If you are a regular visitor to this site, then you will notice that there are not to many articles on conditioning/cardio. There is a reason for this: I hate cardio! Whew. Now that I got that out of my system, let me redeem myself. Conditioning is absolutely vital to any training program not just for getting results, but for you health. I have seen plenty of trainees who have great arms and legs but still have a belly. It is for these people that I write an article about low impact exercise. In this post we are going to explore low impact exercise and why you should strongly consider doing it.
What Is Low Impact Exercise?
Low impact exercise is any exercise that doesn’t have any impact stress. Impact stress is most common in exercises such as running and jumping. Although this might not seem like a big deal, it can make the difference between getting great results or just average results. So why does impact make such a difference in regards to training? It all has to do with recovery.
When you train, you are putting stress on the body. This stress is what the body needs recovery time from. If, on top of, your regular training you do high impact training, then you are only going to slow your recovery down even further. The classic example is the person who goes for a 5 mile run after every single lifting session and then wonders why their squat doesn’t go up. With all of the stress from the lifting session plus the added impact stress it only slows down the recovery rate.
If that person instead did some low impact exercise after a workout he/she would still great results and feel much better. Their body would have much less stress on it. Now the problem with low impact exercise is how repetitive and boring it is. There is nothing worse than having your thoughts wander when you are in the middle of a workout. After all, isn’t this the reason why most of us train to begin with.
Why Should I perform Low Impact Exercise?
Despite how boring it may be the pros by far outweigh the cons. For starters, don’t let the name fool you no matter how wimpy it may sound, it is still a great workout. You are going to be burning a high number of calories with a relatively short recovery time. This is great for getting lean and ripped.
When you look at a runner you will see that they are lean but they are also very small. All that impact stress has done a number on their joints and connective tissue. In Supertraining, Dr. Mel Siff and Yuri Verkhoshansky presented examples of athletes who were under constant high impact stress, such as runners and jumpers. They found that even with resistance training the high impact athletes had undergone huge changes in their connective tissue. Their connective tissue actually atrophied.
This explains why runners and other high impact athletes have thin bodies. The less you weight, the less impact stress on the joints. It make perfect sense from a biological standpoint. However, biology doesn’t have our cosmetic goals in mind most of the time. This is where low impact exercise comes into play it can give us a great physique and still give us a great conditioning workout.
Types Of Low impact Exercise
A few months ago I wrote an article about another type of conditioning, G.P.P. This type of conditioning is terrific, but it is a workout in and of itself to most non-athletes. Low impact exercise is a perfect supplement for your regular training.
When it comes to exercise you can’t get anything simpler than walking. Walking is probably the best place to start for people who are completely out of shape. With walking we have a great low impact activity that will help to burn fat and increase stamina. If walking is too easy, or boring, then you should should take it to the next level and go hiking. There are plenty of options to go hiking. Check the national parks website if you live in the US to find places to go.
The next best thing is the stair-master. A cruel device that makes you feel like you are climbing up a never-ending staircase. Despite how tough it can get, this machine is great for conditioning. In fact, I owe a large part of my success toward my spartan trifecta to the stair-master. To make this even harder, load up a backpack with weights, or carry a sandbag. You can thank me later.
Unless you live near a lake, or river, then the rowing machine makes a great form of total body exercise. It helps to work the upper body, which elevates your heart rate and helps you to burn more calories. Best of all it is low impact and won’t put any undue stress on your joints.
Beautiful day outside, but too hot? Not a problem. Find a pool, or go to the beach and start swimming. Swimming works every muscle in the body and it keeps you cooled off. Plus you are in an antigravity environment, so there is no stress on your joints. Most astronauts train in aquatic environments before going into space. Astronauts must stay in great shape in order to ward off the awful effects of space.
I won’t go into too much detail about Indian clubs, because I wrote about them in a previous post. However, I will mention that Indian clubs are a great form of low impact exercise. Think of them as a jump rope for the upper body. After 200 club swings your arms will be on fire and you will be sweating like crazy.
Sled training is a brutal way to get yourself conditioned. Sled training can be both high impact and low impact exercise. Sprinting drills with the sled are an example of high impact exercise. For low impact exercise you want to walk with the sled. Just put some weight on the sled and walk around with it until your legs become jelly. You’ll notice that this will also make your hamstrings a lot stronger as well.
When it comes to kicking your own ass, nothing will do the job better than a sandbag. When we lift barbells and dumbbells in the gym we think we are so strong because we are lifting “60 lbs”. In reality, this “60 lbs” doesn’t transfer over very well into real life. Most objects in the real world are awkward. The sandbag is awkward. Try lifting a 100 lb. barbell and then lift a 100 lb. sandbag, tell me if you notice a difference. Sandbags with handles on them don’t count either, they are too easy. Use the old fashioned sandbags with no handles for the best results. To really get the most bang for your buck, carry a sandbag for max distance while dragging a sled. Be sure to bring a wheelchair for later.