Want to get fit, lose weight and stay zen without sweating buckets at the gym? Then the latest workout trend; low-intensity workouts, are going to become your new BFF for burning fat and toning up.
But low-intensity training (LITT) is so much more than a workout trend; it’s a completely different approach to exercise that incorporates wellness and mental wellbeing into your workout. It trades in the intense cardio, flashing lights, and screaming instructor from HITT for controlled movements heightened by the use of weights.
To help you understand the core aspects (no pun intended) and the amazing benefits of low-intensity training, we spoke to Founder of fitness studio Fly LDN, Charlotte Cox, a former lawyer, and ex-HITT-lover. She told us why she gave up her HITT workouts for LITT workouts and gave us a LITT workout you can do from your living room.
What is low-intensity training?
“LIIT focuses on slow, controlled movements, and we add weights to increase the resistance and build strength and muscle. At FLY we run low-intensity interval training or LIIT classes. We don’t have any treadmills or cardio equipment. I think people often expect it to be easy, but you’d be surprised at how hard you work! When you slow the movement down, you keep the muscle working for longer – sometimes called “time under tension” – which gives you the same burn as you’d get smashing out quick reps in a HIIT class. But the great benefit of LIIT is that it reduces the risk of injury because you have the time to really focus on your form.”
What are the advantages of low-intensity training?
“LIIT is just as effective as HIIT for weight loss, but with a reduced risk of injury as it involves less impact through the joints and focuses on your form. As you are really working on burning out the muscle, it also builds strength and muscle mass. It is a kinder form of training that’s great for people who are already injured too as you can work around injuries.”
How does LIIT training embrace mindfulness?
“I love LIIT as it’s great for mind and body. The mental benefits are just as important as the physical benefits. LIIT is much slower and more mindful than HIIT with longer intervals of exertion – you really have time to think about the burn but you learn to push through and that builds mental endurance. After I started LIIT training, I noticed that my mid-distance running times improved – when I hit that threshold, I had trained my mind to push through.”
Can you do LIIT training at home?
“Absolutely! A quick bodyweight circuit is a great option when you can’t get to the studio. Here’s a great workout for when you can’t get to a class:
- 20 walking lunges: Slow and controlled, focus on keeping your knee tracking over your ankle and push up through the front heel to burn out that glute. If you have weights at home, carry these to add extra resistance or do a bicep curl at the bottom of the lunge.
- 20 plank jacks: Assume a high plank position and jump your feet out and in like a jumping jack.
- 15 press-ups: Everyone knows this one! If you can’t do a full press up, take it down to your knees.
- Thrusters: Squat down slowly for four counts then stand quickly, engaging your glutes. If you have weights at home add an overhead press at the top of the movement.”
How did LIIT training change your relationship with exercise?
“I was a HIIT worshipper for so long – working long hours in the city and heading to the studio most days for a tough workout. I didn’t realize that high-intensity training increases cortisol – the stress hormone – which was already high given my stressful job. After a series of health issues and injuries from the repetitive high impact movements, I decided to try something else.”
“I was worried because I thought that, without my HIIT fix, I would lose all the fitness I’d gained. But I didn’t – I actually built muscle and strength as I learned to perform movements properly. I also noticed that my running times improved – I always hated running longer distances – I found it boring with way too much time to think about how tired you’re getting! But LIIT training gave me greater mental endurance, and I’ve learned to push through.”
Let us know if you’ve tried low-intensity workouts in the comments below.