As social media has taken the world by storm in the last decade, it seems like fitness influencers are always trying to push the newest workout routine or trend. No matter whether your goal is, there is seemingly always an easy answer being offered.
Whether you are looking to bulk up, shred down, or simply lose weight, a quick search will throw up countless options with “hip” names and celebrity endorsements. One such option that meets all of these criteria is the LIIT workout.
The trouble is, all of these influencers are usually only interested in getting you on bored, as they are worried about benefitting themselves, rather than you. That means establishing which routines are actually effective and which are just a fad can be quite difficult.
That is why we have decided to create a beginner’s guide to LIIT workouts. I will take you through what a LIIT workout is, how to complete one, and the reasons why it can be beneficial. So, if you are thinking of giving LIIT workouts a try but need a little more guidance, this is the article for you.
What Are LIIT Workouts?
LIIT workouts are a type of interval training that are similar in many ways to their more famous counterpart, HIIT workouts. Both training methods will primarily see users completing workouts consisting of a range of cardio and bodyweight exercises.
HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and is a style of workout that will see people perform extremely challenging exercises to usually 70 percent or more of their maximum ability for a pre-set time or number of reps.
They will then take a short pause, often just long enough for them to catch their breath, and then begin again. They can then either complete all of their sets of a single exercise in a row or move from one to the next in a circuit fashion.
LIIT stands for low intensity interval training and follows the same basic outline as HIIT. However, the main difference is that when performing LIIT workouts, you will usually be working closer to 40 to 50 percent of your maximum output.
You will also usually take much longer breaks between exercises in LIIT workouts as well. Rather than breaks that run as short as 10 seconds in a HIIT workout, you will find people resting anywhere from 45 up to 90 seconds between sets on a LIIT workout.
Are LIIT Workouts Legit?
So, at first glance, it may appear that a LIIT workout is nothing more than a simplified version of a HIIT workout that is aimed at people seeking an easier alternative. This is not the case at all though.
Now, if burning fat and shedding weight is your primary goal then yes, a HIIT workout will be more effective. However, LIIT workouts have a number of their own benefits to offer.
The Benefits Of LIIT Workouts
One of the primary reasons people using LIIT workouts do so is to allow them to keep an element of cardio in their routine while they are building muscle.
The fairly consistent nature of the routine and the exercises used will keep their heart and metabolism ticking over, without using up too much of the energy or calories they require to facilitate muscular growth.
LIIT workouts are also a great option for people who are rehabbing an injury, just getting into fitness, or trying to stay mobile in later life.
The routines will help them stay active and healthy by keeping the limbs, muscles, and joints moving, and their cardiovascular system operating at a high level. This will help them to build muscle and prevent them from becoming sedentary or gaining weight.
The final benefit of LIIT workouts is that they provide an appealing alternative for times when you are struggling due to a lack of energy or motivation. We’ve all been in a situation where, after a long, hard day, the thought of going and starting your regular workout is too much to bear.
LIIT workouts give you an option that fills the “something is better than nothing” approach. It will still allow you to work out, keeping your muscles and cardio working, while not requiring a huge time or energy investment that is likely to make you skip it.
Can You Use Weights In LIIT Workouts?
HIIT workouts tend to rely heavily on cardio and bodyweight exercises, with things like kettlebells or dumbbells usually only occasionally included. While LIIT workouts often follow the same structure to HIIT workouts, the nature of this type of training lends itself to the inclusion of weights much better.
The main thing to remember if you do decide to go this route is that LIIT workouts are meant to be low intensity. Drop your weights so you are only using around 40 percent of you max, make sure to perform slow, controlled reps, and leave plenty of time between sets, anywhere from 45 to 90 secs.
Planning A LIIT Workout: Exercises, Reps & Sets
A LIIT workout will usually only consist of 5 or 6 exercises, each of which will be performed for 4 to 6 sets. In each set, you will also look to perform 8 to 12 reps of the given exercise. This will see you doing roughly 20 to 36 sets and should take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete.
It is also extremely important to make sure you split your workouts effectively, so you can develop or maintain your entire body, rather than just one or two areas.
By making sure you stick primarily to compound exercises and include exercises that target every part of the body and cardiovascular system, you allow for a complete and effective workout, even while performing slow, controlled movements with relatively low weights and intensity.
Example LIIT Workouts
Now that you have a better idea of what LIIT workouts are, how to do them, and what they achieve, I want to take you through two example LIIT workouts. I will provide one bodyweight workout and one routine using weights, to give you a good starting place, no matter which way you decide to go.
For the sake of easing you in to LIIT workouts, both of these routines will be performed in the style of a circuit. You will perform each exercise then take a 45 to 90 second break before moving on to the next. Only once you have completed all exercises once will you begin to do them again.
Once you are more comfortable performing LIIT workouts, you can then begin experimenting with using more traditional formats in combination with the circuits.
LIIT Workout 1 – Bodyweight
Start off by standing with your feet roughly shoulder width apart, heels flat on the floor, and your back completely straight. You can leave your arms either loose by your sides or with your hands together in front of your chest.
Bend your knees to lower your butt to the floor and keep going till your thighs go just slightly past parallel with the ground. Pause for a sec before contracting the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves to drive you back up into a standing position, making sure to keep your back straight throughout.
Immediately start to repeat the movement as soon as you finish and keep going until you have completed the required number of reps or hit failure. You can also modify both the squat and its effects by altering your foot placement.
Start by lowering yourself onto the floor facing the ground. Support your weight on your hands and the tips of your toes, making sure your arms and torso are at full extension and your hands are shoulder width apart.
Bending only your elbows, lower yourself towards the floor until your chest is just an inch or so from the ground. Your elbows should be pointing out from your torso at roughly a 45 degree angle. Engage your pecs and triceps and use them to drive you back up towards the starting position.
When you are about an inch away from your arms being fully extended again, squeeze the working muscles as hard as you can and pause for a sec, then immediately begin again to keep the tension and complete the desired number of reps. Be sure to keep your whole body straight at all times.
Bend forward and put both hands flat on the floor with your arms at full extension, then support the entire weight of your body on your hands and toes. Keep a slight bend in your torso, so it is just an inch or two away from being fully extended.
Keep your hands where they are and hop both feet towards them, pulling your knees to your chest. In one flowing motion, continue the movement by exploding upwards and jump as high as you can into the air, completely straightening your body and raising your arms over your head in the process.
The second your feet hit the floor, immediately bend forward, put your hands back on the ground, and jump your feet back into the starting position. Continue with this sequence until you hit your target time, number of reps, or failure.
Start by laying on your back on the ground with your feet flat on the floor. Put your hands beside your ears for balance and support, but be sure not to pull your head forward, as this can damage your neck.
Engage your abs and use them to raise your upper body up towards the ceiling, bending across the middle of your abs, rather than at the waist. Make sure to keep your neck straight throughout and try to focus on a point on the ceiling to ensure you aren’t cranking it forwards.
When your elbows get as close to your knees as possible, squeeze the abs as hard as you can for a second, then return to the starting position. Immediately begin the next rep to maintain tension and continue until you hit failure or achieve the desired time or number of reps.
You begin a plank by getting in a similar starting position to a push up, only this time your weight will be on your forearms, instead of your hands. Once you are on all fours and supporting all your body weight on your forearms and toes, make sure your whole body is straight and parallel to the floor.
Engage your abs and all of the other muscles throughout your core and use them to keep your entire body straight for the duration of the set. Maintain the position with perfect form until you reach the desired length of time or hit failure.
LIIT Workout 2 – Weights
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart, heels firmly planted, and back completely straight. Hold a kettlebell with both hands in front of you, with your arms fully extended down to your waist, and bend your knees to slowly lower yourself down into a squatted position.
With the weight hanging between your legs and just behind you, engage the muscles in your core and legs and use them to explode upwards. Make sure to drive through your heels, pop your hips, and pull forwards with your shoulders and arms, while keeping your back straight at all times.
Keep going until you are standing completely upright, with the kettlebell held straight out in front of you, your arms fully extended and parallel with the floor. Immediately let the weight begin to fall back down, allowing your arms and knees to loosen, returning you to the starting position.
Brace yourself on your heels as you prepare to receive the force of the weight, then immediately begin again to maintain all of the momentum you have built up. Repeat until you hit failure or achieve the desired time or number of reps.
Goblet squats are performed in much the same way as the squats in Workout 1, only with 2 differences. Firstly, you will hold a kettlebell with both hands against your chest, ideally gripping it by the bell itself, rather than the handle.
You will also stand with your feet and knees together and your heels resting on a weight plate, instead of the floor.
These two changes will shift the emphasis almost completely onto the quadriceps, while adding weight to make it more challenging.
Swiss Ball Kettlebell Chest Press
Begin by taking a kettlebell in each hand and lay flat on your back over a Swiss ball (stability ball), with your feet planted firmly on the floor in front of you.
Lift the kettlebells to chest height, just outside of shoulder width, and hold them with an overhand grip, palms facing forward, forearms and hands in perfect alignment, and the weighted sections of the kettlebells hanging down the backs of your forearms.
Engage the pecs and triceps and use them to drive the weights straight up over your chest, bringing them together in an arcing motion so they touch as your arms reach full extension. Make sure to keep your palms facing forwards at all times.
When they meet, squeeze the pecs as hard as you can for a second, then slowly return to the starting position. Continue until you achieve your desired reps, set time, or hit failure.
Kettlebell Arnold Press
Sit or stand with a kettlebell in each hand and bring them to shoulder height, with your palms facing towards you, in the same position you would be in at the top of a bicep curl. Make sure your back is almost completely straight, with just a small arch in your lower back.
Contract your delts and triceps and use them to start pressing the weights straight up. As they are moving, slowly begin twisting your hands, so that your palms are turning away from you. When your arms are almost completely straight and your palms face away from you, you have reached the top.
Tilt your wrists slightly to raise your little fingers and lower your thumbs towards your head, to put maximum tension on the delts. Squeeze them as hard as you can for a moment, then slowly lower the weights back to the starting position, twisting your wrists back as you go.
As soon as your palms are facing you again, immediately repeat the process to maintain the tension and continue until you hit failure or your target time or reps.
Weighted Leg Tucks
Sit on the end of a weight bench, hold a dumbbell between your feet, and lean your torso back at a 45 degree angle. Place your hands either by your head or out to the sides for support and balance.
Engage your abs and use them use raise your legs and the weight, bending at the knees, while simultaneously crunching your upper body forwards, until your knees and chest are as close together as you can get them.
Squeeze as hard as you can for a second then immediately return to the starting position and begin the next rep, repeating as many times as required until you hit failure or your target reps.
Should I Use HIIT Or LIIT Workouts?
HIIT and LIIT workouts may have a number or similarities that go far beyond their names. However, they are designed to offer results in two extremely different situations. Making sure you know when to use each one is vital if you are going to achieve the results you desire.
HIIT workouts are a perfect option if you are short on time, both in the immediate situation and longer term. They are also a great choice if your goal is to develop strength or endurance, lose weight or cut up, or improve your cardiovascular conditioning.
LIIT workouts, on the other hand, are better suited to people who have more time on their hands. The longer rest periods between sets means each workout will take longer to complete, while the lower intensity means results will usually take longer to achieve.
LIIT workouts are also better suited to those with a lower level of fitness or mobility. They are a perfect option if you aren’t sure you are ready or able to push your body through a traditional training routine.
This also makes LIIT workouts perfect for when you are struggling to motivate yourself to complete your regular exercise routine.
LIIT workouts can be a very effective and useful tool if used right. While they certainly won’t be ideal for everyone, they are great if you are just getting into fitness, returning after a while out, rehabbing an injury, lacking on energy or motivation, or are simply trying to stay active, in old age or otherwise.
They can be used to help you build strength, lose weight, get cut, improve your cardio, or just stay healthy. No matter what your goal is, this beginners guide to LIIT workouts will hopefully have helped you to decide if they are the right way to go about achieving them.
If you feel they are, there should now be nothing left standing in your way from giving them a try and seeing how they can benefit you for yourself. Some people even find that combining HIIT workouts and LIIT workouts can overhaul their entire workout routine.
However, if you like the idea of doing something a little bit different but don’t feel LIIT workouts are for you, maybe consider giving EMOM a try instead. While a vastly different approach to interval training, they are another option designed for people with a limited amount of time or energy.