Low Impact, HIIT Training: How to Maximize your Results while Minimizing your Injuries

The mentality for many of us when it comes to the gym is how can I get the best results in the shortest, most efficient amount of time.  In our search for these results, we often go to the places that offer the highest calorie burn or the workout that looks the most intense and thus why HIIT(High Intensity Interval Training) is so popular.  As important as this is, it’s also crucial to consider the longevity of our body, our joints, and how we can sustain the highest level of fitness throughout our ENTIRE life.  

A common feature to most HIIT training programs is that they are high impact based ie. involving some form of running or jumping.  High impact training can produce great results but can often come with a higher chance of injury. Low impact training, on the other hand, can deliver the same great results with a lesser chance of chronic and acute injuries.


Different Levels of Impact Defined:

LOW IMPACT: involves activities where one foot is still on the ground or stable surface (ie. rowing and cycling)

HIGH IMPACT: where both feet are off the ground at the same time (ie. running or jumping)


HIIT Training with High Impact

The concept of HIIT is a workout method that uses short intervals of high intensity exercise followed by periods of rest - when programmed properly, can deliver amazing results including improvement of strength, cardiovascular fitness, and reduction of body fat.  Popular workout methods such as Crossfit and traditional boot camps that incorporate HIIT training are known to deliver many of the benefits of HIIT training.   Coincidentally, almost all of these popular workout trends incorporate high impact training. High impact training typically involves repetitive movements of running, jumping and anything that puts a significant load on your joints over 2x your body weight.  High impact training does have its benefits, however when done in a group environment, can lead to a high occurrence of injury without sufficient 1on1 coaching.

Running, for example has been known as a form of exercise with a very high incidence of low body injuries.  This is not to say running is bad for you, but it is recommended to get personal coaching and planned progressions for optimal performance and to minimize injuries.

“Half of the running population gets injured in some way every year, and this estimate may very well be on the low side.”

Below is a chart that indicates a generalized rate of injury to results from High to Low Impact Training:


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***Results - refer to most common results from HIIT training which include increase of cardiovascular fitness, increase in muscle strength/tone, and a decrease in body fat. Results and Rate of Injury may vary in different fitness settings.


HIIT Training with Low Impact

Smarter training can help you stay at your peak longer

What’s the alternative?  When you look at a model such as low impact HIIT where you can still push the body without the high forces on the joints, you get similar if not better fitness results. This means receiving all the benefits of HIIT training with a lesser chance of injury. Low impact movements are generally characterized as having one foot on the ground or stable surface - movements such as squats, step-ups, rowing, cycling are all good examples of low impact movements.   More so, today’s life expectancy is higher than ever – we may not understand the longevity of our joints in our 20’s and 30’s but preservation is key.  By “training smarter” and using low impact in our programs, we can reduce the chances of injuries, maximize gains from training and be stronger for longer.

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