When to Modify Exercises

Jul 25, 2022

 by Blair Rockoff

We all know that each individual is unique, and no two people have exactly the same exercise background, build, or appearance. So why would we expect that every person should perform exercises in exactly the same way? Sure, the goal is always to perfect our form, but sometimes the better alternative is to modify the movement to better suit your body. Here are some quick tips for when and how to modify!

When you've never performed the exercise before: if a movement is new to you, modify and make it easier until you build up the strength! How to modify: it's really tough to jump right into doing a new movement, take pull-ups, for example. Try scap-pulls or negatives to get started. These are "easier" modifications of the pull-up that work the same muscle groups and can help you build the strength you need for full pull-ups.

When an exercise causes you pain: Discomfort is normal when working out, but ongoing pain is different. If you feel pain during a particular movement it's time to change things up. How to modify: first, if you're experiencing chronic pain, getting the support of a doctor is always a good call. If you're cleared to work out, modify movements that cause pain by easing up on the weight, shortening the range of motion, or choosing a different movement altogether. For example, if a bent over row causes pain in your low back, try an inverted row instead. Or if a goblet squat causes pain in the knees, try squatting to a bench instead and not sitting quite as deep. Again, you're working the same muscle groups but in a slightly different way.

When you're fatigued from a previous workout: When fatigue sets in, it's beneficial to rest. If you're still itching to work out, try modifying some of the movements so that you don't cause additional stress to the body or push yourself towards an injury. For example, if your quads are still burning from those weighted lunges from two days ago, try some bodyweight lunges to get the blood flowing but with less intensity. This way you'll recover more quickly and be back to heavy lunges again in no time!