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8 Ways to Add Intensity to Your Low-impact Workouts

Hey Angels and Alphas,

There are many benefits to low-impact workouts, whether you’re looking to lose weight, keep your joints healthy, or lower your risk of injury. But there’s just something about the term “low-impact” that instantly makes people associate it with “low-intensity”… and that’s not necessarily the case.

Sometimes, fitness clients are persuaded away from taking lower-impact fitness classes because they feel as if they won’t be as challenging. But low impact doesn’t mean low intensity.

Low impact just means there’s no jumping, hopping, or any sharp motions. In fact, it’s actually common for workouts to be high in intensity but low in impact.

That’s why we’re here today to explore some ways to get the most out of your low-impact sessions… if you’re ready to sweat and get your heart rate up a little bit!

Here are 8 ways to do exactly that:


What drives workout intensity is speed. Faster reps, faster heart rate, faster calorie burn. You can also go the other way and slow down.

For example, imagine doing 50 pushups in one go… that’s something completely possible for someone who is active, training, and in good shape.

But then imagine doing 10 pushups but doing them all as slowly as you can.

Which of the two is going to result in more intensity?


The easiest way to boost intensity in your training is to focus on the mind-muscle connection during your reps. All this means is getting deliberate and targeting your focus on the muscles or areas of the body you’re training. If you don’t believe that’s the easiest way to increase intensity, try it and see what happens.


If you’re a fan of getting your heart rate sky high and getting those endorphins flowing, yet at the same time, you’re trying to stay away from bootcamp-style workouts (which often include high-impact moves such as high knees, burpees, etc.) you can create a similar effect by hopping on a bike/treadmill and doing some interval work.

Just make sure you decide beforehand on the duration and ratio for your intervals. Let’s say you want to do 10 rounds of 30 seconds, then slow down for a minute, and do that for a total of 10 minutes.

If you want HIIT to be effective, these “on” periods have to be at 101 percent effort, followed by recovery periods where you’re slowly bringing your breath back down.


Adding weight is also another way to boost the intensity of your workout and it has nothing to do with impact. If you’re someone who loves squats and lunges, try doing them next time by holding a kettlebell, wearing a weighted vest, or putting on some ankle weights.


To get your heart rate up high, all you have to do is not allow it to go back down between your sets. All this means is taking shorter breaks between exercises! Another thing you can do is utilize supersets in which you combine two strength exercises and immediately switch from one to the other after the first one is finished.


Nothing says high-intensity, low-impact like compound movements. All compound movement means is that you’re working more than one muscle group at a time. This raises your heart rate and the overall demand on your body.

Example: you might do dumbbell thrusters, basically combining a squat with an overhead press. Many of the common compound movements are gym staples such as the bench press, squat, pullup, deadlift, and so on.


There are three different physical planes in which you can exercise:

  • Transverse (rotational)
  • Frontal (or side to side)
  • Sagittal (forward and back)

Many of the traditional fitness movements are done on the sagittal plane. A great way to increase intensity during a low-impact workout is to mix up your movements by training side to side or adding extra rotation to what you’re doing.

Example: the lunge is a sagittal movement, but if you decide to twist over the front leg, this will challenge your balance, put you in the transverse plane, and engage your core even more.


There’s no need to even more if you want to fatigue your muscles. You can make any high-impact exercise low-impact by adding in a pause at the bottom of the exercise.

This increases time under tension, ramps up calorie burn, and skyrockets intensity. If you turn a jump squat into a squat with a pause in the bottom, or a jumping lunge into a dead-stop lunge, you’ll be ramping up intensity all while decreasing impact. Funny how that works!

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