Woman doing low impact workout on hands and knees
Yoga & Other Low Impact

3 Effective Low Impact Toning Workouts at Home

Low impact workouts are appropriate for all fitness levels

A low impact workout is perfect for slower days, injury recovery, or for safe total body toning. These exercises are easy on the joints and do not require any jumping or plyometrics. Weights or fitness bands can be incorporated into all of these moves for extra toning. Best of all, these workouts can easily be done at home. In order to see results make sure you stay consistent. You’ll be surprised how toned your body will feel with these low impact workouts (especially if you pair them with a healthy diet).


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Best Full Body Yoga for Toning


Vinyasa Yoga

If you are unfamiliar with low impact workouts, yoga is a great place to start. Yoga has so many mental and physical benefits, including toning your body. One type of popular yoga class that is founded on movement is Vinyasa yoga. It contains the pose Chaturanga Dandasana, sometimes called a “yogi push up”, which will definitely build upper strength. Vinyasa classes link together sequences with this movement, and it can be intense. You will find yourself sweating in some of the more fast-paced classes which might weave together multiple vinyasas or challenging postures.

If you are new to yoga, check out my post on how to start doing yoga at home.

I did hot vinyasa yoga consistently for a year, at least 3-5 days a week. It took only a few months to notice increased core strength, better flexibility, and overall toning. I was surprised how much your body can change without intense movements or heavyweights. However, if you are looking for an additional challenge, there is another type of yoga that does incorporate weights.


Power Yoga with Weights

If you want to take your yoga to the next level and are looking extra toning, look into power yoga with weights. It is sometimes referred to as “yoga sculpt”. These classes usually incorporate 1-5 lb weights that you lift and hold with the postures. CorePower Yoga features a great 30 minute workout video that will get your heart rate up and will give a new spin on your regular yoga class.


Recommended Yoga Gear


Barre: Small Repetitive Movements That You Will Feel in your Glutes and Thighs

Woman sitting extending hands with weights doing barre low impact workout

Barre classes have become very popular in the last decade. It took me some time to understand it and once I did, it all clicked. If you are unfamiliar, barre is the handrail that is used in ballet. The only other similarity between ballet and barre class are some “ballet-esque” movements (think tiptoes, squats, pulses). You do not need to be an aspiring dancer or have any dancing skills whatsoever to succeed at barre.

Barre is beginner friendly and is similar to pilates in that it focuses on core, balance, alignment, and toning. It is different in that barre can incorporate more aerobic movements than pilates and does not have some of the classic pilate movements like the hundred. It also does not use any advanced machinery (like a reformer). Instead, it uses a barre, pilates or yoga mat, pilates ball, or sometimes fitness bands.

All barre classes focus on small isometric movements that work your slow-twitch muscle fibers and can result in longer and leaner muscles. This is in contrast to dynamic or heavyweight workouts that work your fast-twitch muscle fibers and can increase your muscle size. Barre is an effective full-body workout (those 1lb weights will feel like 10 by the end!). Although it will work your entire body, I’ve found it extra effective at targeting your lower body, in particular glutes and thighs.

Tip: You can purchase a barre for your house, but no fear if it’s not in your budget. Use the back of a chair as an easy substitute.

Try this youtube video from Coach Kel for a great free barre workout.


Try cardio barre for an added challenge

Cardio barre takes your standard barre class and elevates your heart rate with fast cardio interval sequences that are still low impact. Some examples could be push-ups, mountain climbers, or speed skaters. Expect these cardio intervals in between classic barre moves to get you sweating.

Some of my favorite cardio barre classes (these might go by different names depending on the studio) include the Sweat barre class at Flybarre, Pure Empower class at Pure Barre, and Barre+Cardio at Exhale. There are plenty of online studio bare classes, some options for online classes are Physique 57 On Demand or Exhale on Demand.


Recommended Barre Gear


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Pilates: One of the Best Low Impact Core Workouts

Two woman sitting with one leg outstretched doing low impact workout

Mat Pilates

If you are a beginner to Pilates or are looking for a less intense class, start with mat Pilates. One of the most fundamental principles of Pilates is alignment, and these classes will ensure you have a thorough understanding before you move on to more advanced movements or equipment.

Don’t think these moves are easy, either. You will build flexibility and strength (especially in your core and lower body) doing the classic Pilates mat workout moves. For some examples of the basic moves check out this article from Very Well Fit. The next step is adding in some gear such as a Magic Circle, ankle weights, or ball.

Try this YouTube video for a Classic Pilates mat class from Trifecta Pilates. They also offer a great workout video using the Magic Circle.


Reformer or Megaformer Pilates

If you want a true core and full-body blast, pilates with a reformer or Lagree/megaformer will definitely challenge you. I might venture to say, a Lagree/megaformer class might be one of the most difficult and rewarding classes I’ve ever taken. Unfortunately, these workouts are not easy to do at home (although not impossible). You can actually purchase a reformer from Amazon for much less than most large fitness equipment (cheaper than many treadmills, spin bikes, etc.), so don’t completely count these out for an at home workout!

Alignment is very important on these machines, so make sure you understand the basics before diving in. There are springs that allow you to adjust the intensity of the motion. If you love the machines in class but want to replicate it at home, there are some videos that do similar movements which will give you a great core burn.

Here is a 10 minute YouTube video from Sarah Fit which features a Lagree method ab workout using primarily sliders. If you do have access to a Lagree/megaformer machine, try this Youtube video from Drivetrain Fitness.


Recommended Pilates Gear


Do you do any low impact workouts now? Let me know how often you do them and if you plan on trying anything new!

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