HIIT for Beginners – The Fitnessista


Sharing some tips on HIIT for beginners and how to implement HIIT in your routine!

Hi friends! How’s the day going so far? I hope you’re having the loveliest morning. There’s a hint of fall here (FINALLY) and I’m definitely enjoying the cooler mornings. I’m hoping I can get away for a hike now that it isn’t a thousand degrees outside.

For today’s post, I wanted to share some tips on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for beginners and how to implement HIIT in your routine. You guys know I love HIIT (so much that I wrote two books about it), but it’s something that you want to implement strategically, especially if you’re first getting started.

HIIT for Beginners

So what is HIIT?

HIIT, or High-Intensity Interval Training, isn’t just a workout; it’s a methodology. Picture this: short bursts of intense exercises followed by brief recovery periods. It’s like the espresso shot of fitness, delivering a potent blend of cardio and strength training in a time-friendly package. There is a lot of incredible research on HIIT, particularly to how it can affect performance, cardiovascular health, and body composition.

The Pros of HIIT: Where the Magic Happens

Efficiency Over Duration: Bid farewell to marathon gym sessions. HIIT is the master of achieving results in shorter, more intense bursts. HIIT workouts are meant to be short and sweaty. I think a *good* HIIT workout should be a maximum for 25-30 minutes.

Afterburn Effect: Ever wanted your workout to keep working even after you’ve hit the showers? Welcome to the afterburn effect, where calories continue to melt away post-exercise. HIIT increases our EPOC (our oxygen consumption after exercise, as our body works hard to return tissue temperature, heart rate, etc. to pre-workout levels).

No Gym, No Problem: You are the gym equipment. HIIT celebrates minimalism; no fancy gear, just a commitment to your fitness journey. One of the best things about HIIT is that you can do it anywhere!

Adaptable to All Fitness Levels: Whether you’re a fitness newbie or a seasoned pro, HIIT can be tailored to suit your current level. With modifications, HIIT can work for everyone.

Downsides of HIIT

Injury Awareness: The intensity demands respect. Overzealousness might lead to unwanted injuries, so it’s crucial to find your balance. It’s smart to work up to higher intensities and modify along the way.

Rest is Part of the Plan: Rest days are as crucial as workout days. With all workouts, especially intense workouts like HIIT, make sure you have 1-2 days of full rest each week. Also, because HIIT is so intense, you only want to have a max of 3 high intensity workouts on non-consecutive days.

Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea: As enticing as HIIT sounds, it might not be suitable for everyone. If you have health concerns, it’s wise to consult with a fitness professional before jumping into the HIIT pool. Always talk with a doctor before making any fitness changes. 

How to get started with HIIT:

Start Gradually: Begin with one session per week and gradually increase as your body adapts.

Warm-Up Ritual: Don’t underestimate the power of a good warm-up. This is how your body prepares for the work ahead, and increases your heart rate, tissue temp, and helps you mentally get in the game. It’s also wise to choose movements that mimic your actual workouts. Move through the same movement patterns and warm up the muscle groups you’ll be using.

Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to modify as needed along the way.

Modifying HIIT for Beginners: A Smart Approach

HIIT is inclusive, but beginners should ease into the intensity.

Here’s a strategic guide to smart modifications:

Extended Rest Periods: Start with longer rest intervals, like 30 seconds of exercise followed by 60 seconds of rest.

Lower Intensity Exercises: Opt for less intense movements initially. Instead of jump squats, try bodyweight squats.

Reduce Rounds: Trim down the number of intervals in your session. Quality beats quantity, especially when you’re just starting out.

Listen to Your Body: If a particular exercise feels too challenging, swap it for a gentler alternative. It’s your workout; set the rules.

Sample HIIT workouts you can anywhere

Tabata Triumph (4 minutes):

20 seconds Squat Jumps

10 seconds Rest

Complete 8 rounds for 4 minutes of work. Feel the burn? Good – that’s the point.

Bodyweight Blast (16 minutes):

30 seconds Push-Ups

30 seconds Plank

30 seconds Burpees

30 seconds Rest

30 seconds Alternating Snatches

30 seconds Jumping Lunges

30 seconds Mountain Climbers

30 seconds Rest

Repeat for 4 rounds

Cardio Circuit (15 minutes)

40 seconds Sprint in Place

20 seconds Rest

40 seconds High Knees

20 seconds Rest

40 seconds Burpees

20 seconds Rest

40 seconds Squat Jumps

20 seconds Rest

40 seconds Kettlebell or Dumbbell Swings

20 seconds Rest

Complete three rounds.

If you’re curious about how to implement HIIT in your routine, join us for Fit Team! I also have a HIIT Bootcamp here which includes follow-along videos, modifications, and a full calendar to follow.

How often do you use HIIT in your routine??



More HIIT posts:

15 minute HIIT Blitz video (no repeats)

HIIT and Strength video you can do at home

HIIT vs. steady state for weight loss

Sweat and Burn HIIT/Strength workout video


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