The high intensity, low impact training style, that your joints will thank you for.
The health & fitness industry has always been partial to a trend, slogan or buzzword to keep its audience engaged and motivated. Some of these trends have been labelled as fads, having disappeared just as quick as they reached the gym floor, while others have been embraced by the masses and stood the test of time. Fitness trends date far back as the spandex-wearing Jane Fonda Aerobic Workouts, right through to modern-day movements such as Zumba™, Insanity™ and CrossFit™. And it’s not just these disciplines that have come (and some gone), but also a wide array of hashtags, fitness technology, endorsement products and even home fitness equipment – think along the lines of ab-blaster, thigh-master, booty-buster… or any other body part followed by an accompanying verb. How many of these products are now gathering dust, sat on top of the wardrobe in the spare bedroom, in homes across the UK?
One said trend that introduced itself in the early 2010s and has managed to stay current and relevant in the industry, is the HIIT principle. HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training and consists of short sharp bursts of activity, followed by small periods of rest. The purpose of exercising in this way is that by allowing small amounts of time for recovery, you are able to perform at a high intensity for the whole duration of the workout – which is usually no longer than 30 minutes.
Attempting to work out at such a high intensity, without the regular intervals of respite, one would fatigue very soon and ultimately not achieve the benefits of such workout. Therefore, rest intervals are imperative. And the beauty of the HIIT format is that each individual can work at their own ‘high-intensity’ for the allotted time, as there is no number of repetitions or ‘reps’ required. For example, person A may perform 10 push-ups in the 30 seconds, while person B might only achieve 8; however, both are working to their maximum effort. And the benefits of training in this way are not necessarily achieved in the thirty minutes of the workout, but in the following hours of the activity (sometimes up to 24 hours post-workout). This is known as the EPOC effect (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) or the ‘after-burn’; similar to how a car’s engine remains warm after being turned off, once a workout is over and you’re back in your daily routine, your body’s metabolism can continue to burn more calories for the rest of that day, than, let’s say, a day at complete rest.
So how has HIIT continued to be successful for the best part of the last decade?
Well put simply, HIIT is a trend and not a fad. Trends evolve and develop. Fads don’t. A trend is an evolutionary behaviour, that continually gains momentum and can veer in new directions to stay relevant. Fads don’t do this, as their lifespans are short, with their sole purpose to capture people’s attention for that brief period of time – examples of such are short-lived hashtags or challenges that occupy social media for a few days, and are gone faster than… (insert your own metaphor here). It’s widely recognised that HIIT is for those individuals who aren’t afraid to push themselves, elevating their heart rate way above their lactic threshold, deep into their anaerobic training zone, to a point where they are physically and mentally drained, (usually) leaving them lying on their back, panting for breath, in a pool of their own sweat. This isn’t for everyone. Even myself. I’m nearly 35 and, as much as it saddens me, I’m no longer the spring chicken I felt I was in my mid-20’s. So, I need to adapt my training. I need to find a workout that is kind to the joints but reaps all the benefits of HIIT.
Step forward, HILIT…
Similar to its intense cousin, HILIT is no less vigorous than HIIT, however, it IS much gentler on the lower body – the hips, knees and ankles – due to the reduced impact of each movement. HILIT stands for High-Intensity Low Impact Training – and while HILIT’s focus is more injury-prevention, a common misconception is that low impact means zero impact. This is not necessarily the case. To be effective, HILIT must keep the same intensity during the workout but minimise the risk of injury by reducing the load and force of each movement. For many years the school of thought when looking to shift a few pounds of weight, was that you had to push yourself to the limit, following the old adage no pain, no gain! Well HILIT certainly goes against the rules, by all but reducing those pains you used to feel from such exercises as Burpees, Squats and Box Jumps. But don’t worry, this easy-on-the-joints workout is still packed with heart-pumping full-body movements to get you results fast. HILIT is a slow burner – in more senses of the word!
A typical HILIT workout: 40 secs work / 20 secs rest
Round 1: 3 Sets
- Mountain Climbers
- Wall Sits
Round 2: 3 Sets
- Bear Crawls
- Seated Russian Twists
- Plank Shoulder Taps
Round 3: 3 Sets
- Crab Hold with Alternate Toe Taps
- Plank on Elbows