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Work Smarter, Not Harder: Modifications for Beginners, the Injured, and the Elderly

No two bodies are alike. So it stands to reason that no two workouts should be alike, either. While there’s a lot of stress on “ideal” workout routines and forms, the truth of the matter is that there are a lot of ways to modify workouts based on the needs of the people doing them. So whether you’re a senior, recovering from an injury or just starting out, there are all kinds of ways you can modify exercises to make them work for you and not against you on your fitness journey. Here’s just a few.

If you’re a beginner or recovering from injury, the important thing is to ditch your ego and think about your future self. Pushing yourself through exercises that strain your body is bad for you in the long run. It’s better to do what you need to do so you can keep going to your local gym year after year. If you’re recovering from an injury, please consult with your doctor about exercise before you begin.

Push Ups: If you can’t do a full push-up from plank position, shift to your knees. As you get stronger, you can transition to a full plank position. You might also try doing push-ups from a ledge or a bench, because it’s easier to push yourself back up and work on your form when your body isn’t parallel to the ground.

Squats: When you do squats, are your knees turning inward or your heels rising off the floor? If so, find a chair or bench and perform your squats from them. Make sure your knees stay over your ankles. Just lightly sit and then lift yourself back up. It’s a little easier on you while still building up your strength and form.

Planks: As simple as planks are, they offer a multitude of ways to modify. The simplest methods for modifying the plank are to use your forearms, your knees, or even to be elevated on a bench or chair. As above, this will help you build your strength and form without straining your system past the breaking point.

If you’re an older adult, a few simple equipment-free strength training exercises can help you stay strong and energetic. Resistance training can help you better control and manage symptoms of chronic pain, disease and depression, and can even help you with posture and stability – a strong deterrent against falls. Try these exercises, and don’t be afraid to consult with Fitness Connection experts on more exercises that might be right for you.

Lying Hip Bridges: Work your glutes and open up your hips with this simple exercise. Just lie flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back, squeeze your glutes and push your hips up into the air. Make sure you push with your entire foot! Hold, then slowly return to your start position with your back flat on the ground.

Squats to Chair: Similar to the squat modification above, this is using a chair or bench to perform squats. Stand with your feet at hip-width in front of a chair. Keeping your chest upright, push your hips back and lower yourself down onto your chair. Tap or rest your glutes before pushing through your feet to return to start. This is an excellent way to strengthen your core and entire lower body.

Wall Push-Ups: This simple exercise will work wonders on your upper body strength. Stand about two feet from the wall, or closer if you need to make the exercise easier. Put your hands against the wall at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart. Keeping your body straight, bend your elbows diagonally and lower your chest to the wall. Your heels should lift off the floor. Hold, then press through your hands to your start position.

But no matter your circumstances, take your time. Slowing down instead of speeding up ensures that you stick to proper form, and doesn’t push you past your limits. As always, if you have any questions about your workout routine, don’t be afraid to come to your local Fitness Connection! We love helping people meet their fitness goals.