HILIT – The Workout That Will Strengthen Your Joints and Boost Your Fitness

Ein Mann macht eine Kniebeuge ©Ridofranz

High Intensity Low Impact Training (HILIT) combines traditional HIIT training with cardio and strength workouts, so you get the best of both worlds without any bouncing or other exercises that put a lot of stress on your joints. Instead, the focus is on exercises that are easy on the joints but still follow the classic HIIT format, so high intensity is guaranteed.

The format is suitable for anyone who needs a short, effective, and high-intensity workout that is also gentle on the joints. HILIT is perfect for you if you are returning to training after an injury (provided that you have discussed this with a doctor beforehand), you are looking for an alternative workout that does not involve lots of joint impact, or if HIIT training is technically too demanding for you and you still need to work on your technique.

The Warm-Up:

This HILIT workout will develop both strength and endurance. Spend between 5 and 7 minutes warming up before you start the workout.

The Workout:

Do each exercise for 40 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds between each exercise, using this time to catch your breath and prepare for the next exercise, so that you can start on time. After you’ve done all 8 exercises once, take a 60-second break. You should complete 3 sets, although 2 is sufficient for beginners or returners, and experienced athletes can do a maximum of 4 rounds.

Lateral Steps With Mini Band40 seconds15 seconds
Bouncing Jacks40 seconds15 seconds
Military Planks40 seconds15 seconds
Sumo Squat Touches With Heel Raise40 seconds15 seconds
Standing Side Crunches40 seconds15 seconds
Butterfly Sit-Ups with Reach40 seconds15 seconds
Lunges to Front Kicks40 seconds15 seconds
Bird Dog40 seconds15 seconds

The Exercises

For these exercises you will need a mini band, two light weights (or filled plastic water bottles or shakers), a mat, and your own body weight.

Try to repeat each exercise as many times as possible in 40 seconds. As with any workout, the motto for HILIT is quality over quantity. Keep pushing your limits as long as you can perform an exercise with the proper technique. While all the exercises work your whole body and your coordination skills, they all have different focuses.

#1 Lateral Steps With Mini Band

Step into a mini band and position it above your knees so that it is under tension. Squat slightly and take 3 big steps to the right and then the left, alternating direction. Make sure your toes and knees are pointing straight ahead.

Muscles: glutes, abductors, hamstrings, quads.

Easy variation: Omit the mini band.
Hard variation: Use a stronger band.

#2 Bouncing Jacks

Like jumping jacks, but with a bounce instead of a jump. Get your cardiovascular system going! Stand with your legs slightly bent and tap the floor alternately to your right and left with the tip of each foot. Bend your arms so that your elbows form a right angle and your upper arms are at the side of your body. Each time your foot taps the floor, bring your hands together over your head. Bounce gently through your knees with every movement, keeping your legs slightly bent.

Muscles: the entire body.

Easy variation: Slow down.

Hard variation: Speed up.

#3 Military Planks

Get into a forearm plank position. Push up onto first your right and then your left hand so that you are in a high plank position, then lower back to your right and then your left forearm. Start the next round with your left hand. Make sure that your body remains as stable as possible and that you maintain the plank position with your body.

Muscles: core, arms, shoulders.

Easy variation: Place your knees on the floor, keeping your buttocks lower than your shoulders.
Hard variation: Add a push-up after each round of military planks. This will take concentration!

#4 Sumo Squat Touches with Heel Raise

Get into a sumo squat position, toes pointing out, knees over your toes. Bend your knees until you can touch the floor in front of you with your hands, keeping your back straight (tense your abs!). Explosively push off upward, get up on your toes, and stretch your arms up above your head. From here, squat again, bring your hands back to the floor, and continue. Make sure your knees don’t collapse inward – you should always be able to see your big toes.

Muscles: glutes, quads, hamstrings

Easy variation: Raise the floor so that you don’t squat quite as low – with a medicine ball, for example, or a stack of books.
Hard variation: Hold a light dumbbell or water bottle (a plastic one!) in each hand.

#5 Standing Side Crunches

Stand up straight with your knees relaxed and your toes pointing slightly outward. Raise your arms and put your thumbs to your temples, with your elbows pointing outward. Then rotate your torso to the left, pull your left knee upwards, and touch your knee with both hands. Lower your leg again, turn your torso to face the front, and do a squat. Repeat the exercise on the right. Make your movements as fluid as possible.

Muscles: abs, legs.

Easy variation: Slow down and/or don’t lift your leg as high.
Hard variation: Speed up and raise your knee high enough so that you can touch your ankle with both hands on the right and left.

#6 Butterfly Sit-Ups with Reach

Lie on your back on the mat in a supine position and bring your legs into a butterfly position, with the soles of your feet together in the middle of the mat and your knees falling loosely outwards. Place your hands at the back of your head or your arms next to your ears. Roll up vertebra by vertebra until you are sitting upright, keeping your feet on the ground throughout the movement. Once you are sitting upright, either touch the ground or stretch your arms explosively upwards so that your back is completely straight. Roll yourself back to the starting position vertebra by vertebra.

Easy variation: Let your hands point diagonally forward towards your feet as you come up.
Hard variation: Hold a dumbbell in both hands.

Muscles: front abs.

#7 Lunges to Front Kicks

Drop into a lunge, making sure that the knee of your front leg is directly above your ankle. Shift your weight to your front leg and kick your back leg explosively forward in the air. Focus on maintaining your technique as you return gently to the lunge position. Do 20 seconds on one side before switching legs.

Muscles: glutes, legs, core.

Easy variation: Instead of doing a full lunge, just tap the floor once with your foot behind you.
Hard variation: Hold a light dumbbell or water bottle (a plastic one!) in each hand.

#8 Bird Dogs

Get on all fours. Extend your left arm straight forward and your right leg straight back, tensing your abs and keeping your back straight. From here, round your back and pull your arm and leg together diagonally under your body. Stretch back to the starting position. Spend 20 seconds on each diagonal stretch before you switch.

Muscles: core, lower back.

Easy variation: Moving clockwise, just do the movement with one arm or leg at a time: left arm, right arm, right leg, left leg, etc.
Hard variation: Lift your knee that is touching the floor 2-3 centimeters off of the floor.

Finish by treating yourself to a quick cool down & stretching session for 5 to 7 minutes.

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