HIIT workouts (or high-intensity interval training) can improve your cardiovascular fitness while helping you build lean muscle and burn fat. As a personal trainer for decades, I have recommended this type of workout to SO many people and currently include it in my own workout routine because HIIT exercises work to burn fat, fast!
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 the links to navigate our high-intensity interval training guide:
What is HIIT?
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 Exercises Plan For Beginners
If you want the ease of doing HIIT exercises at home, you’re in the right place. Below, we’ve created two 10-minute HIIT workouts for beginners that you can follow along with.
Workout Number 1: Tabata HIIT Workout For Beginners 10-Minute
This quick 10-minute HIIT workout for beginners contains two tabatas.
- Squat Punch
- Plank To Chair Squat
Workout Number 2: Tabata HIIT Workout 10-Minutes
This workout contains two Tabatas, every 8 rounds.
- Cross-Behind Lunge with Lateral Raise
- Squat and Dumbbell Squat
- Push-Up Jacks
- Squat Curl Press
Workout Number 3: Belly Fat-Blasting HIIT Workout
Remember, the key to your results is dependent on your effort. For each exercise, you will go hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before going to the next move. Repeat the entire sequence again for a total of 8 intervals.
- Stand with feet together and knees bent holding bent elbows next to your side.
- Keep feet together and jump turn so hips and toes point right.
- Now jump feet together and turn so hips and toes point left.
- Continue to switch jumping right and left keeping legs tightly together and arms and waist turning as if you are holding ski poles.
2. Medicine Ball Toe Touches
(If you don’t have a ball use a weight or nothing at all!)
- Begin on your back with legs together straight up above your hips holding the medicine ball with two hands at your chest.
- Slightly curl chin forward, relaxing through the back of the neck.
- On an exhale, squeeze your abdominals to reach the ball up toward the toes to touch, then gently release back to the start position.
- Starting position is in a plank position with arms and legs long.
- Draw in your abdominals and drive one knee into the chest then switch legs quickly. Continue with the right, left, right, and left knees “running” to the chest. Prevent bouncing up and down in your body by keeping your abs tight.
- In starting position, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
- Make two fists and hold arms next to the side with elbows bent.
- Punch the right fist in an upward motion, stopping firmly at chin level.
- Switch to the left fist.
- Continue to switch right and left until you are at a fast, rhythmic pace, always stopping at chin level as if you are punching a target.
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!
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).
HIIT can be for all types of fitness levels and abilities; you just may not use all your effort when you first start. Keep in mind if you’re just starting a workout routine or have been sidelined for some time due to injury or lifestyle, 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.
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.
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!
Related: 12-Minute HIIT Workout For Bad Knees
Safety Tips For HIIT Workouts
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
My suggestion? Listen to your body, use modifications where necessary, choose good form over speed and ease into how many HIIT workouts you do a week.
Mandy Garcia on June 18, 2020 at 5:22 AM
Just did the whole workout, and while tired I already feel refreshed and wanting to continue this workout every day! I haven't really been as confident with my body and I've been trying to lose weight and a healthy way during the summer. Definitely gonna keep doing this!
Seeta on April 28, 2020 at 2:35 PM
Hi Chris, am a 68 yr old female. I would like to tone up my whole body. I had several broken bones (fall on ice) had a few surgeries as well. Hence my body is weak. My triceps are very loose and that’s my biggest problem. What would you recommend for me. Thanks Seeta
Chris Freytag on August 18, 2020 at 11:23 AM
Hi Seeta - I am sorry to hear about your broken bones but I am happy to see you are on the road to recovery. So I would say strength training is going to be very good for you and your bones, but I would maybe recommend low impact workouts or low impact options. This does not mean low intensity it just means you won't be pounding on your joints with jumping. I would suggest taking a look at this blog and seeing the workout linked to this blog as well: https://gethealthyu.com/strength-training-moves-for-women-over-50/
Emily on October 14, 2019 at 5:53 PM
Hi, great aticle and I presonally enjoy doing hiit workouts but I was wondering if I can mix in any ab and leg stregnth excersises, will it mess up the results of the hiit workout?
Chris Freytag on August 17, 2020 at 12:27 PM
you can absolutely mix in other strength exercises!
Gustavo on December 23, 2017 at 8:35 PM
Hi, I've been doing Hiit training for a short time. I'm doing it at home. I'm not doing weight training. I don't want to become even more thin. But I love to do Hiit and I hate weight training. Is there any possible way to grow my body just using HIIT?
Chris Freytag on January 2, 2018 at 2:49 PM
Hi Gustavo - HIIT is a great way to include both cardio and strength training! So if you enjoy it, definitely keep it up :)
CazzieT on July 2, 2017 at 3:22 PM
I'm a 67 year old woman and I've been doing a 20:10 (x8) tabata style workout on a rowing machine 3 times a week for the past 6 months. I'm slim and fairly fit so this is a cardio health activity for me rather than a weight loss one. Sometimes I feel a little light-headed and slightly nauseous afterwards, though not seriously enough for it to stop normal activities and I wonder if this is normal?
SaltQueen on September 30, 2017 at 8:22 AM
Actually, plain water might not be the best answer - if you are lightheaded due to electrolyte imbalance, plain water can make it worse. I often get lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous if I consume coffee before my workouts, as it flushes me out, or if I get really sweaty for a long period of time. If I add celtic sea salt to my water, it helps preserve my electrolytes and eliminates the nauseous, lightheaded feeling, keeping my blood pressure high. Might be worth a try.
Chris Freytag on July 5, 2017 at 2:48 PM
Hi Cazzie - Make sure you're drinking enough water before/during and after your workout to be sure you're not dehydrated and if it continues to be a problem, you could talk with your local personal trainer or doctor!
Martina on June 29, 2016 at 3:06 PM
Not sure if I'll get a reply but it's worth a shot, I loved doing HIIT workouts before but I haven't exercised at all in the past 3 months, I've gained some weight and lost all of my stamina and I've decided to start working out again. And yeah I immediately jumped to HIIT, I've modified it a lot and was going slowly but I still did too much and felt nauseated. My question is can I continue doing HIIT but keep on modifying to ease it up and built up as I regain my old fitness level or am I doomed to do easier workouts for a start? Thank you in advance :).
Chris Freytag on June 30, 2016 at 9:30 PM
Well - don’t look at it as “doomed” - but HIIT workouts are intense so if you are still needing to build up stamina - it makes sense you may feel nauseated. I think it’s totally ok to modify and keep trying if it doesn’t make you feel sick or discouraged. And no matter what I would cross train with some moderate (still hard) workouts including strength and cardio! Are you a Get Healthy U TV member? I would then suggest the DEFINITIONS and ROCK YOUR BODY BOOTCAMP workouts... try a few different ones and see what works. Remember there is no shame in getting started and you can feel proud as you progress!!! http://www.gethealthyutv.com/videos/rock-your-body-bootcamp/ http://www.gethealthyutv.com/post/calendar/definitions/
Fitness Freak on March 29, 2016 at 1:55 AM
If you want a good HIIT workout song check out Life Profiler on youtube. They also offer voice prompts and no adds. Free! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Df3XH8io-Mc
Susan on August 19, 2016 at 7:37 PM
OMG where have you been all my life. Love this track, thanks for the suggestion.
lorrie on October 22, 2015 at 6:16 AM
Wonderful article. Too bad someone thought the bursts of audio songs and advertising was a good idea. I find them distracting. Can you turn them off some how,?
Chris Freytag on October 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Hi Lorrie! Sorry to hear it's distracting. Unfortunately, in order to keep our content free for users, we do need to have ads on our site and we don't control each individual one. Feel free to press the mute button next time that happens or refresh the page as you'll often see a new ad.
Jean on April 8, 2015 at 8:35 AM
I am 61 years old and can't do the jumping jacks how can I change it so I can? I haven't worked out for a long time and need to do something. Is there a modifier with this?
Sheri on February 28, 2016 at 2:06 PM
You can do a low-impact jack, sometimes called a half-jack, instead. Your arms still make the "jack" movement, but you step out to the side rather than jumping. - I hope this helps! :)
Alma True on March 31, 2015 at 8:28 AM
I love, love, love your HIIT workout dvd! I don't have to fumble through pages to see what exercise is next or watch my timer. I also am reminded of the correct form. It's so nice to have you there sweating along with me. Would you please consider making another?