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This Boxing-Style HIIT Workout Is Designed for People with Knee Pain

If you've ever experienced knee pain, you know that it's no joke. Plus, without properly dealing with it, even minor discomfort in the joints can increase your risk of knee injury (such as a tear in the meniscus, a sprain, or an ACL injury). Then you're in for some real recovery and healing time. And here's a not-so-fun-fact: Women actually have a higher risk of ACL tears if they spend time jumping or pivoting—a common denominator in many a HIIT class.

Even if you aren't nursing a knee injury, but have some uncomfortable-to-semi-painful creakiness going on, all those squat jumps and side-shuffle drills in boot-camp class are sure to cause a flare-up. That could lead to a real injury that's just going to sideline you from a lot of workouts, HIIT and otherwise, as you heal.

"But I love to really sweat and give it my all during workouts," you're saying right now. Well, luckily, Erika Hammond, founding trainer at Rumble Boxing in NYC, has a lot of ideas up her sleeve. She's sharing her go-to HIIT circuit that will get your heart rate up, make you break a sweat, and—get this—won't kill your knees.

It's common misconception that HIIT has to be high-impact to be high-intensity. It's just not true, says Hammond, who designed this low-impact but high-intensity circuit specifically for anyone with bad knees.
 
"I arranged the workout so that one move brings your heart rate up, and the next is a bit slower, but still keeps your elevated heart rate stable," she says. For example, as you move from the fast towel slider into the slightly slower sit-up, you're breathing hard and your heart rate remains elevated throughout, she says. What's more, your heart rate will continue to rise even after you've finished a move, for even greater calorie and fat burn.
 
You'll find that some common HIIT moves such as lunges have been swapped for knee lifts, so there's less pressure on the joints. Boxing-style punches and gliding movements have been used in lieu of traditional high-impact jumping exercises, which can obviously worsen knee pain.
 
How it works: Do this circuit 5 times through, with 20-second max rest in between each move, for a total of 30 minutes.
 

Triceps Dip

A. Sit on the edge of a bench or chair, arms at sides, and legs bent or straight out in front of you. 
B. Place hands on the edge of the bench, fingers and thumbs facing forward. 
C. Lower yourself down by bending elbows until butt hovers just above floor and chest is about level with bench.
D. Push through palms to lift back to starting position.
 
Repeat for 1 minute. 

Push-Up with Shoulder Tap

A. Begin at the top of your push-up position (in high plank) with hands directly below shoulders and body in a straight line from head to heels, driving navel in. 
B. Lower chest to hover above the ground to come to the bottom of your push-up position.
C. Pause, then push back up.
D. At the top of your push-up, touch opposite hand to opposite shoulder, one side, then the next.
 
Repeat for 30 seconds.

Fast Jab-Cross

A. Begin in fighter's stance with left leg in front of right (this will be the opposite if you're a lefty) and knees slightly bent.
B. Jab punch with left fist, and immediately pivot and cross punch with right fist. 
C. Fully extend arms at the end of the punch, and make sure to rotate hands to punch directly in front of you.
D. Find speed in your punches.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

Single-Leg Knee Drive

A. Start in a split stance, left foot forward and right foot back with front left knee slightly bent and back leg mostly straight.
B. Lean torso forward (so that it's in line with back leg) and extend arms overhead. Arms, head, torso, and back leg should form a single line.
C. Keeping front leg planted, draw right knee up and into chest as hands come down to meet knee.
 
Repeat for 30 seconds on each side.

Towel Sliders

A. Start in high plank position with ball of each foot on a glider or towel. (Two small hand towels will work.)
B. Slide right knee in toward chest.
C. As you return right leg to plank position, slide left knee into chest.
D. Continue alternating sides.
 
Repeat for 1 minute.

Sit-Up Jab Cross

A. Lie on back, knees bent and heels digging into the ground. 
B. Bend elbows and lift arms to frame face.
C. Engage core and perform a full sit-up.
D. At the top of the sit-up, throw two straight punches before returning arms and lowering back down with control. 

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