Beginner HIIT Program, 6-8 weeks

HIIT is all the rage and for good reason. It’s a fast-paced, calorie scorching, muscle building, fat burning workout that can be done by just about anyone anywhere. Everyone from endurance athletes to strength athletes to beginners and older adults can benefit from this type of workout. The following program is designed for beginners (but can definitely be done by all levels! Just progress as necessary), so don’t be intimidated by the high intensity aspect!

I’m sure you’re familiar with the general instructions by now. If not, check out any one of my previous programs.

A few pointers specific to HIIT

First, and most importantly, make sure you have mastered the foundational movements of each exercise before attempting them in a HIIT style workout.

Second, HIIT is measured by heart rate or rating of perceived exertion, NOT by exact speed, velocity, reps, etc. If you know your maximum heart rate, you want to work at 80-90% during high intensity intervals. If you don’t know your max heart rate, go by how you feel. The intervals should feel very difficult and be at maximal or near maximal effort. This allows your workout to be personalized to YOUR fitness level!

Last, the goal is to take minimal rest between exercises (and sets of exercises!). Your real rest comes after you’ve completed the entire circuit.


Each workout in this program includes 3 circuits. The first and last circuit consist of one cardio and one core exercise, each of which should be done for 45 seconds at near maximal effort. Rest 10-15 seconds between exercises. Complete 2-3 sets, then rest for 1-3 minutes.

The second circuit consists of 4 exercises that should be performed tabata style, i.e., perform each exercise at maximal effort for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds after each exercise. Complete 3-5 sets, then rest for 1-3 minutes.

Of course, if you need more rest, take it. But try to minimize your rest between exercises as much as possible.

The entire workout is designed to be 36-48 minutes INCLUDING a 10 minute warm-up and 10 minute cool-down.

Warm Up

Complete a 10 minute dynamic warm-up before beginning the high intensity intervals. Your warm-up might look something like this:

2 sets of…

  • 30 second plank
  • 20 second side plank, each side
  • 20 skips
  • 5 hip circles each direction, each side
  • 8 bodyweight squats
  • 8 lunge pulse, each side
  • 10 standing oblique twists
  • 10 arm circles each direction, each side
  • 10 reverse flies with no weight
  • Jog in place, 30 seconds

The Workouts

The workouts should be done 2 times a week on non-consecutive days. The rest of your week should be moderate intensity cardio and active recovery. Your calendar might look something like this:

Screenshot 2017-06-22 13.46.02

If you need an additional day of active recovery, you can replace one cardio day with a recovery day and increase cardio on the other days to 40 minutes.


Screenshot 2017-06-22 13.59.33


Screenshot 2017-06-22 14.02.05

And with that, you’ve completed a beginner HIIT program like a pro!! Let me know how it goes in the comments! And feel free to like and share this post if you found it interesting or helpful!


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