For those of you short on time but brimming to the rim in fitness motivation, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is your new best friend! Whether you’re new to HIIT or finding your way back to exercise after some time off, our HIIT workout for beginners will get you fighting fit in just under 20 minutes.
This four-pronged workout may be simple, but it’s by no means easy. Follow Alice as she leads a HIIT workout for beginners, guiding you through three classic bodyweight exercises that target all your major muscle groups and keep your heart rate up. Continue to burn calories hours after the workout is over and, best of all, do it from the convenience of your own living room.
And since a strong core is pivotal to good exercise form, we’ve thrown in an extra plank sequence to end your workout on a high. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Want to learn more about HIIT before getting started? Here's everything you need to know about HIIT Training.
HIIT Workout For Beginners
You’ll be completing four rounds of the following sequence of exercises back-to-back without a break—squats, push-ups, and tricep dips. Marching on the spot for 30 seconds indicates the start of the next round.
Remember to execute all the movements slowly and with control, breathing steadily throughout.
Arm Rotation | 20 seconds forward, 20 seconds backward
1. Stand tall, feet hip-width apart
2. Keep arms straight and rotate arms backward to trace a big circle
3. Squeeze shoulder blades together as arms come behind and squeeze shoulders as arms rotate forward
4. Return to start position
Inchworms | 5 Reps
1. Stand with feet together
2. Keep legs straight, bend at hips and place hands on floor directly in front of feet
3. Slowly walk hands forward, alternating left and right hands
4. Walk until body is parallel to floor in a push-up position and hold for 3 seconds
5. Keep hands in place and slowly walk feet towards hands, moving only a few inches per step
6. Once feet meet hands, raise torso from hips up back to start position
Slow Mountain Climbers | 20 secs
1. Place hands on floor directly under shoulders, hips lifted, and extend legs with feet together and toes curled under
2. Tense every muscle to keep body in a straight line from head through heels at all times
3. Keep left foot straight out behind pulling right knee in towards chest
4. Place right foot back down behind and pull left knee in towards chest
Repeat entire sequence four times and drop five reps every following round. March in place for 30 seconds before each round.
Squats | 20-15-10-5 reps
Muscles targeted: Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, spinal erectors.
1. Stand straight with shoulders above hips, feet hip-width apart, toes slightly turned out
2. Drop hips back and down with knees behind toes and hip and ankle in line, so knees don’t collapse inward
3. Drop hip crease below parallel
4. Drive weight into heels to stand back up to start position
Benefits: Squats are a popular go-to exercise, not only because they work your core and lower body for a popping booty in one elegant movement; but they also improve day-to-day functional movements e.g., sitting down, getting up and picking up heavy objects.
Variation: If you don’t have the control yet to dip as low as Alice in the video, then you can either perform the exercise with your toes turned slightly further out or dip as low as you can while maintaining proper form. Eventually the more your practice, the lower you’ll go.
Push-ups (hands sternum height) | 20-15-10-5 reps
Muscles targeted: Pectorals, deltoids, triceps, abdominals
1. Stand with hands on a wall at chest level, shoulder-width apart
2. Keep every muscle in body tense throughout to form a straight line from head to heels
3. Lower chest towards wall, keep elbows close to body
4. Push body away from wall back to start position
Benefits: There’s a reason this bodyweight exercise never goes out of fashion. This powerful exercise recruits most of the muscles in your arms, chest, and torso, leading to a strong core, defined arms and shoulders, as well as improved all-around posture. Quite effective wouldn’t you say?
Variation: In the video, Alice executes an elevated push-up on a small stool about hip-height. If that's too difficult, you can do your push-up against the wall at sternum-height. However, if you want to make the exercise more challenging, then you can do a regular push-up.
Remember only challenge yourself to the harder variations if you can execute your push-ups throughout all four rounds with proper form.
Tricep Dips | 20-15-10-5 reps
Muscles targeted: Triceps, deltoids, pectorals, abdominals
1. Place hands on top of surface with arms extended, shoulders directly above wrists
2. Bend legs at 90° in front with heels on floor
3. Bend elbows to lower hips to the floor
4. Straighten arms to press body back up to start position
Benefits: Tricep dips are the exercise that’ll help you to develop sculpted arms and shoulders. This compound exercise can be done on any surface (bench, steps, coffee table etc.) and will help you develop increased stabilization of shoulder girdle. Make sure your butt is as close to the prop you’re dipping from, and keep your chest open and head neutral (no slouching!)
Variation: If you’re new to dips, you can start with your knees bent at a 90° angle (like in the image above). Too easy? Then stretch your legs out straight with your feet together creating a straight line from your heels to your hips throughout the exercise.
Bonus plank sequence
Congratulations, you made it through to the end of our HIIT workout for beginners! But if you've got the time (and desire) for more, try this bonus plank sequence targeting your core. Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, taking a 10-second break in between each exercise.
Plank Hold | 30 seconds
Muscles targeted: Abdominals, deltoids, glutes, obliques, quadriceps, hamstrings
Benefits: The plank is the Swiss Army Knife of exercises, employing almost every muscle in your body when done correctly. It also champions a powerful core when done regularly, laying the foundation for most exercises and movements. In the above video, Alice demonstrates three types of planks: the standard high plank hold and two dynamic planks — one with knee dips and the other pulsing forward lightly.
Variation: If you have a wrist injury or aren’t quite ready for a high plank, then you can perform the exercise on your forearms as well.
Plank with Knee Taps | 30 seconds
1. Come into plank position with hands on the floor, toes curled under
2. Tense every muscle to keep body in a straight line from head to heels
3. Stay in plank with core engaged, bend the knees to tap the ground then straighten the legs
Plank Rocks | 30 seconds
1. Place hands on floor directly underneath shoulders, legs straight behind, feet together and toes curled under
2. Tense every muscle to keep body in a straight line from head through top heels and parallel to floor
3. Rock forward coming onto toes with shoulders over fingertips
4. Rock back to start position for one rep
Now you’re done. High-five! Want to take your HIIT training to the next level? Try this HIIT workout at home.