HIIT Workout For Beginners
Many fitness articles promote interval training for weight loss but never describe a safe HIIT workout for beginners.
In fact, the term HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been thrown around so often that people automatically assume they know what it’s all about.
However, few of these articles actually explain how to do it.
The focus of this article is to explain how a beginner, perhaps like yourself, should perform HIIT. In fact, most of us have already heard the why.
Although I previously provided a HIIT workout, I received a few emails from readers who said the routines were too difficult to perform as a beginner. I absolutely agree; I failed to mention that the workout was really only for those who already had previous experience doing HIIT.
What is HIIT?
To quickly recap, interval training is simply a mode of exercise that alternates between periods of work and rest. The only tough part is determining how to properly use it.
How long should your work and rest intervals be? How hard should you push myself?
A Warning for Beginners
As a beginner, never plunge directly into interval training.
Instead, start off with a training program to gradually build strength and improve your cardiovascular fitness. In my opinion, the only good use for traditional cardio is to condition yourself for HIIT.
Best HIIT Workout for Beginners
Although interval training is often pictured as being a track exercise, the ideal method of HIIT for beginners is the stationary bike.
While running is often remarked as the best method of HIIT due to full body recruitment, we must face the ugly truth:
Most Americans and Canadians are not fit enough to run.
Statistics show that 60% of people who start a running program get injured.
Based on their genetics, females have an even higher risk of injury due to wider hips and narrower knees.
As world renowned physiotherapist Diane Lee states,
“You can’t run to get fit. You need to be fit to run.”
Why HIIT on the Stationary Bike?
Although HIIT can be done with any equipment, the stationary bike remains the safest and most effective choice. The bike enables you to work to your maximum intensity without the risk of injury.
Well-conditioned individuals will have a little more leeway in their choice of HIIT. However, the stationary bike undoubtedly remains the safest option.
- As a beginner, bike at near maximum intensity for 15 seconds and rest for 45 seconds (1:3 ratio) for 8 sets.
- As a comparison, a fit male should be able to bike 30 seconds at maximum intensity with 30 seconds of rest at level 12-15 for 8 sets.
- A fit female can bike 30 seconds at maximum intensity with 30 seconds of rest at level 8-10 for 8 sets.
To ensure appropriate recovery, get a high quality heart rate monitor to safely gauge the intensity of your training.
HIIT Treadmill Workout
Although running is the most effective form of HIIT, it is also the most likely to cause injury. However, running is not practical for the typical gym-goer due to limited space.
That is why many people turn to treadmill running. It remains effective, but still carries a high potential for injury.
- Jumping on and off a moving treadmill requires athletic ability and can lead to significant injury.
- Treadmill speeds are misleading. Running on a treadmill at 10 MPH may feel quite fast when in fact it is only a 6 minute mile pace.
- If you do decide to try HIIT on the treadmill, first improve your ability to safely jump on while it’s moving. For added safety, decrease the speed but increase the incline.
- A treadmill does not accurately mimic active running on the ground; there is a lack of hip extension which may underutilize the hamstrings
- As a beginner, try alternating between 15 seconds of running and 45 seconds of rest at 7 MPH and a 5% incline.
I assume no responsibility if you fall off and injure yourself while attempting to do this. Do not attempt this at an overcrowded fitness center where everyone is jammed together like sardines.
Take Home Message
Research continues to show that HIIT is far superior to traditional aerobic cardio. The secret isn’t what to do anymore, but how to do it. For maximum safety and effectiveness, jump on a stationary bike and get a heart rate monitor to cater your HIIT training specifically to you.