What Is Low Impact Interval Training (LIIT)?

How slower burst exercises benefit your body

If you’re looking for an effective workout that’s easy on your joints, won’t leave you drained and doesn’t require a gym, low impact interval training (LIIT or LIT) is for you. Compared to some other recent cardio trends, this routine focuses on slower patterns of exercises, which are less stressful on your body.

LIIT versus HIIT

You are probably familiar with HIIT – high-intensity interval training. This sweat-soaking workout is usually twenty to thirty minutes of short, high-intensity intervals followed with low-intensity intervals. The short bursts are very short – maybe a 30-second sprint – followed by three to five minutes of jogging at your steady pace. This pattern of intensity is then repeated until your time is up. HIIT produces a high heart-rate that slows back down, over and over.

To contrast, LIIT includes zero maximum-effort bursts of energy. Instead, you carry a moderate pace and a faster pace in repeated bursts. Similar to HIIT, the slower periods last longer, but specific time guidelines vary widely. So, you can make the workout your own. Also, the faster pace is not as intense, and the overall workout is extended over a longer period of time than HIIT.

A study in The Annals of Internal Medicine tracked 300 abdominally obese adults. Researchers examined those who did HIIT and those who did LIIT for 24 weeks and found they lost the same amount of weight. They concluded LIIT can burn as many calories as HIIT, when done properly and with equal frequency.

However, LIIT exercisers must exercise longer to receive the same weight loss benefits as HIIT participants. The LIIT participants in the study averaged 58 minutes of exercise versus 40 minutes for the HIIT participants.

 

Who would want to use LIIT

There are many health conditions that make higher-impact training difficult or impossible. LIIT is perfect for those of you with aching joints, pain issues or who fatigue easily. For instance, anemia, thyroid problems and other conditions can cause the body to have a low tolerance for extremely intense exercise.

LIIT is also perfect for those who normally engage in a high-intensity training program but need a break. This includes those people with an injury who want to get back to exercise, but have restrictions on their activities while they recover. Others may need a simple change of pace to stay engaged with their commitment to exercise on a regular basis.

How to use LIIT

You can take almost any workout routine and alter it to make it a LIIT workout. The most important element is that you are increasing your normal pace for short, regular intervals during the workout.

If you walk, go for ten minutes at your normal pace. Then increase your speed to a level that’s more intense, but less than exhausting. You want to have enough breath to be able to talk while exercising, but still feel the burn. Hold that pace for three minutes. Return to your normal pace for five minutes, then add another faster interval. Continue this cycle for 45 minutes to an hour.

Weight-lifters can utilize LIIT by changing back and forth between a normal set of repetitions to a bit heavier weight, with no breaks in between the sets. Keeping your body surprised is a key to continued fitness growth. When your routines are entirely predictable to your body, it adjusts, and you plateau.

Even yoga and Pilates can be transformed through LIIT. Try a typical one-hour yoga routine minutes, using the LIIT pattern. Ten minutes at a normal pace, and then five at a quickened, slightly more challenging pace, before returning to the slower pace. Continue switching for the rest of your yoga routine. This increases your heart rate and calories burned, as well as keeping your mind more present and engaged.

Mind-body connection

When doing LIIT exercises, focus on your form, proper range and focus. LIIT is about slower-tempo movements done with great intention. There’s a deep connection between the mind and the response of your muscles. Focusing on specific muscles increases the muscle response, or tightening, which will increase your results.

Using correct form and range means you are getting the best return from your workout. The emphasis in LIIT is on your engagement with the exercise, while protecting yourself from joint strain and injury.

By maintaining that mind-body connection, you can create a new exercise routine that will reinvigorate your life. Explore this “Elemental Change” meditation as you prepare to bring enhanced wellness into your life.

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