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12 HIIT Workouts for Beginners

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a form of exercise that consists of a series of intense workouts performed over a short period of time with minimal rest periods.

A HIIT workout incorporates full-body exercises which are typically bodyweight-only. These bodyweight exercises are expected to be done in short bursts and at nearly 100% percent of your max effort. 

To help you understand further, here’s an example: 20 seconds of a full-body exercise like lateral lunges, followed by a 10-second rest period, and repeat this interval 20 times. That’s a HIIT workout.

It may sound very intense (and it is) but it’s a workout that can benefit anyone at any fitness level. If you’re a newbie to high-intensity interval workouts and want to dive into them, then you’re on the right page. Here’s a primer to the best HIIT workouts.

Is a 10-Minute HIIT Workout Enough?

A lot of individuals choose to forego workouts, with most saying that there’s not enough time in their daily lives to insert a workout routine. Luckily, a HIIT workout can be done in 10, 20, or 30-minute duration, making it ideal for those who can only exercise in a short amount of time.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 75 minutes per week of moderate-intensity to vigorous-intensity activity is enough to keep you healthy and fit.

If we divide that per day, it roughly comes out to 10 to 11 minutes of exercise per day. Sounds great, right? 

High-intensity interval training workouts can be very tough, but you can reap great rewards from them. According to experts, a HIIT workout can elevate your heart rate quickly and burn a significant amount of calories by doing as many reps as you can in a short amount of time.

Even doing just 10-minute HIIT sessions a few days a week can improve heart health, boost cognitive health, and build muscle. 

What are the 4 Types of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Exercises?

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an incredibly versatile form of exercise. It’s a practical workout that can be done by everyone, from beginners all the way to experienced athletes.

If you’re a busybody, you can easily insert HIIT workouts into your daily routine as you can do it for 10 to 20 minutes and you don’t have to go to the gym to do it either. You can easily do HIIT workouts in the comfort of your own home.

Here are the various types of HIIT exercises that you can do from home.


One of the best HIIT exercises that beginners and advanced athletes alike can do is Tabata. This great HIIT workout consists of 8 rounds of workouts broken up by 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest until you reach four minutes. Afterward, you move on to the next exercise. 

Tabata works the glutes, quadriceps, core, and back muscles. Some of the best HIIT exercises in a Tabata workout include bungees with push-ups, mountain climbers, and crunches.

Cardio HIIT

This HIIT workout focuses on elevating your heart rate. With that said, if you have any heart issues, it’s best to check with your doctor first before doing this kind of exercise. A cardio HIIT workout doesn’t have specific movements that beginners or experts can abide by. 

Rather, cardio HIIT depends on the intensity. Based on your age, there is an ideal measure of what your heart rate should be while doing cardio HIIT.

Full-Body HIIT

Implied in its name, a full-body HIIT exercise is one that involves using both the upper and lower body. This form of HIIT is ideal for individuals who want to lose fat and tone their muscles.

Best of all, full-body HIIT is an excellent beginner HIIT workout as anyone can do it, no matter the fitness level.

Some of the best beginner HIIT workouts that involve the use of all the muscles in the body include push-ups, side kicks, bear crawls, jumping rope, and plank with hip dips. 

HIIT with Weights

This HIIT workout combines HIIT with weight training. This workout style is also referred to as “metabolic resistance training.” Combining both workouts can transform your body in a short amount of time.

Aside from burning fat and calories, you can also build and tone muscle. To perform HIIT with weights, you can take a standard strength training workout and add intervals or cardio exercises between each set.

It should be noted though that HIIT with weights is not really a beginner HIIT workout. If you’re a HIIT newbie, it’s best to perform HIIT workouts on their own first. You can gradually work a little weight in after mastering the beginner HIIT exercises.

How Should a Beginner Start HIIT?

Starting HIIT can seem very daunting, especially if you’re a newbie. Despite the “high-intensity” part of the acronym, beginners can choose how hard to go in their workout.

The movements are simple to follow and simple to execute, and you can definitely go at your own pace and change the intensity of the movements. 

You can start with low-intensity workouts, especially if you’re someone who is coming out of having a sedentary lifestyle. From there, you can progress to moderate intensity and once you’ve mastered the proper form, you can finally take it up to vigorous intensity and reap the full benefits of HIIT workouts.

Best Beginner HIIT Workout Exercises

HIIT training delivers all the health and fitness benefits of steady-state cardio in a shorter amount of time. Beginner HIIT workouts have movements that are easy to master the more you do them.

Start off with a dynamic two-minute warm-up to get your muscles ready to go. After warming up, go ahead and dive into these HIIT exercises! 

Jump Rope

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift up one knee to your chest. Next, switch to lift your other knee to your chest. Continue the movement, alternating legs as you jog in place.

For this exercise, you’ll need to have a jump rope. If you don’t have one, you can still do it by pretending you have a rope. To perform a jump rope, just jump over the rope. And if you’re jumping rope without the actual rope, focus on moving your wrists to mimic the way you would rotate a rope, and then jump when the rope comes down.


This workout benefits your chest, shoulders, and core muscles. Start in a high plank with your palms flat, hands shoulder-width apart, shoulders stacked directly above your wrists, and legs extended behind you. Your core and glutes should be engaged as well.

Next, bend your elbows and lower your chest to the floor. Push through the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. This is one rep. Complete for 10 seconds. A push-up can be challenging, especially for total beginners so you can modify this by placing your hands on an incline.

Jumping Jacks

Start by standing upright with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Jump your feet out while raising your arms. Repeat as fast as possible. If this is too challenging, you can step side to side while raising your arms instead.

Reverse Lunge

A reverse lunge works your quadriceps and your glutes. To do this workout, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged. Step back with your right foot and bend both knees to sink into a lunge. As much as possible, keep your core engaged, hips tucked, and back straight.

Return to the start position by pushing off your right foot and stepping forward. Repeat on the other side. Continue to alternate legs for 20 seconds.

Butt Kicks

Jog or walk in place, kicking your right heel up to touch your bottom. Repeat with the left leg.

Tricep Dips

Place your hands on a chair or a low table, with your back to the chair. Extend your legs straight out while balancing on your palms. Bending from your elbows, lower yourself as far as you can, then press up to the original position. 

Press-Up with Shoulder Tap

Assume a high plank position. Next, bring your left hand across your chest to tap your right shoulder, then return to the starting position. Repeat with your right arm.

Lateral Shuffle

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, core engaged, and hands clasped at chest height. Come into a half-squat by bending your knees a little and sending your buttocks back. From that position, shuffle to the right as quickly as possible.

Move your feet fast. Go for speed instead of how big of a step you can take. When you reach the end, immediately shuffle back to the left. 

High Knees

Stand with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your weight on your left foot, bend your right leg to bring your knee into your chest. Then, lower your right leg and plant your foot on the floor. 

Next, keeping your weight on your right leg, bend your left leg to bring your knee into your chest. Once you find yourself comfortable with this movement, increase your speed so that you are hopping from one foot to the other in a high-knee running motion. Continue alternating between right and left legs for 30 seconds.

In-and-Out Plank

Begin by placing your forearms (wrist to elbow) firmly on a mat. Ensure that your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Extend both legs behind you and elevate your hips off the mat, resting on the ball of your feet, with your feet together.

Make sure that you brace your abdominals and that your spine remains in a neutral position. This is your starting position.

Next, 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. Then, keeping your hips as still as possible, step your left foot inwards, followed by your right foot to return to the starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Jab, Cross, Front (Right Side)

This workout doesn’t require any equipment and you can jump right into it. Stand with your right foot in front of the left, hips facing to your left side. Bring your arms up into a boxing position.

Jab or punch forward with your right arm, then throw a cross-punch with your left arm. Let your body rotate as your left arm crosses over your body to the right.

Your body weight should be over your right foot with your back heel picking up off the floor slightly. Bring both arms back into the body, shifting your weight back to the initial position and facing front. Repeat on the left side. 

Glute Bridge

Start this workout by lying flat on your back on a yoga mat. Bend your knees and position your feet firmly on the mat. Ensure that they are hip-width apart and your spine is in a neutral position. Let your arms rest by your side on the mart. 

Next, inhale, then exhale as you press your heels into the mat. Activate your glutes and raise your pelvis off the floor until your body forms one straight line from chin to knee, resting on your shoulder blades.

Inhale, and lower your pelvis to return to the start position. Repeat for 30 seconds.

Final Note

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. Most HIIT workouts incorporate full-body, compound exercises instead of focusing on only one muscle group. HIIT exercises are done in short bursts with maximum effort, followed by short rest periods.

Is HIIT good for beginners despite it being a vigorous-intensity exercise? Absolutely!

HIIT doesn’t only benefit advanced exercisers, but it’s also great for newbies because they’re easy and can be easily integrated into daily routines. HIIT is also very versatile and can be worked around any type of exercise.

Tricia Montano

Tricia founded Pain Free Working in 2019 due to suffering from degenerative disc disease in her L5-S1 from working an office job for the past 18 years. She and her team strive on finding and reviewing the best office equipment to help fellow pain sufferers find relief and to enable people like her to do their jobs comfortably.