Chris Freytag with text "The Beginner's Guide To HIIT"
Fitness & Diets

The Beginner’s Guide to HIIT

Maybe you’ve heard the hype about high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and how they improve your cardiovascular fitness while helping you build lean muscle and burn fat.

Guess what? It’s not hype! HIIT workouts work.

Research shows that shorter, high-intensity workouts can do more for your health than longer, more leisurely workouts. HIIT also helps burn more fat at a faster rate. You can improve your heart health and significantly reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome, as well as obesity, high triglycerides, low levels of HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

These high-intensity workouts can be done in 30-minutes or less, and they’re stinkin’ fun. Build muscle, burn calories, and boost metabolism all in one workout!

If you’re new to this type of workout, know that HIIT doesn’t need to be intimidating: it’s all about knowing how HIIT works and how it can transform your body.

Use these links to quickly navigate this HIIT guide:

What Is HIIT?

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of workout where you give maximum effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods.

HIIT workouts train and condition both your aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. This kind of exercise gets your heart rate up and improves your cardiovascular fitness level while burning more fat and calories in less time.

HIIT: A Go-To Solution for Lack of Time

What I always say is: Work smarter, not longer. With HIIT, you don’t have to carve out two hours for a workout—you can get an effective heart-pumping workout that combines cardio and strength training into just 10, 20 or 30-minutes.

HIIT Workouts For Beginners

Young woman doing a squat in her living room

If you want the ease of doing HIIT workouts at home, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ve created two 10-minute tabata HIIT workouts for beginners that you can follow along with.

There are many ways to create high-intensity intervals by changing the timing of the work vs. rest. My absolute favorite type of HIIT is Tabata Training. Tabata-style takes high-intensity training to another level with workouts comprised of 20 seconds of all-out effort followed by 10 seconds of recovery, eight cycles in a row—a total of four minutes.

10-Minute Tabata HIIT Workout For Beginners

This quick 10-minute HIIT workout for beginners contains two tabatas. Each tabata has 8 rounds varying between two moves. Watch the video below and follow along with our beginner HIIT workout.

Tabata #1: 8 rounds

  • Squat Punch
  • Plank To Chair Squat

Tabata #2: 8 rounds

10-Minute Tabata HIIT Workout

Try another 10-minute tabata HIIT workout below! Again, this workout contains two tabatas, each 8 rounds.

Chris Freytag doing a push-up in a 10-minute HIIT workout video

Tabata #1: 8 rounds

  • Cross-Behind Lunge with Lateral Raise
  • Squat and Dumbbell Squat

Tabata #2: 8 rounds

  • Push-Up Jacks
  • Squat Curl Press

Want even more HIIT? Watch this 30-second video to learn what my HIIT program on Get Healthy U TV can do for your body! Select from any of the seven fun classes and fire up your metabolism. Keep in mind, quicker doesn’t mean easier—we are talking about high-intensity here and that means a sweaty, heart-pumping, challenging workout where you push yourself!  CHALLENGE TO CHANGE, I always say!

Benefits of HIIT

HIIT workouts have a number of benefits including:

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Build lean muscle and lose fat
  • Retain muscle
  • Condition anaerobic and aerobic energy
  • Easy to do anywhere, no equipment required
  • Burn more calories while at rest
  • Increase metabolism and endurance
  • Lots of variety
  • Quick workout – 30 minutes or less!
    Benefits of HIIT with a poster listing all of its benefits

Related: Why HIIT Is Good For Burning Fat

Get fit with HIIT Training on GHU TV.

How is HIIT different from interval training?

HIIT workouts are different from other types of interval training because the high-intensity intervals involve your MAX effort and not just a higher heart rate. The high-intensity part of HIIT involves giving it your all for a certain amount of seconds (duration can vary).

Who is HIIT for?

HIIT can be for all types of people; you just may not use all your effort when you first start. HIIT helps people significantly improve their cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and fat loss without losing the muscle mass they already have. If you want to try something new, want more from your workout or are a diehard fitness enthusiast, HIIT is for you.

Nonetheless, if you’re just starting a workout routine or have been sidelined for some time due to injury or life, the key to success lies in doing the moves with modifications at your own pace. HIIT should be intense, but pushing too hard too quickly can result in injuries and other setbacks.

My suggestions: listen to your body, use modifications where necessary, choose good form over speed and ease into how many HIIT workouts you do a week.

Related: 12-Minute HIIT Workout For Bad Knees

How often should I do HIIT?

If you are new to HIIT, just try one workout per week. If you are accustomed to working out, you can do HIIT three to five times max per week.

How many calories do HIIT workouts burn?

About ten calories per minute! (But wear a heart rate monitor for exact feedback.) Since HIIT workouts rev up your metabolism, you will continue to torch those calories long after you have finished your HIIT workout!

Safety Tips for HIIT Workouts

Athletes doing push-ups and lifting weights on floor

With the increased intensity, you can cause more wear and tear on your body, so make sure you follow these HIIT safety tips:

  • Always warm up and cool down for at least five minutes before and after your HIIT workouts.
  • Take time to recover from your HIIT workouts. Take at least one to two days off per week from HIIT workouts.
  • Don’t push yourself if you are already sore.
  • Start slowly and build your endurance and ability.
  • Choose to do the modifications of movements that are too challenging for you.
  • If you ever experience chest pain or difficulty breathing during your HIIT workouts, start to cool down.
  • Don’t stop completely because your blood can pool in your extremities and cause lightheadedness, just stop the intensity and cool down slowly.

If you are new to HIIT, watch your heart rate, stop when you need to, and don’t do the plyometrics (or jumping movements) just yet. Ideally, you should be able to exercise for 20 minutes without any issues before trying a HIIT workout.

Get fit with HIIT Training on GHU TV.

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