I am 6"1 and around 264.5lbs (or around about 120kg). I really love working out and i have been losing some weight, but i can't do cardiovascular training or most body-weight type training due to the strain my weight puts on my joints.

Usually the joint pain isn't so severe but i have had a couple of times where i had to skip a few days workout because i can barely move around, as i do not want to aggravate the injury further.

My diet is good, and i make sure to do at least an hour of physical activity per day. The only problem is the joint strain.

Does anyone have any ideas or workouts that would be able to kind of "work around" joint problems, or will i have to just cut down the intensity of the training??

Also, is maybe weight training a better solution??

Thanks :)

  • What type of workouts are you currently doing? Jun 18, 2015 at 17:21
  • In addition to the suggestions below, you might consider using some braces on joints that complain. I've found that my wrists aren't strong enough to support my current weight for some body-weight exercises, and so I use wrist wraps to help support them. I know many people do a similar treatment for their knees. Probably best to consult a sports doc to confirm that this is sufficient treatment/protection you feel serious discomfort, but I've found it to help while I become stronger/lose weight. Jun 22, 2015 at 18:42

4 Answers 4


Recommendations With Little Impact on Joints

Biking: If you have access to a stationary bike or you have an actual bike, this is a good exercise for you. There isn't a lot of stress on the joints and you can go at your own pace (although going fast is recommended). If you have access to a Spin class also, I would recommend it as you would have a lot of fun while shedding pounds.

Swimming: This is another awesome option if you have access to a pool and can swim (or are interested in swimming). There's minimal impact on joints, works your entire body, and you'll have fun in the water.

(Power) Walking: While running can place stress on joints (especially when done improperly), power walking doesn't really place much stress on the joints. That being said, you'll have to make walking a practice in order to see a significant impact on your weight-loss goals. Walking doesn't burn much calories; however, combining the practice with an effective dietary program will really help you achieve your goals.

Yoga or Pilates: These exercises place less stress on joints and are effective exercises. Try them and see if you enjoy them.

Tai Chi: This isn't primarily an exercise; however, its movements do not place much stress on joints and seriously, it's just fun to do. If in doubt, google the benefits of Tai Chi.

Some tidbits

Be more active: The more active you are, the better your joints will become. So, walk as much as feasibly possible, stand up as much as feasibly possible, etc.

Stretching: Stretching is good for you, especially after periods of immobility. Do it regularly and you'll notice how limber your body begins to feel.

I'm pretty sure there are more options; however, there's no need to exhaust the whole list to start something.

  • OP, pretty much this, ensuring you eat less than your TDEE by 600 cal ~ 500 cal and also ensure sufficient rest. I don't see any problems with doing weight training and if the problem continues to persist, you may want to consider getting yourself check.
    – Aizul
    Jun 19, 2015 at 1:43

I would recommend you try a trusted training program.

It's possible you're suffering from DOMS, not "joint pain". Regardless, if you're doing the wrong things it will be painful and short lived. If you do a good program, you'll strengthen your muscles and connective tissues (joints) in a safe and effective way.

  • 4
    Seeing a doctor might be useful too to ensure knowing why the pain is happening.
    – Sean Duggan
    Jun 18, 2015 at 14:15

but i can't do cardiovascular training or most body-weight type training due to the strain my weight puts on my joints

Why do you think you can't work your heart or upper body? There are lots of exercises you can do for your heart that are easy on your joints. The first that comes to mind is swimming, which is actually very good at training your heart. Biking also works if your knees can take it. Osgood-Schlatter disease runs in my family so I prefer to run instead.

When it comes to weight training, body weight exercises are a great place to start for people who have a lower weight than you. Because of your weight, it would probably be easier to just hit the weight room first and lift as heavy as you can without causing too much discomfort in your joints. When performed properly, all of the lifts you can do will not cause joint discomfort unless you do them excessively.

You will find that the more you work out the stronger your muscles and tendons get and your joints will even work better. But make sure that you are performing whatever exercise you do with proper form, because there are many types of movements that can really destroy your joints if you do them wrong. An example from this is the "bro squat." Squats are a safe and effective exercise when performed correctly, but when you let your knees go way beyond your toes and sink way past parallel, it puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your knees. You want your muscles to do more work than your joints in every oversize.

If weight loss is your goal, know that changing your diet is going to be more important than exercise; you should still exercise regularly but just know that eliminating thinks like soft drinks, fruit juice, and candy from your diet is going to go much further than exercise alone.

When it comes to achieving anyone's personal fitness goals, weight lifting is always going to be the most flexible choice. Find a friend who lifts and ask him to show you how to do some good exercises properly. Be careful about looking on the internet and watching other people in the gym - a lot of them don't know what they are doing. If you don't know which exercises to do, here are some to get you started that shouldn't cause you any trouble:

  1. Cardio: swimming - don't try to swim laps right away - work up to it. Any type of swimming is going to help your heart.
  2. Legs: leg presses, hamstring curls, and calf raises - squats are more effective than leg presses and hamstring curls, but they can be tough on people who have bad joints. Do these exercises instead until you are comfortable enough to start squatting. Having strong legs should help your knees and ankles considerably.
  3. Chest: bench press - start with just the bar. Have a friend show you how to do these properly. If your shoulders start hurting, this is probably because you are using bad form. If your elbows or wrists hurt, take a break.
  4. Core: hyper extensions, crunches, and leg raises - these exercises are super easy on all your joints but they are also very important - especially the hyper extensions, which work your lower back. A strong core means you are less likely to be injured when doing... anything really.
  5. Back: dumbbell rows, shrugs, lat pull downs - again these are really easy on your joints (when you start lifting heavy they can be hard on your fingers though). Having a strong back should help improve posture.
  6. Eat lean. Barring any metabolic problems like diabetes, your diet should be high in protein and carbs but low in sugar. Don't stress too much about eating fat - I would stay away from potato chips but steak and milk are totally fine.
  7. Take a break if your joints hurt: you can't make them stronger by hurting them and you will lose a lot of time if you injure them.

I have never tried yoga, but some people swear by it. It won't get you big and strong but they do a lot of core work and stretching which are plenty beneficial on their own. A lot of people swear by it, but you will need to find a cardio workout outside of yoga.

  • I think you forgot to mention the importance of vitamins and minerals. OP not only needs to consume his macronutrients , but he also needs his micronutrient. Hence, vegetable and fruits is a must.
    – Aizul
    Jun 19, 2015 at 1:46
  • @Aizul: Eh, the human body can get by on a surprising variety of diets without having to worry about micronutrients, particularly with exercise. Unless you're going on something extreme like veganism, Twinkie diets, or a raw food diet, you're generally pretty OK.
    – Sean Duggan
    Jun 19, 2015 at 3:42
  • @SeanDuggan It is true, but the one about the twinkie diet is done for 10 weeks ( roughly around 2 months ). What do you think if he does the twinkie diet for 3 years or more? Also, I don't think veganism is wrong. The one I think, that is absolutely wrong, is those vegan extremist, trying to force their ideals on people. Lastly, I stand by my point that micronutrients are still important.
    – Aizul
    Jun 19, 2015 at 4:09

Since you mention your weight, I'm going to assume that's the primary stressor of your joints (and not, say, repetition, or high velocity movement, like with tendon/ligament conditions).

Others have mentioned swimming, which takes the weight off your joints and is an excellent option.

There is another option, which works just as well - do cardio without the stepping/squatting/kicking. If you simply stand, or sit and do arm movements with speed and for a period of time, you are doing cardio. The reason a lot of leg movements get involved is that it's an easy way to raise the heart rate, however, it's not necessary to do so.

You can wave your arms around wildly, you can do martial arts, you can play drums, you can pretend to flag down airplanes - pretty much moving your arms around with no weight involved is relatively easy on the joints.

You can also lay on your back, and wave your arms and legs around for cardio.

You'll notice that a lot of the spin classes you're just biking, however, you're in a reclined position. Same principle applies.

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