What is HIIT Training? | Benefits & Beginners Workout Routine


Georgina Spenceley | HIIT, Running & Yoga

What is HIIT?

HIIT is essentially a training method (High Intensity Interval Training). A training method made up of “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity”. And no, this doesn’t mean burning yourself into the ground! What it does mean is learning a whole raft of new skills and using those to build on your fitness in one of the most efficient ways possible.

The “constantly varied” part is one of the most important elements of HIIT. HIIT is designed to make you fit, strong and mobile enough to take on any challenge life throws at you.

HIIT includes so many different exercises, something that helps affiliates keep to the constantly varied aim. Expect to learn major lifts such as deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean & jerk and snatch. You’ll also see basic gymnastics moves like pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups and holds. Kettlebells also quite often make an appearance.

And let’s not forget the beloved cardio… bike, run, swim, row, etc!

Benefits of HIIT

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There are so many benefits of HIIT, and everyone will have a different take on it – after all, everyone has different backgrounds and experiences. But three key intended benefits of HIIT are:

✓ Learning to Move Properly

I know, I know… everyone’s sick of hearing the term “functional fitness”. It’s like “core training” and “toning up” in most people’s eyes. But let’s face it – the real world requires real movements.

By using functional movements (real-world situational movements) like lifting, pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, etc., HIIT is able to make fitness useful.

✓ All-Round Fitness

Usually the term “jack of all trades, master of none” is said in a negative way. However, that phrase quite aptly fits with HIIT’s intention: “Our specialty is not specialising.” HIIT athletes are strong, they have endurance, they can sprint, run, jump, crawl. And they typically look like athletes too – if you want to build a strong, fit body that can tackle the unknown, HIIT is the thing to do.

✓ Community

The element that often surprises people the most about HIIT is the community. Everyone shares a common goal – to get fitter and stronger – and, despite not primarily being a “team sport”, there is a huge sense of team within HIIT.

Your class mates will encourage and motivate you, cheer you through those final few reps of a WOD, support you through moments of self-doubt or disappointment, and become friends in and out of the box.

Yes, people may call it a “cult”, but it’s certainly no fad.

Beginners’ CrossFit WOD

A great workout for beginners is one that is time bound, so everyone can work at their own pace, and one that involves body weight movements so there is less worry about technique. Try this for a quick but challenging WOD (workout of the day).

You could also use it as a benchmark to check your progress from time to time.

Complete three rounds of the following:

Exercise #1: 1-Minute Bodyweight Squats


Stand with your feet at least hip width apart, toes turned slightly outwards.

a) Shift your weight into your heels and sit your butt back and down as if you were about to sit on a low chair, sending your arms up and out in-front of you to help keep your chest lifted.

b) Sink as low into the squat as you can without letting your chest drop or your back round off.

c) Drive up through your heels to return to standing.

d) Focus on keeping your knees tracking in line with your toes throughout the movement, trying to avoid them rolling inwards.

Exercise #2: 1-minute Push Ups


Start in a plank position (on your hands and toes with a straight line from your heels to your head).


ALTERNATIVE: Or a ¾ push up position (with your knees on the floor).

a) Slowly bend your arms to lower your chest towards the floor.

b) Try to send your elbows backwards rather than out to the side, focusing on quality of movement over speed.

c) Squeeze your chest and triceps to push yourself back up to the start position.

d) Keep your stomach, back and glutes engaged throughout the movement to prevent your hips sagging.

Exercise #3: 1-Minute Sit Ups


Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together (also referred to as butterfly sit ups). This position helps reduce the amount the hips help with the movement.

a) Lower your torso back and down to the floor with your arms overhead and touch the floor behind your head with your hands.

b) Contract your stomach muscles to sit yourself back up again, leading the movement with your chest.

c) Reach forward and touch the floor in-front of your feet to complete the movement.

d) Focus on contracting the stomach to sit up, trying not to use too much momentum from your arms to perform the exercise.

Exercise #4: 1-minute burpees


Start standing up straight. Bend to lower your hands to the floor just in-front of your feet.

a) Jump your feet back to a plank and lower your body to touch the floor – your chest must reach the floor.

b) Push yourself back up to your hands while jumping your feet back in to meet your hands. Try to land with flat feet and your legs as straight as possible to be more efficient.

c) Jump up and clap your hands above your head to complete the exercise. That’s one rep.


Record your reps for each round, trying to keep them consistent for each of the three rounds, and then record the total for comparison at a later date.

Take Home Message

If you want to try a training method that will get you fit by anyone’s standards, then HIIT is for you.

You’ll learn new skills, challenge yourself at high intensity for dramatic gains in fitness, make new friends and, who knows, maybe even compete!

Why not break out of the routine?

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