How to make sure your low impact workout burns as much as HIIT

Fitness expert Michael Ramsey shares his tips to burn major calories without doing a HIIT class.

In the last few years, HIIT classes have completely taken off – usually short in length and circuit style, they’re focused on burning the most amount of calories in the shortest time using high intensity (and often high impact) exercise.

Think burpees, jump squats and sprints.

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It may be effective but it takes a big toll on the body. In fact many experts say HIIT should only be performed twice a week because of the impact. This got us thinking…is there a way to get the high-intensity burn with low impact exercises? And should we in fact be opting for this instead?

Michael Ramsey, fitness expert and founder of Rowformer workout business Strong, shares his tips to get ripped without the burpies.

Yes, low impact exercise can be a super effective calorie burner

“Traditionally when we think of “low impact” training we don’t associate it with a huge calorie burn. But in fact, what determines a decent HIIT workout is how effectively we can spike our heartrate, recover, then go again,” explains Ramsey.

So essentially, if you can continue to spike your heart rate throughout a low impact workout, then it could have a similar effect.

Ramsey sees this first hand. “At STRONG, we use tempo (how fast we’re moving) and range (how far we’re moving) to increase or decrease the intensity of each exercise. It doesn’t actual matter what exercise you’re doing, as long as it can be done with purpose and intensity.”

“High-intensity training can be anything – it’s a myth you need to incorporate burpees, jumping & running to burn calories,” he adds.

Oh thank god. *strikes jump squats off the workout plan*

How do we keep our heart rate up and how can we tell it’s working?

“Injecting bouts of cardio into your workout is the best way to keep the heart rate up AND playing with the tempo (how fast we move). These are the biggest factors in keeping the heart rate elevated,” Ramsey says.

For example, you could inject fast rowing intervals between each workout to keep heart rate up.

“If you aren’t wearing a heart rate monitor some signs that your heart rate has dropped could be. One – your breath. Has it slowed? Is it short and sharp? Always making sure that regardless of the workout you are taking deep breaths through the diagram, not through the chest,” Ramsey says.

“Two – are you feeling relaxed? We always say in class that we want you to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being too comfortable is a sign that you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.”

“And three, ‘earning your rest’. If you are feeling recovered before the end of your allocated rest time in class (predominantly on the rower), you may have it in you to push a little harder on the next one!”

So – what exercises should we try?

  • The rower: “Absolutely no impact on our joints and a great way to get the heart rate up in class without the risk of injuries that come from high impact actives.”
  • Loaded squat: “Whether it’s spring loaded (reformer), dumbbells or with bands, adding load to your squat and increasing tempo for a higher rep count, will 100% result in an increased heart rate.”
  • Plant to pike and push up combo: “This dynamic combo is a full body exercise that will not only utilise major core strength but the added push up will have the upper body burning as well.”
  • Skater: “Usually done on a Reformer, simply find a deep squat, transfer body weight over one side and with the opposite leg push the carriage in and out. Increase tempo for more of a cardio burn, slow is down for a muscular burn.”

Opting for low impact is a great way to keep yourself in the gym

The reason many people love low impact workouts is that you’re much less likely to injure yourself, and injuries can mean lots of time on the couch and not in the gym.

“There’s nothing worse than ongoing aches and pains. Low impact means less impact and stress on the joints and ligaments, and less injuries,” Ramsey says.

“Many of our clients at STRONG have come from HIIT gyms where their bodies are literally broken from years of impact training. Our aim is give them longevity and confidence they can push themselves in the training arena both safely & effectively.”

And – it’s so accessible for a wide range of people.

“The best part about low-impact training is anyone can do it. It’s really cool to see athletes and beginners working out next to each other, both giving the same output.”

For more information on STRONG and the Rowformer, head here. You can also follow STRONG on Instagram @strong.

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