All LIIT up!
Like the idea of interval training but are put off by how fast and sweaty HIIT can be? Then there is good news! There’s a new workout in town that’s much calmer than HIIT, but still delivers many of the same health benefits. LIIT, or low-intensity interval training, is made up of a mix of low-impact exercise intervals and generous rest intervals. Do regular sessions and the results could be lower blood pressure, stronger bones and muscles, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers and stroke.
Sounds great, right? So what’s the catch? The only catch is that you’ll have to work out for longer. The slower pace and reduced intensity of LIIT means your active intervals need to last between 30 seconds and two minutes, and your complete workout at least 45 minutes in order to get the same results as you would with HIIT.
As it’s low impact, LIIT is a particularly great form of exercise for fitness newbies and anyone with a higher risk of injury, such as older and obese people. But seasoned gym goers can also benefit from a session. Members enjoy the gentler pace of LIIT training, and find it a more manageable form of exercise than their usual workouts. In fact, lots of people enjoy doing LIIT sessions with a workout buddy or as part of a small group, as they can support each other and talk easily while they exercise. Ready to give it a go? Try the beginner’s workout below.
Your LIIT workout
Set aside 45 minutes. Lace up and give this a go...
- Complete each exercise for 60 seconds at 50-80 per cent of your maximum effort. Rest for 2 minutes before moving on to the next one.
- Once you’ve completed all five exercises, you’ll have finished one circuit. Aim to do at least three circuits, gradually working up to four or more.
- During your rest interval, try to keep moving by walking or jogging on the spot. But if you need to rest completely, that’s fine too.
FIRST, WARM UP... Because LIIT is done at a slow pace and is low impact, you don’t need to do a long warm up. Just walk or jog on the spot for 2 minutes.
1. (No jump) squat
Start by standing with feet hip-width apart and your hands at your sides. Slowly squat down, making sure to bend at your knees, not your waist. Aim to touch the floor at either side of you with your fingertips. Slowly come back to standing, reaching your hands to the sky and coming up onto your toes. Repeat for 60 seconds, then rest for 2 minutes.
TIP: Don’t worry if you can’t quite touch the floor in your squat, just go as far as you can without feeling any pain.
2. Side step and touch
Start with your feet together. Step your left leg out to the side, and at the same time reach your right hand across your body and towards your left foot (twisting your waist). Step your leg back to the centre, and come back up to standing. Repeat, alternating sides each time, for 60 seconds, then rest.
TIP: If you can’t reach your foot, aim for your ankle or shin instead. To make this harder, step your leg out further to the side.
Stand tall with your hands on your hips. Transfer your weight to your right leg, and slowly lift your left foot off of the floor. Extend your raised leg out to the front, then to the side and finally behind you. Repeat for 30 seconds, keeping your leg raised. Swap legs and repeat for 30 seconds. Rest for 2 minutes.
TIP: Challenge yourself by raising your leg higher and lifting your arms above your head.
4. Slow burpee
From standing, bend your knees and place your hands on the floor in front of you. Step your right leg back behind you. Step your left leg back to meet it so you’re in a press-up position. Step your right foot back to your hands, followed by your left leg. Stand up. Repeat for 60 seconds, alternating starting legs. Rest for 2 minutes.
TIP: Too hard? Put your hands on a step or low stool instead of the floor.
5. Assisted sit-ups
Lay on a mat with your arms at your side and a slight bend in your knees. Slowly rise up to sitting, pressing your hands into the mat for extra support if needed. Slowly lower yourself back to the floor. Repeat for 60 seconds, then rest for 2 minutes.
TIP: Make your core work harder by crossing your arms across your chest. Breathe out as you come up, keeping your chin lifted off your chest so your airway stays open.
FINALLY, COOL DOWN... Walk on the spot for 2-4 minutes until your breathing and heart rate return to normal. Stretch out your back, chest, shoulders, arms and legs. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds taking slow controlled breaths.