The Best Low-Impact Workouts for Weight Loss

Torch calories fast with high-intensity, low-impact workouts that burn as many calories as running.

Challenging but rewarding, this routine will have you sweating in no time.

01 of 10

Kettlebells

Kettlebells are a great way to build muscle throughout the body. And because the weighted cast-iron spheres are super versatile, you can integrate them into all of your favorite exercises.

02 of 10

Cycling

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Cycling—indoors or out—is non-weight bearing and low impact, so you can work up a sweat without stressing your joints. One of the beauties of cycling outdoors is that it’s so invigorating, you can easily burn lots of calories without feeling like you’re working that hard. When researchers had a group of trained cyclists perform two 40 kilometer rides—one indoor and one outdoor—at the same perceived exertion, the riders produced about 25% more power and had heart rates nearly 10 beats per minute higher (so burned more calories) outdoors than indoors even though they didn’t feel like they were working any harder.

03 of 10

Rowing

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Unless you’re a regular on the crew team, chances are you don’t do much rowing. In which case, you’re missing out on a total body workout that tones your arms, legs, and core, and improves your upper back strength and posture, while burning nearly 500 calories an hour (more if you crank up your effort and row vigorously). Unlike the treadmills, which are almost always taken, the rowing machines also are likely to be open and ready to give you a workout whenever you walk in the gym. Be sure to use proper rowing technique. Power the main part of the stroke with your legs; then pull through with your arms and back to finish the stroke to use maximum muscle and keep your arms from wearing out before you’re done working out.

04 of 10

Power yoga

In this video, expert yoga instructor Lauren Taus shows you how to add HIIT to your yoga routine by integrating calorie-blasting plyometric moves, like jump lunges, into your sun salutations and beyond.

05 of 10

LIT Method

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LIT Method is the latest hot exercise movement out of Los Angeles, and focuses on low impact training (hence the name). The 50-minute class incorporates rowing (sprints and steady paced bouts), resistance band and mat strength work, and foam rolling mobility exercises to “build you up rather than break you down,” as LIT co-founders and high profile personal trainers Justin Norris and Taylor Gainor like to say. If you can’t make a class, which are extremely limited right now, you can get a LIT KIT, which includes rowing and resistance bands; recovery rolling tools, and instructional videos.

06 of 10

Elliptical training

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This gym floor staple gives you the benefits of running without any of the pounding impact. Many of them have ski-pole like arm handles, so you can engage your upper body muscles and amp up your calorie burn while also toning your arms, shoulders, and upper back muscles. As a bonus, the elliptical will build your butt better than fitness walking. In one study that compared elliptical training at various speeds and stride lengths found that every one of them fired up the glute muscles, which are notoriously weak in many adults, better than walking. This fat-burning elliptical workout is actually fun, and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

07 of 10

TRX

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Short for total body resistance training, these suspension straps put all your muscles on high alert during traditional body weight exercises like push ups, pull ups, planks and squats. When researchers measured the amount of muscle activity in volunteers performing suspended push ups versus the traditional kind, they found the activity in every major upper body muscle, including the chest, shoulders, and triceps to be significantly higher when the exercise was performed with the straps. If you’ve never used TRX, ask a trainer at the gym to show you the ropes on a few basic moves to bump up your calorie burn. Here's a six-move total-body TRX workout to get you started.

08 of 10

Swimming

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Water is nearly 800 times denser than air, so while swimming is the ultimate low-impact workout, it’s anything but easy to propel your body from one side of the pool to the other and back. In one head-to-head comparison of the health and fitness benefits of swimming versus walking in 116 sedentary women, researchers found that those who swam three times a week for 6 months lost more weight, improved their body composition, slimmed their hips and waist and improved their cholesterol levels better than those who performed a similar walking program for the same time.

09 of 10

Circuit training

Widerstrom’s dumbbell circuit workout torches fat and works muscles all over your body in just seven minutes.

10 of 10

Barre

Ready for a full-body burn? In this video, Sarah Wingo from Pure Barre demonstrates a 10-minute barre workout that will strengthen your upper body and abs. The sequence begins with warm-up moves that get your heart pumping, then targets your arms, abs, and glutes.

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