Whether it’s okay to change or even swap out exercises is something that everybody who works out has to figure out at some point. Here’s how to modify the exercises in your program to better suit your needs!
It’s Monday, and your workout says to do a certain exercise, but you’re pretty sure you can’t make it happen. There can be many reasons. It could be an injury or physical limitation holding you back, or maybe you just don’t have the necessary equipment. Whatever the reason, everybody who exercises regularly has to cross this bridge at one point.
So what’s the answer? It’s definitely OK to modify exercises! Modifying an exercise simply allows you to tailor a workout to your individual fitness level and unique needs.
Here’s a mantra worth remembering in your training: There are no magic movements, nor are there any mandatory exercises. Nobody has to deadlift with a barbell, squat a certain way, or press a certain type of weights overhead. Whatever hits the muscles you’re targeting and feels safe for your body can work just fine.
Don’t worry; this isn’t something you need to figure out on your own. With most of our V Shred programs, like the follow-along workouts in the home version of Fat Loss Extreme, or in the follow-along workouts in our Facebook Women’s Group, your instructor will offer up some alternate versions. And if you’re following one of our gym-based plans like Clean Bulk, all you have to do is perform similar movements and base modifications on your fitness level and what equipment you have available at your gym.
Exercise modification examples:
- If doing a dumbbell bench press feels better than using plates and a flat bench, go for it!
- If the shoulder press machine is occupied, use dumbbells instead
- If you can’t do pull-ups on your own yet, use an assisted pull-up machine or bands to help you get your reps
If you are having a hard time with an exercise, it’s also possible that you don’t need to modify it. You may simply need to explore if there are ways you can make the prescribed exercise more stable. For example, if your balance is holding you back on lunges, you could do split squats with both feet on the ground, use a Smith machine, or hold onto something for support.
No, this isn’t cheating! If it allows you to perform the exercise with better form, and safely push the intensity, then it’s a superior version for you, at this point in your journey.
You Still Need to Challenge Yourself!
All of what we just said comes with one caveat: modifications aren’t an excuse to water down the intensity of an exercise just because it challenges you.
Modifications should only be used if you are experiencing pain, aren’t feeling a good mind-muscle connection, lack equipment, or need to progress your way up to the prescribed exercise.
Working out is all about challenging yourself and building new abilities. If you can, always give the prescribed exercise a chance. Then, if it’s not a fit for you, use modifications as long as you need them.
Is soreness a reason to modify an exercise?
Sometimes, you may think you need to modify an exercise because it makes you sore in the days following a workout. That’s possible, but not necessarily the case. To ensure that you are properly recovering after every workout, take a hard look at the way you’re eating.
If you’re winging it in the kitchen, the macronutrient calculator in the V Shred app for Apple or Android can help you dial in your calories and macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fats — and customize it for your body type, age, goal and activity level. Drinking BCAAs before a workout has also been shown in studies to help combat muscle soreness before it happens.
Still Unsure How To Modify Your Exercise Program?
And if you still feel unqualified to make these kinds of decisions, we get it.
It takes years to build that kind of knowledge. Working one-on-one with a qualified V Shred nutritionist or coach could be the thing you need to get you there faster.