With the enormous popularity of high-intensity training (HIIT) and grueling workouts like CrossFit, you may wonder if your bike sessions or yoga class are getting the job done when it comes to fitness. Must you jump on plyo boxes, do burpees and sprint to shape up? After all, no pain, no gain, right?
While research has shown benefits to high-intensity (and often high-impact) exercise, these sessions shouldn’t be performed everyday. While the bones, joints and muscles require some impact force to grow stronger, too much repetitive stress on the body can lead to compromises in form and injuries. Recovery and rest time is essential in between high-intensity exercise sessions to repair, rebuild and grow stronger. Therefore, low- and no-impact exercise is a great way to balance high-impact routines.
Low- and no-impact exercise is just as valuable at conditioning the cardiovascular system as high-impact workouts, provided that the intensity and duration of sessions is challenging. So for the most benefit, you shouldn’t get engrossed in a novel while you slowly pedal a bike. You need to be aware of your pace, resistance and heart rate to get the best results.
A healthy workout regimen includes high-impact and low- or no-impact exercise, if possible. Of course, if you have an injury or condition that prevents you from tolerating high-impact movements, don’t do them at all. The best workout programs incorporate cross-training, which is a variety of exercise modalities that address cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility. That could be jogging, cycling, working with weights and doing yoga, for instance.
Although high-intensity may seem to be all the rage, low- or no-impact exercise delivers benefits, less discomfort and a reduced risk of injury. Try some of these popular offerings:
- Elliptical machine – This classic provides total-body challenges and burns a lot of calories without jarring. It’s an effective cardiovascular modality with a variety of programs that virtually anyone can do.
- Recumbent elliptical – Octane Fitness’ xRide combines all the benefits of a traditional standing elliptical with the comfort of a seat. You still get total-body effectiveness, multiple resistance levels and the ability to take on some muscular endurance training as well.
- Cross trainer – Alternate motion machines, or cross trainers like Octane’s XT-One, combine elliptical motions with stepping or climbing movements, which increase intensity and work the entire body. Or try the LateralX, which lets you move both linearally and side-to-side for greater variety and a different challenge.
- Fan bike – There’s a reason that the Schwinn Airdyne Pro has been around forever. This classic workhorse incorporates the arms and legs, and has unlimited intensity based on your efforts. You can do high-intensity intervals on the bike, but don’t have to endure high impact.
- Zero Runner – These unique machines from Octane Fitness replicate natural running motion via independent hip and knee joints but completely eliminate the pounding. Now you can walk, jog or run comfortably and safely while managing impact.
- Rower – Rowers hit all the major muscle groups while you are seated. And if you think they are easy, adjust the resistance and time yourself to meet a watts goal. These are one of the most efficient ways for no-impact, total-body exercise.
- Stairclimber – Nothing gets you working harder than lifting your own body weight over and over on a rotating staircase. Although these only hit your lower body, the workouts are tough and effective.
- Upper-body ergometer – These are like a bicycle for the upper-body, and prove to be more challenging than they look. You are seated, and there is no impact, but there’s definitely a lot of work going on.
Give one of the above options a try to tone your body with no or low impact exercise. Stay Fueled.