All of us want to get in a sweaty workout and feel like we did our best, but sometimes, weak joints get in the way. High impact exercises are great for our hearts, but with physical impairments such as knee, ankle or back injuries, a lot of people can’t do the jumps, runs, or jerky direction changes that others can. Here are moves that won’t sacrifice safety for intensity.
1. Modified burpees
Start by standing with feet hip width apart and arms over head, then pushing hips back and bending into a low squat position, place hands on the floor and walk them out to a high plank. Then do a full pushup (or knee pushup depending on mobility). Then, walk your hands back to the squat and repeat for 45 seconds.
2. Double Side Step with Back Row
Start standing, with arms fully extended in front of the chest. Take two steps to the right as you pill your arms back with every step. Repeat with the left side, and initiate movement with the abdominal and inner thighs. Increase intensity by completing sets faster or widening steps.
3. Single leg running
This cardio move won’t just burn fat – it’ll build coordination. Start in a lunge position with your right foot forward and left leg back, keeping your left arm in front and right arm back. The bend your left knee, quickly bringing it forward in front of the hip as arms swing in opposite directions. Repeat this one leg for 30 seconds, and then switch sides with the other leg forward.
4. Medicine ball slam and squad
Begin holding the medicine ball above your head, flexing your core and pelvic floor as you slam the medicine ball onto the floor with force. Squat down to pick up the cushion, stand back up and repeat the move. This challenging move takes a lot of power and will take your breath away quickly, due to core control.
5. Stationary skater
Mimic the side to side movement of skating with this thigh/butt blaster that targets the core. Start with feet hip width apart. Then bend your left knee and move into side lunge while extending the right leg and keeping the right foot pointed, while bringing the right arm forward and left arm back, both elbows bent. Remaining in a squat, shift weight and switch legs and arms, skating side to side quickly for 45 seconds.
6. Seated jump tucks
Sit on the edge of a stable, sturdy ox or chair and lean back slightly. Pull your abs in tight and bend the knees to approximately 90 degrees. With toe pointed lightly on the floor, bend elbows and hands in front of shoulders. Quickly lift your knees up and tap thighs with the hands, sitting upright as your draw legs in. Then return to start and repeat in a rapid movement for 45 seconds. Accent the lift rather than the lower.
7. Windmill Step
Stand with feet together, and arms angled to the left hip. Then, moving with control instead of momentum, circle arms up and overhead from left to right, as you take your left leg back behind the right leg into a curtsy. Reverse on the other side.
8. Russian twists
Focusing on the upper body is also a great way to get an HIIT workout without engaging the knees. Sitting on the floor, lean back until your abs activate. Holding on to this position, keep heels on the floor and press hands together in pray position, rotating from one side to the other.
9. Front kicks
Start standing, with feet hip width apart. Bend arms in front of you, in a fighting stance. Lift up the right leg, bending the knee very slightly, and kick it forward. Place this foot down and switch to the other. Maintain the same intensity and speed as your complete each 30 second set.
10. Army crawl
Start in a plan position with shoulders over wrist and feet together until your body is in a straight line. Bend your left arm so it is in forearm plank, and then bend your right arm, so you are in full forearm plank. To push yourself up, lift your left hand and place it on the mat below your shoulder, pressing through the palm. As you get to the top, place your right palm on the floor beneath the right shoulder, pushing back into a full plank. Repeat.
Swimming is an amazing high intensity workout for people with knee or back problems. It provides a cardio workout without the sweat that keeps you cool. You can even perform some of these moves in a pool for added resistance and all the knee protection. Swim 2 sets of laps as fast as you can, taking breaks in between.
12. Seated Wall Squats
Stand with your head, back hips pains the wall with feet either hip width apart or in sumo squat. Slowly bending the knees, glide down the wall until you reach a seated position, holding for as long as you can. Keep your abs engaged. This move might be slow, but is a great way to activate all your muscles in between sets.