4 Beginner Interval Training Workouts That Will Boost Fat Loss

One of the biggest trends to emerge in fat loss training over the last 20 years has been using high-intensity interval training.

If you are struggling to get rid of those last few stubborn pounds or want to break through a plateau then intervals or HIIT workouts can be a very effective solution.

Not only are they known to increase fat loss, but they actually shorten your workout time as each workout is only around 10-30 minutes depending on intensity and fitness levels.

So if finding the time to workout is a problem then this is another great reason to add interval training into your fitness regime.

Word of warning.

Due to the quick results interval training can bring there is a temptation to do them everyday….not a good idea.

Overdoing them can lead to injury and burnout so just start with 2 sessions of around 20 mins a week and watch your progress before adding in extra sessions.

Warning – If you fall into any of the following situations I do not recommend you start these beginner interval training workouts until you have a foundation of fitness and feel confident to progress.

  1. You are an absolute complete beginner.
  2. You are not used to working out with any type of intensity,
  3. You are returning to exercise from a long layoff due to illness or injury
  4. You are more than 40 pounds overweight.

If any of these are you then for 2 -4 weeks I advise just doing 20-30 minutes of steady-paced cardio 2-3 times per week after a resistance workout.

Once you can complete 30 minutes at level 2 exertion (see below) then I would alternate 2 minutes of level 3 with 3 minutes for level 2 and do that until you can complete 30 minutes.

Once you have done this for several weeks and feel confident in your progress I would try starter workout 1 and do this once a week.

From here progress only when you feel like you can add more intensity into your routine. Keep trying to push your limits but only in small increments.

interval training for beginners

High-Intensity Interval Treadmill/Gym workouts

4 Beginner Interval Training Workouts That Will Boost Fat Loss

On the internet and in a multitude of apps there are literally thousands of high-intensity interval workouts using a variety of equipment or bodyweight routines that are all fantastic and very effective methods to perform your interval workouts.

If these appeal to you then I recommend you give them a go but they are not for everybody.

If you are new to high-intensity interval training or are not confident in your fitness or body movement then I highly recommend you start with one of the cardio machines in your gym.

I have found the bike, rower, or cross trainer to be the most effective cardio machines for beginners. Running on the treadmill is also an excellent choice but it also poses the most problems because when running at speeds where you are out of your comfort zone it is harder to maintain control (unless you are working on a set program) plus there is a greater risk of injury and falling off.

By the way, if you have knee issues or shin splints then I would give the treadmill a miss.

So if you have the confidence to use the treadmill then go for it otherwise stick with the stationary bike because it is safe and you can work at a decent level of intensity if you use the resistance function.

By all means, try other machines but if results are not happening then re-evaluate and try a different option.

If you chose the bike then using resistance as the intensity interval I find is better than sprinting out at high speeds and reduces the risk of any over-training injury.

Note – When doing intervals on the bike you may want to dial back on doing lots more leg-focused workouts if you don’t want to increase the size of your legs.

3 Beginner High-Intensity Interval Workouts

Ok as promised here are 3 classic interval workouts for fat loss and fitness to get you started.

You can apply these to any gym-based cardio machine, walking/running/cycling outside, or even other activities such as skipping or punching a boxing bag.

For all the workouts here is an exertion plan that is used as a guideline for your intervals

Exertion level 1 – Light to moderate. This is the level for all your recovery periods

Exertion Level 2 – Moderate effort. Noticeable increase in breathing. Use this level of exertion for steady-state cardio sessions.

Exertion Level 3 – Moderate to hard effort. Noticeable increase in depth/rate of breathing. Difficulty talking in full sentences. This level is used for intervals early in workouts and when starting with HIIT.

Exertion Level 4 – Hard to extremely hard effort. Unable to talk at all. Gasping for breath.

Beginner Interval Starter Workout 1

This is when we start raising the level and introduce shorter more high-intensity intervals that will raise HGH levels and give your metabolism a stronger boost. This is a great way to start intervals without going too hard.

5 minutes of steady-state pace – level 2 exertion.

6 Intervals of; High Intensity – 20 seconds – Exertion level 3 paceRecovery Interval – 90 Seconds. – Level 1 pace

5-10 mins steady-state level 2 pace.

Beginner Interval Workout 2 Intermediate

As this is the beginning of HIIT don´t go crazy on the intensity even if you feel you can do more, the key is to get your body used to training like this then build the intensity as we progress.

To increase the intensity rather than going harder for longer we are going to reduce the recovery period so that your body has less time to recover properly.

This will cause a higher “Oxygen debt” forcing your body to burn more calories when your body attempts to return to normal after the workout. This is also known as EPOC Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or “afterburn”. This is the basis of why interval training is so effective when it comes to fat loss.

5 minutes of steady state pace – level 2 pace.

6-8 Intervals of; High Intensity – 20 seconds – Exertion level 3 paceRecovery Interval – 60 Seconds. – Level 1 pace

5-10 mins steady-state level 2 pace.

Beginner Interval Workout 3 – Advanced

This is my favorite and one I still use today.

For progressive intensity, we are now going to increase the time of the high interval. This will not only keep increasing the oxygen debt but increase aerobic capacity so we can use more oxygen every time we exercise meaning we can burn more fat. This is known as increasing your VO2 max. Read my previous article for more information.

5 minutes of steady-state pace – level 2 pace.

6-8 Intervals of ;

High Intensity – 40 seconds – Exertion level 3 pace

Recovery Interval – 80 Seconds. – Level 1 pace

5-10 mins steady-state level 2 pace.

Beginner Interval Workout 4 – Advanced

For this workout, I want to change the structure so that you get used to working a little harder for longer to keep increasing your VO2 max. This will also tap deep into your energy reserves due to your increased level of intensity.

Use this one at the beginning of the week when glycogen levels are a little higher after the extra food we tend to consume at the weekend.

So instead of doing the high interval at one pace, you are going to start off at a slower rate and build up the intensity throughout the interval.

The high period is now going to be 1 minute with a recovery of 2 mins. To illustrate this concept fully let’s take an example of doing a bike workout.

If your high-intensity level at the moment is say level 12 resistance then you will start raising the resistance for 40 seconds before hitting your top level for the last 20 seconds. This last phrase should be at level 4 exertion eg.

20secs at 10kph20secs at 11kph20secs at 12kph

Recover at level 1 pace for 2 min


5 minutes of steady-state pace – level 2 pace.

6-8 Intervals of ;High Intensity – 60 seconds – level 2/level 3/level 4Recovery Interval – 120 Seconds. – Level 1 pace

5-10 mins steady-state level 2 pace.


You can keep following these workouts for as long as you want and just keep raising the levels of intensity as you go with great results. I would also encourage you to mix them up over a week so that you do different workouts on different days.

However, I would keep the frequency to no more than 3 sessions per week.

Of course, these workouts are only a guideline and I encourage you to tweak change, or create new ones as you see fit.

Remember intervals are only a tool to use for helping with fat loss. The main focus of any fitness strategy should be a well-designed weight training routine. If you need help with this here is my recommended program.

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