By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer

Picture this scenario: you’re back in the gym after an extended layoff. Because you’ve been sidelined for a while, you find you’re not as strong at your usual exercises. So what do you? You tweak or modify exercises to make them a little easier.

We’ve all been there before. But making an exercise easier seems to come with a badge of shame. You think to yourself, “Ugh, I can’t do the real version.”


Guess what? There is no such thing as a real version of an exercise, plain and simple. All exercises can be done at varying degrees of difficulty.

Visualize exercises and their degree of difficulty on a graph going from easy to hard. An individual’s strength, endurance, coordination, pain threshold, and physical limitations (among other factors) will determine where they land on the spectrum. You do versions of exercises appropriate for you and where you are on the exercise graph.


1. Take It Easy
If you are just starting out, returning from a hiatus, or rehabbing from an injury or surgery, make sure you start with the least intense form of an exercise possible. Use it as starting point and progress by gradually increasing intensity.

• Do body weight only, or very light resistance exercises.

• Minimize the range of motion or do partial reps.

• Adjust the angle of an exercise to decrease the intensity or impact on bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

• Eliminate any jumping movements.

• Take longer rest periods during the workout.

2. Make Progress
As you get stronger, increase your exercise endurance, and feel you are ready for more, gradually (slowly) increase the intensity of an exercise or workout.

• Add resistance by using dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, cable machines, and other equipment while maintaining correct form.

• Increase the range of motion to eventually use the full range of motion.

• Adjust the angle of an exercise to make it harder to feel the healthy impact via muscle lactic acid burn, post-workout soreness, etc.

• Incorporate small jumping movements, gradually moving on to bigger jumping movements.

• Decrease rest periods (depending on the overall goal of workout and other factors).

3. Don’t Judge
Modifying is not a bad thing. It is a positive aspect of creating a workout that is right for YOU. It’s a snapshot of where you fall on the exercise graph and what you need to do to progress.

So stop negative habits of labeling where you are (or anyone else for that matter) on your fitness journey as bad or good. Anyone attempting anything challenging to improve their health and fitness – even if it may seem like a small feat – is doing better than if they were camped out on a recliner eating potato chips in front of the TV.

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Naomi-lighterBIOOne of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.

Go here to find out more about training with the NW Fitness Training Team!