HIIT Cardio: Beginner’s Guide

HIIT is an acronym for Hyper Intensity Interval Training. As the name connotes, it consists of a specific set of routine which involve varying speed and intensity throughout. So far as you are able to have different speeds, you can consider any cardio as a form of HIIT.

Cardio workouts are exercise routines that could raise the heart rate and strengthen its muscles.

HIIT cardio workouts are therefore routines involving different speed and intensity which raise the heart rate and help strengthen its muscles. The concept is quite simple: you increase the intensity or apply maximum effort for a short time, have a recovery period when you rest in between and repeat the routine.

It has been proved by a number of various studies to provide a natural boost to the production of the human growth hormone (HGH); this is needed for health, vigor, and strength.

In one study by Dr. Izumi Tabata, short bouts of exercise done intensely for four times a week can ameliorate the anaerobic capacity by 28 percent. In other words, you can benefit from an average internal training in, for example, 20 minutes or less what you might spend hours of steady and less intense exercise doing.


The benefits of this include better time management: you are able to spend less time but achieve optimal results and still meet your target with HIIT. It is equally helpful if you are one of those who has a busy schedule and cannot spare more than thirty minutes or less on a routine in a day.

It helps force your heart muscles outside the comfort zone. This is because, with the short bout of intense training, your heart muscles can adapt and become stronger. Exercises that only keep the heart rate steady have no large effect on the anaerobic capacity. A study conducted showed that when the ten subjects did only one hour of steady cardiovascular exercise using a stationary bike for five times in one week, their VO2 max increased by only 10% and the routine had no effect on their anaerobic zone after 42 days.

HIIT exercises also do not necessarily require equipment. You could jog, sprint, skip rope, squat, do burpees and a number of routines to achieve your goal. You also do not have to have a specific location like a gym to do them. You can do them at the park or at your home all depending on the routine you choose to use.

In addition, it helps your metabolism rate by increasing the production of the human growth hormone responsible for an increase in burning calories and slowing the aging process. This could also contribute to weight loss.

Warm up Routines

As defined before, HIIT cardio routines focus on starting simple, getting intense and having a rest interval. Here are some routines you can try beginning with a cardio warm-up:

High Kicks

    Stand straight and take a breath

    Raise your right leg in a kicking motion till it meets your left arm (If your muscles feel stiff, you might want to start with your arms low till you can kick higher)

    Try not to bend your back into an “s” shape but let it bend slightly

    Repeat about 10-15 times and change to the left leg and right arm.

Torso Rotations

    Place your hands in front of you (you can hold a ball if you like)

    Rotate your torso from one side to another for about 10-20 times

Leg Swings

    Place your hands on your waist

    Swing one leg from front to back

    Do it 10-2- times and repeat on the other leg.

HIIT exercises


 You can choose to do this outdoor or indoor on your treadmill. Do not be discouraged if you stop a lot more than you push; it’s a process and you will eventually get better.

    Do some warm-up exercises like the high kicks or leg swings

    For 30 seconds, run at a fast pace

    Slow down and either jog or walk for about 90 seconds; this is the recovery period

    Repeat the fast/rest intervals for about ten times. You could also stop when you are tired.


    Stand straight and take a breath

    Take a squatting position

    Put your hands on the ground and push your legs out

    Do one push-up and bring your legs back to the squatting position

    Push yourself up with a jump and repeat

    Start slow till you know the form and can do it well then push yourself to do 10-15 repetitions

    Rest for 2 minutes and repeat. You can do this for 10-15 minutes

Kettlebell swing

    Hold the kettlebell with your two hands and let it be in between your feet and in front you slightly.

    Make your feet shoulder-width apart.

    Bend your knees slightly hinging mainly at your hips.

    Pull the kettlebell back in between your legs; this creates a momentum

    Driving your hips forward let your back straighten and push the kettlebell up to the length of your shoulders

    Return the bell back in between your legs.

    Repeat 10-15 times and rest for about two minutes. Do this for 15-20 minutes.

Following this model, you can do a number of routines like skipping, riding a bicycle (it can be a stationary one) climbing stairs, push-ups or even combine a number of routines for about 24 minutes.


As a beginner, you could start with these routines and practice them for about 3-4 days a week. You need to have enough recovery time since you will be pushing your body aggressively no matter how short the period of time.

Too much could cause you physical and mental fatigue which is ultimately disadvantageous to your health. You could just unwind and take a simple steady jog after your 3-4 times a week sessions or in between.

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