A low impact workout for bad joints

Let’s face it, we all have different issues and injuries that prevent us from certain workouts. But that doesn’t mean sacrificing intensity or working out at all. You just have to find what works for you.

Most commonly, I have clients with knee, hip, wrist, shoulder or back issues.

Here are a few of the best cardio choices with the lowest joint impact:

  • stationary biking
  • spinning
  • elliptical
  • swimming
  • boxing (non-contact)

And here are a few of the worst cardio choices with the highest joint impact:

  • running
  • sprinting
  • plyometric training (jumping)
  • jump rope

So what about strength training? It really depends on which joints bother you the most, but there are certain modifications you can implement to make training safe, fun and effective. Let’s take a push up, for example. I have many clients that have an issue when their wrist is in extension (at a 90-degree angle), so a basic push up where the palm of the hand is flat on the floor hurts their wrists. Instead, I would suggest holding a hex dumbbell in each hand and completing a push up with your wrists straight in a neutral position. A hex dumbbell has flat edges on the weighted part, rather than round. I don’t want you rolling away!! You can also use a closed fist with the knuckle-side down, but this can be pretty uncomfortable a few reps deep. Keep in mind that the dumbbells can be turned parallel or perpendicular to your body depending on what muscles you are looking to target, but either way it should help take pressure off of your wrists.

Below, I wrote out a high-energy, low impact workout you can try out.

5 minute warm up

  • 2 minutes stationary bike, spin bike or elliptical with heavy resistance
  • :30 seconds stationary bike, spin bike or elliptical FAST, with very light resistance!
  • Modified Burpee, 8 reps (no jumps, use dumbbells if you need for wrists and step back one leg at a time into a plank)
    Stand with feet together and hands overhead, squat down and touch the floor (or grab onto a pair of hex dumbbells to use throughout the entire exercise) with your hands, step one leg back into plank position followed by the other. Complete a push up. Then step one leg back in, then the other and stand up. That is one complete rep.
  • Wall Sit, :60 seconds
    Lower down into squat position with legs at a 90º angle, knees behind toes. Press entire back against wall, and hold without placing hands on thighs.
  • Seated Cable Row, 10 reps (go heavy, wide grip attachment)
    Place feet on the machine platform, keeping slight bend in knees and making posture “tall.” Grasp handles while keeping shoulders slightly squeezed, then pull elbows in and back toward sides of your torso to your navel. Return arms to extended position without being pulled forward.
  • Romanian Deadlift with Barbell, 12 reps
    Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your torso upright and shoulders back. Stick booty out and grip the barbell just outside hips. Lower BB until you feel a stretch in hamstrings. Bend forward from hips, keep back straight, soft knees, push hips back and let the bar run down shins.
  • V-Up Crunch, 12 reps
    Lie on back with hands on floor over head. Simultaneously raise straight legs and torso reaching towards raised feet. Return to starting position without placing feet onto ground.

Repeat this entire series 2 more times! Cool down for another 5 minutes.

Of course, before you try any workout, you should get clearance from your doctor! Every individual is different and I really don’t want you to hurt yourself. And if you feel you need even more guidance and customization, I offer the IgniteGirls+ Premium Members Program! Shoot me an email if you have any questions: keri(at)ignitegirls(dot)com

Have a great Workout Wednesday!
– Coach K


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posted by Coach Keri


  • By Serena 05 Mar 2015

    This is a great post. All these workouts will be super helpful with my knee and wrist injuries

  • By beachbum 21 May 2015

    Oh thank you! I have had surgery on my wrists and was trying to find something I could do when it came to certain parts of workouts. This is so great!!

    • By COACH KERI 28 May 2015

      I am really happy this was helpful! I hope you have a fast recovery 🙂
      – Coach Keri

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