HIIT: A Beginner’s Guide

What is HIIT?

One of the ultimate ways to get fit, HIIT – or High-Intensity Interval Training – combines resistance and strength training with cardio, so that you can get the most out of your workout.

It involves working as hard as you can in short bursts, with small periods of rest so you can recover and start again – and there are so many benefits in training this way.

HIIT training can be done using almost any exercise as a base and allows you to burn fat without losing any muscle. You can also tailor your HIIT workout to your own ability and progress as you get fitter.

Why is HIIT good?

There’s no doubt about it, working out takes time. Even if you’re just focusing on one thing like your legs or you’re just doing cardio, getting fit and staying fit isn’t just an occasional event, it’s a lifestyle. And if you’ve ever headed into the gym with the intention of doing a full body workout that includes both cardio and strengthening, then you’ll realise just how much time this takes.

If you already have a busy lifestyle, then trying to fit in several hours of training down at the gym on top of things like getting the shopping done and prepping your meals, can be a real nightmare.

That’s where HIIT comes in.

A fantastic time saver, doing short, intense bursts of exercise where you push yourself as hard as you can not only allows you to get your heart rate up, but helps you to burn fat as well as build muscle. HIIT also allows you to spend more time in the upper end of your aerobic capacity. So it’s much more valuable in terms of training than if you just did the same amount of training but at a steady rate. Brilliant for increasing your metabolism, you will continue to burn calories even after your workout. This is thanks to all your hard work pushing yourself to your limits, which means your body uses more energy after your workout to help your muscles recover.

In short, HIIT is great fun and the perfect way to mix things up. You can throw in almost any exercise – things like burpees, high knees, kettlebell swings, box jumps and goblet squats are all perfect. Just make sure whatever the routine, it gets your heart rate up high and your muscles burning!

How long should I recover for when doing HIIT?


At the gym, HIIT classes can be taken as a group workout or they can follow a circuit-style class. Either way, the class will usually involve around 1-2 minutes of intense exercise followed by 30 seconds-1 minute’s rest. This is a good, general structure to base your own personal workout around however, your rest period will mostly depend on your fitness levels.

As a beginner, you may need to recover for a little longer and equally, HIIT-pros will need less time to recover. The whole point of the rest is to make sure your muscles are back to a state where they can be pushed as hard possible by the time you do the next round of exercises.

As you get fitter, it will take less time for your heart rate to drop back down so your recovery time is shorter. It’s a good idea to keep track of your recovery time so you can be more accurate with your training.

Resting for the minimum time needed will help you keep your muscles warm and your heart rate up. If your training feels tough but sustainable then you’re at the right level.

HIIT: where to start

When doing interval training, it’s best to keep it as varied as possible with a mixture of both cardio and strength exercises. Once you’ve got the hang of the basics, you can start to play around with more cardio or strength based workouts, focusing on different muscle groups throughout the week to work your whole body.

If you’re a beginner, then classes are a great way to start and you will get a feel for what sort of exercises are involved. As you progress, you can build your own workouts and mix it up to make sure your body doesn’t plateau.

Some great exercises to include in your HIIT workout are:

• Burpees

• Squats with slam ball throw

• Skipping • Box jumps

• Press ups

• Hula hooping

• Leg raises

• Jack planks

• Ab crunches with slam ball

• Walking lunges with dumbbells

• Russian twists

• Bear crawl with slam ball

• Bunny hops

• Mountain climbers

HIIT: What equipment do I need?

When training at home, it’s really important to have some key pieces of equipment to base your workout around. This will help you to get the most out of your training by giving you a wide range of exercises to choose from, so you can work your muscles to their full potential and keep mixing it up.

Mirafit has two HIIT packages available:


• The Mirafit HIIT Package Level 1 is perfect for all abilities and has a fantastic range of equipment to get you working up a sweat. Complete with both cardio and strength equipment, there’s everything you need including a mat for things like crunches, press ups and mountain climbers as well as ankle/wrist weights, slam ball, skipping rope, hula hoop, stepper with raiser blocks and even a towel!


• The Mirafit HIIT Package Level 2 is our premium set which not only includes the essential pieces found in the Level 1 HIIT Package but also contains a dumbbell set for upper body strengthening and walking lunges. It also contains one of our premium steppers with additional raiser blocks, so you can take your workout to the next level.

HIIT: How long should I train for?

You don’t want to be training for longer than 30 minutes when doing HIIT. You will be working your body as hard as you can and pushing it to its limits – so even though 30 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time, you’ll soon discover just how worn out half an hour of HIIT can make you! Also, keeping it to half an hour will help you to make sure you are burning fat and not muscle.

What’s the difference between HIIT and Tabata?

Tabata is a type of HIIT workout which is a lot shorter but more intense than a usual HIIT workout. The active periods last for around 20 seconds with a recovery period of around 10 seconds. You then do this for around eight rounds. It’s a real metabolism booster and a great way to train – especially if you are short on time but want to pack in as much as possible. Because timing is so key, there are lots of helpful Tabata apps available, so you can keep track of where you’re at.

Interval training is great for all abilities and allows you to push yourself to your limits. A fantastic time saver, HIIT makes sure you can keep your training engaging, fulfilling and beneficial. Whether you’re looking to strengthen, burn calories or just give your brain a boost of endorphins, it’s the perfect way to get fit and stay fit.