Try HIIT With This Perfect Beginner Workout

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February 1, 2019

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One of the most common questions fitness beginners ask is: what’s the most efficient workout I can do to achieve my health goals faster? 

HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts are a great way to make the most of your time and improve your fitness, no matter where you are in your journey. 

To get you on the right track and help you maximise every Sweat session, here’s some insight as to why HIIT makes for such an effective training stylet, plus a quick beginner workout to get you started!

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What is a HIIT workout?

Doing a HIIT workout involves pushing yourself to your maximum capacity for short intervals of time, followed by short rest periods in between. HIIT workouts are a great way to elevate your heart rate and get a full-body workout in a short space of time. You can also keep your HIIT workouts fun and fresh by changing up what exercises you do.

20-minute HIIT workout for beginners

Ready to give HIIT a go? This bodyweight circuit is perfect for beginners. It doesn’t require any equipment, which means you can do HIIT in the comfort of your own home

This is an AMRAP-style workout — which means doing as many reps (repetitions) as possible for each exercise in the set time frame. AMRAP-style workouts are great for beginners, as your progress over time can be quite obvious. As you exercise for a set time frame, you will be able to track your progress through the number of reps you can squeeze into each set period.

Remember to pace yourself to begin with. You should be pushing yourself to do as many reps as you can but you don’t want to overdo it — especially if you’re just starting out with fitness. 

It’s also important to warm-up before your HIIT workout to prepare your muscles and help reduce the risk of injury, so remember to take a few minutes to do some dynamic stretches or cardio.

Beginner HIIT workout instructions:

  • This HIIT workout has 3 circuits that you will need to complete. Complete 2 laps of Circuit 1, before moving on to Circuit 2, and so on. 

  • There are 3 exercises within each circuit. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds and do as many reps as you can within that time frame. When the 30 seconds is over, rest for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. For example, in Circuit 1 do as many squats as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, then move on to do as many commandos as you can for 30 seconds, and so on. 

  • Between each circuit of the HIIT workout, you get a 60-second break before moving on to the next circuit.

Circuit 1

Exercise: Bodyweight Squat - Kayla Itsines

Bodyweight squat

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. This is your starting position.

  2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees as if you were going to sit on a chair, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45- to 90- degree angle to your hips.

  3. Exhale. Push through your heels and extend your legs to return to the starting position.

  4. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Exercise: Commando - Chontel Duncan

Commando

  1. Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) on a yoga mat and extending both of your legs behind you while resting on your knees. This is your starting position.

  2. Inhale. 

  3. Exhale. Release your right forearm to place your hand firmly on the mat directly below your right shoulder and push up onto your right hand. Release your left forearm to place your hand firmly on the mat directly below your left shoulder and push up onto your left hand. Ensure that you keep your core activated (think about drawing your belly button towards your spine) to prevent your hips from swaying.

  4. Inhale. Release your right hand and lower your forearm to the mat, then release your left hand and lower your forearm to the mat to return to the starting position.

  5. Repeat this exercise, starting with your left arm. 

  6. Continue alternating between right and left for 30 seconds.

Exercise: Heel Touches - Chontel Duncan

Heel taps

  1. Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat with your arms by your sides. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat hip-width apart. Slowly lift your head and shoulder blades and arms off the floor and engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button in towards your spine. This is your starting position.

  2. Bend your torso to the right to touch your right ankle with your right hand. 

  3. Return to the starting position, then bend your torso to the left to touch your left ankle with your left hand. 

  4. Continue alternating between right and left for 30 seconds, inhaling for four repetitions and exhaling for four repetitions.

Rest for 60 seconds before moving on to Circuit 2.

Circuit 2

Exercise: Alternating Bodyweight Lunge - Kelsey Wells

Alternating lunges

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. This is your starting position.

  2. Inhale. Carefully take a big step forwards with your left foot. As you plant your left foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90-degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned above your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.

  3. Exhale. Extend both knees and transfer your weight completely onto your right foot. Step your left foot back to return to the starting position.

  4. Inhale. Carefully take a big step forwards with your right foot. As you plant your right foot on the floor, bend both knees to approximately 90-degrees, ensuring that your weight is evenly distributed between both legs. When done correctly, your front knee will be aligned above your ankle and your back knee will be hovering just off the floor.

  5. Exhale. Extend both knees and transfer your weight completely onto your left foot. Step your right foot back to return to the starting position.

  6. Complete alternating between left and right for 30 seconds.

Exercise: Glute Bridge - Kelsey Wells

Glute Bridge

  1. Start by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat, ensuring that they are hip-width apart and your spine is in a neutral position. Allow your arms to rest by your sides on the mat. This is your starting position.

  2. Inhale. 

  3. Exhale. Press your heels into the mat, activate your glutes (aka squeeze your bum muscles!) and raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulders.

  4. Inhale. Lower your pelvis to return to the starting position.

  5. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Exercise: Bent-Leg Raise - Strength Trainer

Bent-leg raise

  1. Start by lying on your back on a yoga mat with your hands beneath your tailbone. Engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your belly button in towards your spine and elevate your legs off the mat slightly. This is your starting position.

  2. Inhale. Bend your knees and using your abdominals, draw them in towards your chest, ensuring that your feet stay together.

  3. Exhale. Slowly extend your legs to return to the starting position.

  4.  Repeat for 30 seconds.

Rest for 60 seconds before moving on to Circuit 3.

Circuit 3

Exercise: Sumo Squat Pulse - Chontel Duncan

Sumo squat pulse

  1. Stand with your feet further than hip-width apart. Point both feet slightly outward. This is your starting position.

  2. Inhale. Looking straight ahead, bend at both the hips and knees, ensuring that your knees remain in line with your toes. Continue bending your knees until your upper legs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your back remains within a 45- to 90-degree angle to your hips. This is called a full squat position.

  3. Exhale. Push through your heels and extend your legs slightly.

  4. Bend your knees again to return to the full squat position.

  5. Continue this pulse action for 30 seconds.

Exercise: High Knees - Kelsey Wells

High knees

  1. Stand with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart.

  2. Keeping your weight on your left foot, bend your right leg to bring your knee into your chest.

  3. Lower your right leg and plant your foot on the floor. Keeping your weight on your right leg, bend your left leg to bring your knee into your chest.

  4. Once you are comfortable with this movement, increase your speed so that you are hopping from one foot to the other in a high-knee running motion.

  5. Continue alternating between right and left legs for 30 seconds.

Exercise: In & Out Plank - Kayla Itsines

In-and-out plank

  1. Start by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) firmly on the mat, ensuring that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Extend both legs behind you and elevate your hips off the mat, resting on the balls of your feet, with your feet together. Brace your abdominals and ensure that your spine remains in a neutral position. This is your starting position.

  2. While keeping your hips as still as possible, step your left foot outwards slightly, followed by your right foot, so that your feet are hip-width apart.

  3. While keeping your hips as still as possible, step your left foot inwards, followed by your right foot, to return to the starting position.

  4. Repeat for 30 seconds.

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Modifying the HIIT workout

If you want to make this beginner HIIT workout more difficult, here are some things you can do:

  • Increase your work-to-rest ratio: This means increasing the time you do each exercise for and either reducing or keeping your rest time the same. For example, instead of working out for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds, you can increase your workout time to 40 seconds and reduce your rest time to 20 seconds.

  • Extend the workout: Increase to 3 laps per circuit if you want to make this workout a 30-minute session. 

  • Decrease the workout: If you want to make the workout shorter or less difficult, complete 1 lap per circuit. This will reduce your workout to a 12-minute session and can help if you are struggling to get through 2 laps of each circuit.

Try this HIIT workout and feel your fitness improve! 

HIIT workouts are becoming increasingly popular — and for good reason! With HIIT workouts, YOU control the difficulty by going at your own pace, so whether you're a beginner, intermediate or advanced there is something for everyone. Another great thing about HIIT is you can work out anywhere. If you’re travelling, away from home, or simply limited on space, doing a HIIT bodyweight circuit is a quick and easy way to get your blood pumping and stay healthy when you’re busy.

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* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.

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