Good Cardio Workouts for Anyone
Have a dodgy knee or past joint issues? Check out these good cardio workouts that are easier on your body – especially your knee! Good cardio workouts coming right up!
Good cardio workouts that are easier on your body
Cardio is one of the best workouts for heart health, increased metabolic rate, and optimal hormonal status, but without due care and moderation, it can wreak disaster on the strongest of knees.
The risks that accompany intense cardiovascular workouts are even greater if you have a history of serious knee injuries: most cardio exercises are high-impact by nature and they often involve repetitive motions, which puts quite a bit of stress on leg joints.
But does this mean that you have to wave Goodbye to seamless cardiovascular health in order to save your weak knee?
Absolutely not: you just need to tap into cardio workouts beyond jogging, running, rope skipping, squats, box-jumps, and step-ups.
Get your knees off the ropes: Battle ropes
Formerly used in football workouts and martial arts studios only, battle ropes have gained a lot of buzz in the past few years, and weighed nylon or manila ropes are now available in almost every gym.
An ideal blend of strength training and cardio, battle ropes provide a great full-body workout, and since most of the strain is placed on the core and upper body muscles, battling ropes are an excellent choice for folks with sensitive knees and/or previous joint injuries.
Simply loop one end of the rope around an immovable object, draw out the slack, grab the ends of the rope standing with your back straight and your feet planted apart, and start slamming!
The best cardio routines starring battle ropes include rope slams, alternate waves, and in-and-out waves (you can mix the sets up for variety and fun), but be warned: though easy on the knees, battling ropes is brutal on the upper body, so time each round to around 20 seconds.
Weigh your forces: Kettlebell swings
An intense workout targeting the hamstrings, lower back, and glutes, kettlebell swings involve minimal knee stress if performed properly. As a kettlebell beginner, you should pay attention to hip hinging for optimal extension: your back should be flat throughout, your butt should push back during downward motions, and your hips should go forward in each up.
Based on your fitness level, you can perform 3-5 sets of 20-40 reps using 40 or 53-pound weights, but do not increase the number of sets or bell weight too soon as this can cause post-training muscle soreness. With consistency and discipline, you will soon work your way up to heavier kettlebells.
A word of caution: steer clear of kettlebell-weighed squats even if other gym-goers around you are doing them. Even if executed properly, this kettlebell swing version puts tons of stress on the knees and you can wind up bed-locked for days if you insist on throwing a husky-brute squat act.
Weak-kneed Hulk: Sledgehammer swings
Instead of injury-happy kettlebell squats, try sledgehammer swings for a manly display of power. For this exercise, you will need an 8-pound sledgehammer and a discarded tire (the bigger, the better).
Put your left foot forward, close to the tire, step your right foot back, get a good grip on the sledgehammer (right hand over left – get the ultimate grip strength guide here), and swing it up in a circular motion, letting it drop down fast and hard on the tire in front of you.
Repeat the drill 10-20 times before switching sides, or use a stopwatch to time the sets: 5-6 minutes with 20 seconds of pounding followed by 40 seconds of rest will be enough to work up a serious sweat and boost your upper body and core strength without stressing the knees.
Build bulk, spare the knee: Low-impact training
Water-borne workouts are another great cardio routine for building bulk without compromising knee health.
Pool exercises such as aqua jogging, water aerobics, and underwater spinning are usually recommended as therapy for runners and professional athletes recovering from a knee injury, and they are also excellent for boosting cardiovascular function.
Since exercises performed underwater are low-impact, your knees will stay safe and your muscles will get a decent workout. Water is much denser than air and each movement in a liquid environment will require more strength but is much better for your knees, and it also translates as many more calories burnt per set.
There are many good cardio workouts out there that put minimal stress on your joints, so do not completely drop your cardio routine!
Also, if you have recently sustained a knee injury, make sure you schedule an online doctor consultation before signing up for any workout, however low-impact it may be.
A qualified physician will be able to provide an expert opinion on the condition of your sensitive knees and recommend the best cardio training for your individual workout objectives based on your age, health, and fitness level.