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Suggestions for HIIT for the Over-60 Lifter?

I am 62. I lift 2 days a week (full body) and HIIT on the Aidyne 2 days a week for 20 minutes. I walk and stretch about everyday.

The thing is I that I find the Airdyne boring and really hate doing it. I do not have access to a prowler or hills (not that I can run anymore).

So my question is what are some other alternatives for HIIT for the over 60 lifter?


If it is the activity itself which is boring, some other options might be a rowing machine, a versaclimber, a regular stationary bike (which shifts the emphasis to leg only), a stepper machine, or an elliptical machine. Some people suggest doing prowler sorts of pushes by walking on a dead treadmill - forcing the shut off motor to turn provides some resistance. (Probably don’t want to try this on a good treadmill, as forcing the motor to turn might damage the electronics.)

You could also experiment with non-traditional modes of cardio: kettlebell swings or snatches for high reps, barbell complexes, other kinds of resistance exercise circuits done for high reps with short rests. Depending on what you are after (central vs peripheral adaptations), these might be an acceptable alternative.

You could also try switching between two modes of HIIT just to reduce the boredom factor: use the bike once a week, then do something else on for the second workout. Likewise, you could try varying the type of HIIT program you are doing. Use lots of short work intervals one session, then longer and fewer work intervals on the next workout. Martin Gibala has book out which has a wide variety of HIIT programs you could experiment with.

I personally have done HIIT with a rowing machine, a stationary bike, and an elliptical machine:

  • I found that it was harder to get my heart rate up with the rower, just because there is more technique involved. However, it is more interesting than a bike or elliptical, just because there is a skill component that you can work on.

  • For me, the stationary bike was the simplest and most reliable way to get my heart rate up, but since it is all leg work, you really have to grind those legs hard.

  • I currently use an elliptical machine, because I have one at home, and no longer have a gym membership. I have come to prefer that over the stationary bike because it is load bearing, and the stress is spread out over arms and legs. But subjectively speaking, I do feel like I have to push myself a little harder on that machine to hit my heart rate targets.

My overall experience, though, it that HIIT is never really that enjoyable, regards of how I do it. It is something that I just have to grind through for whatever benefits it provides.

If you have a history of lifting, try increasing the frequency of your full body workouts depending on your recovery ability. Try just walking/kettlebell swings/higher volume workouts/even occasional fasting instead of stationary bikes/treadmills.

Make it fun.

You could try old school “Grass Drills,” like high knee marching in place “Steam Engines” and “Frankensteins.”

Moves like Pushups and Mountain Climbers where you keep full body tightness while you’re pumping your arms or legs can get intense. If they’re too tough you can put your hands on a bench or the couch or something to elevate your upper body. That way the move is “easier” and you can pump out the reps and get the work you’re looking for.

I just got into Step Ups as a way to train legs and get the heart rate up quickly. A bunch of sets of 5-10 reps would fit pretty nice in an interval workout.