Ramp up Results with Lower-Intensity Exercises

Fitness has come full circle. For years, trainers have been hailing the benefits of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), which keeps your body guessing by switching between short, maximum-intensity bursts and lower-intensity recovery periods. But recently, there's been more buzz around LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) cardio, which involves longer, endurance-based exercise at a lower heart rate.

Whether you're a cardio enthusiast, eager yogi or strength training addict, we guarantee there's room in your routine for LISS. To get started, try these sample workouts from fitness trainer Michelle Abbruzzese.
Cardio Warm-Up
  1. Start off by marching in place, swinging your arms as you march. (Do this for 8 counts of 8)
  2. Slow down the march but make the movements bigger, lifting the knees higher than the waist, with bigger arm swings. (4 counts of 8)
  3. Continuing with the high knee lifts, push the hands forward as if you are pushing something away from you. (4 sets of 8)
  4. Keep the high knees and "raise the roof," pushing the arms high over your head. (4 sets of 8) 
Exercise 1
  1. Standing with the feet hip distance apart, knees soft, and with a slight lean forward, bring your arms out in front of you with the elbows slightly bent. Hands should be shoulder height, and shoulders should be kept down.
  2. Bring your hands in without allowing your elbows to drop. Stop when the elbows are at a 90-degree angle and then extend them back out. (4 sets of 8) 
  1. Keeping your arms out in front of your body, elbows soft, bend at the knees to bring the body into a squat position. Perform small pulses by bending the knees deeper, keeping your chest up and your butt reaching back. (4 sets of 8)
  1. Keeping the same stance with your arms out in front, create a deep bend in the knees.
  2. Come back to almost completely straight. 
  3. Perform these moves with the same posture as the last exercise (chest up, butt reaching back when in the squat position). (4 sets of 8)

Exercise 2
  1. Sit with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and your hands on the floor behind you with your fingers facing your toes. Press your hips up toward the ceiling and squeeze your butt. 
  2. Holding that position, pulse up and down by only bending your elbows. 
  3. Add a cardio blast by keeping the movement small and fast. Try to keep your hips up throughout the entire exercise. (4 sets of 8)
  1. Raise one leg toward the ceiling and repeat the exercise above. (2 counts of 8 for each leg raise) 


Exercise 3

  1. Bring your body into a plank position with your hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders, with your arms straight and shoulders back. The feet should be hip distance apart, with the knees straight, the glutes squeezed tight and the abs engaged. 
  2. Bend one arm at a time, bringing your elbow to the floor. 
  3. Repeat on the other side until you are holding an elbow plank. 
  4. Lift one foot off the ground as high as you can, then bring it back to the floor. 
  5. Lift your other foot off the ground and back to the floor. 
  6. Straighten one arm at a time until you are back to your original plank position. 
  7. Repeat set starting with opposite arm bending first. Perform the moves quickly to boost the cardio effects. (8 sets each side)
(Modification: Perform with the knees down, lifting knees off the ground instead of feet.)

Exercise 4     
  1. Sit on the floor with your legs open to a narrow "V" shape.
  2. Focusing on the right leg, place the fingertips of your left hand on the floor between your legs, and the fingertips of your right hand on the floor outside of your right leg.
  3. Keeping your weight as forward as possible and engaging your abs, lift your right leg off the ground. 
  4. Pulse the leg up toward the ceiling, keeping the leg as straight as possible. Perform 4 sets of 8 on each side. 
Exercise 5
  1. Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your feet on the floor at hip distance apart. Roll through the spine and press your hips up toward the ceiling. 
  2. Drop your butt down to the floor, and then press back up toward the ceiling.
  3. Perform these pulses as fast as you can to boost the cardio effect. (4 sets of 8)
  4. Performing the same moves as above, lift one leg up toward the ceiling and pulse your butt up and down. Repeat on the other side. (2 sets of 8 each leg) 

Exercise 6
  1. Laying on your back, lift your arms and legs straight up toward the ceiling. 
  2. Using your abdominal muscles, lift your shoulders off the ground and lift up your tailbone by bringing it under. 
  3. Release the tuck and lower your shoulders, keeping your arms and legs toward the ceiling. 
  4. Try to perform the tucks as fast as you can to intensify the cardio effect. (4 sets of 8) 
Exercise 7
  1.  Lay on your back with your legs straight in front of you and your arms overhead with your biceps next to your ears. Pull in your abdominals to keep your entire back on the floor.
  2. Bring both legs off the floor and pull one knee in as close as possible to your shoulder while lifting your shoulders off the ground. Hold that position as you pulse the bent knee in toward the shoulder
  3. Alternate legs after every 8 pulses. (4 sets of 8 pulses) 
  4. Repeat the exercise, but switch after every 4 pulses.
  5. Repeat the exercise, but switch after every 2 pulses.
  6. Repeat the exercise, but switch after every pulse. 

About Michelle Abbruzzese
A breast cancer survivor, fitness trainer and trained dancer, Michelle owns and operates the Work It Dance and Fitness Studio in Connecticut. Her two fitness DVDs, "Dance Yourself Fit" and "Tone and Tighten," are available for download here.