Why low-impact workouts deserve a place in your fitness routine
5 min read
Low-impact workouts are widely misunderstood and often mistaken for being too easy, for older people or for those who have suffered injuries. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unfortunately, the misconception keeps people from ever attempting a low-impact workout for fear they won’t get the same results as a high-impact workout, like running intervals or plyometrics. Many people never try low-impact exercise until they suffer an injury and are forced into alternatives.
But the truth is both low-impact workouts and high-impact training will give you strong results. Low-impact activities that are joint-friendly will set your body up for a safe long-term trajectory of building strength while maintaining flexibility, range of motion and mobility. In the end, low-impact exercises might not look as challenging as high-impact workouts. But when you take out hard-hitting movements like jumping, running or plyometrics; you’re still left with muscle-building movements and high-intensity intervals that will give you lifelong results.
The difference between low-impact and high-impact is how they affect your joints. Low-impact exercises include walking, lifting, swimming, cycling, yoga and barre. High-impact exercises include running, jumping and plyometrics (think box jumps and burpees). Low-impact exercises are more gentle on your joints, but high-impact exercises tend to get you quicker results. This is especially true when it comes to calorie burn; high-impact movements like running and jumping will elevate your heart rate at a faster speed and burn more calories.
If you’re already thinking that high-impact fitness is more effective, keep reading! Even if you don’t have an injury or joint pain, the risk of either one occurring increases significantly with high-impact exercises. This is one of the many reasons why high-impact movements shouldn’t be performed every day. Instead of performing back-to-back high-impact exercise days, we suggest diversifying with low-impact options to minimize risk of injury.
This is not medical advice and your physician’s or physical therapist’s recommendation trumps anything you read here. What you decide to do is largely dependent on your goals and your body. Low-impact movements improve your performance, mobility and flexibility during high-impact exercises. And high-impact movements rev your heart rate, boost cardiovascular fitness, burn calories and improve overall athleticism. Ideally, your weekly workout routine would include both, so – if you can – mix it up!
You might be wondering how low-impact exercises show up during a SUMHIIT Fitness class. After all, anyone who has attended a SUMHIIT workout knows the intensity is unmatched and it’s common to think of “intensity” and “impact” as synonymous. We apply both types of exercises into our 35-minute workout. First, we rev up the intensity (and your heart rate) using a low-impact bike for a strong cardio base. This isn’t just any bike either, it’s an assault bike, which offers equal parts cardio and resistance. Because the bike asks your legs to perform continuous fluid motion, it’s a safe way to do cardio repeatedly. We consider it a much safer and more efficient alternative to running on a treadmill day after day.
On the floor, we balance low-impact with high-impact exercises, and coaches will always offer modifications for those who want to keep it low-impact throughout the entire workout. On heavier lifting days, almost all of the floor exercises will be low-impact because the focus is on form and building strength through heavy weights and more focused movements. On days when the intervals are more Tabata-style, we do emphasize high-impact exercises like burpees and box jumps, but every circuit comes with a series of modifications that minimize or eliminate impact. We also reduce the risk of injury during high-impact exercises because each class is led by a coach who ensures your form and technique are correct. At SUMHIIT Fitness, we always prioritize form and technique over reps and heart rate.
SUMHIIT Fitness classes will give you a good mix of high- and low-impact training so you can attend class multiple days in a row without the need for a high-impact break. There are options for every need in all of the classes we offer.
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