You don't have to lift heavy weights to build muscle—low-impact workouts are a great way to build strength while protecting your joints, which is ideal if you're injured, new to resistance training, or need a quiet jump-free routine.
It's possible to use bodyweight exercises alone to develop strength, a set of the best resistance bands can be a great alternative to weights, only cost a fraction of the price, and can be easily stowed away for workouts on the go.
Barre is one example of a low-impact workout that can get results. Inspired by ballet, barre incorporates bodyweight movements, usually performed on a yoga mat, as well as exercises using a chair or a ballet bar to balance on.
It’s a great form of exercise to try at home and this Instagram workout from barre instructor Angela Karner, creator of The Good Barre, will help you get started. There are just seven exercises and the aim is to do between 8 and 10 repetitions of each before repeating on the other side.
This routine activates the muscles in the lower body, including the glutes and hamstrings. As many of the exercises are completed while lying on your side, it also targets the obliques, which are the muscles down the side of the torso.
Watch The Good Barre’s seven-move workout
- Watch Angela Karner's seven-move workout on Instagram
It’s important to keep your core engaged throughout this entire workout. This will maximize muscle engagement, while also promoting good form, which is crucial to getting the most from the workout and preventing injury.
To engage your core, think about squeezing your ribs downwards and clenching your glutes, the muscles that run along your bottom and upper thigh, which should keep the center of your body in one straight line.
Try to move slowly and intentionally, rather than rushing through reps. This will increase the time your muscles are under tension, which is crucial for muscle growth, and is one of the reasons you don't need lift heavy weights to build muscle.
Barre is designed to engage some of the body’s minor muscles, which are often neglected during conventional strength workouts. Moving slowly will help you engage these muscles even more.
This routine requires a good range of motion, so make sure you warm up properly before giving it a go. If you lack flexibility, you might find this workout challenging. Try these five moves to improve flexibility to help.
But remember not to worry if you can’t lift your leg as high as Karner during some of the exercises. You will still benefit from the routine by lifting your leg as high as you can, even if this is only a few inches above the ground, and improve your flexibility simultaneously.
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Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.
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