How To Start HIIT Workouts [Beginner’s Guide]

There are plenty of benefits surrounding HIIT workouts, and they’re constantly raved about by fitness gurus. But what is so special about them?

How To Start HIIT Workouts

HIIT workouts allow you to burn the same amount of calories and fat as a traditional, low-intensity workout, but in less time. This means that they are great for busy people – you sometimes only need to find 10 free minutes out of your day!

So, you want to try high intensity workouts but don’t know where to start. This is our guide for all beginners wanting to complete their first HIIT training.

What Are HIIT Workouts?

HIIT, otherwise known as High Intensity Interval Training, is an extremely intense workout regime with quick bursts of power followed by short breaks.

You need to work at 100% on your on periods, with a very quick breather in the rest intervals.

HIIT workouts get your body working to the best of its ability, using maximum effort throughout the entire workout. You’re able to do this thanks to the few seconds rest periods.

One important thing to remember is that HIIT workouts aren’t supposed to be easy! Your heart rate needs to be through the roof to feel the burn. They’re challenging, but that’s what makes them so effective.

HIIT For Beginners – Is It Safe?

A HIIT workout is recommended for everyone, even beginners. You just need to work up to larger intervals. This is the beauty of HIIT workouts for beginners – you have the freedom to switch up your timer.

A traditional HIIT workout would have a ratio similar to 20 seconds on, and 10 seconds off. This pattern would repeat throughout the 10 – 30 minute workout.

Overachievers can manage longer workouts, or they can make their time a 2-in-1 effort. For example, a HIIT workout can incorporate both cardio and strength training if you use the right moves for your body.

However, this might be too challenging for a beginner’s fitness level. They might start with 10 seconds then rest using just cardio.

HIIT workouts are safe exercise as long as you listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. By all means, you should push yourself a healthy amount, but not so much that you are struggling to breathe.

Example HIIT Workout For Beginner

high knee

Here we have put together a HIIT workout for beginners example that you can use to try HIIT out for the first time.

Remember that you’re supposed to be breathless – that’s how you know it’s working. Keep going at maximum power for as long as you can, and enjoy those sweet breaks!

Warm Up (5 Minutes)

Any HIIT workout for beginners requires you to be properly stretched and warm before completing. This puts you in a great starting position to work your full body.

You can do any exercise for your warm up, and you can even mix and match them to make it more entertaining.

Here are some of our favorite moves to warm up our bodies and get our blood pumping.

  • Jump rope
  • Jogging on the spot
  • Jumping jacks
  • Burpees
  • Lunges
  • Push ups (hands shoulder width apart)
  • High knees
  • Squat

HIIT Workout For Beginners At Home

Here we have a 25-minute exercise for anyone new to HIIT. It is made up of three rounds and a ratio of 30 seconds on to 15 seconds rest. Remember, your heart rate should be high!

Circuit One (Repeat three Times, 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off)

  • Push ups
  • Jumping jacks
  • Tricep dips
  • Arm raises

After circuit one, rest for 2 minutes.

These exercises are working your arms, shoulder and chest.

Circuit Two (Repeat three Times, 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off)

  • Jump lunges
  • Jump squat
  • Burpees

After circuit two, rest for two minutes.

These exercises are all working your legs and hips. Beginners might prefer to omit the jumps to protect their knees.

Circuit Three (Repeat three Times, 30 seconds on, 15 seconds off)

  • Mountain climbers
  • Bicycles
  • V-ups

After circuit three, rest for two minutes before repeating the circuits again.

These exercises are all working your core.

Types of Best High Intensity Interval Training


The above example was just one of the HIIT cardio workouts that you could try. There are plenty of HIIT workouts out there, such as Tabata, AMRAP, EMOM, and more.


Tabata is a more intense form of HIIT workout as it has more structure and rigidity to the programming. However, this isn’t to say that beginners cannot do it.

Perhaps simply cut the workout down to a shorter period of time, or omit some of the rounds.

Tabata uses a ratio of 20 seconds on, and 10 off. This is repeated eight times for a round, each round lasting four minutes before a break.

You can reduce this to four repetitions for a two minute round, or six repetitions for a three minute round. Add weight if you’re feeling strong!

EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute)

EMOM workouts give you the chance to determine how long your break is by how much effort you put into the exercises before it. This is a great starting position for those wanting to get into HIIT exercises, as you can customize your intensity.

The idea is that you create a list of exercises to complete in one minute (so don’t make it too complicated!). Here’s an example:

  • 5 push ups
  • 10 mountain climbers
  • 20 second plank hold (modify on knees if needed)
  • 10 hip dips

These exercises work your core, chest, arms, shoulder, and legs.

At the top of every minute, you will start with your push ups. The quicker you get through the list of exercises, the longer you have for a break before the next minute starts.

This is a really fun form of HIIT as you can challenge yourself and try to beat your time throughout it.

These exercises are all on the floor, which makes it easier to switch your position from one to the next.

AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible)

AMRAP workouts are great for beginners as they are the shortest beginner HIIT workout option. However, this comes with a price – zero breaks.

Don’t be deterred, however, as an AMRAP workout is only 5 to 15 minutes long. You’ll be using bodyweight only and the time will be over before you know it.

Create a list of exercises, such as:

  • 10 burpees
  • 15 push-ups
  • 20 squats
  • 25 lateral arm raises
  • 30 second plank (modify on knees if needed)

And see how many rounds you can make it through in your chosen amount of time. You can repeat this exercise, too, to beat your score and watch your fitness level improve!

How Often Should A Beginner Do HIIT Exercises?

jogging on the spot

There is no set rule for how often a beginner should complete high intensity interval training. It’s all down to how much you’re exercising and feel pushing yourself to the limit.

HIIT exercises are fun and quick, so beginners can often incorporate them into their lifestyle between 2 and 3 times a week. You can fit this in between sessions of weight training or meetings with a personal trainer, too.

Remember that the best HIIT workouts for beginners don’t have to be long. Even a 10 minute HIIT workout is more effective than nothing. This can also equate to a 20-30 minute traditional workout.

Most people agree that the most effective duration of a HIIT workout is 30 minutes. If you can work for longer than this, say up to 60 minutes, then chances are that you’re not working hard enough.


Thanks for reading our beginner’s guide to HIIT workouts! While it can be daunting to try HIIT for the first time, the benefits are amazing. Your body and muscle will feel great after your first session!

Complete a HIIT workout every day to lose weight, gain muscle, and improve your resistance. In a week or two, you’ll feel like a new person.

Don’t forget to watch your calories for maximum improvement. Make sure you document your change with progress pictures and enjoy it!

TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
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