Is high or low impact exercise better? Take This Fitness Test

Is high or low impact exercise better?  Take This Fitness Test

If you’re new to HIIT, you might be wondering if it’s safe for you. The truth is that high intensity exercise can be a great addition to anyone’s workout routine, it’s the level of impact of the exercises you choose that we need to take a closer look at.

High impact training is known to be hard on the joints and hard on the body. Low-impact training has a reputation for being too easy or for people with injuries.

Both types of exercises can be performed safely and effectively – and both can be used to create a high intensity workout routine! It’s important to take the time to learn the difference between high and low impact exercises and evaluate which one is right for you.

What is High Impact Training?

High impact exercise is exactly what it sounds like: it exerts a high impact on your body, especially on your joints. These movements often include a lot of jumping or having both feet lifted off the ground at the same time, which in turn puts more weight and impact on your body. In reality, research shows that jumping and activities that include jumping cause bones, muscles and joints to absorb almost 10 times your body weight! That’s a lot of strain on the body, especially if you’re recovering from an injury, new to exercise, or have joint problems.

A high-impact HIIT workout would look like 10 jump squats, 10 pushups with one foot off the ground, and jogging or high knees in place for 30 seconds.

What is Low Impact Training?

Low impact exercises have a much lower impact on your body. Low impact movements are gentler on the body and are generally considered safer. Low-impact cardio exercises include walking, cycling, swimming, and using an elliptical trainer. Low-impact strength training includes exercises such as squats that keep both feet on the ground or push-ups that keep both feet and hands on the ground, eliminating bouncing or jumping from any exercise.

A low-impact HIIT workout might look like doing 10 squats, 10 push-ups, and marching in place for 30 seconds.

How do I know if high impact exercises are safe for me?

Sure, you’ll burn more calories and have a more intense workout with high impact exercises, but at what cost? This is the question I challenge my clients to ask themselves. I would rather people go slow and steady with less impact and be able to follow a consistent workout routine than overdo it with high impact exercises and be sidelined by an injury or to be in pain after each workout.

So how do you know if you should go for high or low impact moves? I have prepared a HIIT test that will help you determine what type of exercise is best for you. If you decide that low-impact exercises are better for you, don’t feel like you’re training less than those doing high-impact moves. Part of the exercise is honoring your body where it is. If you are returning to exercise, I recommend starting with low impact. If you’re looking for a challenge and don’t have pain, I encourage you to try the high impact versions.

High Impact Fitness Test

This test will help you determine what type of exercise is right for you and help you become an expert on your own body!

jump test

Ask yourself: Do my knees, ankles or hips hurt from jumping?

How to perform the jump: Standing with your feet as hip-width or shoulder-width apart, whichever is more comfortable, bend your knees and bring your butt back into a squat or a half-squat. Swing your arms back as you jump off the floor, then lower back onto your feet with your weight mostly on your heels or the back half of your feet, and bend your knees slightly. Stand up and shake your legs.

Verdict: How do you feel? If your knees, ankles, or hips hurt, do low impact and avoid jumping.


board test

Ask yourself: Does it hurt my shoulders or wrists to perform a plank?

How to perform the plank: Get on all fours on a mat, wrists aligned with the front of the mat. The shoulders are above your wrists and the fingers are wide apart. Next, pull the marine toward the spine to support the lower back and step each foot back into a plank position. Tuck your toes under and reach your heels toward the back of the room. Look a few inches in front of your hands with your eyes. Check in the mirror to make sure your lower back isn’t sagging and your core is engaged.

Verdict: Do you have sore shoulders and wrists? If so, avoid plank positions and especially exercises like full mountain climbers or single shoulder taps which put more pressure on the wrists and shoulders in the plank position. Instead, focus on building the plank and doing other types of HIIT exercises that don’t require holding the plank for a long time.

run in place

jogging test

Ask yourself: Does jogging hurt my knees, ankles or hips?

How to perform the jog test: Standing tall, feet hip-width apart, start running in place. Pump your arms and go for a light jog – if you have the space, you can even go forward 10 feet. How do your knees and hips feel?

Verdict: If you’re experiencing pain in your knees, hips, or ankles, focus on low-impact exercises like marching in place and jumping jacks without the jumps. You’ll still be doing cardio but with much less strain on your joints!