Why Low Impact Workouts Work Too

Over the years, I have encouraged my clients to find a way of training that suits them and their needs at the time. What’s key, I always tell them, is consistent movement.

No matter what, it’s important to challenge your body with the moves you do to be able to achieve any changes in your muscles. You need to work them hard. I think it’s really important to do workouts that you enjoy doing, otherwise it just becomes a negative and we start to find ways to avoid doing it!

For many, high intensity or high impact workouts are not possible or advisable. Whether that’s because of injury, movement preferences or even limitations on your space! Doing low impact work doesn’t mean you’re not doing enough either. Cycling, swimming, hiking, yoga, Pilates and body weight workouts are all low-impact ways of training that can still be powerful and challenging to the whole body.

Let’s take a look at why low impact workout matter.

What’s the difference between high impact and low impact workouts?

Simply put, low impact puts less stress on your joints. For people that are new to exercise, out of condition or injured; low impact is a better option for the body and its joints than higher impact workouts.

That being said, it’s still possible to get your heart rate up and work your body hard with a low impact workout. I incorporate low impact and high impact moves in most of my sessions but it’s still possible to modify the high impact moves to a lower impact version.

Adaption is key when you are training. If you have knee or any joint issues you will be looking to build a strong muscles around that particular joint, so it has more protection whilst training, you can always up your game and push yourself more when you feel stronger.

Who should consider doing more low impact exercise:

Low impact workouts have gradually been gaining popularity as people start to realise that too much high impact work can be detrimental to your body, especially if you’re working with previous injuries.

HIIT is shorter bursts of higher impact moves that will maintain your muscle mass without the constant wear and tear of a long cardio session but crucially, there’s always the option to use a lower impact version of the move, if needed.

I have seen women with pelvic floor issues, people with old sporting injuries, clients who sit too long at a desk and therefore experience a loss of glute and hip strength and so much more. These sorts of muscle imbalances might indicate that running or jumping just doesn’t work well work for them.

My sessions are based on observing clients and learning to adapt to their various injuries or concerns, but still giving them a challenging workout that involves changes within their bodies. All the body weight moves, balances and multidirectional sequences are not only stimulating to the muscular system, but also raise your heart rate.

What are the benefits of low-impact cardio:

The benefit of doing low impact workouts is you can take the time to strengthen your muscular system without putting undue stress on your joints. Once you have more muscular strength and endurance around your joints, you then have more protection and less chance of being injured.

Besides that, it is definitely possible to get your heart rate up doing low impact moves. Think compound moves – this means working more than one muscle group at one time. Imagine using your body weight to do a plank and then moving into a press-up or lifting a leg in the plank whilst doing a press up, all these moves will be challenging and raising your heart rate if done correctly and they involve more than one group of muscles at the same time.

Can you burn fat with low impact moves?  

Yes, you can! Remember muscles burn more calories than fat does, so the leaner muscle mass you have – the higher your metabolic rate becomes. This is because muscle needs a lot more energy than fat does.

How long should a good low impact workout last? Should it be longer than something higher impact?

The duration of low impact workouts really depends on what you are doing.

For example, you could probably hike for hours but you may find an hour of body weight exercises is just as tiring for that time. As a general rule, find a workout you enjoy then once you start to feel stronger, up your time gradually on that workout, increase your speed or add more challenging moves each time to keep stimulating change within the musculoskeletal system by putting demands on the body.