HIIT Workouts for beginners

HIIT Workouts for beginners

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an amazing training system for functional fitness, improving overall health and mobility, and torching body fat. Unlike endurance training that requires people to perform continuous exercise movements such as running, rowing, walking, cycling, or skipping at low or moderate intensity rates for an extended period of time; interval training allows a person to exercise at 80% or more of their maximum intensity for a period of time with short recovery periods.

What HIIT workouts are good for beginners?

Running intervals

Interval running is the most superior exercise that you can do to burn body fat. You can opt to do a workout on a treadmill, track, or open space. You can run for bursts of 15-60 seconds, with 30-60 seconds recovery.

Your heart rate needs to raise to 60% or more of your maximum heart rate and you must sustain this for the duration of the workout.

The setback with running intervals is that you can fatigue quickly, which means you will either need to increase your rest period, or reduce the intensity to complete your workout.

Resistance training

Resistance training with weights, bodyweight, or resistance bands will help you develop muscle tone and growth for an aesthetically pleasing look. Typically, repetitions will focus on “time under tension” for the muscles, with recovery periods varying from 30-90 seconds on average.


Rowing is a great HIIT workout for beginners since it involves the full extension of the body, has no impact on the joints, and allows the person to adjust their pace easily. Maintaining the intensity for 30-60 seconds will be challenging on the rowing machine, but will lead to fat loss.

The interval training at Studio Three includes all of these exercises in every class.

What benefits can you expect from a HIIT workout?

  • Lower body fat
  • Increased muscle tone
  • Improved anaerobic and cardiovascular endurance
  • Improved functional fitness and mobility

How should beginners get started?

Before starting any workouts, you must get a benchmark of your weight and body fat measurements, as well as your functional capabilities. Once you have these, you will be able to set realistic goals and a progressive plan that will utilize interval training to achieve your health, fitness, or aesthetic goals.

Measure your body weight.

The first thing a person needs to do is weigh themselves on a scale and record their weight as a starting benchmark. Going forward, the person will need to record their body weight once every 7 days. Substantial changes to your body weight should be tracked every 4 and 12 weeks. These can be tracked in an app such as MyFitnessPal.

The graph should show a downward trend as a result of the HIIT workouts being done on a weekly basis. If the body weight flatlines or goes up, then a change needs to be made to continue the weight loss progression.

The image below shows a screenshot from MyFitnessPal.

Weight loss graph
Weight loss graph

Things that you should keep in mind. 

  • Always measure your weight using the same set of scales.
  • Should you measure your weight at home or in a private place, weigh yourself either without clothes or light underwear. If you do wear clothes, aim to wear light clothes.

Measure your body fat.

People need to get an accurate measure of their body fat for a few reasons.

  1. To know the exact lean body mass and their amount of muscle weight compared to their amount of body fat weight.
  2. To know how their body fat will affect their functional movements, which will allow them to participate in the right type of HIIT workouts and avoid the risk of injury.
  3. To get accurate data that will allow them to work on a strategy that will help them achieve their health and fitness goals.

How can people get their body fat measured?

They will need a trainer to do a 7-point body fat caliper test and record the results. A body fat caliper test will need to be conducted once every 4-6 weeks.

As a person’s weight decreases, there should also be a decrease in the amount of body fat that they are holding.

7 site skinfold for men

7 site skinfold for women

We recommend that you speak with Studio Three’s trainers and instructors to help collect your body fat measurements.

Alternatively, get in touch with us to organize a dexa scan to get precise data on your body’s fat composition.

Identify the functional movements that your body is capable of?

The risk of injury is very high when doing functional exercise movements. So it is essential that people know what they are capable of doing and then progressing to more challenging HIIT workouts as their muscle strength, movements, stamina, and recovery improve.

What movements should be tested before participating in interval training?


Test your walking intensity and track your heart rate. Identify if there’s any difficulty, pains, or soreness in your joints.

Running with high knees

Do some high-knee running on the spot and across a distance of 40m. If you find that your lower back is sore, you will need to strengthen your hip flexors and quadriceps to avoid activating your lower back muscles in your lumbar spine, which will lead to lower back pain.

If you find you cannot lift your knees high, then only lift them to a level that you are comfortable with.

Test your explosiveness, power, and reaction time off the ground

Do some explosive squats, hops, skipping, or explosive push-ups. Pay attention to the shock factor on your joints and muscles and reduce the intensity if required.


Hop on an exercise bike to see how your body responds to the seated and cycling motion tempos.

Basic lifts

Test your movements with the standard lifts, pulls, and bodyweight exercise techniques that include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench press
  • Shoulder press
  • Rows
  • Lat pulldown
  • Forward, side, and reverse lunges
  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups

What should a beginner’s mindset be when starting HIIT training?

The sole focus should be focusing on themselves and their progression. This will allow the beginner to maintain realistic expectations, progress at a comfortable rate, and avoid the risk of injury should they try to keep up with others that are more advanced than them.

How long does it usually take for a beginner to start seeing results from HIIT?

Subtle results should be noticeable in the first 30 days. However, substantial improvements should be visible in 90 days.

Identify your intensity zone.

The biggest issue with most beginners is that they don’t focus on progressing their exercise development when doing HIIT training. Often, beginners will ‘go hard’ thinking that they need to work their body hard, get out of breath, and get sweaty.

Instead, beginners should focus on completing the exercise movements based on the intensity of their heart rate zone and body mobility.

How can you find your heart rate zone?

You can estimate your heart rate zone by subtracting your age from 220.

The table below provides an estimate of the heart rate intensity zones.

Age Maximum heart rate zone High intensity (80%+ of Maximum heart rate) Medium intensity (70%+ of Maximum heart rate) Low intensity (60%+ of Maximum heart rate)
20 200 160 140 120
30 190 152 133 114
40 180 144 126 108
50 170 136 119 102
60 160 128 112 96

Source: Polar

When beginning to participate in a HIIT class, track your heart rate for the exercises that you are doing during the workout. If your heart rate goes higher than 80%, reduce the intensity to a level that will allow you to complete the HIIT workout comfortably, but that will keep your heart rate above 60% of your heart rate.

What are some other things that beginners need to consider with HIIT training?


HIIT workouts are demanding on the body. Recovery is important and the most important aspect of recovery is sleep. Aim to get 7-9h sleep per night.


You will never outwork a bad diet. You must consume the right nutrition to have enough energy to do the workouts. And secondly, you must consume a calorie deficit diet to lose weight and body fat.

Muscle recovery

Muscle recovery through stretching and rest periods will ensure that your muscles are in a good state for the next HIIT workout session.