Dad Bod

HIIT For Beginners: 25 Moves To Incorporate In Your Next Workout 

Want results this year? Resolve to do more high-intensity interval training.

Originally Published: 
A man wearing a pink shirt using a dumbbells' at the gym while incorporating HIIT for beginners
Ariela Basson/Fatherly; Getty Images

Unless you’ve been living in the woods for the past few years, HIIT — otherwise known as high-intensity interval training — is the best way to get shredded quickly. And for dads who are short on time and in need of a major fitness overhaul, there’s no better way to jumpstart fitness than with a HIIT workout (aka “high-intensity interval training”) with moves done in short, hard bursts of exercise followed by shorter rests. While HIIT is hard, we’ve put together this list of exercises, HIIT for beginners, so that you can learn the basics of HIIT workout moves, get in a major sweat, and get moving.

So where to start? While classes and trainers are probably the best way to motivate while keeping form perfect, they’re also pricey. If you’re looking to get started on your own, below is a list of moves that aren’t too complicated, many of them bodyweight moves. As a general rule, you’ll want to do the moves in bursts with rests that last about one-third of the time. In other words a 30-second burst of pull-ups is followed by 10 seconds rest. Then do it again, or move on to the next move. It’s essential to keep good form, so if you find you’re exhausting yourself past the point of being able to, say, hold a perfect plank while doing push-ups, dial back the time. The idea here is to seek gain, not pain (although discomfort will be had). Ready? HIIT it.

HIIT Bodyweight Moves

Mountain Climbers

These are quintessential HIIT moves — the kind of bodyweight move you can’t keep up for long without collapsing on the ground. Start in a plank, engage the core, and bring your right knee forward under your chest and back to plank. Now, bring your left knee forward and back. Keeping your plank straight as an arrow, pick up the pace.

Forearm Plank

Start with 30 seconds and work your way up. Oh, and that form better be perfect.

Air Squats

From quads up to the core, the squat is an essential full-body move. An effective squat is all about the form, so make sure you don’t overdo these or move too vigorously. Keep legs slightly wider than hip width, toes pointed forward, and drive your hips back as you bend your knees to sit into a squat position. Be sure to keep your heels and toes on the ground, chest up and shoulder back. Also, keep track of your breath, inhaling before you begin the movement, holding your breath for the duration, and releasing it once you’ve returned to standing.

Reverse Pull-Ups

We get that you might not be up to full pull-up bursts (and if you are, by all means…). Work your way there with reverse pull-ups. Using a mixed grip and step by the bar, jump up so your chin is above the bar and steadily (and fairly slowly) lower yourself down. Repeat.


Focus on keeping your back flat and your elbow trailing directly back and aim for one push-up per second.

Split Squat Jumps

Stand with right leg about a foot in front of the left. Bend knees and lower into a lunge, keeping your left knee from touching the floor. In one explosive movement, straighten knees and jump, switching legs. Now squat with the opposite leg in front. Keep it going.

Jumping Jacks

Feet together, feet apart. Hands together, hands apart. You know the drill. Now do it like you mean it.

Jump Lunge

Jump lunges are like jumping jacks, except your legs go front and back rather than out to the sides, this move works your quads, glutes, and core. Start in a deep lunge, both knees bent, right foot in front. Push through the floor and your jump in the air and scissor your feet so that the left foot lands in front.

Butt Kicks

Keeping yourself tall and shoulders back, bring your legs back to repeatedly kick your butt. Sounds easy, right?

Burpee Twister With Push-Up

From standing, bend your knees, crouch down to the floor, place your hands on the ground, and jump your feet back so you are in an extended plank position. Do a push-up. Then jump feet forward toward your hands again, push off the floor and jump, doing a 180. Now that you’re facing the other way, do it again. Why the twist? Let’s say it’s to give you a break from the one wall.

Plank Jacks

Lower yourself down into an extended plank position (arms straight). Focus on maintaining a straight line from your head to your feet. Jump your legs out to the sides, then back together again. Form trumps speed, but nevertheless aim for about 15 plank jacks in 30 seconds.


Sit on the floor, legs straight in front of you, arms at your sides. Shift your weight back as you raise both legs off the floor, contracting your abs until your body form the shape of a V. Stretch arms out in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds.

Side Plank

Lie on one side with your legs stacked and fully extended. Prop your body up with your elbow and forearm, lift your hip off the ground and squeeze your abs so your body runs in a straight line. For added difficulty, lift your high leg off the lower leg. Switch sides.

High Knees

With upper arms by your side, forearms at a 90-degree angle, and hands open, bring your left knee to your hand, then right. Repeat, fast.

HIIT With Weights

Goblet Squats

Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, hold a kettlebell or barbell with both hands close to your chest. Squat until your thighs are below parallel with the floor, keeping your chest up and your back straight. Keep your chest and head up and your back straight. Push your knees out with your elbows. Return to stand.

Standing Cable Row

Stand facing the cable machine, about two feet away. Position the cable at chest height. Grab cable handle with your right hand. Bend your left knee and raise your left leg in front of you. Bend your right elbow and pull your hand to the side of your chest. Straight arm again, keeping the left foot in the air. The reverse side is on the next set.

Single-Leg Dead Lifts

Grab a light barbell in both hands and stand with your weight over your right leg, arms straight in front of you. Hinge forward at the waist, raising your left leg behind you while lowering the barbell to the floor. In one strong motion, return to standing (focus on keeping your back straight). Switch legs and repeat.

Kettlebell Squat Jumps

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold kettlebell handle with both hands. Bend knees until your quads are parallel to the floor, allowing the kettlebell to drift back between your legs. Push through the ground as you leap straight up in the air, extending your arms in front of you. Land back in a squat position.

Overhead Press

Lie back on an incline bench at about 45 degrees. Grab two dumbbells heavy enough to make 15 reps challenging. Bend elbows and hold the weights at your chest. Breathe in, then exhale forcefully as you straighten your arms and raise both dumbbells directly overhead. Inhale as you bend elbows and lower weights. Aim for 15 reps in 30 seconds.

Plank Pulls

Using two kettlebells or barbells, get into an extended plank position, resting one hand on the handle of each bell. Shift your weight to the left side and hike the right weight toward your chest, then lower. Shift weight to your right side, and repeat the weighted pull with your left arm.

Weighted V’s

Lie on the floor, legs outstretched, resting a kettlebell or barbell on your torso with both hands. Inhale, then as you exhale, raise your legs and torso off the floor to create a V-shape, lifting the weight above your head as you do. Relax back into a prone position.

Kettlebell Frogger

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a kettlebell by the handle with both hands at your centerline. Lower into a squat, letting the bell swing back through your legs, swing it forward again on a horizontal plane, and plant it 2 to 3 feet in front of you. Keeping your hands on the bell, jump your feet forward, then straighten your legs and raise the bell to start position.

Overhead Press

Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, pick up two kettlebells or barbells and pull them towards your shoulders. With kettlebells, rotate your wrists so your palms face in, resting the weights on the top of your forearms. Press the weight up above your head until your arms lock. Lower slowly to your shoulders. Repeat.

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