A common misconception among gym enthusiasts is that if you’re not doing the hardest, most impactful workouts, you’re not going to get good results. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Similar to the myth of walking not being enough of a workout, many people discount the effect of low-impact exercises and how they can help you reach your fitness goals. Low-impact workouts are great for beginners who are looking to start their fitness journey, in addition to older adults and people recovering from injury (you’d want to consult a doctor first before starting a new workout regimen).
What defines a low-impact workout? According to the American Sports and Fitness Association, these workouts include “exercises that are low-impact on your joints.” To help you get started on your fitness journey, below is a mix of low-impact workouts that include strength training, bodyweight exercises, core workouts and more.
Squats are an incredibly versatile low-impact workout that utilizes multiple muscles in your legs and core while building a strong foundation for your fitness journey. When you’re first starting out, do singular bodyweight squats to determine your endurance and strength, then start to build up from there. That includes starting with shorter sets and reps, making sure that you have the correct form, and that you’re engaging the right parts of your body. If you need a bit more modification, you can also start with chair squats. If your lower back starts to hurt, you’re not fully activating your glutes and core and should readjust. Once you’re confident in your squats, start to add more reps and sets, eventually adding weights for an additional challenge. There’s no shortage of ways to make your squats more effective as you build up your endurance and move from beginner to advanced.
If you’re looking for exercises to do in the gym, start with the elliptical machine. Using the elliptical is considered a low-impact cardiovascular activity that not only is easier on your joints while raising your heart rate to provide both fitness and health benefits like decreasing your risk of heart disease. Thirty minutes on the elliptical as a beginner is a great way to build up your endurance. Looking for a more intense workout? You can change the incline and resistance, as well as increase the length of your workout. Going from 30 to 45 to 60 minutes is a great way to continue pushing yourself and increasing your endurance as your abilities increase and you get stronger.
Bent Over Rows
Not to neglect your upper body and back muscles, bent-over rows are a great multi-muscle workout — the pulling motions target almost all of your back muscles including your shoulders, back and biceps. When making a low-impact workout routine, you want to keep the workouts well-rounded and not focus on just one area. There’s a reason why folks have “leg day” and “arm day”; you want to have a complete workout routine. For this exercise, use weights starting in the 1-to-5-pound range depending on your abilities. Good form is important with all workouts so start off by standing in the mirror and making sure you’re setting yourself up for success.
Deadlifts are weight and strength training workout that works your backside, mainly your glutes and hamstrings. For beginners, you’ll want to base your weights on your personal comfort and ability level. Weights in the 1-to-5-pound range are a great place to start, with higher weight amounts used as you get stronger and want to increase the difficulty of the workout to continue challenging and strengthening your muscles. You can also add more sets to your routine.