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Published on September 11, 2020

7 Interval Training Exercises Best for Beginners

7 Interval Training Exercises Best for Beginners

If you’re new to exercise, you’ve probably heard about interval training (HIIT), a method of training that has you pushing out of your comfort zone for a certain period of time and then recovering.

What’s great about interval training is that there are a variety of ways to do it. More advanced exercisers can work at a very high intensity, but you can also get a big bang-for-buck with simple exercises suitable for all fitness levels.

The reason interval training is so popular is that working at higher levels of intensity helps you build endurance more quickly and it helps you burn more calories, which is great for weight loss.

Not only that, but it makes your workout more interesting. Instead of going at the same pace for the entire workout, you mix things up which can make the workout seem shorter than it really is.

Beginner Interval Training

You may be wondering whether you can do interval training if you’re not a veteran exerciser, and the answer is yes. Beginners can get a lot out of interval training.

Not only can you switch up your workouts, making them a little more fun, but you also give your body a chance to get used to working just a little harder and build some character—something mostly needed in these times of uncertainty.

The upshot is, you only work hard for a very short period of time, making it a more comfortable workout. That’s much better than slogging through a long workout (who’s got time for that) or, on the other hand, trying to work at a high intensity for the length of your workout, passing out halfway through.

Interval Workout

The following exercises are a great place to start if you’re a beginner. The following 7 exercises, pasted together, make a 21-minute long workout and include work intervals that will push you just a bit out of your comfort zone.

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That means you won’t be breathless or miserable. You will simply be pushing yourself just a bit—the perfect way to build a strong cardio foundation for getting healthy and losing weight.

The workout is totally bodyweight and only needs a chair or a couch, so there’s really no excuse not to get it done.

Perform as many repetitions as you can for each exercise in the proposed order over 30”, rest sitting or laying on the floor for 60”, and repeat with the following exercise.

HIIT workout depending on how good you feel at the end of round 2.

7 Exercise Selections

Here are the 7 beginner interval training exercises you can try.

1. Jumping Jacks

That’s right. This old-school warm-up is an effective form of cardio. The primary benefit of doing jumping jacks is that it elevates your heart rate. You breathe more deeply while jumping, which delivers oxygen to your bloodstream and ultimately to your muscles.

In addition, you will also shake your lymphatic system and burn fat at a rapid rate, promoting weight loss.[1]

2. Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers might win the award for most travel-friendly interval training exercise because they require no equipment and take up hardly any space. On the flip side, they also deserve some recognition for being super challenging.

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The MC works the core, hip flexors, arms, shoulders, and lower back—literally a full-body movement. Make sure you don’t overarch your back and maintain enough space between your hands and feet to have your trunk parallel to the ground.

3. Squats

 

Basic yet effective, squats remain the king of bodyweight exercises when it comes to improving mobility and strength.

Make sure to keep your head up, chest nicely open at all times, and feet firmly pressed through the heels on the ground. Ideally, your glutes should go below your knees during the descending phase. But don’t worry if you can’t get so low just yet, it will improve with practice.

4. Push-Ups

Push-ups are a total body exercise that is easily modified and can be made to be very challenging, from the total beginner to the most avid exerciser.

To make pushups easier, elevate your hands on a bench, couch, counter-top, or against a wall.

To make push-ups more difficult, elevate your feet. The higher the angle (with your hands on the ground), the more of your bodyweight you support. Also, you can increase the range of motion by elevating your hands on books, push up handles, or something similar.

Aim to nearly touching the ground with your chest first, keeping your head high and chin tucked. This will avoid straining your neck and improve arms and chest muscle engagement.

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5. Backward/Reverse Lunges

 

This modified version of the classic lunge simply involves taking a big step backward, balancing on your front foot.

This interval training exercise increases the engagement of the hamstrings and glutes muscles (back of the leg) versus the quads muscles (front of the thigh). This is especially useful for people with a sitting job because the back-leg muscles become stiff and weak due to the constant sitting and need to be “reactivated”.

This exercise requires balance, so it’s best performed with a mat in between your feet or over a carpet to avoid hitting your knee on the floor too violently.

As a beginner, you should always touch the ground with your back knee and pause for a second to avoid straining a muscle or a tendon. Pausing for a second will help you avoid using momentum and engage the correct muscles during the ascension phase of the exercise.

6. Elevated Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is another move useful to target dormant muscles like glutes and hamstrings. To perform this exercise, you only need a chair or a couch.

Lie face-up on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on a bench or box. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, then slowly lower to the starting position.

If this feels too easy, you can try to hold the tension for 2″ at the top of the movement, aggressively squeezing your glutes against each other. Imagine you have a pencil stuck in between your buttocks and you want to crack it in two (not a pretty picture I know, but it givers you the idea).

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7. Burpees

We put this at the end since it’s the hardest one of all. No cardio and interval training compilation would be complete without burpees. They challenge every part of your body and send your heart rate soaring in no time. All this adds up to an exercise that burns about 10 calories per minute.[2]

Assuming you’re doing between 10 and 20 repetitions every minute, this is one of the best fat burning exercises out there. You can torch even more calories by upping the pace. Just make sure you don’t let your form suffer!

If normal burpees give you pain in the lower back or they’re simply too hard (you can’t do more than 3 in a 30″ interval), just skip them all at once and come back to them when your fitness is improved.

Final Thoughts

Interval training is a great way to maintain fitness during these trying times. One of the best parts about it is that you can set your own pace and speed of progress.

Practice this routine a few times per week, focusing firstly on form and secondly, on speed. Burning a few extra calories from doing 2 more reps won’t be very useful if you pull a muscle and have to take a few weeks off exercise.

More Exercise Routines for Beginners

Featured photo credit: Ayo Ogunseinde via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Davide Alfonsi

Online Weight Loss And Exercise Specialist

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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