The Beginner’s Guide to HIIT | What is it? What are the Benefits?

High-intensity interval training or HIIT (pronounced “hit”) has become one of the hottest trending fitness topics of the past few years.

I’m here to tell you what it is and everything you should know about it, including whether it’s effective or not.

What Is HIIT

HIIT is a training method based on alternating intervals of high and low-intensity exercise.

The high-intensity portions may include all-out sprints for a very short period of time or moderate intensity exercise for up to a few minutes.

The low-intensity intervals are called rest periods, and they’re usually active (although not always). This means that you don’t just stand there with your hand on your knees, but rather you keep moving at a much slower pace.

This on and off pattern is usually repeated for a number of rounds, and the work-to-rest ratio can vary greatly depending on personal preference and your current goals.

There definitely isn’t one right way to do it. But however you set it up, your HIIT workout will definitely be interval based.

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In this eBook I’ll share my favorite tips, advice, and workout secrets to help you get the most out of your cardio sessions!
Improve your fat burning & training intensity! 

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The Benefits of HIIT

There are a handful of reasons why HIIT has become so popular.

It Saves Time

The number one reason people give for not working out is a lack of time. HIIT is a great way to save precious minutes for those who are on a tight schedule!

Compared to prolonged moderate intensity cardio, you can burn the same amount of calories in less time with HIIT. 

You Can Do It At Home

If you’re strapped for time, aren’t able to make it to the gym, or if the weather has you stuck inside, that doesn’t mean you have to skip your training session.

Using bodyweight exercises you can get in a super awesome HIIT workout right in your home! 


How much you like your workout routine is a major determining factor in whether you’ll stick with an exercise program long-term. Picking an activity you like will make it more likely that you’ll be consistent!

HIIT is great for those that love fast-paced training, and it can be a more enjoyable way to work out for those who can’t stand hopping onto a machine and grinding for an hour.

Potential to Burn More Fat

Another awesome benefit is that HIIT may lead to increases in the body’s ability to oxidize fat. Studies show that HIIT can improve insulin sensitivity, which promotes greater better fat burning.

HIIT has also been shown to positively impact epinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These two hormones play a major role in allowing your body to tap into its fat stores.

Decreased Appetite

Many people that struggle to lose weight cite persistent hunger as a major roadblock. HIIT may be able to help, as it has been shown to help decrease appetite, which indirectly influences your ability to lose weight.

Getting in a handful of HIIT sessions every week an hour or two before a meal might help you to eat less!

How To Begin with HIIT

Woman doing a HIIT workout

Are you intrigued by what you’ve heard so far? If this seems like something that might be a good fit for you, I suggest giving it a try!

First off, you’ll need a timer in order to track your sets. You can use a stopwatch if you’d like, but I suggest getting an interval timer on your phone. There are several pretty decent ones out there that you can download for free!

Next, you’ll need to select the exercise or exercises you’ll be doing, and how many rounds you want to go for. If this is your first time, I wouldn’t recommend doing more than 3-4 rounds in order to assess where you’re at.

If it’s too easy, you can crank it up next time. But in my experience, the number of rounds always feels like more by the end than it sounded in the beginning.

Before you begin, just a word of caution. Be careful during the high-intensity portions, especially if you’re on a treadmill or some other machine with moving parts.

Don’t try to go faster than you feel comfortable with. Flying off of a treadmill can make for a funny video, but you could seriously injure yourself or others!

Also, in order to avoid injury, it’s best to do a few minutes of warm-up prior to starting your workout. This can be 3-5 minutes of a slow jog, or anything else that gets your blood pumping and leaves your muscles feeling nice and warm.

Sample Beginner Workout

Trainer Lindsey doing hiit training

Still sounding good? If HIIT is something you’d like to try out, but aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry-I got you! Here are 3 different workout examples to start off with.

Even though these are basic workouts, they should at least give you a taste of what it’s like.


–  Begin with 3-5 min light jog

Four rounds of the following:

– 30 sec sprint

– 30 sec light jog

– After the four rounds, finish with a 3-5 minute cooldown just below your active rest period intensity


4 rounds of the following:

-20 sec kettlebell swings

-10 sec rest

-After the four rounds, finish up with a cooldown. A few minutes of walking around will suffice.


In this video, I share an awesome HIIT based cardio workout that you can do at home!


So is HIIT effective? Yes, it is! There’s no question that HIIT burns a lot of calories and can provide an overall great workout.

But is it more effective than other types of exercise?

Well, that depends on a number of factors like how you implement it, whether you enjoy it, and what your current fitness goal is.

My recommendation is that if you like it, then implement it into your training regimen! The most important part of any workout protocol is consistency.

If HIIT is a good fit for your lifestyle and training preferences, and if it’s something that you can see yourself sticking with consistently, then it just might be the right workout style for you!

Whichever way you choose to workout, embrace it 100% and make it a part of your life. Only through commitment and hard work will you be able to own your fitness goals!

Try My Cardio Conditioning eBook

In this eBook I’ll share my favorite tips, advice, and workout secrets to help you get the most out of your cardio sessions!
Improve your fat burning & training intensity! 

>>Get it here<<

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Lindsey Mathews

Lindsey Mathews

Head Trainer & Nutritionist

Lindsey Mathews is the Head Trainer and Nutritionist at IdealFit. She is a NSCA-CSCS certified personal trainer, C-ISSN certified sports nutritionist, Pn. 1 certified nutrition coach, and a nationally qualified NPC bikini competitor. Before joining IdealFit, she ran the largest boot camp program in Utah County.

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