The last few years have seen an explosion in the popularity of HIIT training. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, and the idea is to alternate between periods of all-out, high intensity activity and periods of recovery.
Runners have long done this to build speed and endurance: sprinting for 200 yards, jogging a 200-yard recovery, and repeat, for instance. HIIT workouts entered the mainstream fitness world in the last decade or so. And the trend isn’t slowing down. A recent survey of industry experts listed HIIT as a top fitness trend for 2020. (1)
Why do people like it so much? There are some real benefits to this kind of workout, which may include any kind of cardio, aerobic activity, from cycling to running to doing burpees:
Tabata is a subset of HIIT that is even shorter and more intense. Check out this comparison of the two to see which is more effective.
HIIT can be an effective, efficient workout, and fun too, but it’s not perfect and it isn’t right for everyone. Even for those who enjoy HIIT workouts, it shouldn’t be done more than once or twice a week. Here are some of the issues and problems:
A growing trend in gyms and with personal training clients is a workout that combines the benefits of HIIT with the safer, gentler aspects of a low-impact workout. Also known as HILIT, a high intensity low impact training session can get your heart rate up, burn calories, improve cardio fitness and muscle strength, and protect you from injury, joint damage, and pain.The Benefits of High Intensity Low Impact Training
HILIT workouts are growing in popularity because they have some great benefits:
Of course, as a trainer, you know that everyone is different and not every workout works best for every individual. You may have clients in great shape who enjoy the challenges of a HIIT workout. They might find HILIT too slow or boring.
Another potential issue is intensity. It’s simply more difficult to get the heart rate up doing low impact moves. It helps to wear a fitness watch that measures heart rate, so you know if you need to increase the intensity. One of the benefits of high-impact training is that it builds bone density, something you’ll miss out on doing only low-impact workouts.
Low-impact exercise that still gets the heart pumping can be as easy as hopping on the spin bike. Cardio machines that are gentle on the joints, like stationary bikes, rowing machines, and ellipticals are perfect for HILIT workouts. You can still get the intensity of a HIIT workout but without the impact. A basic HILIT workout on any of these machines might look like this:
This basic plan can be modified for the time you have available, the intensity you want for the workout, and recovery periods. It’s simple, easy, and fast.
Another way to design a HILIT workout is with a circuit. Alternating between moves that are intense and get the heart rate up, and easier, recovery moves give you a lot of options. Here are some of low-impact exercises that can be intense enough for a HILIT circuit: