How to make workouts low impact

(without decreasing the intensity!)

Hi friends. 🙂 Happy almost-Friday! I’m so glad the weekend is almost here. One step closer to our Tucson trip -I’m seriously itching to get out there- and lots of fun events coming up this weekend.

I’ve been on a cooking roll lately!

Cooking  1 of 1

(Bumpin’ in the kitchen. I made an insane turkey bolognese if you want to check out the recipe here.)

Meal planning has helped significantly, and even though food seems blah to me right now, I’ll definitely eat it as soon as it’s in front of my face. I just have to power through the actual cooking process. All in all, I feel like we’re getting takeout far less than we did during my last pregnancy. Maybe that’s why we haven’t had any shrimp-related meltdowns haha. Since I’d cooked a few nights, we decided that last night would be a good takeout night after the gym. We headed to Chipotle and it was PACKED. World to the world: 7pm is prime burrito time. We instantly looked at each other and said, “abort.abort” and walked across the street to Georgia’s Greek restaurant. I’ve only had it once while nana and madre were here, and it was just as great as last time. The food is extremely fresh and the service was awesome.

My dates:

Tom and liv at georgias

We ordered some hummus as an appetizer, and check out the faces they made for Liv!

Hummus smile

(Photo taken after she had already grabbed an olive; her fave)

I ordered the salmon salad


and of course, we got some baklava for dessert. 

Today is a barre day, and I’m also going to crank through some work to-dos.

In the meantime, I thought we could talk about low-impact workouts. I get a lot of questions about this one, especially from friends who are recovering from an injury, pregnant and don’t feel comfortable with jumping, or just want to avoid jumping/impact in general. When I taught at the resort, we would take turns assisting the aerobics, bootcamps and dance classes. One instructor would lead the class, while the assistant was in front to demonstrate the low-impact variations of the movements. By doing this for over a year, I got pretty good at intuitively knowing how to modify a variety of workouts, and in turn, I think it made me a stronger instructor.

TIPS to modify workouts for

Here are some of the things that can decrease the impact of beloved exercises without taking down the intensity:

1) Decrease the range of motion. Usually that will be enough to decrease the impact from the exercise. This is also critical if you’re recovering from an injury and getting back in the swing of things, or a true beginner. Start with small movements and build up from there.

2) Keep at least one foot on the floor. If you want to change up a traditional jumping movement, keep one foot on the floor at all times. An example of this is frog or tuck jumps. I exhale and bring one knee to my chest (instead of jumping to bring up both), or substitute with regular ol’ squats instead. 

3) Break the exercise up into separate pieces. For jumping exercises, try to segment the movements. Like for plank jumps, instead of hopping each foot out and in, walk each foot out and in so one is moving at a time and the other remains on the floor. 

4) Move your arms! By raising your arms above your head, your heart rate will increase. If you’re keeping the moves low-impact, try to think of some ways to add in controlled arm movements to increase your calorie burn. 

5) Instead of jumping, rise up onto your toes. I especially love this one for vertical jumps. Come down into a squat and rise up onto your toes, reaching your arms towards the ceiling. Move as quickly and efficiently as possible. Bonus: you get in an extra calf workout. 🙂

6) Try a workout with minima or nonexistent joint pounding, like yoga, Pilates, swimming or spinning. If you’re trying to minimize impact, these are all generally safe options. I find that when I’m forced to take things down a notch (either through injury or pregnancy), I find new workout loves and it encourages me to step out of my comfort zone. 

Since I’ve been doing occasional Insanity workouts with modifications, I’m working on a video with some of the moves in case you’re looking for low-impact options.

How do you feel about high-impact workouts? Do they feel awesome to you, or do you try to avoid it?? An ideal workout is one you look forward to, one that will challenge you, and one that leaves your body feeling energized and occasionally pleasantly (not painfully) sore. Usually I LOVE higher impact workouts, especially plyometrics, but am trying to minimize jumping right now; it doesn’t feel quite right with the belly. I’ve also found that over time, more low-impact variations have called to me because they make my body feel so good. 

Have a happy Thursday!


New post on the Family page! 

Something to do: This HIIT scorcher! Sweatfest otw…

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  1. For me, low impact workouts work a lot better than high ones because I am injury prone. I think it’s important to know your limits and weaknesses. I see far too many people pushing themselves in ways that may get them hurt. I understand HIIT is a big thing right now, but like you said you can still get an intense workout without the impact.

  2. I definitely appreciate lower impact workouts!

  3. Those hummus smiley faces are so cute! How exciting you’re visiting Tuscon! Enjoy it girly!

  4. Now that I ‘m preggo I have modified my workouts and cut out the jumping because it feels like my uterus is bouncing around haha

  5. Thanks for this post! I’ve gone through various times when I’ve needed lower impact exercises, whether it was due to injury, recovering from a cold, or just needing a break. I love me some Jillian Michaels and just finished her 90 day Body Revolution, but my knees were toast at the end from all of the plyo moves. I finished right before our vacation to Germany and Austria, so I was able to get in a break while still moving plenty (lots and lots of walking). Now that I’m back, I’m still interested in going lower impact. I feel like my body still needs some time to recover from the crazy HIIT, so now I’m focusing on barre, yoga, going back to using the elliptical and bike, easier runs, lots of walking, and heavier weight lifting.

  6. I’ve been modifying to low impact not only to avoid injury, but also because my very old house is just not the place to be jumping up in down due to the wood floors potentiall cracking/splitting. I’d work out in the basement; however not enough ceiling clearance for this tall girl.

  7. I am a lover of high intensity exercises…jump squats, jump lunger, burpees, I love them all!
    Years ago I did Insanity (mixing it in here and there with my other workouts) and I loved it, I should bring it back again, thanks for the reminder. (Go Shaun T!)

  8. Crystal says:

    I like doing a mix of high and low impact exercises. Fortunately I don’t have any joint problems, but these tips would be great for some people I know who have to avoid jumping, etc.

    That hummus appetizer…too cute. I love that Livi likes olives, I was always the lone child out of my friends and family who liked olives and hummus 😉

  9. Catherine says:

    There are so many Chiptoles and yet they are all always so busy-I think anytime is prime burrito time around here!
    I usually love high impact too (not that my knees do!) but have recently being at-least-paying-attention to the modifiers in workout videos. We are going to start trying for a baby soon(!) and I think I will be so nervous to do anything with impact, at least at first. I may even tone it down once we start trying (though it will hurt me to do so!) as I am older and worry that I will probably have enough trouble as it is, so maybe taking it easier on the workout front would be smart! Many thanks for the timely post!

    • Fitnessista says:

      so happy that you enjoyed it! i highly recommend the book “making babies” if you haven’t read it! he gives lots of awesome tips for what to eat and how to structure your workouts when you start trying. xoxo

      • Catherine says:

        Hee hee! I actually picked that upas week as I had read about in one of your posts! I have started reading it and it is really fascinating. I find myself reading through all the “types” though I am pretty sure I know what type I am.
        I have been combing through the family pages for tips! I just found your post about pre and postnatal fitness from a prior IDEA conference so I am going to look over that and the associated posts too :)! Thanks so much for all the helpful information you always give!!

  10. Great tips! I took a BodyStep class yesterday and had to make lots of modifications. Jumping is no bueno when you’re 23 weeks preggo.

  11. I just read your shrimp salad melt down post & all the comments–freaking hilarious!!!!!!

  12. I love that bump shot of you in the kitchen! You are looking healthy, happy, and adorable! Though I am not pregnant, I have to be careful about my exercise because of my disordered past. I still LOVE to exercise, but I mindfully do so, and these are some great tips for me to branch out. Thank you Gina for this!

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