Want an intense workout with minimal stress on the joints? Try this low-impact HIIT bodyweight workout from Speedflex PT Tommy Wanless…
High-intensity interval training, aka HIIT, or combining intense workout efforts with brief periods of recovery, boasts loads of benefits. Evidence shows it makes a good replacement for traditional aerobic workout methods – intense intervals are said to be as good as longer-duration, moderate cardio for boosting VO2 max energy efficiency – plus, it’s been found to raise resting metabolic rate (RMR), so bodies continue to burn calories for at least two hours after exercise.
Related: What is a HIIT workout?
But high-impact HIIT (think, weighted box jumps, sprinting, plyometric push-ups) can be hard on the body. High-impact moves put a lot of stress on joints and, done too often or without a good foundation of fitness, can lead to a risk of joint or muscle injury. Muscles have to contract faster, and ground reaction force is much higher than during other activities, so it’s not something you should do day in, day out.
The good news is, there is an alternative. Fortis is a group HIIT fitness class that focuses on workouts with high-intensity yet low-impact moves. Using Speedflex machines, it’s been designed to not put any impact through joints, meaning you can work out to your max without getting severe DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness).
Related: How to create a home workout routine
How to do this low-impact HIIT workout
Bodyweight moves are an effective way of improving strength, cardiovascular fitness and athletic power with no equipment, so you can reap the benefits of an awesome low-impact HIIT workout in the comfort of your home. We’ve tapped expert Tommy Wanless for six Fortis-inspired bodyweight moves you can try right now.
Do each of the following exercises for 40 seconds, with 15 seconds of recovery between moves, and repeat three rounds.
- Cross-body Punches
- Air Slams
- Sumo Squat to Knee Raise
- Plank Knee-Taps
- 3-Way Lunge
- Glute Bridge to Sit Up
Keep reading for full instructions on how to perform each bodyweight exercise in this low-impact HIIT workout.
Related: What is HIRT? High Intensity Resistance Training
Start with cross-body punches, performed at a high pace to get your heart pumping – working your shoulders, biceps and triceps.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Lean slightly forward with your arms bent, fists by your jaw.
- Begin by twisting to the left and punching your right arm to the left across your body, around shoulder height (A).
- Pull your right arm back into the starting position by your jaw, then twist to the right and punching your left arm across (B).
- Make sure you extend your arms fully with each rep, to get the most out of this exercise. You can perform this slowly with control and still get a good workout.
Now that you’re warmed up, pick up the pace and begin to build muscle power, strengthening and toning your arms, shoulders, thighs and glutes with this move.
- Squat down in a sumo squat position, with your feet wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out 45 degrees, and a nearly 90-degree bend at the knee (A).
- Pick up your imaginary slam ball by extending at the knee and raise onto the tip of your toes (calf raise), with both arms above your head (B).
- Use full force and imagine slamming down the weighted ball (C). Perform quickly and with power to really maximise the performance.
- If this is too tough, take out the calf raise at the top of the movement and simply extend the knee to a standing position.
Sumo Squat to Knee Raise
This exercise is guaranteed to engage your core. Combining sumo squats with knee raises, which target the hips and abs, it’s bound to get you sweating!
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out to 45 degrees, arms bent with elbows slightly flared, and hands together in front of you at chest height (A).
- Squat down until your legs are at around 90 degrees (B).
- Stand up and, as you get to the top of the move, lift one knee to the same elbow (C).
- Perform another squat and lift the other knee to the other elbow. Continue alternating.
- Be sure to perform with speed and keep your knees tracking over your toes at all times. To simplify the exercise, you can perform it slowly with control, lifting your knee into the air but not all the way up to your elbow.
This ab move can be tailored to suit your ability – simply adjust the speed and intensity. The simple addition of knee taps increases resistance, strengthening the chest and abdominal muscles.
- Place both hands in a normal press-up position, with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and feet together (A).
- Push the ground away from your hands and imagine pulling your shoulder blades apart.
- Bring one knee to the same elbow, crunching your abs and obliques on that side (B).
- Return your foot to the start and repeat with the other leg. Continue alternating.
- Think about bracing your core, squeezing your glutes, and ensuring a solid, flat lower back so your hips neither sag nor are too high.
- This exercise can either be performed slowly for control or fast to maintain a high heart rate.
Lunges are a great exercise, not only for improving core stability and increasing muscle mass, but also for improving balance and flexibility.
- Starting in an upright position (A), drop forward into a lunge with the right leg, hands on the hips.
- Push through the front leg to return to the start position, then drop into a lateral lunge (the same action as above but moving to the side instead).
- Drop into a reverse lunge (B), using the same action as above but moving backwards instead.
- Repeat with the left leg, then continue alternating.
- Ensure the front knee doesn’t go over the toes when in the lunge stance and keep your shoulders back to maintain a neutral spine. This exercise can be made easier by simply alternating reverse lunges.
Glute Bridge to Sit Up
As well as strengthening the glutes, this exercise can help to improve posture and strengthen the core. Combining this with crunches is the perfect way to wrap up our Fortis-style workout.
- Lie down on your back, bending your knees so your feet are flat on the floor and hands are by your bum (A).
- Squeeze your glutes and push your hips into the air until your body creates a bridge position (B), then lower back to the start position with your bum on the floor.
- Next, proceed into a sit-up, crunching your abs and lifting your shoulders off the floor. You don’t need to crunch too high – simply squeezing the abs and lifting the shoulders slightly off the floor is perfect.
- Lower back down and repeat. You could do a lying knee-raise (knees to your chest as you lie on the floor), or raising alternate legs (C), instead of doing a sit-up.
Click here to discover more classes from Fortis classes. You can also access Fortis classes via a Gympass membership. Visit site.gympass.com/uk/ to find out more.
Similar workouts to try:
- 30-minute high-intensity workout for women
- Rest day workout: Low intensity stretch circuit
- 25-Minute Pilates HIIT Workout