Low Impact Anaerobic Exercise: 5 Workouts To Try

Published: September 30, 2021

There’s no questioning how important anaerobic exercise is to your daily training routine. With that being said anaerobic exercise by nature is high intensity, which can often mean high impact as well. So let’s talk about low impact anaerobic exercise, and how you can maintain the intensity of your training, without the high impact that comes along with it.

What Is Low-Impact Exercise & Why Does It Matter?

Any exercise or workout that is low-impact will be comprised of movements that are gentle on your body and apply less force to your joints and tendons. This means low impact exercise is great for a wide range of people from beginners, to athletes recovering from injury. 

Now just because you are looking for low-impact exercises, doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice the intensity of a training session. Low impact anaerobic exercise is going to be the best of both worlds in this case! 

Let’s quickly recap what exactly anaerobic exercise means. To keep it short anaerobic exercise breaks down glucose in your body for energy, without using oxygen. There can be a thin line between when an anaerobic exercise becomes aerobic and vice versa. Keep this in mind when reviewing the exercises on this list. It all comes down to the effort you put into the training! All right, enough preface, let’s get to the exercises!

What Are 5 Anaerobic Activities That Are Low Impact?

Swimming

low impact anaerobic exercise: swimming

If you want to know the cream of the crop when it comes to low-impact anaerobic exercise, it has to be swimming. Since you’re buoyant in the water, you can train as intensely as you’d like without putting stress and pressure on your joints, bones and muscles. There are so many benefits you gain from swimming, including:

  • A full-body workout – depending on what type of swimming stroke you use, you can fire up almost every major muscle in your body.
  • The water will keep you cool even as your heart rate begins to rise
  • Amazing cardio 

One important thing to keep in mind is that your swim can quickly become an aerobic workout. That isn’t a bad thing, but for this article, we want to focus on reaching the lactic threshold and keep the workout anaerobic. To achieve this, show up to the pool ready to race. You should only be able to maintain an anaerobic swimming pace for about 2 minutes or less, or 3-4 FAST lengths of the pool! 

Tip: Time yourself to do 2 lengths of your local pool as fast as you can. Throughout your workout, strive to beat it each time you jump in!

Weightlifting

low impact anaerobic exercise: weight lifting

Lifting weights can be another great low-impact anaerobic exercise to add to your routine. It offers that perfect balance of short-term, high-intensity movements. 

Dumbbells, kettlebells, machines are all great options to feel the burn while maintaining a low impact on your joints. Provided that you are using the appropriate weight and lifting with good form. Strength machines are a great option as they take you through a guided range of motion, which can remove some errors when it comes to your form. 

What I love personally about weight training is how versatile it is, there are so many moves you can do to target different muscles in your body. It’s impossible to cover all of the great low impact moves in just a few paragraphs, so I’ll be making a post covering low impact anaerobic weight training soon!

Cycling

Cycling is a great low-impact anaerobic exercise, you use all of the major muscle groups while you pedal plus you get to be outside! Riding a bike offers you controlled, fluid movements which your joints are going to appreciate! Even if you can’t ride or bike, or just can’t get out due to weather, you can still cycle! Most gyms have a variety of stationary bikes available to you. Spin bikes, Recumbent, and Upright to name a few. 

It’s important to keep in mind that more than half of your ride will likely be aerobic in nature. As mentioned, anaerobic exercise can only be sustained for around 2 minutes. So the best way to achieve the low-impact anaerobic exercise we’re looking for when riding a bike is to SPRINT! Give it everything you have during your ride and go as fast as you can. Even better, find a hill and attack it with full speed and maximum intensity. I find uphill riding some of the most challenging anaerobic exercises you can do! The same principle applies if you’re on a stationary bike. Every so often, peddle as fast as you can, or set the resistance high and climb those hills!

Yoga

If there’s one way to simultaneously relax and get a workout in, it’s yoga! Yoga has been practiced by humans for around 5,000 years some sources say, and for good reason! Yoga is one of the best high-intensity, low-impact workouts you can ever do! Anybody can practice yoga, and you get an entire body workout without any impact on your joints.

There are so many benefits yoga provides you like flexibility, strength, mind-body awareness, and even stress relief. Yoga is also awesome because so far, it’s the only exercise on this list you can do from the comfort of your own home without any equipment needed! There are thousands of YouTube videos and great instructors that you can find, all you need to do is load up a video and follow along! If you’ve never tried yoga before, look up a “beginner yoga workout” trust me, you WILL feel the burn from some of those positions!

Rowing

low impact anaerobic exercise: rowing

Last on our list is rowing. Rowing is another great, full-body workout that will have you busting a sweat. You get to determine the pace while you row in a smooth and controlled movement, which your joints are going to appreciate! Rowing is also an amazing workout for cardio since it’s so intense you’ll be getting that heart rate up quickly.

To get the best anaerobic workout from a rowing machine, you’re going to want to make sure that you have the damper set to the appropriate resistance. Once you have it set and you begin your workout, remember to sprint and give it everything you have for 2 hard minutes of rowing. Your muscles are going to burn and you’re going to feel great. Throughout a rowing workout, try to work in as many sprints as you can to truly get the best anaerobic workout you can! 

Another subtle benefit that I love about rowing machines, is that they force you to not slack off! Unlike on a spin bike for example where you can turn down the resistance and coast, a rowing machine will let you know if you aren’t working because you won’t be moving! It’s a great machine to stay engaged for the entirety of the workout!

Time To Train

There you have it, if you’re looking for some amazing low-impact anaerobic exercise to start incorporating into your training start with these five! All of these workouts are going to require those short bursts of high, intense energy to reach that anaerobic threshold. As a result, you’re going to notice a ton of benefits that anaerobic exercise provides like:

  • Increased Speed
  • Increased Strength
  • Increased Power
  • Fat loss
  • Bone Strength & Density
  • More Energy – due to your bodies increased ability to store glycogen

Plus so much more! Have fun training!

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