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Low Impact Strength Training: Benefits And Examples

What is Low-Impact Strength Training?

Low-impact strength training is a workout approach that provides a good stimulus and builds strength without placing as much stress on the joints and connective tissues. This typically means having at least one foot on the ground at all times, but other ways to reduce contact include controlling the tempo and limiting the range of motion on certain joints.

For example, instead of performing squat jumps that generate higher ground reaction forces and place more stress on the lower body, the trainee can do slow and controlled squats with both feet on the floor at all times.

However, similar to high-impact training, context matters. While most activities are clearly defined as low or high-impact, individual factors like body weight, age, fitness experience, technique, and injury history also play a role.

For instance, while a regular squat with the knees going slightly in front of the toes is classified as a low-impact activity, it can be considered high-impact for someone with previous knee injuries if it leads to pain.

The Pros and Cons of Low-Impact Training


  • It’s easier on the joints and is less likely to lead to nagging aches or injuries.
  • It’s ideal for trainees of all levels, including newbies with little experience.
  • The overloading potential is excellent. Athletes can gradually increase the resistance without putting more stress on the joints and connective tissues.


  • Less effective for developing explosiveness, which is crucial for many sports.
  • Workouts may not feel as dynamic or engaging as high-impact training like running, sprinting, and jumping.

Examples of Low-Impact Strength Exercises

  • Bodyweight squats – these are low-impact because they involve controlled movement, both feet remain on the ground, and coaches can limit the range of motion to prevent joint discomfort.
  • Romanian deadlift – the movement is smooth and controlled, the range of motion is limited, and trainees don’t have to jump and drop. As such, they don’t place as much stress on the ankles, knees, or hips.
  • Lat pulldowns – these mainly involve the shoulders and elbows in a natural way. The movement is done smoothly without jerking motions and trainees can gradually increase the weight as they get stronger.

Programming Ideas For Coaches

As a coach, you must prescribe movements that align with your clients’ goals, preferences, and abilities. This is particularly true when working with older clients and those with previous injuries that can become aggravated.

Here are a few programming ideas if you want to prioritize low-impact strength training:

1. Focus on Time Under Tension

Increasing the length of each rep is an effective way to recruit more motor units and provide a good stimulus without having to do as many reps or lift as much weight. 

This can be particularly beneficial when focusing on the eccentric load to stimulate stretch-mediated hypertrophy.

2. Progress Gradually

Start with light weights (or the bodyweight version of movements, such as squats) and gradually increase the resistance as the lifter gets stronger. 

This is because progressing too quickly can lead to technique breakdown, leading to compensatory movement patterns and undue tissue stress.

3. Listen to Feedback

Encourage clients to share how each exercise feels and whether it causes discomfort or pain. Some clients may feel the need to stay quiet for fear of disappointing their coach, even if some of the prescribed activities don’t feel good. 

Our strength coaching platform has a built-in chat that allows you to seamlessly communicate with all clients in one place and collect feedback that can guide future coaching decisions.

4. Monitor Technique

Monitoring technique is important for ensuring that your clients do each movement correctly and involve the right muscles. This is particularly important as they add weight to the bar, which can affect biomechanics and increase the risk of joint pain.


1. Can high-intensity interval training be low impact?

HIIT can be modified to place less stress on the body by choosing activities other than jumping and running. Cycling on a stationary bike is one good alternative.

2. What are suitable low-impact activities for older people?

Yoga, pilates, walking, and light resistance training are good options for improving cardiovascular health, building strength, and helping reverse sarcopenia in older people.

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