Whether you’re hitting a workout wall or looking to mix it up, it’s time to MOVE with Love Sweat Fitness.
Yupp, I just relaunched my app with a new design and TONS of new features, all created to motivate you daily and help you feel your absolute best!
Ready to MOVE?
Here are a few of my personal faves that have been true game-changers for my own daily workouts.
500+ days of workouts –Barre, HIIT, yoga, stretching, strength… our fitness library has everything for every goal! Looking for a quick 10 minute booty blast? A 45 minute total body burner? Just tell me a little more about your fitness level and I’ll provide you with a great weekly program!
Chromecast functionality – After receiving so much feedback, I’m proud to say that you can finally tune into each and every LSF workout on your own TV to crush those big goals on a bigger screen!
Track your progress photos – Stay motivated and measure your transformation journey visually in the app with the ability to update new photos and even share them out on social with #TeamLSF.
If you already have a subscription, you don’t need to make any changes and you’ll see it has everything you loved about the original, just better!
Look for the MOVE icon on your dashboard if you have auto app updates or head to your App Store to manually updated LSF the App to MOVE.
New to Love Sweat Fitness?
There are sooooo many other app enhancements to help you reach your fitness goals, so what are you waiting for?! Come sweat with me and start your 7 DAY FREE TRIAL to see for yourself! Download the MOVE app here and get ready to fall into a new season of fitness.
If you don’t have time to run through the whole sequence, no problem!
Depending on how much time you have during the day, you can do your whole workout at once, or break up your training into four different sessions throughout the day (with each session being ONE of the exercises).
Here’s a sample day for your No-Equipment Workout:
Wake up, do 40 jumping jacks to warm up, and then do bodyweight squats.
At lunch, you grab your suitcase (if you’re at work, milk jug if you’re at home) and do inverted rows.
After work, you do another 50 jumping jacks and then do your push-ups.
After dinner, you do your planks while watching TV.
You could even split it up over two days if needed, but the goal would be to do it the whole sequence at once.
The main Angry Birds Workout article describes in detail Levels 1-6, but here’s Level 3 for you:
Once you’ve done the complete routine, you have my permission to whip out your phone and play the actual game!
The trick here is to couple your home workouts with adjustments to your nutrition.
We’re big believers that you can’t outrun your fork, so any successful weight loss plan will include a focus on building a healthy plate.
That will look something like this:
If you want some help on adjusting your nutrition, I’ve got two great resources for you:
The Nerd Fitness Guide to Healthy Eating. This massive resource will help you slowly adjust your nutrition, without forcing you to give up the food you love (yes, you can still eat pizza here and there). No more diets, instead we’ll work on building habits together.
Nerd Fitness Coaching. If you want to take it to the next level, one of our trained professionals can help you adjust your way of eating to help you reach your goals. No shame. No judgment. Just a like-minded nerd who will show you the way.
I have two resources to help you design your own no-equipment workout:
The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises: This guide will teach you how to perform the best bodyweight exercises – no equipment required! Check it out if you are unfamiliar with any of the movements referenced in today’s guide.
“If you want to gain weight, eat more calories than you burn regularly. Want to put on the right KIND of weight? Exercise and eat the right way too.”
Now, there’s plenty of nuance to this when comparing men and women:
Due to our natural hormones, it’s generally more difficult for people with typical female anatomy to gain muscle than people with typical male anatomy.
We have a lot of factors (such as hormonal birth control) that have been proven to make it even harder as well.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!
It just means we have to work harder for it.
Ugh, I know.
Now, one thing I want to touch on quick: if you see a woman who is absolutely jacked and at an extremely low body fat percentage, I guarantee she has been working her butt off for a very long time with the goal of building muscle.
It’s not something that happens overnight, or by mistake.
In addition, some women with larger amounts of muscle mass choose to take steroids to help assist them in gaining muscle, because we simply don’t have the hormones naturally to get to that size.
So if you’d like to build muscle, but not as much as a professional bodybuilder – don’t worry, it’s not something that happens by accident.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about body fat and body types:
As we point out in that body fat percentage guide, we women can look very different at any weight depending on our body shape and how much muscle we have. It comes down to our own personal goals!
This guide is going to primarily focus on two things:
How to eat to gain weight and build muscle.
How to strength train to build muscle.
We’ve helped thousands of women with our online coaching program, many of whom are trying to gain weight and strength train for the first time in their lives.
Everybody is on their own journey, at their own pace, and everybody will end up with different results too!
Should Women Build Muscle? (7 Reasons Women Should Grow Muscle)
If it can be harder for women to gain muscle (compared to men), why go through the trouble?
I’m glad you asked!
Here are the top 7 reasons why women should strength train:
#1) When you’re stronger – everyday life is easier. No need to call for help to get that 50lb bag of dog food off the top shelf, or carrying an air conditioner unit up a flight of stairs. LIFE is easier when you’re stronger.
#2) Less injury risk – when you build strong muscles, you’re also building stronger bones, ligaments, and tendons, making you less prone to injury doing things you love (like playing in a quidditch league).
#3) Helps combat age-related muscle loss, allowing us to remain independent longer as we age:
#4) Muscle is harder to maintain, which means you need to eat more just to hold on to it.
#5) Reduce pain – having a strong body makes living easier on your joints, as well as allows you to hold a better posture, and reduce back / hip pain.
#6) Appearance – this is a personal preference! Some women like to have a lot of muscle, and some don’t. While you can’t spot reduce fat, you can choose to build more muscle in specific areas, changing your body shape. Growing up, I was an extreme pear shape, but due to strength training, I now have more of an hourglass shape.
#7) Live longer – want to spend more time on Earth? Strength training and growing muscle will help you do just that.
How to Eat to Gain Muscle as a Woman
As we said above, gaining weight comes down to thermodynamics and science.
Every day, we burn a certain number of calories just existing, which is called our BMR (basal metabolic rate). We then factor in our daily activity level, and get a number that is called our “total daily energy expenditure.” You can calculate yours below.
(Note: we have used The Mifflin-St Jeor Equation to create this calculator! ).
Since we want to gain weight, we want to take our TDEE and add 250 calories to it to get our daily goal. This should result in gaining about half a pound per week.
Now, although eating ANY EXTRA calories from any source will result in weight gain, our goal is to gain the RIGHT kind of weight, in a healthy way.
And thus, we’ll be focusing our efforts on a “healthy muscle building” strategy.
We could easily add more calories each day, and gain weight quicker, however, the slow method gives you the best chances at gaining mostly muscle, with minimal fat. The faster you try to gain weight, the higher the percentage that will likely be fat – so starting off at half a pound per week is a great place to start!
In addition to the number of calories we’ll be adding, we also want to pay attention to the type of foods we’re eating.
As we cover in our “Healthy Eating Guide,” we’re going to build muscle by consuming the three big macros in the correct quantities:
Protein: rebuilds muscle after you break it down.
Carbohydrates: provides your muscle with fuel and body with energy.
Fat: helps your bodily functions and can also be burned as fuel in the absence of carbs.
Let’s look at each of these individually:
PRIORITY #1: PROTEIN
Protein can come from any number of sources, including:
Fat is a macronutrient that can help you reach your calorie goals (in the right quantity), as fat can be high in calories. Plus, you can eat lots of it without feeling full. Helpful if you’re trying to put on weight.
Healthy fat can be found in foods like:
Science has recently come around on saturated fat too. Once completely vilified, but now considered okay for moderate consumption.
Saturated fats can come from things like:
Full fat dairy
Fatty cuts of meat
To help you gauge: a serving size of fat is roughly the size of your thumb!
For reference, this is a single serving of almonds (162 calories):
THIS is a serving of olive oil (119 calories):
As you can see, you can eat an extra 500 calories of “healthy fats” by eating lots of “heart-healthy” fats like nuts or adding more olive oil to your meals.
PRIORITY #4: VEGETABLES!
Last but not least, you need vegetables in your diet.
As you start to eat more food, your stomach, intestines, and other bodily functions will thank you for consuming more high-fiber vegetables!
A serving of veggies is about the size of your fist.
Here’s a quick, non-complete list of high-fiber veggies that can fill your plate:
Consume 1-1.5g per pound (2.2-3.3g per kg) of body weight in protein every day.
Consume the rest of your calories from foods composed of carbs and fats.
Always eat vegetables so that your body can actually PROCESS all this extra food. I like to aim for half of my plate of vegetables.
If you are not gaining weight, (and you’re hitting your protein goals), add more carbs and/or fats to your meal.
It really does come down to the following:
If you are not gaining weight fast enough, you’re not eating enough. Increase your portions of carbs and fats!
Whenever we work with coaching clients who struggle to build muscle, this is the area we target: adding more carbs and fats to each meal.
8 Strength Training Exercises For Women to Build Muscle
Years from now, you’ll look back and thank “Past You” for starting strength training today.
And don’t worry, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do so you can start strength training TODAY!
Here’s why strength training is so important: when you eat a caloric surplus (more calories than your body needs each day), the extra calories have to go somewhere.
If you don’t do any exercise, your body will choose to store the extra calories as fat for later.
However, when you strength train, your muscles are broken down. Then they’ll use the extra calories to rebuild themselves bigger and stronger over the next 48 hours!
“Staci that sounds great, but I’ve never strength trained before, and I don’t know what I’m doing…Halp!” You might be saying into your computer or phone.
Fear not! I’ll help. Strength training doesn’t need to be scary or overly complicated.
Simply put, “strength training” means two things:
#1) “Movement of any weight against “resistance” (including your body weight) – Doing ANY exercise that pushes your muscles outside of their comfort zone, forcing them to rebuild stronger to prepare for the next challenge.
Here’s what you need to know about strength training:
Strength training is one of the BEST things you can do for yourself.
Strength training will help you put on muscle while eating in a surplus.
While you can’t spot reduce fat, you can focus on building more muscle in specific areas, which can help you attain a specific look you’re going for.
If you don’t like the gym, you don’t need to go, ever. But I hope you do. Because that’s the easiest way to start training with weights.
Regardless of your fitness level, body fat percentage, strength level, or biological sex, you have every right to be in the free weights section in the gym, training with heavy weights, with everybody else. The people in the gym who are very strong with a lot of muscle started somewhere, too!
I used to be a CrossFit instructor, and my favorite thing about CrossFit was that it destigmatized barbell training and heavy lifting for many women.
In order for us to strength train and build muscle, we’re going to approach this intelligently.
We’re not going to pick up small dumbbells and do lots of reps.
We’re not going to sit down at various machines and scroll through our phones while doing leg curls.
Do our workouts quickly and get out of there. The workout should take no longer than 45-60 minutes.
This is how we efficiently build muscle in the minimum amount of time. What are the exercises that we’re going to target?
1) The Push-Up: The best exercise you could ever do for yourself when it comes to using your bodyweight for push muscles (your chest, shoulders, and triceps):
2) The Bodyweight Squat: This exercise serves a dual purpose: it is the foundation for building strength AND helps build proper mobility. If you are going to ever do barbell squats, you need to work on hitting proper depth with a bodyweight squat first!
3) The Inverted Bodyweight Row: Until you can get your first pull-up or chin-up, these exercises are GREAT to start building your pull-muscle strength (your back, biceps, and forearms).
7) The Barbell Bench Press. Lie on a bench, squeeze your shoulder blades to keep your back tight, and then lower a barbell until it almost touches your chest. Pause, and then press it back up towards the sky. Repeat! And get strong.
8) Barbell Overhead Press: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and lean back by pushing your hips forward. While keeping your entire body tight, press the bar overhead.
Once the bar passes your forehead, move your body back under the bar by driving your torso forward and back into a standing position. At the top of the lift shrug your shoulders slightly and lock your elbows.
These are some of the best compound exercises you can complete in order to build muscle. Want more muscle? Great! Get stronger at these movements!
One quick note: when I first started lifting, it took a while to build up the strength to be able to bench press or overhead press with the 45-lb bar. If your gym doesn’t have a lighter bar, dumbbells are a great option!
Your mission, should you choose to accept it:
Commit to trying ONE of these movements in the next week. Use 20 seconds of courage, recruit a friend who has lifted or trained before, and try your best.
I have three options for you next:
Select one of the muscle-building routines for women in the next section.
“Staci, that’s still too many choices! Can you just tell me what workout routine to follow?”
Okay fine! Here’s what I would do if I was you.
Still overwhelmed? Check out our coaching program. We get to learn your story, and then build a program and strategy around your goals that you CAN do.
10 Tips for Building Muscle as a Woman
I interviewed multiple other coaches on our team and asked for their best advice on how to build muscle as a woman.
Here’s what they said:
Susy (Coach, BS in Psychology, Certificate III & IV in Fitness, 5+ years of experience)
Tip #1: Food is your friend when you are looking to build muscle and get stronger – your body will need fuel, so you may need to eat more on the days that you work out!
Tip #2: Strength and muscle building requires structure to your workouts – you progress through getting better at specific movements, so make sure that you enjoy the style and structure of your workouts so that you can be as consistent as possible.
Tip #3: Your progress will always be fastest if you avoid injury, so correct form and listening to your body is super important. Your muscles will fatigue and feel sore, but joint pain and sharp, stabby pain means something isn’t moving quite right.
Kerry (Coach, NASM-CPT, 6+ years of experience)
Tip #4: Fall in love with the process. Getting stronger is a journey, one that is both rewarding and challenging. So no matter where you are starting from, take the time to celebrate each small step along the way towards a more badass version of yourself!
Christy (Coach, BS in Applied Health/Fitness, National Personal Training Institute Graduate, Precision Nutrition Certification, 6+ years of experience)
Tip #5: To get strong, you gotta lift weights. When lifting weights to get strong, you gotta be okay with testing your boundaries every now and then.
After exercising with your current weight, for the next training session…stop…and try a few reps with the next weight UP to test it out! It might surprise you how much more weight you can lift!
Here are some other tips to help you build muscle.
Tip #6: Boost your testosterone naturally: Consume enough saturated and monounsaturated fats, keep your sugar intake low, and make sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D and Zinc.
These are items linked with boosting your testosterone naturally.
Speaking of testosterone – I know you may think of this as a “male” hormone, but it plays a huge part in women muscle building, fat loss, increase bone mass, and many other health-related issues(remember: estrogen is made from testosterone).
Men make about ten to fifteen times what we make naturally, but it doesn’t mean we don’t need it too.
Another way we can help our testosterone levels is to watch our cortisol levels.
Cortisol is a hormone that is promoted by stress and reduces free testosterone levels (in addition to signaling for your body to store fat).
Steve drinks two smoothies a day to reach his protein goals and you can check out our Guide to Protein Shakes for his personal recipe.
On the go with no blender? I like to keep protein powder with me in a small Ziploc bag – that way I can grab a bottle of water, rip off the corner of the Ziploc bag, and use that as a funnel to get the powder into the water bottle. Then, just replace the cap and shake and you’ve got a protein-filled snack!
Tip #9: Get more sleep! When you build muscle, your body is working overtime, burning extra calories. It’s going to need some time to recover. Remember, muscle is built when you rest, not when you actually lift.
Go to bed!
Tip #10: Start today!
Gaining muscle comes down to eating right and strength training. Let’s get you lifting today!
This circuit training guide is gonna give you EVERYTHING you need to do your first kickass circuit training workout today.
I mean come on, it has dinosaurs in it.
These workouts are similar to the custom programs we build for our Online Coaching Clients who work out at home, on the road, and in outer space.
Okay, FINE we don’t have any clients in space (yet). But we do have clients in Antarctica, and multiple aerospace engineers. Close enough?
If you’re hoping circuit training will maximize your results in a minimum amount of time, one of the 15 circuits below will do the trick:
Let’s jump right in.
What is Circuit Training?
As Coach Lauren mentions above, the “circuit” in circuit training comes from the fact that you do a sequence of exercises back to back to back, and then you repeat the sequence.
And then again.
You cycle through the planned sequence of exercises, or circuit, multiple times.
That’s circuit training.
Generally, you hit each major muscle group during one full circuit. You may do a lower body for one exercise. Then the upper body the next.
You’ll find all sorts of different circuit training sequences. Here are some things most will have in common:
Several different exercises. A normal circuit will have five to ten different movements per circuit. You’ll often hear these referred to as “stations.” Overhead press station, squat station, etc.
Little to no rest in between.The goal of circuit training is to keep your heart rate up. Ideally, if you’re physically able, you go from one exercise to another without stopping. Maybe you rest after the whole circuit. Maybe.
Rinse and repeat.Generally, you’ll run through your circuit a few times. Three rounds are common.
The point here is to work different parts of your body with different exercises, and then while those parts are recovering, you’re working on your other movements! This helps build cardiovascular health, while also improving muscular endurance and strength.
Grab Your Beginner Bodyweight Routine Worksheet. No Gym Required!
Complete this workout at home, no equipment required
Avoid the common mistakes everybody makes when doing bodyweight exercises
Learn how to finally get your first pull-up
Why Should I do circuit training?
Generally, you’ll hear exercise divided into strength training or aerobic exercise (cardio).
What’s the difference, you wonder?
Strength training. Strength training is also referred to as anaerobic exercise, which would be a short burst of energy for movement. Think of a push-up or pull-up. These exercises help build and tone muscle.
Aerobic Exercise.“Aerobic” means “needs oxygen.” Your heart rate increases to get oxygen where your body needs it, thus the word “cardio.” Running, biking, or jumping jacks would be examples of aerobic exercise.
The thing about a circuit is, you actually do both categories. Presses and lunges fall into strength training. Jumping jacks are cardio.
And since you aren’t stopping much in between stations, you’ll need more oxygen, and voila. Even more cardio.
With circuit training, you build muscle and burn fat WHILE building stamina.
As Michael Scott would say, “that’s a win, win, win.”
There’s some debate on what kind of exercise is better for weight loss: aerobic or anaerobic.
If you’re limited on time and only can pick one, I would pick strength training: when you strength train, you break your muscles down, and your body needs to work extra hard over the next 24-48 hours to rebuild those muscles (with increased calories burned).
We work with our 1-on-1 Coaching Clients to create programs that combine both strength and cardio in a fun way – it really comes down to a program that you actually WANT to do.
Before and after your circuit training: Warm up and stretch
No matter which circuit you pick, I want you to start with one important thing:
I cover why you should always warm up in an article found right here. It doesn’t have to be much though, give it about five minutes to get your muscles active and your heart rate up.
This will help you do exercises properly and help prevent injury. You can run in place, do air punches and kicks, or some jumping jacks.
Here is NF Senior Coach Staci (you might know her incredible story) showing you many beginner options you can use to warm up as well:
Did I just tell you to prepare for circuit training, with a circuit?!
If you’re curious, here’s my personal (advanced) warm-up:
THE NERD FITNESS ADVANCED WARM-UP:
Jump rope: 2-3 minutes
Jumping jacks: 25 reps
Bodyweight squats: 20 reps
Lunges: 5 reps each leg.
Hip extensions: 10 reps each side
Hip rotations: 5 each leg
Forward leg swings: 10 each leg
Side leg swings: 10 each leg
Push-ups: 10-20 reps
Spider-man steps: 10 reps
Our goal isn’t to tire you out. Instead, we want to warm you up.
That’s step one.
Completing your chosen circuit training routine would be step two.
Below, you’ll find 15 workouts you can follow along with! And if you like our style of workouts, you might like our new app, Nerd Fitness Journey!
Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).
Right now, you can try it for free for a full week (no credit card required). Jump in below:
We’ll also walk you through each movement for both Days A and B below. I would recommend picking one of our 5 Beginner Gym Workouts, going through the leveled progressions, and working your way up to the circuits below:
There are all sorts of different ways to do circuit training. We just showed you fifteen.
YOUR MISSION: Complete one of the above circuit training workouts! If you don’t know which one to pick, start with the Beginner Bodyweight Circuit. It’ll get you used to the idea of hustling from one exercise to the next.
And you can do it in your living room!
If you’re looking for more hands-on instruction and customized guidance, check out our 1-on-1 Coaching program. You’ll work with our certified NF instructors who get to know you better than you know yourself, and then build a workout program that is specific to your exact goals.
Simply put, we tell you exactly what to do every day, and how to eat. And then, we check in with you regularly to make sure you’re doing it!
If you got this far in the article, I really want you to try one of these workouts. Right NOW. I always mention the most important step in a fitness journey is starting it. Today, start circuit training.
Once completed, I’d love for you to share your story with the community in the comments:
How’d it go?
Did you get through three full circuits?
Which routine did you pick?
Find a circuit you’re comfortable with, and do it.
This High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) guide is probably the best interval training guide in the galaxy.
My justification for such a bold claim?
We’re really good at this stuff, AND we have dinosaurs and Muppets.
Plus, lots of great gifs:
We build custom interval training programs just like the ones in this guide for our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients, including workouts for at home, the gym, or even while traveling.
In this Ultimate Guide to Interval Training, we’ll cover:
If you’re interested in starting a HIIT practice (which you are, ’cause you’re here), you may want to try our new app! It contains a fun adventure that will take you from sitting on your couch to a full HIIT workout – with plenty of benchmarks in between for you to find your groove. No guesswork needed, just jump into the app and follow it’s next steps.
You can sign-up for a free trial right here:
Alright, let’s do this thang.
What is Interval Training? What is HIIT?
In 2018, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was ranked the number one fitness trend by American College of Sports Medicine.
HIIT typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform.
Essentially, HIIT is just following a specific regimen where you vary your speeds and intensity throughout a shorter run, swim, bike, or row.
Any exercise can be a form of HIIT, but here’s a common routine:
Jogging lightly for three minutes.
Pushing yourself harder for a minute (run or sprint).
Repeating this cycle 4 more times.
Because everybody is busy and overwhelmed, fast results in the least amount of time is why most people discover HIIT.
Plus, you can do HIIT with just about anything, including a jump rope:
You may be asking, “Steve, just how short and intense are we talking about here? Also, your new haircut looks spiffy.”
Thank you, you’re very kind.
So let’s explore the pros and cons of intervals.
What are the Benefits of HIIT? Why Should You Do Interval Training?
The 1996 landmark Tabata study demonstrated the benefits of extreme HIIT.
Dr. Izumi Tabata, from Japan’s National Institute of Fitness and Sports, was obsessed with interval training.
The doctor sought to see exactly what kind of gains were obtained from short, intense, periods of exercise. He conducted an experiment with Olympic athletes on stationary bikes and put them through intense bouts of exercise followed by short periods of rest.
The results were fascinating.
That 6 weeks of moderate-intensity endurance training did not affect anaerobic capacity, but that 6 weeks of high-intensity intermittent training (HIIT) may improve both anaerobic capacity and VO2max simultaneously.
Let’s translate that: compared to regular cardio, HIIT had a greater impact on improving BOTH:
Aerobic increases (endurance).
Anaerobic increases (power).
Tabata was able to demonstrate improvements in his athletes with just FOUR-MINUTE bursts.
So what’s happening here?
Simple: your heart is a muscle.
If you keep your heart beating at a constant rate, never expanding it outside of its comfort zone, it will never grow stronger.
By introducing chaos and pushing your muscles outside of their comfort zone, they must adapt and grow more resilient in order to survive.
Intense interval training challenges your heart by constantly forcing it outside of its comfort zone.
Elliptical. If it has a dial for resistance, it can be used for interval training. For a couple of minutes, go on low resistance (0-2 level). Then crank up the resistance for one minute (up to 8-10). Repeat this process 12 times, which will give you a 20-minute workout.
Stair Climber. Much like the elliptical, alternate between periods of low intensity for two minutes, then one minute for high intensity. The difference with the climber is the dial will control the speed of the stairs. Be careful.
Rowing Machine. Start with a two-minute warm-up. On minute three, row like you’re being chased by the Kraken for a full 60 seconds. Then catch your breath. The rowing machine might be hard to do for a full 20 minutes, since it’s a lot of upper body. Shoot for ten minutes at first.
Jumping Rope.Jumping rope is a full-body exercise. Also, it’s fun. There’s no dial here, your own body controls the pace of the jump. Follow the same two-minute easy, one-minute intense as above. Jump rope can also be done with friends!
So far we’ve just been talking about aerobic exercises.
Let’s cover our other categories, of bodyweight and resistance.
What Are the Best HIIT Exercises? (Two Other Forms of Interval Training)
“Steve, this all sounds great. But I hate running!”
Burpees. Stand up, then squat down, kick your legs out, do a push-up, bring your legs back in, and explode up into a jump. Try to do 20 repetitions, then rest for two minutes. Repeat until you hate yourself:
Push-ups. For 20 seconds, do as many push-ups as possible. Rest. Then do it again. If you’re worried about proper form, check out our push-up guide and watch this:
Pull-ups. Same idea as above, do pull-ups for 20 seconds, then rest. If you can’t do a pull-up, we got you covered in our pull-up progression guide:
Kettlebell swing. For ten minutes, do 20 kettlebell swings on every minute. This will be intense, and worthy of congratulations when you’re done. Check out our 20 Minute Beginner Kettlebell Workout for everything you’ve ever wanted to know about kettlebells.
Battle ropes.If your gym has battle ropes, they’ll be a great tool for HIIT. For intensity, the amount of slack in the rope determines the load. The more slack on the rope the tougher, and more intense, the workout. Also, don’t get stuck in just up and down movements. Some variation will help target different muscles.
Plus, there’s a Batman workout hidden in there. You’re welcome.
We create custom HIIT programs for busy people like you that are ACTUALLY fun. If you’re looking for a supportive coach to guide you and tell you exactly what to do each day, we got you covered!
If you just want a beginner circuit to get started with, you can try out our Beginner Bodyweight Workout Routine. Plus you can download a free worksheet to track your progress with this circuit when you join the Rebellion below:
Grab Your Beginner Bodyweight Routine Worksheet. No Gym Required!
Complete this workout at home, no equipment required
Avoid the common mistakes everybody makes when doing bodyweight exercises
Learn how to finally get your first pull-up
Oh, what’s that? You want to have even MORE fun while getting the benefits of HIIT?
Sure. Let’s think outside the box:
Basketball, tennis, soccer, and Ultimate (frisbee) are AMAZING styles of exercise that use interval training (it’s all start and stop!).
Run here, catch this, and wait for the next round to start.
That’s what we’re looking for in a HIIT workout.
So pick a form of FUN exercise that gets your heart racing faster and slower throughout the activity (yes, I suppose even THAT activity would count).
Is HIIT Good for Losing Weight? Is Interval Training Good for Losing Weight?
My guess is that you’re reading this article because you’re trying to get the most efficient “bang for your buck” when it comes to getting in shape.
And HIIT is a great form of exercise and COULD help with weight loss.
I will, however, lower some of these outlandish claims that exist in the media.
For example, Time magazine calls HIIT “miraculous” in one article.
That’s a little much, even for me, who writes for a living on why you should work out and likes using hyperbole for effect.
Seriously, I’m better at it than ANYBODY ON THE PLANET.
Cardio, strength training, and HIIT all have many benefits.
However, a meta-study reviewed HIIT compared to steady-state cardio, specially looking at fat loss.
Regular exercise is an integral component of long-term weight management. However, unless implemented in very large volumes, short-term exercise in isolation (including HIIT) is unlikely to produce clinically meaningful fat loss.
What’s that mean?
As long as your energy expenditure is the same (and you’re in a caloric deficit), steady-state cardio is equivalent to HIIT for fat loss.
In other words, if you want to lose body fat, how you eat will be responsible for 80% of your success or failure.
It doesn’t matter how many intervals you do – it’s not gonna help you lose weight if you don’t also fix your nutrition.
Oh, and if you want help along the way, don’t forget about our Online Coaching Program:
Mistakes to Avoid When Doing High-Intensity Interval Training
There’s a lot to consider when embarking on a HIIT practice.
No matter which routine you end up starting with, make sure you follow these words of wisdom:
Ease into it. As the saying goes, “you must walk before you can run.” The importance is building a HIIT practice. If you need to go “less intense” before progressing to “intense,” that’s fine. It’ll help build your aerobic capabilities (endurance), which will be important when working on intensity. Start with walking.
Keep proper form. Doing your movements correctly will help prevent injury. Here’s how to run properly. This is even more critical in your later intervals, where you may be exhausted and tired. If you find yourself breaking form, go ahead and slow down. Intense isn’t worth an injury.
Get rest. Our bodies actually build muscle while we are resting. So take some “off days” from your HIIT practice. Want to stay active on these days? Do some fun exercise!
Take it easy, focus on your form, and make sure to prioritize rest.
HIIT Timer Recommendations
HIIT centers on doing intervals.
One moment it’s intense, the next you’re onto a short rest break.
A good way to know when it’s time to go from one sequence to the next is a timer. A loud “beep” can tell you when it’s okay to catch your breath or when you have to kick it in gear.
Here are 5 HIIT timers you can try out:
Runtastic. Don’t let the name fool you, this free app is for more than just running. You can customize for many different interval workouts, depending on what exercise you go with. And the interface looks slick.
Seconds. It’s free and customizable to any form of HIIT. It can also integrate with your music, which is pretty sweet.
Seven. If you’re new to HIIT, Seven would be a good app for you. It’s free, plus it has illustrations for exercises. You also get to customize your own virtual personal trainer, which may be the future of fitness. The bots are coming…
Sworkit.First off, it’s a clever name (taken from “Simply Work It.”) Second, it’s free. Third, it can display your workout, goals, and calories burned. I like it.
J&J Official Seven Minute Workout. This free app from Johnson & Johnson is actually really awesome. It has premade workouts you can choose form based on your fitness level, or tweak them to make it your own.
Also, we need to talk about interval timers. Most of the apps referenced are completely customizable.
For example, you can change the intense interval from 120 seconds to 90 seconds.
This is critical because it’s up to you to decide how long you can do intense vs. rest.
Generally, folks recommend one minute of intensity and then two for rest when doing HIIT.
However, this all depends on the individual, and exercises performed.
For example, burpees are tougher to do than jumping over a rope:
So feel free to make changes like 30 seconds of intensity and three minutes of rest. Make it your own.
Whatever way you chose to do HIIT, is fine, as long as you actually do it. The benefits of HIIT kick in when going HARD for you.
In other words, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to get the benefits of HIIT.
A light jog totally works. Just don’t do it in a mascot costume.
As we discussed, if you’re consistent, you’ll improve.
So don’t stress about where you have to start.
For now, download an app and get going. Ours will help you train with HIIT too:
I hate multiple choice. Pick a HIIT workout for me!
Let’s power walk as our form of HIIT.
This is an example of a beginner HIIT workout we might prescribe for our Coaching Clients who are starting to train for their first 5K.
Let’s do seven intervals, two minutes each:
Warm-up. For three minutes, walk at an easy pace.
Intervals.For the first 60 seconds, power walk, like you’re trying to beat someone to the front of the line at Starbucks.
For the next 60 seconds, just walk.
Repeat six more times.
Cool down.You can do some more light walking, or a little bit of stretching here would be great.
Total time: 20 minutes.
I want to stress, that you can do just about any exercise in exchange for this routine. Just minus “power walk” and add “push-ups and bodyweight squats”
It’ll still be a great HIIT workout.
“But Steve, that’s still multiple choice!”
Right, right… sorry. Stick to power walking! Done!
How to Start Interval Training now
Do our power walking routine above. It’s a great place to start.