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4 Low Impact HIIT Exercises To Burn Fat & Build Explosive Power

Cardio Doesn’t Have To Be Hard On The Joints!

Below are 4 HIIT exercises that won’t give your joints a beating…

Low Impact HIIT Exercise 1 – Medicine Ball Slams

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 Benefits Of Medicine Ball Slams

Medicine ball slams aren’t a particularly new exercise, however it was only a few months ago that I decided to give them a try, up until then I dismissed them as a CrossFit fad style exercise.
Was I wrong…

The medicine ball slam has a number of fantastic benefits, whether you’re looking to burn fat, increase strength or explosive power medicine ball slams can benefit you too.

Increase Explosive Power

The goal of the ball slam is to raise the ball overhead as high as possible with extended arms before slamming the ball to the ground, using your arms as well as your torso – this fast exertion utilizes and builds explosive power.

As the medicine ball slam is a functional movement this explosive power can transfer across to other exercises, sports such as basketball and baseball as well as MMA.

Build Core Strength

In order to lift the medicine ball over head with extended arms and slam it back down to the ground while maintaining your position a surprisingly large amount of core strength is required. As we’ve discussed in order to get six pack abs core strength is irrelevant, it’s all a matter of body fat. That said increasing your core strength does have its benefits! Before I regularly performed exercises such as hanging leg raises, planks and ball slams I found my core stability on my squat and standing military press to be the point of failure – my core was shaking and I struggled to stay upright and maintain my position when lifting heavy weight (I had a tendency to want to fall forward).

After I increased my core strength this is no longer the case.

Burn Calories!

Medicine ball slams are intense, there’s no doubt about it.
Unlike other exercises and forms of cardio, medicine ball slams are to be performed in explosive bursts… form comes first, speed comes second.

Studies time and time again have proven that HIIT (high intensity interval training) burns far more calories than prolonged steady state cardio.
Medicine ball slams, when performed in a HIIT or circuit style workout can burn hundreds of calories, provided you’ve got your diet in check the calorie deficit that your medicine ball slams workout places you in will be enough to burn fat.

Works The Entire Body

The medicine ball slam is a full body exercise, utilizing the lats, abs and quads.
As the medicine ball slam is a compound exercise it’s fantastic for overall conditioning and quickly gets the heart rate going! Which, as mentioned above can burn a ton of calories when structured into a workout correctly.

How To Do A Medicine Ball Slam

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx_UHMnQljU

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and a non-bounce medicine ball held overhead.
  • Throw the ball down to the ground in front of your feet with as much force as possible. Exhale during the movement and contract the abs powerfully.
  • If possible, catch the ball as it bounces from the floor. If there’s no bounce at all, keep the abdominal muscles engaged and pick the ball from the floor.
  • Lift the medicine ball back the the starting position and repeat.

Low Impact HIIT Exercise 2 – Agility Ladder

Agility Ladder Drills

Benefits Of Agility Ladder Drills

Improve Foot Speed

Quick bursts of single leg jumps, in and outs, high knees and shuffles when practised regularly will improve the speed and quality of your footwork.
Unlike isolation exercises in the gym, this functional cardio will translate into increased skills in your chosen discipline… whether this be football, martial arts, basketball or even dancing.

Increase Overall Agility

The key to performing fast, quality movements through the agility is all about nimbleness and being light on your toes.
Once you’ve learnt how to distribute and balance your weight on the balls of your feet while negotiating an agility ladder your overall agility will also increase.

Strengthens Joints, Ligaments & Tendons

The fast, constant movements of shuffling, jumping, hopping and running which require the lower body from the hips down to negotiate and move in many, many different patterns will build and strengthen your ligaments, tendons and joints.

Note that agility ladder drills are not used for muscle building.

Improve Coordination

Until you’ve used an agility ladder you don’t realize how small the squares are!
Foot placement is paramount and regardless of how terrible you deem your coordination to be the agility ladder will have you improving your coordination in no time.

Burn Calories!

Agility ladder drills will get your heart rate up, and as a result burn calories!
How many calories you burn is dependant upon many factors including your age, current weight, duration and intensity of drills.

Challenge The Brain

A new study from the Air Force Research Laboratory shows that agility training can improve your cognitive performance.

Military personnel were divided into two groups for six weeks of training. The first group participated in the military’s standard physical training (jogging with calisthenics like jumping jacks and burpees), while the second group underwent agility training (ladder drills and shuttle runs). After six weeks, the first group increased their endurance. On the other hand, the group performing agility training improved their VO2 max, athletic footwork, memory, and concentration.

“Agility training incorporates components of learning, focus, balance, and coordination,” says study coauthor Erica M. Johnson, Ph.D. This type of training can stimulate richer connections among multiple brain regions by demanding them to work together, she says.

Along with cognitive function, there are other benefits to agility training. “Adding variety to your exercise routine can help you avoid burnout and plateaus,” she says. “Agility training may be another way to help you meet your exercise goals while keeping your mind and body active.”

Agility Ladder Drills To Get You Started

A picture (or video) says a thousand words.
Check out the diagram below and give these agility ladder drills a go!

Agility Ladder Drills 3

Agility Ladder Drills 4

Low Impact HIIT Exercise 3 – Battle Rope

 Battle Rope Exercises

Low Impact

Most forms of HIIT cardio are relatively high impact… stair sprints, jump rope, plyometric circuits. These all involve jumping, leaping and bounding – which when performed consistently can place a large amount of stress on the joints. During my last cutting phase I discovered the battle rope as I simply couldn’t sustain performing 3 sessions of high impact cardio a week ontop of my lifting regime.

This is where the battle rope shines, the common, effective battle rope exercises such as the double wave, alternating wave and slam are low impact, there’s no pressure or jarring on the joints which means battle rope workouts can be used as a sustainable form of cardio that won’t leave you out of the gym due to recovery issues.

Compound Movement

It’s not until you start training with battle ropes that you realize just how hard they hit the entire body!
Basic movements like the battle rope wave will have you utilizing your shoulders, arms, core and legs for stability.

As you continue to gain confidence and progress with your ropes you’ll uncover a never-ending amount of explosive compound variations.
Burpee alternating battle rope waves, squat jump slams, star jump presses… you’ll never run out of full body movements.

Builds Functional Strength

The goal of battle rope exercises is to explosively move the rope at speed, using your shoulders, arms as well as your core – this fast exertion utilizes and builds explosive power.

As the battle rope wave and slam are functional movements this explosive power can transfer across to other exercises, sports such as basketball and baseball as well as MMA.

Fantastic Form Of Cardio, Burns Many Calories

Battle rope exercises are tough, there’s no doubt about it.
Unlike other exercises and forms of cardio, battle rope exercises are to be performed in explosive bursts… form comes first, speed comes second.

Studies time and time again have proven that HIIT (high intensity interval training) burns far more calories than prolonged steady state cardio.
Medicine ball slams, when performed in a HIIT or circuit style workout can burn hundreds of calories, provided you’ve got your diet in check the calorie deficit that your battle rope exercises  places you in will be enough to burn fat.

Increases Mobility

If you spend all day working in an office or focus solely on isolation exercises in the gym chances are your mobility could do with a bit of work.
Since I’ve been performing battle rope drills regularly I’ve found my shoulder and squat mobility has increased.

The constant dynamic movement of the shoulders during alternating waves and slams loosens up the shoulders which can translate into better posture and increased range of motion on exercises such as the military press.

When increasing the difficulty of your battle rope workouts and adding in lower body movements such as the reverse lunge and jumping squat flexibility and mobility in your legs (particularly hamstrings for me) improves.

Note: If you’re regularly foam rolling, performing hip flexor stretches or shoulder dislocations each day you probably won’t experience this benefit. If you’re an office worker or don’t emphasis your compound movements you’ll find an increase in mobility quite apparent!

Builds Core Strength

In order to lift the battle rope over head and slam it back down to the ground while maintaining your position a surprisingly large amount of core strength is required. As we’ve discussed in order to get six pack abs core strength is irrelevant, it’s all a matter of body fat. That said increasing your core strength does have its benefits! Before I regularly performed exercises such as hanging leg raises, planks, ball slams and battle rope waves I found my core stability on my squat and standing military press to be the point of failure – my core was shaking and I struggled to stay upright and maintain my position when lifting heavy weight (I had a tendency to want to fall forward).

After I increased my core strength this is no longer the case.

Change Of Scenery

Conventional cardio is mind numbing and boring as hell.
Spending any amount of time over 15 minutes on a treadmill or cross-trainer is a dimly lit sucks, especially when you’ve got other options!

Battle rope workouts are great when performed outside – all you need is your rope, mental intensity and a tree or pole to wrap your battle rope around.
It comes to me as no surprise that the battle rope is a staple for most personal trainer’s boot camps – it’s a fun, engaging workout for their clients that can be performed with an endless amount of variations just about anywhere.

Increase Mental Toughness

There’s a handful of exercises out there that burn like no other, the dumbbell lateral raise is one of the most challenging exercises to push through mentally along with the battle rope wave. Not only are these exercises fantastic for shoulder development and obliterating calories they’re also a fantastic builder of the mind. Setting a number of repetitions, rounds or time frame you’re going to smash away at the battle rope for and pushing through the immense burn is character building… perform one of these workout early in the morning and whatever else you face that day will be trivial by comparison.

Battle Rope Exercises For Beginners

Never used a battle rope before? Start with these variations…

Double Wave

Time to get started with the basics! The double wave is the perfect starting point.

battling-rope-waves
Stand facing the rope with feet shoulder-width apart.
Grasp one end of the rope in each hand so that your palms face each other.
Bend your knees slightly, tense your core, and proceed to move both arms up and down rapidly at the same pace, creating waves.

Alternating Wave

Time to alternate those arms!
Stand facing the rope with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
Hold one end of the rope in each hand so that your palms face in.
Raise one arm to shoulder level and then quickly lower back to the starting position, as you do this raise the other arm to shoulder height.
Continue on with the rhythm as fast as possible.

Low Impact HIIT Exercise 4 – Car Pushing

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Car pushes are easy on the joints

Unlike sprinting up and down stairs, jump rope or box jumps the car push is easy on the joints, while still providing the same or higher level of intensity from other intense, high impact exercises.
Multiple intense sessions of jump rope or stair sprints per week always leave me with sore knee and ankle joints, car pushes leaving me feeling fine.

Car pushes build immense leg strength and drive

Car pushes are harder than you think, they’ll test the power and drive you can muscle through your legs instantly.
If you perform these workouts regularly you’ll find you build power and strength in your legs too! This power can translate over to the weight you’re lifting on your squat and leg press.

Sprints, cycling or jump rope for example are a non-resistance aerobic based cardio exercise, there’s no tension on the muscles like there is when you’re driving through your legs to get the car to budge.

Car Pushing Workout Form

There’s no fancy tips or tricks here, here’s the basics of car pushing…

  • Ensure car is in neutral with your training partner ready to steer/brake as necessary
  • Lower your head, extend your arms and place your dominant foot forward
  • Push while driving through your legs
  • Attempt to build up speed as the car begins to move forward
  • Push car for prescribed time or distance (see workout structure ideas below)

The Vehicle

The vehicle you use plays a huge role in how effective or ineffective you find your car pushing workout.
If you’re a strong oriented athlete and you’re pushing a Mazda Miata you’re not going to be challenging yourself in the slightest.

At the same time, if you’re a beginner or don’t train for strength then you’ll find it discouraging (and may even risk injury) trying to haul a Hummer from one side of the parking lot to the other.

I’ve personally found the Jeep Wrangler to be solid challenge.

If you’re limited to a small/light vehicle your training partner can utilize the brakes to increase the resistance to get and maintain the movement of the car.

How To Structure Your Low Impact HIIT Workout

There’s no right or wrong way to structure your HIIT workout, however here are a few structures and ideas I’ve tried that work well…

Intervals

Use a timer, perform constant drills and rest for predetermined intervals.

20 seconds on/20 seconds off for 10 rounds

10 seconds on/10 seconds off for 10 rounds

30 seconds on/30 seconds off for 10 rounds

Tabata (8 rounds of 20 seconds on/10 seconds off)

Max rounds

Set a timer for 5, 10 or 15 minutes and perform as many rounds of a sequence or series of sequences within this time frame.

Turn based

With your training buddy take it in turns completing a sequence or two. Go for rounds/time.

Circuit

Create a circuit utilizing multiple variations of low impact cardio exercises.

What’s Your Favorite Form Of Low Impact HIIT? Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.https://ignorelimits.com
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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