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Paige Waehner

Exercises of the Week - Low Impact, High Intensity

By February 15, 2011

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If you've been exercising for a long time, your workouts have probably changed over the years. In our teens and 20s, we don't think twice about high intensity, high impact workouts. However, hitting the 30s, 40s and up, many of us find that all that pounding isn't so comfortable anymore. The problem is, we often feel like we have to sacrifice intensity if we switch to low impact exercise.

There's no question that high impact activities like running, jumping rope, etc. get the heart rate up but, low impact doesn't have to mean low intensity. The key is to choose exercises that involve the entire body. When you involve the upper and lower body (as in the squat and swing exercise below) or when you take the body from standing, down to the floor and back up again (as in the bear crawls below), your heart rate rises without having to jump at all.

You'll find three of my favorite low impact, high intensity exercise below and, as always, feel free to share your own experiences. How do you keep the intensity high when you have to keep the impact low?

Single Arm Squat and Swing

Hold a heavy weight and squat low, swinging the weight between the knees. Stand up, swinging the weight up overhead. Repeat for 30-60 seconds on each side.

Bear Crawls
Bear Crawl Exercise
Squat and walk your hands out until you're in a plank position. Do a pushup on the knees or toes and then walk the hands back to a squat and stand up. Repeat for 60 seconds.

Kettlebell Swing

Note: If you've never tried kettlebells, familiarize yourself with the basics or do this exercise with a dumbbell. Hold a kettlebell in both hands with legs hip-width apart. Squat, swinging the weight between the legs and shifting the weight into the heels. Keep the torso upright and the abs braced. At the bottom of the movement thrust through the hips, using the power of your lower body to bring the weight up to about chest level. Lower and repeat for 10-20 reps.

You can find more examples of high intensity, low impact moves in this Whole Body Circuit.

February 15, 2011 at 6:39 am
(1) Dan says:

Here’s another real good one.

(1) Clean a barbell from the floor to your shoulders.
(2) Push-press it overhead.
(3) Lower it back to the shoulders and do a front squat.
(4) Lower it to the floor and repeat.

It’s hard to think of any muscles in the body that don’t get worked hard by this exercise.

February 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm
(2) Fitness fan says:

These are exactly the exercises I look for since I’m in my 60′s. I do the kettle bell swings now. I’ll add the other two exercises to my routine. Dan’s exercise looks good too, I’ll try it with dumbbells. Thanks to both of you.

February 15, 2011 at 6:01 pm
(3) beginners workout says:

These types of exercises are great. It might be a good idea to structure them into a circuit. What a way to jack your metabolism.

February 16, 2011 at 11:58 am
(4) Fitness fan says:

In fact, I’m going to try Paige’s Whole Body Circuit from the link between the end of the article and start of the comments.

February 22, 2011 at 5:12 pm
(5) Ann says:

Paige –

I like very much the part where you “launched” your “body up, turned in mid-air and did a swinging jumpkick, dropping” your spouse “to the floor like a sack of potatoes.”

But, I also appreciate the restraint you must have gathered when you explained it didn’t really happen. Instead, you made “an ugly face,” which is probably much more difficult for you than to K.O. your spouse. Some of us don’t have that option for control, seeing how making an ugly face wouldn’t be readily distinguished from our normal everyday expressions.

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