12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts: A Beginner's Guide

We know some of you guys have been with us for years now, but if you found 12 Minute Athlete just recently, this guide is for you.

There’s so much information out there that makes health and fitness look much more difficult than it really is. But at 12 Minute Athlete, we want to prove to you that working out can be much easier than you think, and keeping up a good workout routine isn’t really as hard as you may thought.

12 Minute Athlete is a great fit for you if you want to get in the best shape of your life, but you

  • Don’t have much time
  • Don’t like to have to go to the gym to lift weights
  • Don’t have much or any workout equipment
  • Don’t want to do long, boring hours of cardio
  • Want to get stronger and fitter in less time

You can get in the best shape of your life without a lot of time, equipment, or space. In this post, we’ll show you exactly what you need to know to get started with 12 Minute Athlete and start rocking the workouts today.

How to Get Started with 12 Minute Athlete Workouts

Most of our standard HIIT workouts are 12 minutes long and consist of six exercises. You will perform the first exercise for 30 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the second exercise. You’ll perform all six exercises that way, always having the 10 second break between. You’ll repeat the same sequence for three times.

That’s what we mean when you see Timer setting: 18 x :10 x :30 below the workout description.

Your workout will take you 12 minutes and then you can move on and enjoy the rest of your day. Just remember you need to work as hard as you can during those work intervals in order for the workout to be as effective as possible.

Check out this page for the other types of workouts we do on the site.

What You’ll Need for the Workouts

The simplest way to do the workouts is to get the official 12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts App. With the app, the entire workout sequence will be right in front of you. The app comes with a built-in timer, so you don’t have to worry about using a separate stopwatch or timer and you don’t even have to set anything up. You can just choose a workout based on the equipment you have available (if you have nothing, that’s totally cool too), and the app will literally tell you step by step, what to do next.

If you’d like to read more, here’s a story from our team member Kersten and why she started using the app, even though she was hesitant at first!

If you don’t have the app, you’ll still need an interval timer. There are many free apps available that you can use on your phone, like this. You can always use a timer/stopwatch. For example, Gymboss is a great option that you can use for interval training. You can always find new, free workouts on our Workouts page.

What Equipment You’ll Need (If Any)

Here’s the best part of 12 Minute Athlete workouts—you don’t need any equipment at all to do them. We have hundreds of equipment-free workouts on the site and in the app that are absolutely amazing and will get you in the best shape of your life, as long as you work hard. To see what we mean, try out the example bodyweight workout at the end of this post.

However, we do use some equipment once in a while to mix things up and keep the workouts interesting. There’s no need to go and buy all of these things right now as you’re just starting out, but you can pick a few items to make your workouts even more fun as you get more experienced. Most of these items are very durable and rarely need to be replaced.

Here’s a few pieces of equipment we like to use in our workouts: medicine balls, kettlebells, jump ropes and sandbags. We often use plyo boxes for jumps and step ups, but you can easily use a park bench or another sturdy object for that purpose. Many workouts require pull up bars and dip bars, but you may be able to find them outdoors as well. And yes, we like to do most of our workouts outside if the weather allows.

You can often substitute equipment-based exercises for bodyweight exercises. Our goal is to convince you that it’s absolutely possible to work out using just your own bodyweight, so not having any equipment should never be your excuse!

How Often Should You Work Out?

If you’re fairly new to HIIT or strength training, we recommend you start out with two to three workouts a week. If you get very sore and tired (these workouts are no joke so it can definitely happen!), two workouts a week is great. If you recover well, you can do three.

Check out this post for more on how often you should work out based on your goals.

Remember, rest is important and you should always give your body at least one or two full days off of training each week. And always make sure your form is good to avoid injuring yourself! Here’s how to dobasic bodyweight exercises.

Is 12 Minutes Really Enough?

We get that question often and totally understand it. Many people think that working out can only be effective if you do it at least an hour a day. The bottom line is that this is simply not true. People all over the world can assure you that these 12 minute workouts really make a difference.

Here’s an important part though: you have to work as hard and as fast as you possibly can during the workouts. This is how HIIT (high intensity interval training) works: it’s all about intensity. Intensity is what allows you to burn the greatest amount of fat, while spending just minimal time actually working hard.

Try to constantly challenge yourself when doing these workouts. Push hard!

And don’t forget to remain fairly active in your regular lifestyle as well.

How to Make the Most of Your Workouts

Unlocking your potential and getting in the best shape you’ve ever been in means that working out should become a part of your lifestyle. But you also need to make sure that you recover well. Your workouts are only as good as your recovery is, so don’t overlook it.

For best results, here are some of our recommendations for better recovery:

  • Eat fairly soon after working out. Make sure that you have both carbs and proteins with your post workout meal
  • Eat enough! We’ve seen so many times how people skip their meals or try to eat as little as possible, because they hope to lose weight faster. This approach puts your body in a stress state, may lead to unhealthy eating behaviors, slows down your digestion, causes an imbalance in your hormone levels, may disrupt your sleep, and more
  • Do your best to get a good night’s sleep
  • Stretch and foam roll
  • Take some downtime to do your favorite things (don’t only work out!)

It’s all about balance!

Example 12 Minute Workout Workout

Here is an example equipment-free workout you can try anywhere:

Timer setting: 18 x :10 x :30


1. Burpees
2. Reptile push ups
3. Squat jumps
4. Walking lunges
5. Mountain climbers
6. V ups

Remember, you need to work as hard as you can during each of the 30 second intervals in order to get the most out of the workout. Try it out and let us know how you do!

Work Hard and Have Fun!

We hope that this guide helps you to get started with 12 Minute Athlete workouts as quickly as possible. Put in some hard work during those 12 minute workouts, hold nothing back, and you’ll start seeing results before you know it!

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3 thoughts on “12 Minute Athlete HIIT Workouts: A Beginner's Guide”

  1. Thank you for such an amazing article. I suggested this article to one of my friend. She told me that, she has got many benefits from this article. She said she has build strength and found again in her muscle mass.

  2. Can you explain what this means: Timer setting: 18 x :10 x :30 ?
    Later in the article you mention 30 second intervals, so I’m assuming that you do each exercise for 30 seconds. Is 18 the number of reps? and the 10?

    • The timer settings for all the workouts are the number of rounds x the rest period x the work period. So for a workout that shows 18 x :10 x :30, it would mean you’ll be setting your timer for 18 rounds of 10 second and 30 second intervals. Rest on the 10 second ones, then work as hard as possible on the 30 second ones!


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