Low Impact, Maximum Effect: 3 HIIT Workouts That Are Joint (and Neighbour) Friendly
1/12/2021 | Andrew Tracey
It’s hard to get through a conversation on training nowadays without bumping into the topic of ‘HIIT’. Although rarely seen performed as it’s technically defined, the term HIIT has effectively become a catchall term for any type of circuit training that focusses on short, sharp workouts with minimal rest and a high heart rate throughout.
Moreover HIIT has become synonymous with explosive, plyometric efforts, performed at home. Riddled with jumping lunges, burpees and sprinting on the spot; less than ideal if you’re recovering from any sort of injury or seeking to preserve your joints for as long as possible, and a recipe for a stern text from your landlord if you happen to live above anyone else.
If you’re looking to keep your heart rate up, your workout time down and reap all of the benefits of the modern day interpretation of HIIT, without launching yourself around your living room like a Lululemon clad Zebedee, we’ve got 3 low impact workouts for you that tick all of the boxes without risking lease and limb.
1. THE NO THRILLS, NO KIT HIT
Two movements, one simple rep scheme- how far up the ladder can you climb? Leaning into the effects of ‘peripheral heart action’, by alternating between upper body and lower body movements, our heart has to work double time to pump blood up and down.
Start a stopwatch and at the beginning of each minute perform five push-ups (or a suitable regression such as a push-up from a box), followed by 5 bodyweight squats, simple. The stinger? Each new minute that elapses, add an additional squat into the mix. Your mission is to work your way through as many minutes as possible until you can no longer fit that prescribed work into sixty seconds, or you quit.
1. Push-up x 5
Drop into a strong plank position, with your core tight and hands stacked beneath your shoulders. Bend your elbows to bring your chest to the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body as you push back up explosively, repeat.
2. Air squat x 5, 6, 7, 8 etc…
Standing tall with your chest up, sink your hips back, bending your knees to drop your thighs until you reach a deep squat. No half-reps here, please. Drive back up explosively and repeat. Keep a controlled tempo and tight form, but move at a heart rate spiking clip- you’ve got a ladder to climb.
2. DUMBBELL HELL
One of the single best investments you can make for you health is procuring a pair of dumbbell (or kettlebells) that you can keep at home, in the office or for the more nomadic among us- in the car boot. Having to accelerate against the resistance of a weight mitigates the need for us to launch ourselves into the air, or onto the carpet.
Set yourself a countdown timer for 15-20 minutes, or whatever you can spare, and work your way through as many round as possible of this triple threat workout. Make a note of your ‘score’ and aim to beat it on your next attempt.
1.Dumbbell thrusters x 5
Clean your pair of dumbbells up to your shoulders and squat down, keeping your back straight and your chest up, until your thighs are beyond parallel to the ground. Stand back up explosively and, in one motion, press both of the dumbbells overhead to full lockout. Reverse the movement and repeat.
2. Dumbbell cleans x 10
Hold your dumbbells at your side, squat and hinge at the hips with your knees bent until the weights touch the floor. Stand back up explosively, using the momentum from your hips to pull the dumbbells on to your shoulders. Lower under control to the ground and repeat.
3. Alternating single arm dumbbell deadlift x 20
Ditch one of your dumbbells and stand with the other between your legs, assuming a slightly wider than shoulder width stance. Hinge at the hips, keeping your back flat and reach down to grip the dumbbell. Squeeze the fist of your opposite hand creating tension and drive your feet into the floor, standing upright with the bell between your legs. Lower to just above the ground under control (to avoid the scorn of your downstairs neighbours), switch arms and repeat.
3. HYBRID DYNAMITE
A dash of dumbbell, a bout of bodyweight and just enough rest to keep pushing on for long enough to maximise results. All without your feet leaving the ground once.
This full body piece can be deployed at anytime. Building strength and athleticism, driving your heart rate through the roof and generally giving you every ounce of exercise related goodness you’ve come to expect.
Here’s the rub- repeat the following circuit as many times as possible in 3 minutes, rest for 2 minutes and repeat. Complete 4 total rounds in this fashion, bringing you in at 18 minutes. Here’s the kicker- the two minutes rest after each round is going to give you plenty of time to recover, so treat each 3 minute ‘work window’ as an absolute all out sprint. Open up the taps and leave no question when that buzzer rings, that you gave it your all.
1. Alternating dumbbell snatches x 6
With one dumbbell on the ground between your legs, squat down with your thighs parallel to the floor and get a good grip. Clench the opposite fist to create tension. Explode up through your hips and knees, generating momentum to pull the dumbbell directly overhead in one movement. Reverse the movement under control, switching hands just below your eye line. As with your deadlifts in the previous workout, don’t allow your bell to touch the ground before repeating.
2. Single dumbbell thruster x 8
After your final snatch, turn your dumbbell sideways, holding it across your chest, your hands gripping the ends. Drop down into a full squat before standing back up explosively and in one motion- pressing the bell overhead. Lower under control to your chest and repeat.
3. Reverse Lunge into High Knee x 16
After your final thruster, drop your bell and continue on with just your bodyweight. Keeping your chest up at all times, take a step backward with one leg, bending your front knee until the back knee touches the ground. Stand up explosively, bringing your back leg all the way through and raising your knee in front of your body. Immediately return to standing and repeat with the other leg. Alternate for 16 total reps.
You may think of your weight bench as more of an ‘accessory’ than a piece of kit in it’s own right. But if you think your bench is designed solely for, well, ‘benching’, you’re not using it to it’s full potential.
Add some of these movements into your rotation and upgrade your bench game.
We touched on everything from coaching biases, nutritional myths and philosophies, and how, even though science is incredibly important, it isn’t completely infallible, and that it’s important to develop our own compass especially when it comes to nutrition and training. Enjoy!
On Episode 28 of The Bulldog Gear Podcast AT goes solo to answer some of your burning questions.