Low Impact HIIT Routine
What to Do When You’re Injured
Looking for a low impact HIIT routine? When your joints aren’t cooperating, it’s difficult to incorporate exercise of a higher intensity level into your workout routine. If you’ve herniated a disc or your knees are complaining, or if you’ve recently had a surgery that requires some rest, you can listen to your body and heed its warnings to avoid plyometrics or high-impact cardio like running.
However, when my clients have experienced this kind of pain, they also experience the fear of losing results. What if I move backwards?
Their fear of regressing is normal and understandable. I have had minor injuries as an active person, and each time I feel “benched” by nagging pains, I, too, worry that I won’t be able to maintain the weight at which I’m most happy, or that I will lose my cardiovascular endurance. I relate to my clients very much at these times!
The reality is that injuries – whether they’re minor or major – can (and do) happen to many, many active people. While measures should be taken and best practices should be followed to prevent injury, it’s almost inevitable that active people will eventually tweak something or have an unrelated surgery or procedure that takes high-intensity exercise off the table, at least temporarily.
So what should you do?
Many health care providers are hesitant to recommend specific exercises, because of the fear that you (the patient) will hurt yourself. The reality is that you definitely should avoid exercises that feel as though they are irritating your pain or discomfort.
However, in most cases, there are exercises that you can perform (and even get a sweat on!) if you are injured or recovering from an illness or surgery. Being moderately active can actually speed recovery, as long as you don’t over-do it! Just be sure to keep your healthcare provider in the loop and to ask for specific advice.
A Low Impact HIIT Routine
First of all, what is HIIT?
HIIT is high-intensity interval training. It means that you go really hard for a short, specified period of time, and take rests to recover during short breaks. HIIT is all about maximizing your level of effort, and a HIIT workout can also be shorter and more compact than a more moderate workout.
The key to creating a HIIT workout while you’re injured is to reduce rest and to really fatigue muscle groups. You can still move through many ranges of motion with proper form when you’re injured, but the key is to avoid strain. By keeping weight low, reps high, form perfect, and incorporating some iso-holds, you can get a vigorous workout in even without lots of jumping or high weight.
I find that some people prefer the nature of a HIIT workout over long, steady-state cardio anytime, but this can largely be up to personality and taste! However, HIIT also ramps up intensity to the point that your body becomes more efficient at distributing oxygen more quickly throughout your body. This means that even though it’s a shorter workout, your endurance could be improved in all of your athletic activities by incorporating HIIT-like workouts into your weekly mix, even under normal circumstances!
Here’s the at-home routine I would recommend if you are recovering from an injury and need a lower-impact version of a high-intensity workout. All you need is an exercise mat!
But remember, always listen to your body! If something hurts or has a sharp, pinching feeling, you should find an alternative move that does not hurt!
Circuit 1 – complete three rounds, and rest one minute between each round
Alternating Forward Lunges – 15 reps on each side
Alternating Curtsey Lunges – 15 reps on each side
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls – 15 reps
Bodyweight Squats – 15 reps, end with a 30-second hold, then rest 1 minute before repeating circuit
Circuit 2 – complete three rounds, and rest one minute between each round
Forearm Plank – 30 seconds
Forearm Side Plank – 30 seconds on each side
Alternating Deadbugs – 15 reps on each side
Three Leg Dog Flow – 15 reps on each side, rest 1 minute before repeating circuit
Circuit 3 – BONUS ROUND – complete three rounds, and rest one minute between each round
Marching Bridges – 15 on each side
Single Leg Bridge Push-Ups – 8 on each side
Bird Dogs with Renegade Rows – 15 on each side
Prone Leg Lifts – 15 on each side, rest 1 minute before repeating circuit
Try it out and let me know what you think!