There’s no doubt that HIIT (high intensity interval training) has its benefits. It’s what you do when you really want to feel like you’ve worked out (profuse sweating and intense next-day soreness, anyone?) and is known to burn fat like crazy for up to 24 hours after your session.
That said, it’s definitely not for everyone. For those who are trying to build muscle as well as lose fat, it can actually have the opposite effect. Some experts also believe that in highly stressed individuals, it can actually lead to fat gain by kicking the body’s cortisol levels further into overdrive. Plus, all that jumping isn’t exactly amazing for your knees. It’s for this reason that in some fitness circles, there’s been a move away from hardcore workouts in recent. Instead, a slightly gentler yet still equally effective alternative to HIIT has taken centre stage—HILIT.
HILIT stands for High Intensity Low Impact Training. It combines the benefits of HIIT (the fat burn, cardiovascular fitness and mega endorphins) but removes the stress on your joints. One of the pioneers of the HILIT movements is Justin Norris, personal trainer and founder of LIT Method studio in Los Angeles. While the classes focus on pumping up your heart rate, your feet never leave the floor.
“I’d say about 95 percent of our clients are suffering from some kind of injury,” says Justin. “We wanted to create a program everyone can do in a group environment, with a focus on low-impact—no running, no jumping, and no weights.”
So, what do you do instead? The 50-minute classes rely on water rowers, resistance bands and core-busting moves like the inchworm and mountain climbers to burn up to 1000 calories per class.“You’re saving your joints for longevity, but you’re still getting into that fat-burning zone—it’s the best of both worlds,” says Justin.
While there no HILIT dedicated classes in Australia (yet!), your best bet is primal fitness classes like Zuu. These classes use animal-inspired moves like bear crawls and gorilla crawls to give you an effective full body workout while protecting and strengthening the joints. Rowing classes and Barre also fit the bill, as they get your heart-rate up while still being gentle and low impact.