A popular fitness trend right now is HIIT or High Impact Interval Training – an efficient way to burn fat and boost fitness. However, low impact exercises also can deliver an equally challenging workout for the body, burning calories and boosting fitness.

HIIT usually involves short, sharp bursts of high impact activity dispersed with longer periods of recovery or less intense exercise.

The intervals normally contain exercises such as running, jumping, leaping – high impact activity.

High impact exercises are not always appropriate, but it is possible to produce a great workout utilizing the HIIT principles with low impact moves.

There are moments when this type of workout is appropriate for a woman such as:

  • A woman with weak pelvic floor muscles – the high impact exercises are inappropriate and dangerous.
  • Nursing an injury – low impact exercises are a better option for any joint or muscular injury/pain.
  • When on holiday or on a business trip and unable to visit a gym.
  • The more mature woman who finds high impact activity physically undesirable.

The Low Impact Interval Training Workout below is designed to burn body fat, boost metabolism and challenge the aerobic system.

The secret is to have short rest periods to maintain a heart rate averaging 75-80% of your maximum level. In other words, exercising at a rate that leaves you puffing and sweating.

The program is not jarring on the joints, nor does it require any gym equipment, making it ideal for when you are on holidays, when your energy levels feel below par, or recovering from injury.


  • Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, then stop for 15 seconds but avoid sitting still. Do some stretches or walk on the spot.
  • Continue with the next exercise and repeat the process until all exercises have been completed.
  • Repeat the circuit 1-2 more times depending on your energy levels.
  • Ensure you warm up thoroughly prior to exercising. A 10 minute brisk walk, swimming stroke actions with the arms while legs march on the spot for 5 minutes. This will promote good blood circulation to the muscles in readiness for the workout.

Low Impact Strength Training Circuit

With each exercise, do as many repetitions as you can for 45 seconds followed by 15 seconds recovery.

  • Mountain climbs
  • Walking Lunges
  • Lunge with Straight Arm Raises
  • Push Up on knees into T Plank on knees
  • Single Leg Bridge (5 count hold each leg)
  • Lunge with Torso Rotation

Once you have completed each exercise at least twice through, lie down and stretch your legs, hips, back, shoulders and chest.

Low Impact Cardio Circuit

The cardio exercises listed below are low impact making it easy on the joints, easy on a weakened pelvic floor, but extremely efficient in burning calories and building a fitter, slimmer body.

Incorporate interval training protocols with the cardio routine for a more efficient method of improving fitness and weight loss. Here’s how……

Walking – Burns 180 calories/45 minute workout/ @ medium speed 5-6 kph

  • Warm up 10 minutes with medium paced walking over mixed terrain.
  • Walk fast for 2 minutes
  • Then back to medium paced walking for 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this routine for a total of 20 minutes.
  • Medium paced walking for 15 minutes then stretch.

Cycling – Burns 400 calories/45 minute workout/@ 20kph or 75+ rpm

  • Warm up 5 minutes
  • Do 30-60 second fast paced pedaling
  • 90 seconds slower pace to recover.
  • Repeat 10 times
  • Upon completing 10 intervals maintain a medium pace for 30 minutes
  • Stretch

Cross Trainer/ Elliptical – Burns 330 calories/45 minute workout/@ 80-90 rpm

  • Warm up 5 minutes medium pace
  • Do 1 minute faster paced interval
  • Then slower pace to recover for 90 seconds
  • Repeat 6-10 times
  • Upon completion of intervals, slower paced for 10 minutes and then stretch

Swimming – Burns 330 calories/45 minute workout/ @ moderate paced freestyle strokes

  • Warm up 5-10 minutes easy to faster paced strokes
  • Swim faster for 25 metres
  • Slow swim pace for 25 metres
  • Repeat routine 5-10 times
  • Do a few slower paced laps then stretch

There’s no doubt that a high impact workout will burn many calories, develop strong muscles and keep bones strong, but that does not mean that you have to always jump, run and bounce around with every workout.

If your goal is to lose some weight and get fitter, utilizing interval training techniques with the low impact options listed above will challenge the body, increase the heart rate and make you sweat.

And all that equates to a great calorie burn.

Fiona Compston is a freelance aerobics instructor, a certified Personal Trainer, Counsellor and Remedial Massage Therapist. She is also a certified Menofitness trainer, specializing in menopause hormone enhancement for women aged 40+ and pelvic floor strengthening.
She specialises in fitness for women aged 45+, and has also trained Miss World New Zealand, Elite kiwi cyclists, rowers and hockey players.
You can also find Fiona on Facebook.