Discover the mind-blowing alternatives to HIIT that’ll supercharge your workouts! Unleash untapped potential now! 💪
High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, has become increasingly popular as an effective form of exercise for burning fat, building muscle, and improving cardiovascular fitness. However, HIIT may not be suitable or appealing to everyone. If you hate intense interval training, want lower-impact options, or prefer lighter exercise.
This article explores several of the best alternatives to high-intensity interval training (HIIT). While HIIT provides intense short bursts of exercise for improved fitness, it may not suit everyone or be sustainable as a long-term solution. The alternatives discussed here offer comparable benefits with a lower impact, more moderate intensity, and opportunities for enjoyment or scalability to different fitness levels.
What is HIIT?
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training, a type of workout involving short bursts of intense activity interspersed with rest or lower-intensity exercise. HIIT workouts are designed to maximize the amount of work done in a short amount of time.
The workouts can include any exercise: running, jumping jacks, and burpees are common examples. These exercises will help you burn more calories than you would if you did them steadily over the same period (or even longer).
Why Do People Hate HIIT?
People new to HIIT may find it challenging to keep up with the intensity and may become discouraged.
HIIT workouts can also be time-consuming, requiring a lot of rest periods between sets. This makes it hard to fit into a busy schedule.
Benefits of HIIT
HIIT workouts are great for burning calories and building muscle. They can also help you increase cardiovascular fitness, which is essential for overall health and wellness.
HIIT workouts have been shown to raise participants’ heart rates faster than traditional cardio exercises such as jogging or cycling at lower intensities. This means that HIIT workouts can help you burn more calories in less time than other types of exercise, making them ideal for those who want to lose weight quickly or improve their overall fitness without spending hours at the gym daily.
Alternatives to HIIT
There are several ways to get in a workout without having to do HIIT. Here are some alternatives:
- Steady State Cardio
- Low Impact High Intensity (LIHI)
- Strength Training
- 10-Minute Workouts
- Low-Impact Cardio
- Rowing and
- Aerobics These are all excellent options for low-impact cardio that can be done at home or in the gym. They’re also great for joint problems or injuries because they’re easier on your body than high-impact exercises like running on pavement or jumping rope. Squats and Planks are two essential exercises that will help build strength in your lower body while working your core muscles!
Steady State Cardio
Moderate-intensity cardio, like walking, jogging, biking, rowing, or swimming consistently for 30-60 minutes, provides excellent endurance and cardiovascular benefits without high-intensity intervals. Aim for a pace that raises your heart rate to talk test level for the duration of your workout. Steady-state cardio helps burn calories and fat without stress.
Low Impact High Intensity (LIHI)
Try LIHI workouts on an elliptical, stationary bike, or rowing machine for high-intensity exercise without pounding joints. Increase the resistance over time and include intervals of higher intensity for short bursts, then recovery periods. LIHI provides an intense cardio workout with minimal impact on your body.
Using weights, bodyweight, resistance bands, or other equipment to strength train major muscle groups 2-3 times a week provides toning, muscle gain, and increased metabolism. Focus on compound exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, rows, and shoulder presses. Strength training is high-intensity but has a lower impact than HIIT.
Strength training exercises include:
- Dumbbells (light weights)
- Barbells (heavier weights)
- Resistance bands
10-minute workouts are a great way to get in a quick workout without having to dedicate much time. They involve short bursts of intense activity followed by short periods of rest. These types of workouts can help you burn fat and calories and can help you build muscle, too!
10-minute workouts are also suitable for busy people because they don’t require much equipment or preparation time. If you’re on the go, try doing bodyweight exercises like pushups or squats at home–or find something else that works for you!
Kettlebells are a great alternative to HIIT workouts. They provide an excellent high-intensity interval alternative to traditional HIIT bodyweight exercises or cardio machines. Here are some reasons why kettlebells are a superb HIIT option:
Provides challenging resistance.
Kettlebells offer variable resistance that can be made more difficult using heavier weights. This allows you to progressively overload your muscles for continued improvement in strength and endurance. Kettlebell exercises activate more muscle fibers than bodyweight alone.
Builds power and explosiveness.
Lifting and swinging kettlebells help you generate power and explosive movement through hips, legs, and core. This transfers to improved sports performance, daily life skills, and injury prevention. Kettlebell training makes you a stronger, more powerful athlete.
It works your entire body.
Kettlebell exercises engage your entire body from feet up to hands. They strengthen the legs, glutes, back, core, shoulders, arms, and grip. Kettlebells provide comprehensive fitness benefits rather than focusing on a single muscle group or movement pattern like cardio machines.
Kettlebell workouts can burn an intense 500-1000 calories per session for a 125-155 pound person. The added resistance means you can get aerobic exercise using higher weight and lower reps, burning more fat and calories than body weight alone. Kettlebell HIIT also creates an afterburn effect for the continued calorie deficit.
Improves functional strength.
Kettlebell training builds the strength and power you need for real-world functionality, sports, or occupational demands. Rather than isolating muscles, kettlebells integrate multiple muscle groups to generate force in a dynamic, full-body manner. This leads to improved performance, endurance, and injury prevention.
Provides an exciting challenge.
Kettlebell workouts are challenging, engaging, and never dull. They activate your central nervous system and stimulate the release of adrenaline to keep you pushing through complex sets and high fuel intensity. Kettlebells create an effective form of conditioning that delivers motivation through adjustments in weight, the complexity of movements, and timed/untimed workouts.
Minimal equipment is required.
Kettlebells can be used almost anywhere with minimal space requirements. They are portable, durable, and last a lifetime with proper care and storage. This makes kettlebell training very convenient, allowing you to work out at home, on the road, or when gym equipment is unavailable.
Light weights/higher reps
To avoid heavy weights, use lighter dumbbells or resistance bands and do higher rep ranges (e.g., 2-4 sets of 15-30 reps) for each exercise. This training style builds endurance rather than power but provides muscle and metabolism benefits with less strain. Higher rep training is flexible and suitable for different fitness levels.
Exercises like pushups, squats, lunges, planks, burpees, mountain climbers, jump rope, and yoga provide an effective full-body workout using only your body weight for resistance. You can make bodyweight exercises easier or harder by changing the number of reps, adding intervals, or progressing to more advanced variations over time as your strength builds. Bodyweight training is free, convenient, and low impact.
Low-impact cardio is a great way to get in a workout without putting too much strain on your joints. It can also help you burn fat and calories while also helping to build endurance. Low-impact activities include cycling, rowing, and aerobics.
Low-impact cardio won’t cause as much wear and tear on the body as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This means it’s easier on the joints while still providing an effective workout that will help improve heart health and overall fitness level.
Cycling provides an excellent alternative to high-intensity interval training for the following reasons:
Cycling is accessible on the joints since it provides weight support. This makes it suitable for people of all fitness levels, including those with injuries, joint issues, or mobility impairments. Cycling can be done frequently without pain or restricted performance.
Moderate-intensity cycling builds cardiovascular endurance and stamina over time. Longer rides at a steady, challenging pace improve lung capacity and the ability to sustain intense activity without fatigue. This endurance translates to improved performance in other activities and sports.
Cycling engages core, leg, and glute muscles to power the pedals and stabilize the body. Over time, it increases muscle strength, power, and resistance across these major muscle groups for improved cycling and non-cycling performance.
Improves aerobic fitness.
Aerobic cycling provides an aerobic workout that strengthens your heart and improves its efficiency at supplying oxygen to your muscles during activity. Improved aerobic fitness leads to a lower resting heart rate, a higher threshold for fatigue, and health benefits like improved cholesterol levels and blood pressure control.
Cycling burns many calories, especially for its low-impact nature. Moderate cycling can burn 600-1000 calories per hour for a 125-155 pound person. High-intensity cycling leads to an afterburn effect that continues calorie deficit for hours after your ride. Cycling is a great way to lose weight and maintain weight loss through increased cardiovascular exercise and calorie needs.
Rowing provides an excellent high-intensity interval alternative to bodyweight exercises or cardio machines. Here are some of the critical benefits of rowing:
Full body workout.
Rowing engages your entire body, from the legs to the core to the arms and shoulders. It provides an integrated workout that improves strength, power, endurance, and definition across all major muscle groups. Rowing helps you achieve balanced, powerful movement.
Read: How To Do HIIT On Rowing Machine
The compound movements of rowing stimulate muscle protein synthesis, increasing muscle size and tone over time. Rowing helps build more muscular legs, glutes, back, shoulders, and arms for improved performance, durability, and daily functioning.
Power and explosiveness.
Rowing requires powerful, explosive strokes that originate from hips and legs to produce force through the body into the oars or machine handles. Rowing enhances your ability to generate power, velocity, and explosiveness, which carries over to other athletic pursuits, sports skills, and real-world strength applications.
An intense rowing workout can burn 600-1000 calories per hour for a 125-155 pound person. The combined resistance training and aerobic components of rowing create an efficient calorie-burning workout. Rowing also produces an afterburn effect, continuing calorie deficit for hours after your activity. It is an excellent option for weight loss and maintenance.
Rowing provides an aerobic challenge that strengthens your heart and improves lung capacity. Longer rowing workouts build stamina and the ability to intensify your effort without premature fatigue—enhanced endurance from rowing transfers to improved endurance for other activities, sports, and daily life demands.
Rowing provides an intense workout with minimal impact on joints. The sliding seat and dynamics of the rowing stroke absorb shock, allowing rowing even for those with injuries, joint issues, or mobility limitations. The low-impact nature of rowing means you can do it frequently without pain or impaired performance.
Aerobic exercise provides an excellent alternative to high-intensity interval training for the following reasons:
Aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, biking, or moderate-intensity swimming improve your endurance and stamina. Longer workouts at a challenging but sustainable pace increase your endurance for physical activity without premature fatigue. This allows you to easily do more demanding exercise and athletic pursuits without tiringy.
Enhances cardiovascular fitness.
Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and improves its efficiency at supplying oxygen to your muscles during activity. This leads to a lower resting heart rate, a higher threshold for fatigue, and health benefits like improved cholesterol levels and blood pressure control. Aerobic exercise reduces risk factors for heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
In addition to increased cardiovascular health, aerobic exercise leads to greater calorie burning during and after your workout. Higher endurance leads to the ability to burn more calories during exercise. And improved aerobic fitness results in an elevated metabolism that continues calorie burning even at rest. This makes aerobic exercise highly effective for weight management, fat loss, and maintenance.
Aerobic exercise releases endorphins that improve mood and act as mild antidepressants. It also leads to reduced stress levels and an overall increased sense of well-being. Moderate aerobic activity can be a moving meditation, providing an opportunity to relax the mind and relieve stress or negative emotions.
Aerobic exercise provides an intense workout with minimal impact on joints. This makes it suitable and safe for people of all fitness levels, including those with injuries, joint issues, or limited mobility. You can do aerobic exercise frequently without pain or restricted performance. Options include biking, swimming, elliptical training, rowing, and low-impact activities.
Versatile and scalable.
There are endless opportunities for aerobic exercise based on intensity, duration, and frequency. You can do it recreationally for enjoyment or push yourself to maximize benefits. Aerobic exercise provides an effective workout solution for every fitness goal, from improving heart health to losing weight to increasing endurance for sports. And the options allow you to stay engaged long-term by continually adjusting your routine.
Enjoyable recreational activity.
For some, aerobic exercise provides an enjoyable recreational pursuit. Options like walking, biking, kayaking, dancing, or sports provide social engagement or an opportunity to appreciate nature and the outdoors. Engaging in aerobic activity that you find fun and meaningful leads to habit formation and lifelong sustained exercise habits.
In summary, while HIIT has advantages for fat loss and fitness, there are many alternatives you can incorporate into your routine. Steady-state cardio, strength training, LIHI workouts, light weights, and bodyweight exercises are all great options to avoid or supplement HIIT. Choose the techniques and intensity levels that suit your needs, fitness goals, and personal preferences for the most effective and sustainable results. Consult a certified personal trainer if you need help developing a customized program.
Hate HIIT? You’ll Love These 7 Workouts | livestrong
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Alex is a passionate fitness enthusiast dedicated to helping people lead healthier, more active lifestyles. He encourages small – sustainable changes over drastic transformations and works with people to create customized wellness plans. His mission is to help others benefit from the most effective methods available, sharing tips, strategies, and health & fitness tools on Gearuptofit.com to inspire people to live their best lives.