A Break From Intensity

by Ryan Crandall on Apr 18, 2014


Balance hard workouts with a calming cool-down that helps participants destress and recalibrate.

There's no denying the growth and popularity of high-intensity interval training. HIIT classes— which also ride on the coattails of CrossFit®—sometimes use fast paced, complex movements against external resistance. While this type of training can yield impressive physical and mental results, it can also lead to injuries and burnout. Why not end your sessions with a mind-body-cool-down designed to calm the nervous system and potentially lessen the chance of injury?

Since most participants likely have jobs where they sit all day, teach this cool-down while standing. Participants are also likely to be stuck in a “go-go-go” work mentality, which may translate into a “harder is better” exercise philosophy. This is a recipe for chronic stress. Educate your clients about relaxation, proper breathing and simple moving meditations. More is not better; better is better.

Use the following moves after any HIIT program. Cue class to move spherically and dynamically while focusing on how the movement feels. Encourage participants to use one breath per motion and to move as if they were surrounded by a sphere that they were trying to expand. Additional notes:

  • Keep it simple and know your audience. Make sure you understand and observe various contraindications.
  • Modify moves to make them easier or more challenging.
  • Make sure participants focus on their breathing. Extend the exhalations to help people shift from a sympathetic state to a parasympathetic one.
Cross-Over Up and Down

Cross-Over Up and Down

  • Cross right (R) leg over left (L) (L knee is straight, R knee is bent).
  • Place hands on upper thighs.
  • Exhale: Slowly shift hips back and slide hands down legs. Feel posterior chain lengthen, and pay attention to what you feel.
  • Slowly come to a stop at end range; do not bounce (cue participants to pay attention to their limits).
  • Inhale: Reverse direction. Hips migrate forward as you come up. Continue reaching arms toward ceil- ing, allowing thoracic spine and hips to shift into extension.
  • Repeat 10×.
  • Repeat, opposite leg.

Hip Bump

Hip Bump
  • Stand with feet less than shoulder-width apart, arms overhead.
  • Shift center of mass and hips L, while arms reach R (counterbalance).
  • Place hands together overhead for deeper stretch to latissimus dorsi.
  • Once you feel a gentle limit, reverse direction.
  • Repeat 10×, each direction.


Hula Hoop
  • Stand with feet less than shoulder-width apart, hands on hips. Imagine lengthening your body.
  • Circle hips/pelvis around feet as if using a Hula-Hoop. While hips shift forward, head moves back.
  • For advanced participants: Extend arms overhead.
  • Repeat 10×, each direction.


While this is a great opener for the thoratic spine, students may also feel a "pull" in the feet.

Cross-Over Up and Down
  • Place feet shoulder-width apart and extend both arms in from at shoulder, palms together.
  • Keep L arm rigid and both eyes on L hand.
  • Slide R hand back to chin. If possible, keep pulling R arm back until it's 180 degrees from L arm.
  • Slowly release and switch sides. Repeat 20x total.

Ryan Crandall has been an IDEA member since 1999 and can be contacted at paradigmshiftfitness@gmail.com or www.postrehab4u.com.

IDEA Fitness Journal, Volume 11, Issue 5

© 2014 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Crandall

Ryan Crandall IDEA Author/Presenter

Hey There. I'm Ryan Crandall, owner of 3d-Yoga. I have had a knack for understanding and learning about the human body since I was a young boy. Many trips to the hospital emergency room with sprains, ...


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