In terms of exercise, impact and intensity are very different things. Impact is the force of your body used in an exercise; intensity is the level of power used.
High impact and high intensity seem like they go hand in hand, but they don’t always need to.
Since high impact exercises can put a lot of stress on joints, low impact but high intensity exercises are great tools to stay in shape without putting your joints in danger. See what BuiltLean experts suggest as the best low impact, high intensity exercises and see what they can do for you.
Best Low Impact, High Intensity Exercise #1: Swimming
As an exercise method, I would definitely go with swimming. All the muscles in your body are working to help propel yourself forward with a resistance only being water. You can get an amazing workout, especially if you do swimming sprints, with very little impact. A couple of runner-ups are elliptical sprints, and stationary cycling sprints. In terms of strength training exercises, I would go with jump squats with a TRX, or bar for assistance. Using assistance while jumping can make the exercise much lower impact and smooth. Add weight such as a weighted vest to add intensity.
– Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Best Low Impact, High Intensity Exercise #2: Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell swings! This move targets the glutes and hamstrings. It builds power and strength, and is a killer way to get some cardio into your workout. It’s an all-in-one exercise that offers so many benefits.
Best Low Impact, High Intensity Exercise #3: Rowing Machine
I think for a low impact, high intensity exercise, not many things beat a rowing machine. As long as you don’t have too many issues with your lower back or really bad rounded shoulders, you can really ramp up the intensity while having minimal wear and tear on the body. My other favorite in terms of low-impact, high intensity exercise are Airdyne bikes. Since they are rarely found in gyms though, this just isn’t a realistic option for most people.
– John Levya, CSCS, CPT
Best Low Impact, High Intensity Exercise #4: Recumbent Bike
A recumbent bike is the best low impact exercise modality, and with the addition of utilizing interval based cardiovascular activity with the recumbent bike, it can double as a very high intense exercise. The reason I chose a recumbent bike is because of its easy use, as well as protective back padding for those individuals with lower back issues.
– Kwesi Peters, CSCS, CPT
Best Low Impact, High Intensity Exercise #5: Kettlebell Swings
Kettlebell Swings. They work multiple muscle groups and also improve coordination & balance. You can get an intense, nearly whole body workout in about 10 minutes. If you don’t have access to kettlebells, use a dumbbell instead. Start with the basic swing: grab the kettlebell and swing it back between your legs, then forward with a powerful hip thrust. On the upward swing the kettlebell should go at least to eye level, although you can go higher if you’re comfortable doing so. Start with a very light weight until your technique is smooth – at no point throughout the entire movement should you feel off balance, or need to take a step forward or backward to prevent from falling over. Once you have the basic swing down, try doing it with one hand!
– William Lagakos, Ph.D.