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Modifications Made Simple

Funny fitness woman playing with her towel, humorous girl, isolated on whiteDo ever feel like you’re killing yourself in boot camp? I always suggest that you modify your exercises so that you DON’T kill yourself.

But – Winter is the season of the kneeless pushup. The reason for this is simple, yet strong. I believe in your strength. I have watched some of you modify to the extreme, and to the detriment of your strength gains. I want you to believe in yourself as much as I do. I want to see you reap the benefits of strength—the power, the fiery metabolism, the sculpted arms, back and chest. So I ask you to extend your body long.

But what if you still need to modify?

There are countless variations on pushups as you know—uneven, close-grip, diamond, Hindu, archer, and so on. In months that DON’T begin with an F (ahem) going from your feet to your knees in a pushup means shortening your lever. (Psst—your body is the lever.) The shorter the lever, the lighter the load. This works for rows and pulls on the TRX too! It’s no coincidence that the strongest people in the world are typically diminutive in height.

Here are additional options, whether you’re pushing up or conquering moves on the TRX suspension trainer—

  1. Get with gravity. That’s right. The more horizontal you are, whether in a plank position for pushing up on the floor or for rowing on the suspension trainer, the heavier your load. But get your body more vertical, and now you’re using gravity to your modification advantage. For pushups and their endless variations (think: uneven) go to the stage, get a couple chairs, use the windowsill or wall. For rows of all kinds on the TRX, you get vertical by stepping away from your anchor point—the wall or the door, as the case may be
  2. Widen your base. Spread those feet wide. Hands too, if applicable. This is another way to shorten your lever
  3. Do fewer reps. If you are challenging yourself sufficiently with the modification you’ve chosen and you are getting shaky by rep number eight, that is fantastic. If your instructor has asked for twenty reps, chop your twenty into bite-sized chunks. Eight, rest, eight, rest, four. Ten, rest, ten. Five, rest, five, rest, five, rest, five, and, well, you get the picture
  4. Pace yourself. Catch your breath— between rounds in an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible), between exercises in a set, and like #3 above, even between reps of a single exercise. Hydrate too. Walk around. Shake it out, then get back to work

The reverse is true to challenge yourself further. Elevating your lower body for pushups makes them harder. These, as you might know, are decline pushups. Raise your feet high enough and you’re doing shoulder presses—handstand pushups. In TRX-land, touching your feet to the door or wall when you’re rowing or pulling makes the move wicked hard.

Placing your feet close together also increases the challenge on pushups and rows. You can increase your challenge further by decreasing your points of contact with the floor. Lift up one leg. This adds a core challenge because you have to resist rotating. Furthermore, resting less between sets works your cardiovascular system turning any resistance training routine into killer cardio.

Like it says in the House Rules we just posted, speak up if you need to. If you’re finding a move impossible, ask for a substitute. Most of you do this already, but if you tend to keep mum, or worse, panic that there’s no way you can accomplish what we’re offering, please know we are here to assist you.

I hope this post can serve as a template for you in your boot camp experience, whether you need to modify what’s on the menu or add a little spice. Who knows, by Spring you might not even need to be on your knees.

Happy camping!

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