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A Beginner’s Guide to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts

7 high-intensity interval training workouts for beginners.


A Beginner’s Guide to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts

HIIT can be intimidating—even its name warns of the high intensity you’ll experience during a workout—but high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can be a wonderful way to build muscle, endurance, and cardio strength with little to no equipment. You don’t have to be a gym pro or part of an intense early morning workout group to enjoy the benefits of a HIIT workout routine. 

If you’re new to HIIT or looking to return after some time away, Planet Fitness has put together the ultimate guide to HIIT workouts for beginners. Start small, try some HIIT workouts at home, and watch the benefits build over just a few weeks. 

7 HIIT Workouts to Try 

We all know that exercise offers many benefits to your overall health. We’ll even discuss a few benefits specific to HIIT workouts below. But knowing where to start? Now that can be tricky. 

If you’re at a loss for where to begin, we’ve got you! Check out some of the HIIT workouts available for free on the PF App, or build your own routine with a combination of exercises below.

First, ensure a clear space in front of and around you. Grab a supportive, well-fitting pair of tennis shoes and take a few deep breaths to ground yourself. 

Next, pick a few exercises below to practice with as much energy as possible for 30 seconds. Set a loud timer, and once it goes off, begin your 30-second rest period. 

That’s right, you get to rest in this HIIT workout! Resting is a crucial part of any exercise routine. In fact, some HIIT workouts have more rest than movement. Check out this additional resource to see how timing can vary across different types of interval training.

1. High Knees

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift one knee towards your chest while hopping on the other foot. Alternate legs quickly, keeping your core engaged and maintaining a steady pace.


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2. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers will get your heart rate going! Begin in a high plank position, hands flat on the ground and arms straight. Alternate the feet forward and backward in a quick, fluid motion, keeping the core tight and hips low.

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3. Butt Kickers

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Begin jogging in place at a comfortable pace. With each step, bring each foot back and up towards your bottom. Pump your arms as if you’re running and be careful to maintain your balance.

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4. Jumping Jacks

For a jumping jack, begin with your feet together and arms at your sides. As you jump up, spreading your feet shoulder-width apart, clap your hands above your head. Return to the first position again quickly by bringing your feet together and your arms back by your sides. Try keeping your breathing rhythm with the movement for a challenge! 

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5. Lunge Jumps

Lunge jumps are a HIIT exercise where you begin in a standing lunge position. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, step forward with your right foot, bend both knees, push off both feet to jump into the air, bring your left foot forward and kick your right foot back, and return to standing lunge position. Repeat, alternating between legs.

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6. Low Impact Lunges

Low-impact lunges are great for strengthening your lower body without overworking your joints. You can do them by stepping forward with one foot, bending your front knee to a 90-degree angle, pushing yourself back to the starting position, and repeating with the other leg.

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7. Push-Ups

Push-ups don’t have to be intimidating! To perform a push-up, start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest touches the ground, then push back to the starting position. In a HIIT workout, you will aim to continue performing push-ups for the whole time rather than aim for a certain number of push-ups. Our helpful guide on push-ups for beginners can be a great resource when starting—modifications included!

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Of course, when beginning any new fitness routine, knowing your limits regarding physical activity is essential. Beginners should incorporate HIIT workouts gradually—once or twice a week—to strengthen muscles, as HIIT workouts are high-intensity. It’s best to start with familiar activities and keep each exercise under 30 seconds before a rest period. 


It’s important to start slowlydon’t move straight from zero weekly cardio activities to daily 30-minute HIIT workouts. It’s more sustainable and safe to build endurance over time. 

Benefits of Regular HIIT Workouts

The results are in. HIIT workouts are a win! Here are some of our favorite reasons to love a quick HIIT routine. 


  • Heart Health. A summary of 50 different studies concluded that HIIT workouts lead to lower blood sugar levels and a lower resting heart rate and blood pressure. 
  • No Equipment Necessary. Most HIIT workouts don’t require intimidating or specialized equipment to get the full benefits, and only take a few minutes. This means you can incorporate HIIT workouts into your walk in the park or your indoor routine on rainy days and even fit in a quick workout when your schedule is busy! 
  • More Endorphins = Better Mental Health. When your heart rate is elevated and blood pumps throughout your body, your brain releases chemicals like dopamine, making you happy. The endorphins released from regular cardio, like a HIIT workout, lead to other mental health benefits, such as lower levels of stress and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

It’s nearly impossible to list all the benefits of incorporating HIIT workouts into your fitness routine. Regular cardio of approximately 150 minutes a week, as the American Heart Association recommends, racks up benefits such as better bone health and balance, increased energy, and improved memory, sleep and cognition.

Try this HIIT Workout Routine at Home

If you’re tired of boring cardio, you don’t have to wait to join a gym or a local HIIT class. Start incorporating HIIT routines into your regular movement. Since each exercise is short and sweet, they’re easy to fit during commercial breaks or while waiting for the microwave to ding. Small changes add up over time. 

Our favorite HIIT workout at home? We love Toby Massenburg’s 20-minute full-body HIIT – available for FREE on the PF App.