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20-Minute Low Impact Strength + Cardio Workout

All of the intensity without any of the impact: that’s what you can look forward to in this LOW IMPACT Strength and Cardio Workout! Modifications are offered to scale these eight low-impact strength and cardio exercises for beginners and pregnancy to advanced athletes.

An efficient, low impact strength and cardio workout that’s perfect for beginners, working out in an apartment or during nap time, or pregnancy (including the third trimester).

If you’ve done one of my low impact workouts before, you know: low impact does NOT mean low intensity.

This high-intensity workout routine is a perfect workout for beginners, bad knees and weight loss.

It’s also a safe prenatal workout routine designed to challenge your strength and raise your heart rate in a pregnancy-safe way. We’re pairing some of my favorite dumbbell strength exercises with low impact cardio moves in this strength and cardio workout that’s pregnancy-friendly into the third trimester!

two women, one pregnant, performing a dumbbell squat

Low Impact Strength and Cardio Workout FAQs

What Are The Benefits Of Low Impact Workouts?

Low impact exercise is great for ALL seasons of life and has several health benefits. Low impact exercise is scalable for various fitness levels (from beginners to pregnancy and postpartum, AND advanced fitness enthusiasts alike); raises your heart rate and burns calories (without running or jumping); is joint-friendly (limits stress on joints); is quiet and apartment-friendly (also great for nap time and sleeping babies); prevents injury and risk of heart disease.

What Are Good Low Impact Strength Training Exercises?

Some of the most popular forms of low impact activity include yoga, pilates, swimming, and the stationary bike. These are great low impact choices, but it’s also nice to have options that provide a little more variety and focus on building total body strength (while also focused on calorie burn). This workout includes exercises like overhead dumbbell presses and box step ups to raise your heart rate and build strength, no burpees needed!

Is This Low Impact Strength Workout Pregnancy-Friendly?

YES! Low impact exercises are great for all seasons of life, though especially beneficial during pregnancy. I filmed this workout in my third trimester and you can follow along with me for pregnancy modifications.

two women, one pregnant, performing a knee drive

Low Impact Strength and Cardio Workout

Sweat and strengthen while still being gentle on the joints with this low impact strength and cardio workout at home!

This full body workout combines 8 of my favorite strength and low impact cardio exercises for women. It is designed to safely build muscle and challenge your cardio endurance.

We’ll work the upper body, lower body and core — plus, there are no lunges in this workout making it great for beginners or bad knees! Add this full body strength and cardio workout to your beginner workout plan or  pregnancy exercise program 1-2 times a week to maintain strength.

Workout Equipment:

One medium-to-heavy dumbbell (option to use two lighter dumbbells) and an optional bench for stability and to add an incline to push ups.

We’re each using a 15-20 lb dumbbell.

Shop My Exercise Box (Great for Pregnancy)

This TRIPLEPLYO® foam box is ideal for exercise modifications during pregnancy. I use it to add an incline to planks and push ups, for step ups and stretching.
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Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Low Impact Strength and Cardio Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer and prenatal fitness instructor, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 4 Circuits (2 exercises per circuit)
  • Timed Intervals (30 seconds of work, 15 seconds rest; complete as many reps as you can in the timed interval)
  • Repeat Each Circuit x3 Sets

Workout Outline

CIRCUIT ONE: Legs and Biceps
1. 2-Pulse Squat and 2 Walking Squats and Bicep Curl
2. Side Shuffle and Dumbbell Tap

CIRCUIT TWO: Legs and Shoulders
1. Box Squat and Dumbbell Front Raise
2. Overhead Dumbbell Press and Tap

CIRCUIT THREE: Chest, Triceps and Core
1. Incline Push Up to Downward Facing Dog Push Back
2. Box Step Up and Knee Drive

CIRCUIT FOUR: Legs and Back
1. Staggered Deadlift and Single Arm Row
2. Single Leg Runners

Prefer to Watch On Youtube?

youtube icon Low Impact Workout

8 Best Low Impact Strength and Cardio Exercises

2-Pulse Squat And 2 Walking Squats And Bicep Curl

Targets: Legs, glutes, quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings, biceps and core.

two women, one pregnant, performing a 2-pulse squat and 2 walking squats and bicep curl

How To Do A 2-Pulse Squat And 2 Walking Squats And Bicep Curl

  1. Start standing feet shoulder-width distance apart, knees slightly bent, core engaged. Hold one dumbbell horizontally in front of you.
  2. Lower down into a squat position, lowering your hips down parallel with your knees. Drive your knees out toward your outer three toes and hold the dumbbell low.
  3. At the bottom of your squat, pulse by rising up an inch, then lowering down an inch and repeating for a two-count pulse.
  4. Drive through your heels to stand tall, squeezing your glutes.
  5. As you stand tall, tap your right heel in to meet your left foot. As you do, curl the dumbbell up to shoulder height.
  6. Step your right foot out and sit back into a low squat, dropping the dumbbell low again.
  7. Then, drive through your heels to stand tall, this time tapping your left heel in to meet your right foot. Again, curl the dumbbell up to shoulder height.

Side Shuffle And Dumbbell Tap

Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hips adductors and abductors and core.

two women, one pregnant, performing a side shuffle and dumbbell tapdown

How To Do A Side Shuffle And Dumbbell Tap

  1. Start in an athletic stance, feet slightly wider than hips, with one dumbbell on the ground vertically in front of you.
  2. Perform a side shuffle by hopping slightly to your right, right foot out to the side and left foot in line with the dumbbell.
  3. Reach down to tap the dumbbell with your right hand.
  4. Then, reverse the movement, hopping so your right foot lands in line with the dumbbell, left foot out to the side.
  5. Reach down to tap the dumbbell with your left hand and repeat, alternating the side shuffle.

Box Squat And Dumbbell Front Raise

Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hips adductors and abductors, shoulders, lats and core.

two women, one pregnant, performing a squat and dumbbell front raise

How To Do A Box Squat And Dumbbell Front Raise

  1. Start standing about one foot in front of a box, chair or bench; feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one dumbbell horizontally in front of your quads.
  2. Bend your knees and sit your hips back towards the bench (as if sitting down in a chair).
  3. Once your butt reaches the bench, with legs bent at 90-degrees, rest your butt on the bench for a moment as you perform a dumbbell front raise by lifting the dumbbell up to shoulder height.
  4. Lower the dumbbell back down as you press through your heels to stand tall, driving your hips forward to return to a standing position.

Modification: If you don’t have a box, chair or bench available to you, perform an air squat and dumbbell front raise.

Overhead Dumbbell Press And Tap

Targets: Shoulders, lats and core.

two women, one pregnant, performing a dumbbell overhead press and jack

How To Do An Overhead Dumbbell Press And Tap

  1. Start standing feet shoulder-width distance apart, knees slightly bent, core engaged. Hold one dumbbell horizontally in front of you.
  2. Drive the dumbbell overhead to perform an overhead dumbbell press. As you do so, tap your right foot out to the side.
  3. Lower the dumbbell down with control as you tap your right foot back in to center.
  4. Repeat, alternating the foot that taps out with each overhead press.

Incline Push Up To Downward Facing Dog Push Back

Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs and core muscles.

pregnant woman performing an incline push up to downward facing dog

How To Do An Incline Push Up To Downward Facing Dog Push Back

  1. Stand in front of your box/bench (or counter, or wall). The higher the surface, the easier the push up will be.
  2. Plant your palms on the box and step back into a high plank position. Shoulders are stacked over wrists, weight evenly distributed between all fingers. Pull your kneecaps up towards your belly.
  3. Hold this incline plank position, maintaining a straight line with your body, as you slowly lower your chest towards the box.
  4. Lead with your chest, elbows fall about 6 inches away from your body (not out to the sides).
  5. Once at the bottom of your push up, exhale as you push back up into high plank position.
  6. Then, shift back to find downward facing dog, sending your hips high.
  7. Hold for a moment, then lower back to your incline plank position and repeat the sequence.

Modification: Perform a kneeling push up.

Box Step Up And Knee Drive

Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors and core.

pregnant woman performing a box step up

How To Do A Box Step Up And Knee Drive

  1. Stand in front of your box or bench, feet under shoulders and core engaged.
  2. Step your right foot on to your bench and squeeze your right glute as you step up, driving your left knee up as you stand.
  3. Return your left foot to the mat, then bring your right foot down, returning to starting position.
  4. Then, alternate, stepping on to the bench with your left foot and driving your right knee up as you stand.

Modification: Perform a goblet hold and march.

Staggered Deadlift And Single Arm Row

Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, hips, lower back, back and core.

two women, one pregnant, performing a staggered deadlift and single arm row as part of low impact strength and cardio workout

How To Do A Staggered Deadlift And Single Arm Row

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in your right hand at your hips, palm facing in towards your body.
  2. Stagger your feet, so your left leg is slightly in front of your right foot. Kickstand your back right foot, right heel floating off the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your front foot, 20% in your back right toe.
  3. Maintain a staggered stance as you hinge at the hips. Pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you as you glide the dumbbell down the front of your legs; core tight.
  4. At the bottom of the deadlift, perform a single arm row on the right arm by pulling the dumbbell in your right hand back to meet your hip.
  5. Lower the dumbbell with control, then drive through your front left heel to push your hips forward, pulling the dumbbell back up towards your hip as you stand tall.

Single Leg Runners

Targets: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, hips and core.

two women, one pregnant, performing single leg runners as part of low impact strength workout

How To Do Single Leg Runners

  1. Start in an athletic stance, feet slightly wider than hips, with one dumbbell on the ground vertically in front of you.
  2. Stagger your feet, so your left leg is slightly in front of your right leg. Kickstand your back right foot, right heel floating off the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your front foot, 20% in your back right toe.
  3. Reach down to tap the dumbbell with your right hand.
  4. Then, perform a runner on the back right knee by driving it up towards your front left leg.
  5. Hold for a second before sending the right foot back down as you reach down to tap the dumbbell again with your right hand.
  6. Repeat on this side for the timed interval, switching sides on the next set.

Pin This Workout: Low Impact Cardio and Strength

Low Impact Strength and Cardio with one dumbbell pin for pinterest

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4 comments
  1. I love how you can do low impact workouts that still have heavy weights. This looks awesome for me on the days that my knees are aching.

    • Hi Emily! Yes, love me some good strength training and you can go as heavy as you want with those weights to make it more challenging! Thanks for checking out the workout and I hope you enjoy it! xo-Lindsey

  2. This looks like an awesome low impact workout even for ladies that aren’t pregnant! Your workouts are always so great, girl!

    • Thanks Jen! Yes, this workout is absolutely great for everyone! Thanks for always checking out my workouts and pinning; always appreciated! xo-Lindsey