There are some exercises out there that seem to be in every workout plan , fitness class, or group workout. Of course, they are absolutely effective, but why not take it a step further? Here are a few modifications that I have been putting on my exercises lately in various bootcamps and training sessions with clients.
I remember doing these in grade school during PE. They were always part of the warm up. This is an exercise (one of many, really) that I definitely did not respect back then. Now, when I add it to workouts, I am always surprised how high my heart rate gets, and how my arms start to burn from holding myself up. To take it that extra step, try putting felt squares underneath your feet. Instead of picking them up each time, just slide your feet back and forth. This will cause you to really use your core to keep yourself stable (and still moving!) The only caveat to this is you need to be on a smooth surface, like wood or tile. You really can’t do it outside on the concrete. If you are doing it on carpet, substitute ziploc bags for the felt. You should feel the same effects.
Pushups are not easy for me. I can do about 10, but then I am spent. Lately, I have been adding a simple pulse at the end to help increase my endurance. When I do them, I start on my hands and knees, then lower down. Once my chest is as low to the ground as possible, I push out two tiny pulses, then raise myself back up to the starting position. It is amazing the amount my body burns my adding those two little pulses!
These are another blast from the past for me. The key to wall sits is really dropping low, and keeping your legs as close to a 90 degree angle as possible. To make this a little more difficult, grab a 10+ pound weight, and hold it over your head for the duration of the wall sit, keeping your arms as straight as possible. Your arms, legs, and core will all have to be engaged to make this exercise effective. If you want to take it a step further, raise one of your legs for a few seconds at a time, and then switch sides. Both are great modifications to an exercise that can be done just about anywhere.
Planks are one of the exercises that everyone should add to their routine – they are so great for stability and achieving a very strong core. To spice it up a bit, add in a little wrap-around to your plank. Envision you are planking on your right side, so you right arm is on the ground stabilizing you. Raise you left arm up, and then wrap it around your stomach, almost as if you are trying to scratch a place on your back that you just can’t reach. Simultaneously twist your core, and then untwist. This is tough, but, wow, it works!
Slow it down
Many exercises that are popular right now all ask that workouts are completed for time, so doing them as fast as possible is advised. Every once in a while, do completely the opposite – slow down the rate at which you complete each repetition. For example, when doing a squat, lower down super slow, hold it, and then raise back up at the same pace. Continue on in this manner for the entire set. This can be done with nearly every exercise – lunges, pushups, triceps dips, etc. If you are looking for that long, slow burn, slowing down your pace is an easy way to achieve it!
On the opposite side, if you are ever in a situation where the exercise is too difficult with one of these modifications, take it back to the basics so you can complete the exercise with good form, rather than suffering through it.
What modifications do you like to do to make an exercise more or less difficult?