High Impact Workouts vs. Low Impact Workouts
Published: February 1, 2016 | Updated: February 4, 2019
High Impact Workouts vs. Low Impact Workouts
High impact workouts vs. low impact workouts — what’s the difference and how do you know which is right for you? Your questions answered from gear to workouts and more.
Okay, so you’re ready to take the plunge and purchase gym flooring or start a new workout routine. You’re all set, but then there is all this lingo and WHAT DOES IT ALL EVEN MEAN?!
I feel you. It’s always challenging entering a new world where it feels like everyone except you speaks this secret language and you don’t even know which questions to ask.
Don’t worry, we’ve got your back, and we’re here to break down some of these terms. Today we’re talking about impact – high impact workouts, low impact workouts and no impact workouts. Let’s break it down.
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What is a no impact workout?
No impact means your feet never leave the ground (or machine). There is no “landing” which makes it super easy on your joints, and body in general. These types of workouts can be done on any surface – soft tiles (although be careful of those if you’re adding any cardio equipment like an elliptical), rubber tiles, rubber rolls, rubber mats, and even your carpet! If you think that you can’t get a great
If you think that you can’t get a great no-impact workout, that just ain’t true. There are plenty of butt busting ways to get that heart pumping with no impact at all–cycling/spinning, swimming, the elliptical, rowing, and to simulate outdoor running, you can even try the ElliptiGO!
These gentler forms of cardio are perfect for beginners, athletes overcoming an injury, and anyone who wants to get their sweat on with less risk of an injury.
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What is a low impact workout?
Low impact workouts are classified as anything where one foot stays on the ground. Think hiking, walking, stair climber and, my personal favorite, the competitive mall power walk. Those people aren’t messing around!
While not quite as gentle on your body as no impact options, low impact workouts are also great for any beginner, someone with a substantial amount of weight to lose, or anyone looking for a gentler way to get in a quality sweat sesh.
Bored of the usual? Try out a Step or Zumba class. While these classes occasionally involve jumping (which is not low impact), for the most part, they still qualify and offer some great variety. There are a lot of varieties for low impact workouts, but most do great with either rubber rolls, rubber tiles, rubber mats or vinyl flooring.
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What is a high impact workout?
A high impact workout is any move that includes both feet off the ground at the same time, such as running, jumping, and plyometrics. Many exercises you encounter in high-intensity programs like CrossFit / P90x / Insanity / etc. such as burpees, double unders, box jumps, jumping jacks, high knees, etc. fall into this category.
So if we’ve already established that you can crank out a great workout with low or no impact, why even consider a high impact workout with a higher risk of injury that often stresses your joints with 2-3 times your body weight? Well, if you asked me, I would tell you BECAUSE IT’S FUN! As an admitted marathon and CrossFit junkie, I can’t imagine a life without high impact workouts, but let’s actually discuss why so many of us are crazy to think they’re fun.
While you can get a great workout with no and low impact activities, high impact workouts truly give you the most bang for your buck. These workouts typically (but not always) burn more calories per hour than lower impact options and, more importantly, these workouts help to improve bone density.
In fact, one study showed a significant increase in bone mineral density in women who did more high impact hopping exercises. Additionally, if you ask me (because in my mind, you always ask me), high impact workouts give you the best post-workout high.
Ever heard of Runner’s High? Yeah, me too. That’s why I keep signing up for marathons against my better judgment.
Ever heard of elliptical high? Ummm, if you’ve experienced that, please share because clearly, I’ve been doing it wrong. For these workout,s you want a rubber floor with the ultimate shock absorption.
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Yeah, yeah…but which one should I do?
I’m going to give you the answer I totally hate receiving: it depends.
There is no one right exercise regimen for everyone. Some peoples’ bodies natural hold up to the pounding of high impact sports better than others. For every “rule” there is always an exception.
You can get a killer, cardio, calorie burning, fitness boosting working with zero impact. You also can participate in high impact workouts while staying injury-free and healthy.
Of course, we’re not doctors over here so please make sure you talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine, and to assess what’s best for you.
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Okay…well what do I need for these high impact workout shenanigans?
Because of the added stress on your body, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the appropriate gear. For example, high impact workouts require a thicker, more shock-absorbent flooring or workout mats.
For running, you’ll want to make sure you get properly fitted for the right shoes at your local running store. You’ll also want to do your research on fuel and nutrition to keep your body recovering at full speed so you can get O-M-G-RIPPED.
About Ari Ziskin
Ari Ziskin is our resident expert in all things fitness, dance and flooring trends. After five years of blogging at Ari’s Menu, where she was featured on sites like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, Ari decided to pursue writing full-time. Nothing makes her happier than sharing her knowledge to help people create their gyms and begin their fitness journey.
View all posts by Ari Ziskin
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