Stories from Trainer of the Month Club

This 15-Minute Low-impact HIIT Workout Works Your Muscles Without Sacrificing Your Joints

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsJune 22, 2020

Each month, a new trainer takes us through four of the most grueling workouts they have in their back pocket. Follow along weekly for new ways to sweat it out with us. See All

When I think of HIIT (or high-intensity interval training), the ghost of burpees past immediately come out to haunt me. This heart-pumping sweat style has the power to strengthen both your heart and your lungs, but all that jarring movement (Burpees! Squat jumps! Burpees into squat jumps!) can cause wear and tear in your joints. This week on Well+Good’s Trainer of the Month Club, Nike master trainer Ash Wilking is proving that you can get your HIIT workouts in the low-impact way.

At the top of the 15-minute long workout, Wilking says this one is for “the days [when] you want to get that sweat in, but you don’t want to feel the pounding of the pavement.” Don’t let the whole low-impact versus high-impact distinction fool you, though: The workout will make your muscles quake and will probably leave you drenched in sweat after a mere 15 minutes. Oh, and your body’s the only equipment you need. Ready to give it a try?

Check out trainer Ash Wilking’s low-impact HIIT workout

1. Medicine ball slam and set back

Come to your squat position with your feet hip-width distance apart, your butt straight back, and your back completely flat. Pretend you’re gripping a medicine ball between your palms. Spring up onto your toes, swinging your arms overhead and extending your legs. Drop back down into a squat and fling your arms downward as if you’re slamming an actual medicine ball. Repeat this move three times. Then, at the bottom of your squat, step your right foot straight back and your left foot straight back. Complete this same pattern for 45 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Make sure you alternate which foot steps back first.

2. Side lunge into curtsy lunge

Stand with your legs about three feet apart as if you’re about to go into a wide-legged forward fold. Bend the right knee and push your butt straight back, coming into a side lunge. Repeat the same move to the left then back to the right. After your third lunge, step the left foot into a curtsy behind your right foot. Return to your wide-legged stance and start the same pattern on the left side. Repeat for 45 seconds. Rest for 15 after.

3. Plank and knee taps

Come down to the floor and find your plank position: shoulders over wrists, pelvis tucked under, and glutes and legs fully engaged. On an inhale, draw your right knee into your right elbow. Tap the right knee to the left elbow and return to plank position. Tuck the left knee into the left elbow. (All these movements should be slow and controlled—not fast.) Tap it to the right elbow and return to plank. Continue switching sides for the next 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.

4. Three-point lunge

Stand up tall and step your right foot forward into a lunge. Push off your right foot and step back into yet another lunge (so that your left foot is forward now). Quickly drive the right knee into your chest. Switch sides and continue alternating for the next 45 seconds. Rest for 15.

5. Tricep pulse to burpee

(See! You can still get a burpee in using a low-impact style!) Start in plank position. Bend your elbows back just slightly three times quickly. Walk both of your feet beside your hands. Lift your torso and reach up to the sky. Place your hands back on the ground and walk back into plank. Keep going for 45 more seconds. Then rest for 15 more.

Take a minute break, then repeat the entire circuit two more times. 

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