When it comes to starting an exercise program it's easy to become overwhelmed. You see what other people are doing and feel that you are too unfit to do it. You may have obstacles (not excuses) standing in your way because no one has showed you how to work around them. Whether it's an injury, medical condition or your stage of life, you don't know how to take that first step forward. Beginners exercise modifications is a way for you to scale back or change the workout to get you started with exercise.
A great way to get fit as a beginner is strength training. Now this isn't the scary, big muscle, bulky bloke image you might have in mind right now. Strength Training is about providing resistance to movements to improve muscle strength. You can use dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells or even your bodyweight. Small weights to begin and building up resistance.
Now incase you are worried about lifting weights and getting too bulky. As a woman is very difficult to get bulky from weight lifting as we don't have the testosterone hormones to support that growth. You can get some strong, toned and lean muscles with consistent training.
In fitness, there is term called progressive overload where you gradually add more resistance, effort or work to encourage your muscles to adapt. This adaptation is how you get fitter.
To get you started with exercise, modifications are your tool. They are not a sign of weakness or being slack. They are a strategy to help us slowly build muscle strength taking into consideration those obstacles in your way.
Reasons you may need to modify exercise
Modifications can be for a whole range of reasons and are often a reason you avoid exercise. How often have you said "I can't exercise because.... (insert example). I would love for you to know there is a way for you to participate in exercise and life.
Pregnancy: Exercise in pregnancy is safe with some simple modifications to protect you and baby. It benefits you as you are able to ease and prevent pain as your body adjusts to the increased load. You can also prepare for the upcoming birth which can be referred to a marathon.
Following Childbirth: It is important for you to ease back into exercise, especially intense exercise following childbirth. There is a misconception at 6 weeks you return to normal activity. However, there is exercise you can safely perform before 6 weeks and focus on easing back in after your six week check.
Surgery: Women generally have a high incidence of abdominal surgeries in their lifetime. This can range from endometriosis treatment, IVF egg collection, C-sections, hysterectomy and many more. There are ways to modify workouts to ease you back into exercise after surgery and avoid pressure on surgery sites.
Injury: If you sustain an injury, there is a way you can still exercise. If you injure your lower body, focus on upper body. Injure your upper body, work on your core and lower body.
Medical Conditions: For example, High or Low Blood Pressure, Diabetes etc. You can select exercises that do not aggravate the medical condition, slow it down, take more rest.
Fatigue and Stress: Exercise is a tool to assist with mental health. If we are already fatigued, avoiding high intensity exercise can help calm the nervous system.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse: This needs to be a blog on it's own about all the ways you can be supported to exercise with a prolapse. Fear around everything falling out or leaking is a huge barrier to exercise but know there is support with a Women's Health Physio and exercise modification to get you back to some of your favourite activities.
Pelvic Floor Weakness: It still surprises me to hear women joke about how normal it is to pee themselves with activity. There is help available to rebuild these muscles by focusing on the core, pelvic floor and breathing to stop the leaks. Modify and slowly build to help bring back confidence in jumping, laughing and sneezing.
How you can modify exercise
There are some basic principles that apply across many of the reasons for exercise modifications.
Positioning - This is the biggest way you can modify your workout to suit your needs. Exercises can be completed seated, with a chair to incline your body to take pressure off, side lying for pregnancy or if you have back pain. There are so many ways to move and choose a position to suit.
Exercise choices - choose exercises that support your goals and do not aggravate your injury, condition etc.
Change weights - Start small and increase weights as they become easier.
Slow down tempo - It is more important to teach your body to go through the full range of movement in an exercise than doing them fast. Take your time, ease into the full range then add some speed.
Time of workout - Start with 10 minutes and build up the time based on your energy levels, how easily you complete the exercises and your time available.
Focus workouts on your individual needs - You don't need to stress about running lots if you have no reason to be able to run long distances. You also don't need high intensity exercise if your goal is to function better and enjoy life.
Now you have a better understanding of ways to modify exercises you can overcome these obstacles standing in your way of moving your body. I am here to support you in my Fit and Fearless Programs that provide workouts with modifications and coaching in our closed Facebook Group.
Contact me if you would like to know more on how to get started with beginners exercise modifications.
Join our Fit & Fearless Program to build strength, confidence and overall fitness so you can enjoy life without pain or fear.