Don’t get us wrong: We’re big fans of high-intensity training and running, but what happens when you’re recovering from an injury and want to take it easy on those burpees and sprints? Fitness trainers Justin Norris and Taylor Gainor were faced with this dilemma when they would help rehab clients only to have them re-injure themselves during a HIIT workout or speed intervals.
“We would get our clients ready to go and all of a sudden they’d take a Barry’s Bootcamp or something that involved running and jumping, and they’d get hurt,” explains Norris. “They’d have to come back to us and we would start from square one. We thought there has to be a class out there that people can go to and not get hurt anymore, that isn’t high intensity and high impact.” And that’s how the LIT (Low-Impact Training) Method was born.
Norris and Gainor designed the LIT Method, so you can turn up the intensity of your workout without putting a strain on your joints. The LIT Method involves using a rowing machine for cardio, resistance bands for strength training and foam rolling for self-myofascial release (aka self-massage). But low-impact doesn’t mean low intensity. The class is no joke, with the average person burning 600 to 1,000 calories in a 50-minute session, according to the studio.
The workout (that’s set in a 72-degree room to keep muscles warm) is designed to target each muscle group, while also delivering a total-body cardio burn. In every session, you’ll also get a hit of core strength, posture and flexibility, too.
The class is only available in Los Angeles, but many of the LIT Method moves can be re-created anywhere using the cheat sheet below. Repeat the circuit twice and you’ve got yourself a quality burn.
6 Low-Impact Moves That Go Easy on Your Joints
Low-Impact Benefits: This standing crunch is the perfect no-impact, high-intensity move because it engages your core, legs and stabilizer muscles. Unlike other variations of the crunch, where you’re on a mat or stability ball, this modification minimizes strain on your knees, hips and the tiny muscles in your ankles. It’s also great to help warm up your body pre-workout.
How to: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart. Stagger your feet so your back toe is in line with the heel of your front foot. Extend your arms up in the air (a). Then, bring your arms by your sides as you drive your back knee to the opposite elbow. Repeat for one minute before switching sides (b).
Low-Impact Benefits: When performing the inchworm (and no, we’re not talking about the dance move!) you’re working your anterior and posterior chain (aka your lower back, hamstrings and glutes) — which are often underutilized, and thus prone to injury. Not only will this move help strengthen your core to help stabilize your spine, it also puts less impact on your knees than a burpee. Plus, you can still get the same cardiovascular benefits by speeding things up.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and bend over so your palms touch to the floor (a). Walk your hands forward until you are in a plank position (b). Then, walk your hands back to your toes and return to the starting position. Repeat for one minute (c).
3. Mountain Climber With Twist
Low-Impact Benefits: This total-body exercise is sweet relief for those with back and knee pain as it takes the pressure off the lower lumbar and activates your core. Adding the twist will also help fire up the oblique muscles that are so important in stabilizing your midsection. Bonus: This move also elevates your heart rate, and tests your endurance — making it a great alternative to traditional cardio, like running, which can wear on your knees.
How to: Start in a plank position (a). Explosively drive your right knee to your left elbow, then return to the start position and switch sides (b). Next, drive your left knee to your right elbow (c). Repeat for one minute preparing your other leg to move as your leg comes back to starting position (d).
4. Sumo Squat
Low-Impact Benefits: The sumo squat can help improve range of motion in your hips, knees and ankles, while strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and inner thighs. Sumo squats are easier on your knees and back than squat jumps because you’re working your glutes in an isometric movement without putting pressure on them, says Gainor.
How to: To perform a sumo squat, stand with your feet wide, toes turned out to a 45-degree angle (a). Push your hips back and squat down. Your weight should be in your heels. Pulse up and down for one minute (b).
5. Curtsy Lunge
Low-Impact Benefits: Many knee injuries occur because of weaknesses or instability of the ankle. The curtsy lunge works the tiny muscles and ligaments in the ankle to build strength where it’s needed most. Not to mention, your booty gets a lift, too!
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart (a). Step your left foot back directly behind your right foot, squaring hips and shoulders to face front (b). Engage your inner thighs to maintain balance and lower into a lunge, both legs at 90-degree angles. Keep your body upright, not hinging forward at the waist. (c). Pulse your left leg up and down in a lunge for one minute (d). Using your glutes, come up to standing on your right leg and lift your left leg straight out to the side (e). Tap your left toes to the ground and raise your left leg before returning to the starting position. Repeat for one minute before switching sides (f).
6. Side Plank with Twist
Low-Impact Benefits: Unlike a traditional plank, a side plank with a twist helps strengthen your obliques, as well as your transverse abdominal muscles (the ones deep within your core). It also helps you dodge common strains in your neck, hip flexors and low back, which you may experience with other core exercises.
How to: Lie on your right side placing your right forearm directly under your shoulder. Stack your left foot over your right (a). Bracing your core, press up into a side plank, right elbow at 90 degrees and butt off the floor (b). Raise your left arm overheard to form a T (c). Next, thread the left arm underneath your body, twisting at the core, and then bring it back up to the start position. Repeat for 8 reps then switch sides (d).