top of page

HIIT Workouts For Beginners

A fitness trainer completing hiit workouts for beginners.

This site contains product affiliate links. We may receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links.

If our previous instalment of Beginner Workouts wasn’t quite challenging enough for you, these HIIT sessions will certainly push you to the limit. But there’s more to these workouts than high-intensity intervals on the running machine. To spice up the training experience and expand the fitness benefits, HIIT bouts have been blended with resistance exercises. This ensures that both your cardiovascular and muscular systems are fully engaged.

The HIIT workouts for beginners are scheduled for between 20 to 40 minutes (depending on the difficulty level that you select). As you would expect, the lion’s share of the training tasks is taken up with high-intensity intervals. However, you can tailor any of the plans to suit your fitness ability and exercise schedule. In addition, I explain in the hints and tips section how to adapt the plans to different training facilities – such as a home gym or kit-free space like your local park or sports ground.

Benefits of these HIIT workouts for beginners

In another article, I’ve discussed at length the many health and fitness benefits of HIIT. Instead of subjecting you to another two-thousand-word essay, I’ve encapsulated the key points in a list.

Throughout the list, which is like a HIIT workout for your brain, I’ve included links to relevant resources and further reading.

  • HIIT can increase both your oxygen uptake (VO2 Max) and aerobic threshold. These outcomes exert a positive impact on athletic performance (High-Intensity Interval Training).

  • HIIT is an efficient exercise method for mobilising body fat. In the book Exercised: The Science of Physical Activity, Rest and Health, we are told that a short high-intensity session can burn as much fat as a long low-intensity run.

  • HIIT has been shown to improve the strength of the heart. In addition, regular high-intensity training can trigger a cascade of beneficial physiological adaptations.

Resistance training benefits

It may come as a surprise to you, but there are many more benefits to resistance training than sculpting a beach body. In answer to the question Why Should I Lift Weights?, here are some of the answers I sourced from leading publications.

  • Resistance training promotes muscle mass and, with it, gains in maximal strength (A Guide To Strength Training).

  • Lifting weight improves the tensile strength of muscles and connective tissues (ligaments and tendons). This has been shown to reduce injury risk. (The Russian Kettlebell Challenge.)

  • Weight training can raise your metabolic rate which increases resting calorie expenditure.

  • Resistance training helps to slow sarcopenia – age-related muscle loss.

HIIT workouts for beginners

The most important part of any HIIT workout is the warm-up. Warming up well will improve performance and, more importantly, potentially reduce injury risk. Your warm-up should consist of cardio (preferably the one you choose for the workout) and towards the end – the final 2 to 3 minutes – throw in a series of progressive intensity intervals.

Before starting the HIIT workouts for beginners, you need to select a cardio exercise. While the HIIT protocol can be applied to any CV exercise, some are more suitable than others. Best HIIT exercises include running, rowing, cycling, and skipping.

HIIT bouts are paired with a resistance exercise. Each pairing is organised into three difficulty levels. The levels are differentiated by the number of intervals and resistance repetitions.

Level 1 = 5 mins HIIT (30 sec W/R) followed by 50 reps
Level 2 = 7 mins HIIT (30 sec W/R) followed by 75 reps
Level 3 = 10 mins HIIT (30 sec W/R) followed by 100 reps

Key training points

  • Dedicate the first 5 to 10 minutes of the session warming up. Ensure that the warm-up exercise is the same as the one enlisted for the workout.

  • Before setting a repeat countdown timer, select your preferred cardio exercise.

  • Once the previous point has a tick through it, decide which difficulty level is most appropriate for your current level of fitness.

  • Concluding each HIIT bout, work through the resistance reps applying any set range.

HIIT workouts for beginners session plan #1.

HIIT workouts for beginners session plan #2.

HIIT workouts for beginners session plan #3.

HIIT workouts for beginners hints and tips

To further diversify the training plans, and broaden the fitness benefits, consider changing the cardio exercise after the HIIT bouts. For example, you could run for the first bout, row for the second, skip for the third, and cycle for the fourth. In addition to activating more muscle groups, this approach also involves multiple components of fitness.

If the resistance exercises selected are not to your liking (or you don’t have the training kit to perform them), don’t hesitate to make substitutions. It’s advisable to principle simple isolation or bodyweight exercise. This reduces the risk of fatiguing those muscle groups that are used through the intervals. (Need resistance exercise ideas?)

The HIIT-to-resistance ratio can be rebalanced to emphasise specific training objectives. Let’s say that your priority is to tap into the performance-enhancing benefits of HIIT, perhaps you’re a footballer who wants to improve your match fitness, you can optimise the plans by reducing or removing the resistance exercises. Alternatively, you could replace the resistance stations with sports-specific movements – such as cone dribbles, passing, or shooting. In addition to providing opportunities to enhance both your stamina and ball-handling skills in the same session, fusing fitness and technique more closely simulates the competitive demands of a match. This method could be applied to most sports.

My experience of the HIIT workouts

I actioned the final tip and tailored the HIIT workout to target boxing fitness. This was achieved by selecting skipping for the high-intensity intervals and boxing drills for the resistance stations. These drills included shadowboxing with weights, plyometric press-ups, and punch combinations on the heavy bag (each punch combo constituted one repetition).

It's not up for argument, the workout is tough going (I selected Level 3 = 10 min HIIT + 100 reps). After the first two bouts, I started to gas. Halfway through the third round, my energy levels plummeted and I was forced to fight on fumes throughout the final intervals. Despite this, I still ensured to keep the intensity above 80% of max effort. Remember, this is important because allowing the intensity to drop too low will impair the effectiveness of the HIIT method.

To remain competitive, I broke the resistance reps into short sets and took a slightly longer break. This tactic afforded me just enough time to recover before the next onslaught of intervals.


Enjoyed these workouts?

Then get your hands on over 80 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Workouts Vol 3 >

HIIT workouts for beginners conclude with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits.


About Adam Priest –

A former Royal Marines Commando, Adam Priest is a content writer, college lecturer, and health and fitness coach. He is also a fitness author and contributor to other websites.

60 views0 comments


bottom of page