Squat jumps, plank jacks, and alternating split squats are often mainstays in high intensity interval training, aka HIIT workouts. These moves are bodyweight challenges that also juice your heart rate. But if you’re not into plyometrics (or your joints simply aren’t fans of high-impact moves), is it even possible to get your heart rate up to the same level in a HIIT workout?
The answer is most definitely yes. For a HIIT workout with no jumping, you can always try variations of plyometric moves that involve going at a faster pace, but without the added jump. Another way to turn the volume up is to add some weight. According to the American Council on Exercise, adding even a small amount of weight “can increase heart rate by five to 10 beats per minute and oxygen consumption (as well as caloric expenditure) by about 5 to 15 percent compared to performing the same activity without weights.”
The amount of weight you grab makes a difference. When you perform fewer, slower reps with heavier weight, you’re typically building muscle. But if you perform more reps with a lighter weight for long enough to get your heart rate up, that form of strength training can qualify as a cardiovascular activity. So if you pack your interval training with short bursts of weight-infused moves, you’ve got yourself a HIIT workout.
Well+Good Trainer of the Month Tatiana Lampa employs this strategy in a new 20-minute low-impact HIIT workout. Read: No jumping!
“We’re raising your heart rate up with absolutely no jumping to keep it easy on your joints,” Lampa says.
To get to that level of HIIT intensity, Lampa progresses bodyweight moves into those same moves performed with weights, such as a standing side crunch, reverse lunges to bicep curls, dead lift cleans, squat to thruster punches, and more. You’ll wrap up with some fast feet drills to really up the cardio ante (don’t worry, no weights needed for this one), so you can get that HIIT afterburn for hours afterward. Each burst is just 20 seconds, and as Lampa says, you can do anything for 20 seconds. So grab some weights and give it a try!