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High Impact Training: Definition, Pros, and Cons

What is High-Impact Training?

High-impact training refers to dynamic and intense workouts that improve performance on activities that last a short period and require greater force output, such as sprinting. However, such activities also put more stress on the joints and connective tissues and are more likely to cause injuries in people who don’t train with proper form or aren’t used to the physical demands.

That said, ‘high-impact’ is also heavily dependent on context and can vary significantly depending on the trainee’s body weight, age, experience, technique, and injury history.

For example, someone overweight and new to exercise might experience a lot of joint stress from jogging, often to the point of nagging aches. In contrast, an experienced runner with a healthy BMI can experience far less joint stress from the same activity due to the lower ground reaction force and more efficient running form.

As a coach, you must always consider the context when prescribing exercise, training volume, and intensity. 


  • Adaptable – you can scale the difficulty of high-impact training to suit each athlete’s needs. For instance, even if the athlete does density training (e.g., EMOM), you can adjust the tempo to suit their abilities.
  • Efficient – given the higher intensity, this type of training provides a good training stimulus in less time.
  • Beneficial for athletes – high-impact activities often develop sports-specific skills and characteristics that improve performance. This is particularly true for more demanding sports like volleyball, football, basketball, rugby, and American football.


  • Greater injury risk – given the higher demand, high-impact activities are more likely to result in nagging aches and injuries if trainees don’t use proper form or try to progress too quickly.
  • Higher recovery demand – intense activities generate a lot of fatigue, even in short periods, and athletes need longer to recover. It may even lead to exertional rhabdomyolysis in more extreme scenarios.
  • Not ideal for beginners – newbies are better off with less intense activities that don’t put as much stress on the joints and connective tissues. This is because they are not as accustomed to physical stress and don’t need to train at a high intensity to make progress.


1. What activities fall under the ‘high-impact training’ umbrella?

Intense activities that generate higher ground reaction forces and involve a lot of joint movement and jolting actions are considered high-impact. Examples include sprinting and jumping. However, even less intense activities can be considered high-impact in certain situations––for instance, jogging for someone overweight.

2. How to prevent injuries and nagging aches from high-impact training?

Good warm-ups, gradual progression, proper form, and good recovery between sessions are some ways to limit tissue stress and reduce injury risk.

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