Chances are that you’ve heard of HIIT workouts for weight loss even if you haven’t tried one yet. Why? First, they’re efficient and effective exercises for both weight loss and body toning. In fact, losing and keeping off weight requires regular exercise, at least some of which should be cardio. Personally, as a health & fitness expert and weight-loss coach to a number of women, I can vouch for the effectiveness of HIIT workouts for women in achieving their overall fitness goals.

Of course, you have lots of options when it comes to cardio. However, HIIT offers some special benefits. In fact, it allows you to burn more calories in less time and keep burning them even after your workout is done. So, with all the extra calories that the holidays inevitably add, now’s a great time to try out something new.

Actually, for many people, not gaining weight is a priority. But, with HIIT workouts, you can not only maintain your weight but also actually lose weight (even over the holidays). In fact, many of my private weight loss clients are shocked at how simple weight loss over the holidays is when they eat right and add in a few HIIT workouts per week!

Happy Squirrel Meme

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. And, while you might think it’s a relatively new idea, that’s far from the case. In fact, we have athletes from the early 20th century to thank for the idea.

Postage stamp Finland 1989 Hannes Kolehmainen, runner
1989 stamp showing Hannes Kolehmainen winning the 5000 meter race at the Stockholm Olympics, 1912

Searching for a way to get an edge on the competition, a Finnish long-distance runner, Hannes Kolehmainen, devised (along with his trainer) a system of running that alternated bursts of high-speed with slow jogging. This had the effect of increasing his stamina and endurance while also keeping him in race shape. It worked. He won three gold medals at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics along with another at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics; he’d then go on to break several world records.

Moreover, in the decades that have followed, athletes in all kinds of sports have taken the concept of HIIT and made it their own. Eventually, no matter what they choose to do, the basic idea is that fast, intense bursts of exercise are followed by short intervals with a much lower intensity. In addition to that, these sessions are usually brief: around 25-30 minutes for a full session or as little as five minutes for a quick workout.

The Benefits of HIIT for Weight Loss

Benefits Of HIIT Workouts

To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. However, some fitness activities just don’t burn off as many as you might think. For example, walking a mile seems like a lot of exercise. In fact, depending on your weight, you’ll only shed 65-100 calories!

Actually, HIIT workouts are short, but they burn calories at a surprisingly high rate. And not just that, even an HIIT workout for beginners can keep burning calories for up to 24 hours afterwards.

In fact, a study conducted by the The Journal of Obesity found that HIIT elevates epinephrine and norepinephrine levels significantly, which sends the body into a continuous metabolic state. In other words, this means you’ll burn calories even when you’re sleeping!

A Beginner’s HIIT Workout for Busy Women Who Want to Lose Weight

HIIT workouts are short – great for busy women – and highly effective. In fact, there are lots of ways to incorporate the idea into your fitness regime too by making use of exercise equipment like treadmills and elliptical. But perhaps you want something simple that you can do at home with a minimum amount of equipment? You can do that too!

To help you get started, here’s a simple HIIT workout for beginners that you can do almost anywhere PLUS a shorter program that you can complete any time you have five minutes to spare!

Full HIIT Workout for Sustained Weight Loss

As HIIT isn’t that easy, it’s best to ease into it gently if you’ll be doing it for the first time. For example, starting off with a low-impact workout like this one will help you get used to the pace and avoid injury.

Equipment Needed:

  • A five-pound dumbbell
  • A timer

1. Warm up with simple stretches (5 minutes)

Forward Fold
Warm up stretches

2. Knee lift with weight (1 minute)

Hold your weight over your head, using both arms, and lift one knee. Then bring the weight down to touch it. Next, return to starting position and repeat with the other knee. Continue for one minute.

Knee Lift With Weight 1
Knee Lift With Weight: Step 1
Knee Lift With Weight 2
Knee Lift With Weight: Step 2

3. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

4. Toe touches with weighted lunge (1 minute)

Bring your foot back into a lunge. Next, lift the weight over your head then kick your right foot up as you move the weight towards your toe. Finally, repeat for about 30 seconds and alternate sides.

Lunge Toe Touches: Step 1
Lunge Toe Touches: Step 1
Lunge Toe Touches: Step 2
Lunge Toe Touches: Step 2

5. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

6. Circle Squats (1 minute)

Circle the weight over your head and to one side while stepping out sideways. As you step in, circle the weight back. Finally, repeat for 30 seconds on each side of your body.

Circle Squat
Circle Squat

7. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

8. Swinging Squat (1 minute)

Hold the weight in front of you and step out into a squat sideways as you swing the weight between your knees. Then step back and lift the weight over your head. Next, alternate sides and keep repeating for sixty seconds.

Swinging Squat 1
Swinging Squat: Step 1
Swinging Squat 2
Swinging Squat: Step 2
Swinging Squat 3
Swinging Squat: Step 3

9. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

10. Kick Squats (1 minute)

Squat as low as you can then stand up again, kicking out your right leg. Next, repeat with the left leg and then alternate for sixty seconds.

Kick Squat 1
Kick Squat: Step 1
Kick Squat 2
Kick Squat: Step 2

11. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

12. Rainbow Jumping Jacks (1 minute)

Step out to the side with your right foot while circling your arms over your head. Then circle them in the opposite direction and step left. Do this as fast as you can while moving your arms in circular ‘rainbow’ pattern. Finally, repeat for sixty seconds.

Rainbow Jump Jack 1
Rainbow Jump Jack: Step 1
Rainbow Jump Jack 2
Rainbow Jump Jack: Step 2

13. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

14. Jumping Jack Leg Lifts (1 minute)

Squat and then lift one leg put to the side while holding your arms over your head in a jumping jack “pose”. After that, quickly change legs and then alternate and repeat for sixty seconds.

Jumping Jack Leg Lift 1
Jumping Jack Leg Lift: Step 1
Jumping Jack Leg Lift 2
Jumping Jack Leg Lift: Step 2
Jumping Jack Leg Lift 3
Jumping Jack Leg Lift: Step 3
Jumping Jack Leg Lift 4
Jumping Jack Leg Lift: Step 4

15. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

16. Knees Smashes (1 minute)

Keep your arms above your head and shift your weight to your right knee. Then bring the left knee up as you bring your arms down. Next, switch sides and then alternate and repeat for 60 seconds.

Knee Smashes 1
Knee Smashes: Step 1
Knee Smashes 2
Knee Smashes: Step 2

17. March in place (30 seconds)

March in Place
March in Place

18. Puddle Jumping (1 minute)

First, take a big step to the right moving your arms out wide as you do. Then repeat on the other side and keep going as fast and as wide as you can, alternating sides for 60 seconds.

Puddle Jumping 1
Puddle Jumping: Step 1
Puddle Jumping 2
Puddle Jumping: Step 2

19. Cool down with simple stretches (5 minutes)

Forward Fold
Cool down stretches

As you get used to this workout, you can make it a little more challenging by doing things like using a heavier weight, swapping it out for a kettlebell or simply moving faster. However, don’t complete the whole program more than 3-4 times a week, as doing so may induce injury and fatigue.

Next, when you are ready for something a little harder, try this intense five-minute HIIT workout. Actually, this one is definitely harder, so don’t overdo things. Stopping is not giving in; it’s just being sensible.

Intensive HIIT Workout

Equipment needed: none, this is all body weight work!

Time: 5 minutes

1. Burpee jacks for 20 seconds.

Burpee Jacks 1
Burpee Jacks: Step 1
Burpee Jacks 2
Burpee Jacks: Step 2
Burpee Jacks 3
Burpee Jacks: Step 3
  • Rest for ten seconds.
  • Repeat twice.

2. Squat jumps for 20 seconds.

Squat Jump 1
Squat Jump: Step 1
Squat Jump 2
Squat Jump: Step 2
  • Rest for ten seconds.
  • Repeat twice.

Finally, take one minute’s active rest (marching in place and stretching) and then repeat the circuit for a total of five minutes. Believe it or not, you will have burned between 60-80 calories!


In summary, HIIT can be an excellent way to add the calorie-burning cardio workout you need to achieve sustainable weight loss. In fact, from my own experience, I’ve found that HIIT workouts for women are exceptionally good at achieving the often-sought lean and toned physique. With that being said, try these moves out and see how they work for you.

More importantly, remember to listen to your body when it comes to things like overexertion or fatigue. Your body usually knows best. You can even make a routine “yours” by adding moves (or even music) that you enjoy. Besides, when your body is having fun, so will you!

HIIT Workout Flow Chart

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