LIIT: Your favourite new low impact workout
Here’s what you need to know about LIIT, the low impact exercise trend taking London by storm
HIIT vs LITT?
HIIT exploded onto the wellness scene some years ago as a turbo-charged quick fix for optimal physical performance. The health benefits of short bursts of high octane cardio vascular exercise are many and varied: the short duration of HIIT sessions is convenient for those leading ultra busy lives, the boost to the metabolism continues for hours after exercise, increased oxygen consumption leads to better lung function, and lowered heart rate and blood pressure lead to good cardiovascular health.
But HIIT has drawbacks: the high impact training can damage joints long term; the high intensity can cause physical and emotional upset due to overproduction of cortisol (the stress hormone) and sex hormones; over exercising can lead to exhaustion of the nervous system and impairment of the immune system; HIIT can even induce dizziness or heart problems in those not fit enough to take on this intense form of exercise in the first place.
LIIT, on the other hand, offers all the benefits of HIIT but none of the long-term pain. Low impact exercise is movement that doesn’t bring your limbs into contact with a hard surface at high speed or with great force – the risk of injury and stress on the body and joints is greatly reduced, making it the ideal form of exercise for all ages and abilities.
What to do during a Low Impact Interval Training session
During an LIIT session, you work all the major muscle groups in your body using intervals of exertion followed by generous intervals of less strenuous exercise (the same format as that used in HIIT), rotating through several different challenging and controlled exercises for a duration of 20 – 30 minutes. You can use weights or resistance bands to improve muscle tone and burn fat, use cardio machines if in a gym, devise your own low impact cardio routine at home (see below), or simply get out into the great outdoors and do some LIIT walking – fast walk using your arms to propel you forwards for 50 paces, then walk more slowly for 20 paces and repeat this pattern for 20 – 30 minutes.
The key to LIIT training is not only to avoid high impact on your joints, but also to work out at a sustainable pace keeping your heart rate in a training zone between 50-70% of its maximum capability. If you want an accurate reading of your training zone invest in a heart monitor, which will give you a constant guide to your heart rate. In practice, though, you will intuitively know if you are in the zone – your breath will quicken, but you should still be able to talk. You should also break a slight sweat after about ten minutes and feel challenged but not overwhelmed by the exertion.
LIIT is a more mindful approach to exercise than its somewhat frenzied counterpart, HIIT. But Low Impact Interval Training does not mean it has to be low intensity – it can be really hard work. And the really great thing about LIIT is that it makes you want to come back for more.
Where to find low impact exercise classes: London
FLY LDN, East London
FLY LDN has added some inspiring LIIT classes to its extensive schedule.The low impact barre class at FLY uses heavy weights, resistance bands and Pilates, Yoga and Dance inspired movements to get you toned, lean and strong. Alternatively opt for their TRX class, which combines weight and TRX suspension training (the TRX straps attached to the wall or slung over a door frame allow you to use your bodyweight in a variety of challenging but low impact poses).
Location: 24 Creechurch Lane, London EC3A 5EH
Click here for more details
Body by Simone, Primrose Hill
A fitness studio with cultish popularity in LA and NY, Body by Simone has recently opened in Delancey Street Primrose Hill. Owner Simone de la Rue combines dance moves with low weight repetitions, interspersed with intervals of low impact dance cardio, to fashion the body beautiful.
Location: 86-88 Delancey Street London NW1 7SA.
Click here for more details
Core Collective, Hight Street Kensington, & Knightsbridge
This West London fitness studio offers a range of seven classes, varying in intensity and impact from the super gruelling ‘Lift and Row’ to the more mindful low impact/low intensity 55-minute glorious stretching routine. Also worth a try is the TRX class, which offers 45 minutes of moderate intensity resistance exercises.
Location: Kensington - 45 Phillimore Walk London W8 7RZ, Knightsbridge - 23 Pavilion Rd, London SW1X 0HP
Click here for more details
Try this beginner’s low impact workout at home
This 15 minute LIIT routine uses body weight resistance and low impact cardio. Remember to stretch before and after exercise.
- High knee marching for 60 seconds (bringing each knee, one at a time, towards the opposite elbow). Then walk on the spot for 30 seconds
- Ab crunch 30 seconds, then air cycle 60 seconds, keeping your back flat on floor. Rest 15 seconds.
- Box press ups 30 seconds (assume position on all fours and, bending arms, lower upper body towards floor). Rest 15 seconds.
- Plank 30 seconds (do not let back sag), then repeat plank 30 seconds.
- Fast, shallow squats for 30 seconds, then slow steady squats for 30 seconds.
- Hip bridge, holding the hips in a raised position for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds and repeat hip bridge raised position for 30 seconds
- Shoulder rolling forwards for 30 seconds (rotate both shoulders in a circular movement forwards with arms extended and outstretched to your sides). Then shoulder rolling backwards for 30 seconds.
- Wide legged walking squat 60 seconds (adopt a wide legged squat, with feet about 1 metre apart and move forwards in a crab-like walk, keeping your body low). Rest 30 seconds.
- Air box for 60 seconds (punch the air extending first one arm then the other in an imaginary boxing bout, avoiding over vigorous movement that may cause jarring to the elbow).
- Wall squat 30 seconds, (adopt a chair position against the wall), rest 15 seconds, then repeat wall squat 30 seconds.
Repeat routine as required.
If you have any health concerns, consult your doctor or personal trainer before embarking on an exercise routine. LIIT should be used as a part of a more comprehensive fitness regime. You should do two hours of moderately exerting exercise per week to maintain your fitness and three to make fitness gains.