When it comes to weight loss, not all workouts need to be high-intensity sweat sessions in order to yield results. I often tell my clients that low-intensity workouts can be just as effective—especially for women who are looking to shed pounds while avoiding the high-impact stress on their joints. If you fall under that particular umbrella, I’ve put together five of my very best low-intensity workouts for women to lose weight.
When combined with a healthy diet, low-impact exercises can yield the same weight-loss benefits as their high-intensity counterparts, while protecting your joints and reducing the recovery time you’ll need between workouts. Low-impact workouts provide a gentle yet effective way to burn calories, increase endurance, boost functional strength, and improve overall fitness.
If you’re ready to get started, here are five of the best low-intensity workouts for women to lose weight. Keep reading to learn all about them, and when you’re done, don’t miss out on these 7 No-Equipment Floor Exercises To Drop 10 Pounds in a Month.
Workout #1: Yoga Flow
Yoga is a fantastic low-intensity workout that not only helps with weight loss, but also promotes flexibility and mindfulness. The following yoga flow incorporates various poses to target multiple muscle groups while promoting relaxation and burning calories:
1. Downward Dog
This exercise works the shoulders, hamstrings, and calves.
Start in a pushup position with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart. Lift your hips toward the ceiling while keeping your back straight. Push through your palms and your heels as you lengthen your spine. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat four times.
2. Warrior II
Warrior II works the legs, core, and shoulders.
Begin in a standing position with your feet wide apart. Turn your right foot outward, and bend your right knee to a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Keep your gaze over your right hand. Hold for 30 seconds on each side. Repeat two times on each side.
3. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose strengthens the back and promotes relaxation.
Start on your hands and knees. Sit back onto your heels, reaching your arms forward on the mat. Keep your forehead on the ground, and relax. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat two times.
Workout #2: Swimming
Swimming is an excellent low-impact, full-body workout that can help you shed excess weight while toning your muscles. Here’s a simple swimming routine:
1. Front Crawls
The front crawl works the shoulders, arms, and core.
Begin in the water, floating horizontally. Extend your arms forward, and kick your legs in a fluttering motion. Rotate your body from side to side as you stroke with your arms. Repeat for five laps.
The breaststroke works the chest, inner thighs, and back.
Start with your arms extended forward and your legs together. Pull your arms outward, and sweep them back to your chest as you kick your legs apart. Bring your arms back together, and glide forward. Repeat for five laps.
The backstroke targets your shoulders, arms, upper back, and legs while increasing your heart rate.
Start in the water, floating on your back. Maintain a streamlined body position with your face up. Alternate your arm movements in a continuous circular motion. Execute a flutter kick with your legs. Keep a slight body rotation to reduce resistance. Maintain a consistent rhythm between your arms and legs. Repeat for five laps.
Workout #3: Pilates
Pilates is a low-intensity workout that focuses on core strength, flexibility, and body awareness. Try this Pilates routine for effective weight loss:
1. Leg Circles
Leg circles target the abdominal muscles and hip flexors.
Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs extended. Lift one leg toward the ceiling. Make small circles with your raised leg, keeping your core engaged. Reverse the direction of the circles. Complete 15 repetitions on each leg.
2. The Hundred
This exercise engages the abdominal muscles and improves overall core strength.
Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides. Lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground. Pump your arms up and down while breathing in for five counts and out for five counts. Repeat for 15 breath cycles.
3. Donkey Kicks
Donkey kicks target your glutes, core, and hamstrings.
Start on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. Lift your right knee off the ground while keeping your foot flexed. Extend your right leg straight up and behind you, engaging your glutes. Lower your leg back to the starting position, and repeat 15 times before switching to the other leg.
Workout #4: Low-Impact Cardio
This modified low-impact cardio workout focuses on elevating your heart rate and improving cardiovascular fitness while protecting your joints. Here’s a low-impact cardio routine:
1. Modified High Knees
Modified high knees are great for increasing your heart rate while strengthening your core and leg muscles.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right knee as high as possible while swinging your left arm forward. Switch to the left knee and right arm in one fluid motion. Do not jump to switch sides. Repeat this motion as fast as you can for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds, then repeat for three rounds.
2. Standing Bicycle Crunches
Standing Bicycle Crunches effectively target your abdominal muscles, strengthen your core, and promote balance and stability.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and place your hands behind your head. Lift your right knee toward your chest while simultaneously crunching your left elbow toward your right knee. Alternate sides, performing a standing bicycle motion. Continue for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds, then repeat for three rounds.
3. Lateral Leg Raises
Lateral leg raises target your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and core muscles while burning calories and promoting balance.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your right leg out to the side as high as you’re comfortably able to, keeping your leg straight. Lower it down, and switch to the left leg. Perform these leg raises as quickly as possible for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds, then repeat for three rounds.
Workout #5: Circuit Cycling
The last of these low-intensity workouts for women to lose weight is all about cycling. Whether you prefer stationary cycling or riding outdoors, it’s an enjoyable way to burn calories and strengthen your legs. Plus, you can customize the intensity level by adjusting your bike’s resistance.
1. Uphill Climb
The uphill climb is a nice warm-up exercise you can take at your own pace. It targets your leg muscles, glutes, and core.
Turn the resistance knob, or set the incline to simulate riding uphill. Pedal at a steady pace as if you’re climbing a hill. Keep your hands on the handlebars, and maintain good posture.
Engage your core muscles to help support your back and maintain stability. Focus on controlled breathing as you pedal uphill. Maintain for three to five minutes.
Sprints are a great way to get short bursts of elevated heart rate without putting strain on your joints.
Reduce the resistance to a lower level. Pedal as fast as you can for a burst of intense effort. Push and pull the pedals through their entire range of motion. For this sprint, remain seated on the bike. Maintain for three to five minutes.
3. Standing Climb
Standing climbs strengthen your core, legs, and glutes.
Turn up the resistance to simulate a steep climb. Rise from the seat while keeping your hands on the handlebars. Maintain a steady pace while standing and pushing through your legs. Engage your core muscles to stabilize your body. Maintain for three to five minutes.
4. Recovery Ride
Recovery rides are a great way to lower your heart rate while burning off those last few calories.
Lower the resistance to a comfortable level. Pedal at a slower, easy pace to allow your heart rate to recover. Keep your upper body relaxed, and maintain proper posture. Take deep breaths, and focus on recovering. Continue for three to five minutes. For a higher-intensity workout, repeat the entire circuit.