High Intensity Interval Training for Beginners

If you are one of those people who cannot stand the monotony of a steady-paced cardio workout, then you are in luck. Say goodbye to your boring cardio routine and say hello to a different take on cardio.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a form of cardio that alternates between high intensity and low intensity. This constant variation of intensity keeps your mind focused on your time and speed, making your workout more engaging and less boring.

More: High-Intensity Intervals: Hurt So Good

HIIT usually involves a very difficult pace for 30-90 seconds followed by a rest for double that time. Once you become more fit, the intensity split will become 50-50. This recovery is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC, which means that there is a substantially large increase of oxygen intake to replenish the oxygen deficiency that you just experienced. This is important because you will actually be burning calories long after the workout is over.

To achieve this level of EPOC during those static "one-speed" cardio workouts, you will have to run for an hour on a treadmill. HIIT requires much less time than that.

One of the biggest benefits people find from HIIT is the reduction in training time. Through HIIT, you can put in about half the amount of time compared to traditional cardio exercise to reach your goals. And honestly, more people tend to stick with this kind of cardio training because it is easier to motivate yourself to do. Even though it is very challenging, I find it much easier to say, "Okay, just 20 minutes of interval training and then I'll do my lift," in comparison to, "Okay, just have to run for an hour and then I am going to go lift."

More: How Much Base Mileage Do You Need Before Interval Training?

Staring at that large chunk of time can take its toll mentally on people. Whereas HIIT is efficient in time, and you can look at it in small chunks rather than one big lump sum.

Another benefit is that you increase your VO2 max, or the maximum volume of oxygen that your body can absorb. Meaning that you can last longer during all sorts of exercises. Also, HIIT increases your VO2 max quicker and faster compared to static cardio.

The great thing about HIIT is that you don't need to be a professional athlete or need a professional trainer to do these workouts. All you have to do is match the right workout to your fitness level. They are very easy to do and the Internet provides a ton of different workout routines that you can try. Here are a few easy starter routines that I used when I got involved in HIIT.

More: High-Intensity Training: The Latest Evidence

Stationary Bike

  1. Warm up for 3-5 minutes: I usually have the resistance at a medium level so if its on a 1-20 scale I keep my warm-up and recovery time at around 10-12. When it comes time to do the intense interval, I bump it up to 15-18. Know that I am very fit and have been doing this for years, so if you are starting from ground zero don't go this intensely unless you want to throw up after your attempt.
  2. 30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
  3. 40 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)
  4. 30 seconds high intensity, 1 minute low intensity (repeat 4 times)

More: Managing and Monitoring Interval Training


Jack Hartmann is a Marketing Assistant for a small marketing company in Minnesota, but has a lifelong passion for Health and Fitness.

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