The best low-impact workouts you can do at home
Are you looking for a low-impact workout that can get you results without the pain? We’ve got you.
There are many reasons high-impact exercise may be out of the question for you. Maybe you have problem joints, a bad back, are recovering from injury, or need to protect your body from the risk of injury. Perhaps you’re carrying excess weight, or you’re a total beginner to exercise who is thinking, “There’s no way I could ever jump like that!”
So what is a low-impact workout? We’re going to break it down for you, then get you moving with a low-impact cardio workout at home. We’ll also show you how to build a strong core with low-impact ab exercises and even give you a taste of Pilates.
Want to try more low-impact workouts on Centr? Get started today with your free trial at Centr.com.
Before we get sweaty, let’s get the facts.
What is low-impact exercise?
Low-impact exercise is anything that reduces the load and force of movements to have a lower impact on your joints and muscles.
A good way to think about it is that where high-impact exercises may involve jumping or plyometric movements, with low-impact exercise you will very rarely have both feet off the ground.
What are the benefits of low-impact workouts?
As mentioned previously, the first big benefit of low-impact training is that it gets people moving who might otherwise be avoiding exercise. For instance, a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout may involve a lot of jumping and squatting that is tough on your knees. Switch to a HILIT workout – high-intensity low-impact training – and you still get the heart-pumping, fat-burning, cardio-boosting benefits, just without the stress on your joints.
As well as protecting your joints and muscles, low-impact exercise is a great way to give them a break – for instance if you’re a regular runner or weightlifter. Low-impact workouts are also great for building muscle endurance, balance and alignment throughout your body.
Now you know the benefits, let’s try your first low-impact home workout.
Try Da Rulk's low-impact cardio workout
Yes, low-impact cardio is a thing. Functional training expert Da Rulk is your go-to guy for low-impact cardio exercises and building functional strength. This workout will spike your heart rate, improve your cardiovascular fitness and get you burning fat.
Look to the inset modifications in the video for the low-impact versions of the exercises, and we’ll give you extra form tips below.
Let’s break down some of the key low-impact cardio exercises featured in this workout:
How to do a low-impact burpee
Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
Bring your hands down to the floor, then step your feet back one at a time until your body is in a plank position.
Step your feet back in toward your hands to stand up, raising your hands above your head to fully extend your body.
How to do an alternating side crawl + modified sit thru
Start on all fours at one end of your workout mat, then lift your knees so they’re hovering above the floor, with your back forming a tabletop.
Keeping your shoulders and hips parallel, step your body to the side by alternately moving your hands, then feet.
When you reach the opposite end of your workout mat, perform a sit thru – abs engaged, scoop one knee forward toward the opposite hand, then the other knee.
Side crawl back to the other end of the mat and repeat.
How to do a low-impact broad jump
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Sit back to drop down into a squat, until your quads are parallel to the floor.
Squeeze your glutes and push up through your feet to stand, rising all the way up onto the tips of your toes.
Lower your heels back to the floor, then repeat.
How to do stationary gorillas
Start on all fours, fingers spread out to give you a good grip on the mat, and feet wider than hip-width apart, with toes pointing out at an angle.
Lift your knees so they’re hovering above the floor, and engage your core.
Jump both feet forward to the outside of your hands, then jump them back – maintaining the width of your stance.
How to do quarter rotational knee drops
Stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, back straight and a slight bend in your knees.
Rotate one knee inward and the other knee out – pivoting your foot and lifting your heel to lightly drop the inner knee to the floor.
Return to standing and repeat on the opposite side.
How to do side gorillas
Take a low squat position, feet in line with your shoulders and toes pointing out.
Rotate your hips as you put your left hand on the floor in front of your right leg, with your right hand following along beside it.
With your weight on your arms, jump both feet to the right so your body is in line again.
Repeat to the left by starting with your right arm.
How to do plank up-downs
Set up in a high plank position, hands on the mat directly below your shoulders.
Keeping your core and glutes switched on, lower one arm at a time into a forearm plank.
One arm at a time, return to a high plank position.
How to do low-impact mountain climbers
Start on all fours, with your hands on the mat in line with your shoulders, then lift your knees so they're hovering an inch off the mat.
Keep your core tight as you drive one knee up toward your chest, then return your foot to the ground. Draw the other knee toward your chest and repeat.
To lower the impact, think about driving your knees only as far as your belly button rather than your chest – keeping a gentle but steady pace.
Try Alexz’s low-impact core workout
To get the best low-impact workout for your core, you can’t go past Centr’s resident HILIT trainer Alexz Parvi. Alexz’s unique core exercises are guaranteed to get your abs burning. This is a 4-round low-impact full-body workout with a focus on core – and your core should be engaged throughout! Warm up, and Alexz will coach you through it.
Plus we’ll give you form tips on some of the key exercises below.
Let’s break down some of the key low-impact core moves from this workout:
How to do a plank walkout
Stand tall and squeeze your glutes together.
Bend at the knees to drop your hands on the floor in front of your feet, then walk your hands forward until you are in plank position.
Walk your hands back toward your feet and bend at the knees to return to standing.
How to do C-shape arm extensions
Sit with your feet on the floor, knees bent and legs hip-distance apart.
Lean back to create a ‘C’ shape with your spine, contracting your ab muscles.
Inhale as you reach your arms up above your head, then exhale as you lower your arms to reach for your knees. Continue to raise and lower your arms.
How to do a crunch punch
Lay down with your feet on the floor and knees bent.
Engage your core and bring your fists together above your chest.
As you rise up into a crunch, throw a punch with each hand and exhale deeply, then lower your torso back down.
Keep your core tight and control your breath as you move.
How to do low-impact scissor jacks
Stand tall, feet close together.
Step your left foot back, swinging your right arm forward at the same time, then return to standing.
Step your right foot back, swinging your left arm forward at the same time. Continue alternating with as much pace as you can.
How to do low-impact cross jacks
Begin standing with your feet together. Step out to the left, return to center, then step out to the right – extending your arms out into a T shape with each step.
Continue alternating sides.
You may slightly bend your knee as you step out, performing a slight side lunge.
How to do a walking lateral squat (low-impact alternative to squat jump + heel click)
With your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up and core engaged, drop down into a half-squat.
Maintaining the squat position, step out to the left, then the right, tapping your heels together at each side.
How to do a plank pushback
Set up in plank position.
Keeping your core tight, press your palms into the mat and push your butt back, then return to plank position.
Your arms should be fully extended when you push back, but not locked out, so you can rock back and forth fluidly.
How to do a full sit-up + knee extension
Sit on the floor in an L-shape, legs fully extended and heels pressing onto the floor.
Reach your arms above your head, then use your engaged ab muscles to curl back – lowering your back and shoulders onto the floor.
Again using your ab muscles, perform a sit up – raising your torso off the floor to reach for your toes.
How to do a C-shape shoulder press
Sit with your feet on the floor, knees bent and legs hip-distance apart.
Lean back to create a ‘C’ shape with your spine.
Raise your arms up with your elbows bent, as if you’re doing a shoulder press.
Push those imaginary weights up above your head, then back down again so your elbows dip just below shoulder height.
Keep pushing while keeping your core tight.
How to do a sit-up toe touch
Lay on your back with legs bent and feet on the floor, and reach your arms back above your head.
Curl from your abs to sit up, and as your torso approaches your thighs, lift your left foot off the floor to grab your foot with your outstretched hands.
Lower your foot and use your abs to curl your back onto the floor again.
Curl to sit up, then lift your right foot to grab it with your hands. Continue, alternating feet with each sit-up.
How to do a half roll back
Sit with your feet on the floor, knees bent and legs hip-distance apart, with arms reaching out in front of your torso.
Lean back to create a ‘C’ shape with your spine.
With your abs activated, and keeping your feet planted on the mat, roll your torso backward until your middle-back touches the floor – making sure you do not go as far as touching your shoulders to the floor.
Use your core to sit back up, reaching past your knees.
Try Sylvia’s low-impact Pilates workout
Pilates is a low-impact training style that can improve your full-body strength, flexibility and balance, reduce back pain by strengthening the muscles that support your back, shape and tone your body, and help you move more efficiently in everything you do. Like Alexz, Centr Pilates instructor Sylvia Roberts has a reputation for setting your core on fire, in the best possible way.
This workout is a preview of our 4-week yoga and Pilates program, Centr Align. Sylvia will coach you through gentle (but challenging!) floor movements designed to strengthen and shape your glutes.
Is there a low-impact workout program on Centr?
Centr has your low-impact needs covered, with not just countless low-impact workouts, but full low-impact workout programs that can help you build a consistent fitness routine and get real results in a set period of time. Take a look at how Chris Hemsworth’s team can get you moving, without the impact:
This 6-week program fuses bodyweight and dumbbell moves to activate full-body strength, sculpt every muscle and blast your cardio fitness. Trainers Luke Zocchi and Alexz offer low-impact modifications where needed, so you can get pain-free results.
Our 6-week bodyweight workout program with Alexz and Luke Zocchi tears down the barriers to training – with no equipment required and on-screen modifications that make every workout a low-impact workout. Over 3 phases, your trainers will show you how to burn fat, tone your body and build strength.
Our most-loved workout program is designed to help you lose weight, get lean, boost your cardio, and unleash a new level of fitness over 6 weeks. Trainers Luke and Ashley Joi will coach you through bodyweight HIIT/HILIT workouts, demonstrating and calling out low-impact modifications where required.
This progressive 4-week program combines low-impact training styles yoga and Pilates to bolster your confidence in both practices while also building strength, tone and balance. Sylvia and yoga instructor Tahl Rinsky will coach you through each class with a special guest on the mat who will demonstrate modifications to lower the intensity and help you move easier.
Centr Power is the definitive 13-week muscle-building program designed by Chris Hemsworth and his personal trainer Luke Zocchi. Exercise tutorials will help you nail the form to protect your joints, and offer alternative exercises - e.g. if a lift puts too much strain on your shoulders. The heavier you lift, the more load your muscles and joints have to carry, so you can always lower the weight to perform tougher exercises.
To take on a program and start reaching your goals – without the impact – start your free trial today at Centr.com.
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