This 20-Minute HIIT Cardio Workout Is Low-Impact — and Still Burns Crazy Calories

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A workout doesn't have to be high-impact to be effective at burning calories.
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When you think of a HIIT cardio workout, images of exercises like burpees and jump squats probably come to mind. But contrary to popular belief, you don't need to bounce off the walls (or sacrifice your knees) to torch a ton of calories and get your heart hammering.

"It's a common misconception that a workout has to include a lot of jumping and thunderous movement to be considered high intensity," says Ben Palocko, ACSM EP-C, a lead trainer at Trainiac. "The HI in HIIT stands for 'high-intensity,' not high-impact."

Yep, you can ramp up the intensity of your cardio workout — without jumping — and still burn loads of calories. But how? "By adding exercises and/or the number of sets and repetitions," Palocko says. In other words, to maintain intensity during a low-impact routine, you need to increase the duration and frequency of the moves, which, in turn, will boost your caloric output.

An effective calorie burner, low-impact cardio is a must in any well-balanced workout routine, since it also helps with active recovery for bones and soft tissues and will decrease the likelihood of training injury over time, Palocko says.

Curious exactly how many calories you burn during your workouts? Download the MyPlate app for a more accurate and customized estimate.

20-Minute Low-Impact HIIT Cardio Workout

Designed by Palocko, this 20-minute, low-impact, calorie-burning HIIT cardio workout doesn't require an ounce of jumping (or equipment), but it's bound to make you sweaty.

Do: each of the moves in order for the given number of reps and sets. To keep your heart rate up, rest for 15 seconds or less between each move.

Move 1: Sumo Squats

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, turning your toes out 45 degrees.
  2. Maintain an upright torso as you bend your knees and lower into a deep squat.
  3. Once your thighs are parallel with the floor, push through your heels to stand up.

Reps: 3 sets of 20

Move 2: Lunge With Front Kick

  1. Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips.
  2. Step back with your right leg and lower your hips into a lunge, bending until your back knee and front knee are at 90 degrees.
  3. Drive through the ball of your right foot and the heel of your left foot to stand.
  4. Lift your right knee and extend your right leg forward into a forceful kick without locking the knee joint.
  5. Quickly step back into the lunge and repeat.

Reps: 3 sets of 10 on each leg

Move 3: Bear Crawls

  1. Start on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your arms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your knees, so they're bent at a 90-degree angle and hovering an inch off the ground.
  3. Maintain a flat back as you move one hand and the opposite foot forward staying low to the ground.
  4. Keep your neck in line with your spine, looking up with just your eyes as you move.
  5. Then, move the opposite hand and foot, and continue alternating sides.

Reps: 3 sets of 20

Read more: The Best Low-Impact Exercises That Burn the Most Calories

Move 4: Curtsy Lunge

  1. Stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips.
  2. Step back with your right leg, crossing it behind your left.
  3. Bend your knees and lower your hips until your left thigh is just about parallel to the floor, as if you were curtsying. Make sure your left knee does not carry forward past your toes.
  4. Maintaining hips and shoulders square to the front, squeeze through your glutes and quads to stand upright.

Reps: 3 sets of 10 on each leg

Move 5: Plank With Shoulder Taps

  1. Start in a high plank, with your arms fully extended and your body in a straight line from head to toes.
  2. Brace your core as you lift your right arm and reach across your body to gently tap your left shoulder. Keep your hips square to the ground and don't rotate.
  3. Place your right hand back down on the ground.
  4. Lift your left hand and lightly tap your right shoulder.
  5. Continue alternating shoulder taps at a slow, controlled pace.

Reps: 2 sets of 20 taps

Move 6: Side Plank With Leg Lift

  1. Lie on your side, positioning yourself on your bottom elbow and the side of your foot.
  2. Lift your hips in the air, forming a straight line from ankles to shoulders, and brace your core.
  3. Holding your torso stable, raise your top leg without bending your knee or letting your hips sag.
  4. Lower your leg, then your hips back to the floor in a slow, controlled movement.

Reps: 2 sets of 10 on each side

Tip

If this move is too challenging, drop to your bottom knee and keep the top leg straight to lift it.

Move 7: Alternating Superman

  1. Lie face down on a mat with your arms stretched above your head.
  2. Raise your right arm and left leg several inches off the ground and pause for a few seconds, focusing on squeezing your rear shoulder and glutes.
  3. Your neck should align with your spine, so keep your gaze straight down on the floor.
  4. Then, lower back to starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.
  5. Continue this movement, alternating sides.

Reps: 2 sets of 20

Check out more of our **20-minute workouts here** — we’ve got something for everyone.

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