Our overly packed schedules make us crave efficiency in every facet of our lives, especially when it comes to fitness. So it makes sense that HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training)—alternating bouts of all-out effort with pockets of active recovery—have flooded every corner of the mainstream exercise scene. Put on the map by decades of research and leveraged by elite athletes looking to perform at their max capacity, HIIT can be a great tool for fat-burning…but there are some downsides to the all-out-all-the-time approach.
“There’s this notion now that getting fit and healthy has to feel hard if you’re going to make meaningful progress; otherwise, you must be doing something wrong,” says Eat. Lift. Thrive. author Sohee Lee, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and sports nutritionist in San Diego. “My job is to convince you to take things slower and help you navigate the middle ground.” That’s because too much max effort can actually negate the benefits—and increase rates of injury, burnout, and frustrating weight-loss plateaus.
Enter our new favorite acronym: LIIT (lower-intensity interval training). This modality isn’t slow or easy: You’ll still feel your muscles burning, but you won’t be wheezing or tempted to hurl. Because instead of requiring you to go as quickly or intensely as you can, LIIT workouts intersperse strength-training intervals with longer rest breaks (think minutes, not seconds) with the goal of executing each rep with laser-focus and perfect form.
Experts agree it’s one of the safest and most effective ways to build and maintain lean muscle mass (key for stoking your fat-burning potential long-term!), and our total-body plan here, created by Lee, delivers just that.
Do this circuit two or three days a week on nonconsecutive days: Starting with the first exercise, perform all reps and sets as instructed; then complete each superset in order. You’ll get stronger, recover faster, and feel fresher. Talk about streamlining.
SUPERSET 3: BANDED LATERAL WALKPlace a mini resistance band just above your knees and stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent (a). Keeping your core tight and tension in the band, step your left foot out to the side (b), followed by your right. Continue for 20 steps, then immediately switch directions and repeat on the other side. That’s one set. Rest one minute, then go back to the first exercise and repeat the pattern until you’ve completed three total sets.CATHRINE WESSEL