HIIT at Home for Beginners

If you can’t make it to a commercial gym, there’s another fitness solution that can ensure your safety and well being.

Thankfully, you can do a wide variety of high-intensity workouts from home, even as a beginner. These exercises require little to no equipment. Best of all, you can use them to finally achieve all of those weight loss goals that have been on your roster.

man doing pushups as part of a home HIIT workout

Continue reading to learn some simple HIIT workouts and tips for beginners!

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT training is an abbreviation for the term high-intensity interval training. It’s an easy training method to implement, even if you’re starting with no prior exercise knowledge.

All you need to know is that HIIT is a form of exercise that forces your body into rhythmic bursts of intensity. These bursts are separated by short recovery periods of little to no activity. This system allows you to push yourself, mentally, and physically. In summation, try running for 30 seconds as fast as you can. Then, take a 60-second break. This is HIIT!

How Can Beginners Start HIIT?

HIIT is an intense form of exercise as it demands 80-90% of your body’s maximum physical exertion level. If you’re new to the gym, you may have never pushed yourself that hard, which can feel discouraging. 

But never fear! The human body is impressive, and it can adapt to even the most intense exercise. Just be prepared to sweat! If it’s your first session, attempt to get your heart rate up 70% of your maximum exertion. You can check this by monitoring your fitness or smartwatch.

Your maximum heart rate can be estimated by subtracting your age from 220.

Next, take the percentage you aim to hit throughout your workout and take that percentage from your maximum.  

Benefits of HIIT Training

It Can Transform Your Body

Curious as to what you’ll gain when performing HIIT? There are many ways this routine can improve your body from a health and physical standpoint.

When the body carries a higher body fat percentage, it may be difficult to see defined abdominal, arm, and leg muscles. However, HIIT can help you shed any excess fat. When combined with weight training, you can completely transform your body!

It Can Help You Perform Better Athletically

You will also perform better over time. With HIIT, even a modest beginner can improve their fitness over a short period of time. There are no shortcuts when it comes to fitness, but HIIT cardio can help you get to a healthier state.

You Will Burn More Calories

This form of exercise forces your body into an excess post-exercise oxygen consumption state, otherwise known as EPOC. EPOC allows your body to burn calories even after you’ve wrapped up your workout. It’s similar to leaving your car’s engine running while you’re parked. Sure, you’re not working as hard, but you’re still burning fuel, or in this case, fat!

It’s a Convenient and Quick Way to Add More Cardio

The average high-intensity interval training workout lasts 15 to 20 minutes. This is a relatively quick workout, especially when you consider that most workouts can last 45 minutes to an hour.

Perform HIIT Anywhere

One of the most significant advantages of this workout is that it’s versatile as it can be performed anywhere! Yes, you can perform HIIT at the gym, but you can also do it in your neighborhood or inside your home. It’s also a cost-effective way to exercise as you don’t need various dumbbells, weights, and machines, like you would need when strength training.

How do HIIT Workouts Work?

You don’t need the world’s most expensive spin bike or a treadmill to perform HIIT cardio. While these luxuries are excellent, you can also use simple equipment, even when you’re working out meters away from your sofa. Get the principle of intensity cycles down, then choose your form of exercise. You can perform the examples below from home. 

Skipping Rope

When skipping rope as a beginner, start with an unweighted rope. As the exercise feels less challenging, feel free to purchase a weighted rope. However, a lighter rope will allow you to jump even faster, which is the point of HIIT — go as hard, and as quickly as you possibly can for 30 seconds. Rest, and start again! Do this for 15 minutes. You can also add in other exercises too, like sprints or boxing jabs.

Body Weighted Circuits

You don’t need a gym membership or even equipment to get your body moving! Body weighted circuits are quite challenging, but they are free to do and optimal for beginners! Set a timer for 20 minutes and select a few of your favorite moves from this list.

  • Pushups
  • Pullups
  • Sit-ups
  • Russian Twists
  • Split Squats
  • Jumping Squats
  • Sprints
  • Squats With a Pause
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Burpees
  • Lunges
  • Air Swimming
  • Planks
  • Side Plank
  • Glute Bridges
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Running in Place
  • High Knees
  • High Kicks
  • Boxing Jabs 
  • Crab Walks
  • Tricep Dips

Create your circuit by doing one of these exercises for 30-45 seconds repeatedly. You can also do a sequence where you’re switching up the type of activity you’re performing within that allotted time. Take your break and switch to an exercise that works another body part.

Don’t just go through the motions. Select exercises that are challenging and perform them in a rapid fashion.

Dumbbell Circuits

If you want to kick your workouts up a notch, invest in a pair of dumbbells. Even 5-10 kg dumbbells can make a huge difference in your routine. You can do a variety of workouts — even more so than without equipment.

Mainly, you can exercise your arms much more intensely. Try adding in these workouts.

  • Bicep Curls
  • Lateral Raises
  • Tricep Extensions
  • Chest Press
  • Front Raises
  • Shoulder Press
  • Weighted Crunch
  • Farmer’s Walks

Band Work

Bands are also useful fitness tools. They can be used in various ways; utilise your bands for muscle activation, stretching, yoga, and more. Even challenge yourself by using them during your high-intensity interval training session. A simple band HIIT workout can look like this:

  • Perform rapid band bicep curls for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 45 seconds
  • Perform lateral band raises for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 45 seconds
  • Perform banded jump squats for 30 seconds
  • Rest for 45 seconds
  • Repeat for 5 more sessions

Running

If you don’t want to use any machinery at all, you’re in luck. You have another option. Running outdoors is fantastic for beginners first implementing HIIT workouts. This workout is also best if you don’t want to make a lot of noise, typically the main result of working out indoors in your flat or apartment.

For this workout, start your run by jogging lightly for 5 to 10 minutes. This will mentally prep you for the challenging workout to come. It also helps loosen your body up, so you’re not as sore afterward!

After this warm-up period, begin the HIIT portion. Sprint until you reach around 80% of your maximum exertion level. You shouldn’t be able to hold a casual conversation at this point. After 30 seconds, pause or bring your activity level back down to a casual walk. Rest for 45-60 seconds and start again.

You can also hop on the treadmill if you have one at home! 

Biking

Biking is another extraordinary way to implement HIIT cardio as a beginner. Select a flat surface when biking. Getting stuck on a hill won’t allow you to take the necessary breaks you’ll need to complete your rounds of HIIT. 

Stairs

The stair master makes it easy to burn out your legs and glutes. Feel free to use the stairs in your home or flat to achieve the same effect. Carry a timer with you and switch between sprints and a casual stride up the stairs. You can also attempt to do jump squats between each step. Ensure you have the proper balance and agility before attempting this advanced modification.

Light Impact HIIT Moves (No Jumping)

Most HIIT workouts implement jumping moves. This can take a toll on your knees if you suffer from knee pain. Therefore, try some of these moves out instead.

Boxing Inspired Moves

Want to elevate your heart rate while causing little to no damage to your knees? Try boxing! You can use a lot of jabbing and punching moves. If you’re up to it, even try kicking. You can do this HIIT style by hitting a punching bag for 30 seconds. Rest for a minute. Switch up the moves, so the workout doesn’t feel stale.

You can also try this HIIT workout with a partner, which is exponentially more entertaining!

Ab Workouts

Russian Twists are excellent for working out the core. But the movement, when paired with a heavy dumbbell, can also increase your heart rate for HIIT.

Kettlebell Swings

Kettlebell swings are an incredible movement for HIIT. These can be performed in a rapid fashion. They also work your hamstrings and lower back muscles. If you’re struggling to feel this exercise in your hamstrings, ensure you’re stretching beforehand.

If your hamstrings are too tight, you’ll likely feel this exercise in your lower back instead, which can be quite painful if these muscles are weak from inactivity. If you are interested in kettlebells we have written about how to choose the right weight.

The Best Tips for HIIT

Learning Perfect Timing

Never perform HIIT for too long as you’ll lose the desired effect. If you wish to perform cardio for a prolonged time, consider LISS cardio instead. Long, steady-state cardio is great for beginners struggling with HIIT; however, it can take upwards of an hour to complete.

Choosing between these two forms of exercise depends on how energised you feel that day. If you feel like you want to pump out a fast and effective workout, HITT is for you. Make sure you don’t take shortcuts!

Try the Talk Test

If you’re unsure whether you’re pushing yourself hard enough, attempt the talk test. True HITT makes it impossible to have a full-fledged conversation. If you’re running and able to talk to your friend about your weekend with ease, it’s time to crank up the intensity!

How Often Should I do HIIT Workouts?

Inversely, you don’t want to work your body too hard. Implement HIIT cardio 1 to 3 times a week. Doing it every day may cause your body to go into exhaustion mode. Instead of feeling rejuvenated after exercising, you’re likely to feel sluggish, sore, and nauseous.

Overdoing high-intensity exercise can also cause the muscle mass you’ve worked hard for to wear away. Once your body finishes burning fat, it will use your muscle mass as a source, giving you adverse results if you’re training for aesthetics.

While doing cardio every day is a great fitness routine for long-distance runners, it’s not the best idea for a beginner looking to get in shape. Find a healthy balance of HIIT cardio and weight training!

Additionally, don’t make your rounds of activity last too long when performing these exercises. If you’re running for a full minute and resting for 30 seconds, this isn’t true high-intensity interval training. It’s impossible to sustain 80 to 90% of your maximum exertion rate for this amount of time. Raise the intensity level and shorten your time.

Other Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Take Too Long of Breaks

Most beginners make the mistake of allowing too many lengthy breaks. Use a timer and keep yourself accountable. You won’t reap all of the incredible benefits of HIIT if you’re not doing it right!  

Avoid Bad Form During Training

You also want to avoid bad form. This is true whether you’re performing HIIT or not, but it’s easier to forget proper form when you’re working out that intensely.

For example, when you’re running, ensure you keep your chest up and your shoulders back. Slouching while sprinting can lead to postural issues down the line.

Conclusion

Saying goodbye to the gym is hard, especially if it’s your favourite place to let off some steam. If you’ve had to cut the gym off for budget or time constraints, consider these easy HITT workouts that anyone can do from anywhere! You will feel more in tune with your body and energised.

HIIT is especially great for beginners, so save some of these exercises for a healthier body and mind.

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