The HIIT structure of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off is a great way to keep things fun, interesting, and effective during a workout — even if you're not doing high impact exercises. For that reason, we've put together an interval cardio workout that uses only low impact moves, meaning that even beginners can reap the rewards of metabolism-boosting high intensity interval training.
Most people think of high impact exercises like jump squats, star jumps, and Burpees when they think of HIIT, but the truth is that HIIT can be relative to your own fitness level. For example, if 20 seconds of marching in place feels difficult to you and by the end of that interval you feel like you can't go on much longer, congratulations; you're officially technically practicing high intensity interval training. It's great because HIIT is incredibly effective, not just at lowering body fat but at quickly increasing endurance, and improving insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation, just to name a few of the many benefits.
Whether you're new to exercising or you just want to go light on your cardio routine today, we think you'll love this low impact HIIT that uses what we consider the 4 best bodyweight cardio exercises that involve no jumping at all.
20 Seconds on, 10 seconds rest, 4x through for each exercise
Warm up and cool down not included
The 4 Best Low Impact Cardio Exercises
1) Walkdown Push Ups — We love these because they force multiple muscle groups to engage as you walk down into a plank; the push up at the bottom is arguably one of the best bodyweight exercises period (there are very few muscles not used during a push up), and the "walking" to a tall plank and back places demands on your core strength while increasing range of motion and flexibility in the body.
2) Squats + Kicks — The squat is easily modified for beginners (squat as shallow as you need to until you've got the form down & your strength increases) and the kicks are an easy cardio component that target the core muscles and the leg muscles.
3) Lateral Step Pulls — The lateral steps target the butt and thighs (with the abs/core playing a supporting role) while the standing rows target the muscles of the upper back. Make sure to focus on really contracting those muscles, pretending to "work against yourself" in the motion, to get the most out of the exercise.
4) 3 Punches + 2 High Knee Pulls — This is a great cardiovacular combo that targets the arms, shoulders, thighs, and core. Throw three punches and then bring your elbows to each knee in a pulling motion. Make sure to switch which side of the body is throwing the first punch each time - don't feel discouraged if you feel uncoordinated; that's part of the point and challenge!