High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been all the rage for quite some time. And for good reason, considering it offers a time-efficient way to get fit, particularly for runners who don’t have much equipment and only a few minutes to spare.
If you’ve always wanted to try a HIIT workout, but weren’t sure where to start, we have the perfect beginner HIIT workout for newbies and runners alike.
The Benefits of Beginner HIIT Workouts for Runners
Interval training is a great way to get your heart pumping while burning calories, building strength, and boosting your stamina, agility, and cardio capacity. These types of workouts include pushing your intensity to a high level for a short period of time, then resting (or doing active recovery) so you’re ready to conquer the next interval. Because you work at an all-out effort, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time. Plus, there are countless ways to switch up your HIIT workout, so this type of training keeps your mind and body engaged and busts fitness boredom.
This beginner HIIT workout, in particular, was designed with runners in mind to get you strong for long miles and powerful for speedy splits. “[These exercises] will not only strengthen key running muscles such as your core, quads, glutes, and calves but also improve your explosiveness and range of motion,” Raj Hathiramani, certified running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City and the creator of this workout, tells Runner’s World.
How to use this list: Preform the exercises in the order listed below for the number of repetitions described. Rest for 15 seconds in between each exercise and for 1 minute in between sets. Do 3 sets. You don’t need any equipment for this workout, but an exercise mat is optional. Hathiramani demonstrates each exercise in the video above so you can learn proper form.
1. Jump Squat
How to do it: Stand with feet slightly wider than h-width apart, toes slightly pointed out, and arms down by sides. Send hips back and down, bending knees to lower into a squat. Explosively jump up off the ground, while swinging arms forward for momentum. Land softly and immediately lower into the next squat. Repeat. Do 10 reps.
2. Reverse Lunge Knee Drive
How to do it: Stand with feet together. Take a large step backward with right foot and lower into a lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees. Push through left foot to stand, driving right knee up, forming a 90-degree angle toward chest, thigh is parallel to the floor. Step back into a lunge. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
3. Butt Kick to Skater
Why it works: This exercise will help you maintain balance while promoting an efficient gait, says Hathiramani. It also gets you moving in a new plane of motion (side to side) and build resilient leg muscles.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Jump to the right, driving off left foot and landing on right foot while swinging left leg behind right. Repeat jumping to the left and pushing off right foot. Continue alternating for 5 reps per side. Then do butt kicks by kicking left heel up toward glute, while driving left arm forward, right arm back. Then, kick right heel up toward glute, while driving right arm forward, left arm back. Repeat for 5 reps per side. Repeat from the skater, and do 3 rounds.
4. Side Plank With Leg Lift
Why it works: This move will work your upper and lower body at the same time, says Hathiramani, more specifically it will strengthen your stabilizing muscles of the core.
How to do it: Start lying on side with right forearm on the ground, forming a straight line from head to heels, feet, knees, and hips stacked. Raise left arm straight up and hold. This is your starting position. Lift left leg up. Pause, then slowly lower it back down to starting position. Repeat. Do 10 reps. Then switch sides.
5. Hand Release Push-Up
Why it works: Hathiramani says this full-body exercise will help you build upper body strength for more efficiency on the road.
How to do it: Start in a high-plank position with shoulders over wrists and core engaged, body forming a straight line from head to heels. Lower down until body rests on the floor. At the bottom, lift both hands and feet up to hover a few inches off the ground. Place hands and feet back down, engage core, and push back up to plank. Repeat. Do 10 reps.
Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.