Convinced already? The benefits don’t stop there!

While the principles of HIIT may sound intimidating for beginners, it is actually a very beginner-friendly way to start your fitness journey.

So, get ready to break a sweat, torch some calories, get stronger, and reach your goals with our 10 best HIIT exercises for beginners!

What is HIIT?

Even if you are a stranger to the gym, you’ve likely heard the term HIIT thrown around before. That’s just how popular this super effective training method is. However, you may not know exactly what defines a HIIT workout. The good news is that it’s quite simple.

Man doing interval exercises on stairs during hiit workout

High-intensity interval training is a method of training that utilizes short bursts of maximum energy followed by short periods of rest. Why? Because this encourages your maximum available output in each exercise. HIIT is part cardio, part strength training, giving you the best of both worlds in one highly effective workout.

Unlike other forms of steady-state cardio, such as a consistent run or cycling session, HIIT has been shown to burn far more calories in a much shorter period of time. So, if you’ve ever hopped on the treadmill for sprints, you’ve done a form of HIIT!

What are the Benefits of HIIT?

The benefits of HIIT are plentiful, which is why the training method is not just popular, but also highly credible. Here are some of the many ways you can expect to profit from HIIT:

Increased Anaerobic and Aerobic Functions

HIIT workouts encourage your anaerobic system to work at high levels. Anaerobic, meaning without oxygen, is the process of converting stored glycogen into a source of energy for the body. Someone with high anaerobic functions is likely to experience an increase in endurance and overall more efficient training sessions.

Aerobic means with oxygen and is essential for cardiovascular health.

It is a process in which your body uses oxygen to create energy. While it is typically steady-state cardio that is the best recruiter of the aerobic functions, HIIT is designed in such a way that your heart rate remains elevated despite small breaks between movements.

Highly Efficient

For many people, taking time out of the day to go for lengthy gym sessions is next to impossible.HIIT serves as a highly effective and quick method for working out when in a time crunch.

No Gym or Equipment

What’s more than not having time is not having space or tools. Gym memberships and purchasing workout equipment for home use are both expensive endeavors. However, HIIT does not require a gym space nor does it require access to equipment.

This is also great for those who cannot use resistance training methods, whether due to injury or old age, as HIIT provides an accessible way to achieve a good workout.

Improve Cardio Health

If you want to do cardio but have a hard time enjoying long runs or cycling sessions, HIIT is a great alternative method of cardio. As you do each exercise with maximum energy, your heart gets racing and you’re working up a great sweat, all the makings of a killer cardio workout.

Gain Strength

While HIIT training may be widely viewed as a cardio-focused workout, it is also an exceptional way to gain muscular strength. This is especially true when using resistance, such as dumbbells or kettlebells, during a HIIT session.

Manage Weight

HIIT gets your body moving, gives you a killer sweat, and gets your heart pumping. With consistency, HIIT can be a great way to manage weight. So whether you’re wanting to burn fat in order to see more muscle definition, help maintain your current weight, wish to prioritize weight loss, or perhaps want to see some muscular weight gain, HIIT can help you get there.

Great for Any Fitness Level

HIIT requires no equipment and can be tailored to any individual’s needs and abilities. Those with less experience working out can do less intense HIIT workouts, take movements slower, and use no resistance. Likewise, those with higher levels of fitness can complicate the workout with speed, added resistance, or tagging on more rounds.

Great for Any Goal

Just as HIIT is easily tailored to specific fitness levels, it can also be easily tailored to specific goals. Wanting to lose weight? HIIT. Wanting to gain muscle? Added resistance HIIT. Wanting to improve your range of motion? HIIT. 

HIIT works for many fitness goals. While you can use HIIT as your primary training method, you can also use it in tandem with another training method 

Types of HIIT

HIIT defines a wide variety of workouts and there are many versions of HIIT. You may see workouts online labeled “Full-Body HIIT”, “Tabata HIIT”, etc. Which type of HIIT is right for you is simply up to preference as they are all highly effective in their own respects.

Tabata

While HIIT describes a workout with short bursts of exercise followed by short periods of rest, Tabata is a form of HIIT that specifically prescribes a 4 minute HIIT workout of a 20-seconds on, 10-seconds off format. Tabata is just as effective as regular types of HIIT and can be applied to any series of movements. Tabata is typically done using a series of bodyweight movements.

Full-Body HIIT

While you can definitely use HIIT to target certain muscle groups, HIIT also allows for compound movements. Furthermore, you can easily do an upper-body movement, followed by a lower-body movement, followed by a core movement. You can do this on a cycle of several rounds for an amazing total-body workout.

Weighted HIIT

HIIT training on its own is highly effective, but if you wish to focus on strength, incorporating weights into your HIIT routine is possible. If you’re used to pumping iron in the gym but have never done HIIT before, don’t expect it to be quite the same.

You’ll be using highly dynamic movements along with weights for a resistance training session like no other. We recommend a dumbbell or kettlebell for HIIT since they are the most compact free weights, allowing for better movement. However, for beginners, be sure to become familiarized with HIIT before adding resistance.

Running HIIT

Running, while we love to hate it, can be a great way to torch calories and manage weight. If you find running to be an essential part of your training or just something you’re interested in trying, you can still utilize the powerful benefits of HIIT!

Running HIIT is perhaps most synonymous with sprints, but typically focuses more on time rather than distance. For example, running for 30 seconds and resting for 15 seconds. Running HIIT is just another great way to really focus on the cardio aspect of HIIT.

Cycling HIIT

If you are a sucker for a good cycling session, look no further! HIIT can also be applied to your biking workouts. Much like running, cycling can be a great way to spend some energy. Unlike running, cycling provides a great low-impact method of training.

To apply HIIT to cycling, simply use combine HIIT’s defining short bursts of energy followed by small breaks. Cycling HIIT, like running, is another great form of HIIT cardio training.

As you can see, HIIT is perhaps much more variable and applicable to other types of training than you may have previously thought. HIIT workouts can even involve a combination of these various types of HIIT, or you can choose to focus on one specific type.

HIIT Workout for Beginners

So we can all agree that HIIT sounds great, right? If you’re a beginner, HIIT can still seem a little overwhelming despite all the perks. However, there are many beginner HIIT moves that can make the transition no problem.

Below we’ve compiled the 10 best HIIT movements for beginners. You can choose your favorite and formulate your own HIIT workout, or give all of them a try. For an even harder challenge, do 5-8 of the exercises for 3-5 rounds.

1.Jumping Jacks (30 seconds, 10 seconds rest)

You may find jumping jacks to be a simple exercise, after a few rounds you may wish to never do a jumping jack again! This total-body exercise is a great HIIT starter as it gets your blood pumping and your feet moving.

2. Bodyweight Squats (30 seconds,10 seconds rest)

We love squats for targeting the lower body. These go perfectly between more dynamic movements as squats as a brief active break. For added difficulty, add a jump between each squat!

3. Alternating lunges (30 seconds,10 seconds rest)

Like squats, lunges are another great lower body movement. Alternating lunges are perfect for HIIT as they can be made easily dynamic and fluid by constantly moving one leg after the other. However, feel free to pause between lunges in order to focus on balance, form, or for less difficulty.

4. High-knees (30 seconds, 10 seconds rest)

High-knees are a lot like running in places with a higher range of motion. For a hack, place your hands face down at waist height and aim for your knees to touch your hands! Of course, if this is too difficult for you, you can make your high-knees a little lower or just run in place. 

5. Burpees (30 seconds, 10 seconds rest)

Now we’re really stepping things up! Burpees are no joke, even for the most athletic of people. Conventional burpees are meant to be dynamic, but you can take the movement slow and break it down into simple parts. You can also choose to not jump at any point throughout the movement, simply walk into the various positions.

6. Arm Circles (30 seconds, 10 seconds rest)

We’ve worked you pretty hard up to this point, so let’s take a brief active rest with arm circles! These can feel pretty easy and are easily tailored to your own specific level of fitness. Take these circles slower and larger for an easier workout, or faster and smaller for more of a challenge! 

7. Mountain Climbers (30 seconds, 10 seconds rest)

We’ll move to the floor for mountain climbers. These puppies are great for core and back strength. Of course, making these easier is simple by taking the movement slow and less fluid.

8. Glute Bridges (30 seconds,10 seconds rest)

Glute bridges are a great way to build, you guessed it, the glutes! It is also a relatively easy movement as you’ll (finally!) be laying on your back. If you find this exercise too dynamic, you can choose to hold the glute bridge position.

9. Russian Twists (30 seconds,10 seconds rest)

Here comes the blast to the core! This movement is perfect after a glute bridge as you simply need to sit up to get into the starting position. In conventional glute bridges, you would raise your feet slightly off the ground for more abdominal engagement. However, if you’re just starting out, you can choose to keep your feet planted for extra support.

10. Push-ups (30 seconds, 10 seconds rest)

Time to finish off strong! Push-ups are great for the chest, arms, back, core, and even glutes. It’s okay if you can only do a few to start out, or you can choose to use your knees as an anchor in place of your feet, making the resistance a bit lighter.

More Tips for Starting Out

If you are new to HIIT or exercise in general, here are some tips that can help you transition smoothly into HIIT!

  1. Move slowly and focus on form! Don’t get caught up in the element of speed. Yes, HIIT is a high-intensity exercise but this term is relative to your own abilities. Take each exercise at your own pace, focusing on form and fluidity rather than reps and speed.
  1. Focus on hydration. You may think hydrating is a given and that you don’t need an article to remind you to drink water, but many people actually fail to properly hydrate, especially during exercise. This is unfortunate because lack of hydration can actually shorten your workout sessions or lessen physical output and make reaching your goals much more difficult.
young man in sportswear running on treadmill at gym and holding bottle of water
  1. Try out different types of HIIT! We have already proven that HIIT is highly versatile and is applicable to many types of exercise. If you try one type of HIIT and feel something is lacking, try another! You can also incorporate HIIT alongside your favorite method of training.
  1. Make nutrition a priority. HIIT requires a lot of energy, so fueling your body properly is a necessity. What you put into your body is what you’ll get out of it!
  1. Warm-up! If you’re a beginner, warming up before your HIIT session may help your body feel more prepared for the high-intensity aspect of HIIT. In order to warm up for HIIT, you can do some light stretches or jog in place.

HIIT for Beginners: Conclusion

If you’re a beginner, HIIT is a great place to start when wondering what to do in your workouts. With HIIT, you’ll never get bored with the many HIIT options. Furthermore, you’re likely to get hooked since seeing results with HIIT can happen quickly.

With the huge number of benefits, doing HIIT training at least a few times during your workout week is a no-brainer. HIIT-ing your fitness goals is efficient and realistic when utilizing HIIT.

Pair HIIT with CHARGED-AF to get the most from this super workout.!


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