First, let’s get clear about what a non-impact workout is. Simply put, your feet never leave the ground. There are many reasons to opt for a non- impact workout. High impact workouts like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and running can be jarring on joints, can lead to injury or can inflame an existing injury. Non-impact workouts are a safer way to raise your heart rate and strengthen your muscles if you have existing injuries, back problems, or simply prefer a consistent, slower pace for your movement. 

In this blog we discuss two of our favorite non-impact exercises, the advantages of each and how to boost these non-impact workouts with a few simple steps. 

Non-impact exercises include, but are not limited to, bodyweight exercises, elliptical machine, upright or recumbent bike, planks, swimming and rowing. 

One of our favorite non-impact exercises are planks. For proper form, Lie face down in a push-up position. Keep your palms on the floor next to your shoulders and keep feet flexed with the bottoms of your toes on the floor. Take a deep breath and press up into a push-up. Your body should make a straight line from your heels to the top of your head. Draw your navel toward your spine and tighten your buttocks. Look at the floor to keep your head in neutral position and breathe normally.

If you cannot maintain a straight line, let your knees drop. Planks from your knees still strengthens all of the muscles of the core, gives you a stronger low back, and teaches your body stabilization. 

There are many advantages of doing planks

  1. They can be done (almost) anywhere. In fact, the only place you can’t do them might be an airplane bathroom and it’s not like many of us are flying right now anyway. 
  2. Planks strengthen your spine, your rhomboids, trapezius muscles and your core. 
  3. You can easily estimate your plank progression as the longer you can hold a plank = the more you are improving. 
  4. You won’t get bored if you vary your plank. Variations include side planks, forearm planks, modified plank, alternating shoulder tap planks.  
  5. Planks work the ENTIRE body. Your abs, glutes, quads, calves.
  6. Planks improve your posture. If you have improved posture = your bones are aligned, you will appear taller and more confident. Improved posture benefits your digestive system. 
  7. Planks can lighten the load on your back by strengthening your core. A strong core stabilizes your entire body and as a result there is less body weight for your lower back to carry. There is a caveat, if you are doing planks incorrectly you will experience wrist, neck or back pain. Refer to this list of plank mistakes if you experience these symptoms.  

Source: https://www.healthcorps.org/fitness-2017-05-plankexercises/

Pump up Your Planks

After doing planks 3-4 times a day consistently and working your way up to 10, 30 and 60 seconds, you may want to boost your planks to get even more out of the exercise. One way to turbocharge the move is lifting your legs while in plank. By lifting your leg, hip extension will occur and engages another important muscle to work, the glutes. Another way to pump up the plank volume is to reach straight out in front of you, one arm at a time ☺) and pause for 3 seconds. Since your hand stabilizes you and helps to hold up some of your bodyweight, reaching out means your core is holding up more weight and you are working on your balance.  

The other non impact exercise we love is the recumbent bike. A regular upright bike tends to have a smaller seat, hello saddle soreness, and you are hunched over. Advantages of a recumbent bike over an upright bike is that your entire low back is supported, you are more comfortable, and you can let your upper body relax and concentrate on your lower body. 

There are only a few steps to the recumbent bike. The first is to make sure your seat is adjusted so that your extended leg has a slight bend when the pedal is furthest away from you. We recommend that you aim for thirty minutes or more of recumbent biking to get the maximum benefit. 

The benefits of recumbent biking include:  

1) Similar to how planks can be done anywhere, a recumbent bike can be done indoors or outdoors. Even if you are indoors, recumbent bikes have hill settings to mimic the Colorado landscape. Mobo Cruisers is a brand that exclusively makes outdoor recumbent bikes and tricyles. 

2) Recumbent bikes strengthen your heart and lower body muscles.

3) Recumbent biking is an aerobic AND strengthening exercise. Aerobic benefits include strengthening your heart, improves lung capacity, decreases resting heart rate, and reduces high blood pressure over time.

4) You are working a laundry list of muscle groups with a recumbent bike. These include: glutes, biceps femoris, calves, vastus lateralis, quads, hamstrings, and the tibalis anterior For more info, click here

 5) A potentially controversial advantage of the recumbent bike is that you can simultaneously read a book (Kindle or old school) and watch a TV program. Whether you enjoy reading to pass the time or are a natural multi-tasker, recumbent bikes are an alternative to other machines that do not allow you to do all the things.

Take your recumbent cycling up a notch

To rev up your revolutions on the recumbent bike: vary your pedaling speed, up the resistance or cycle backwards. You may also want to try intervals by mixing short yet very intense bursts of pedaling with longer and much mellower periods of light pedaling. 

The Healthful Life MD team, especially our personal trainer ,want you to find the exercises and movements that work the best for you. Your selection may depend on your mood, the results you see and feel and whether you are looking to avoid injury. There is no “one size fits all” exercise but many choices to choose from. 

To find out more about our customized and personalized personal training, reach out to us at dr.abby@healthfullifemd.com or call (720) 336-5681.