Common Workout Modifications for Beginners

If you’re a beginner in the world of exercise, workout routines, fitness classes, and gym equipment can seem very daunting. No trainer would ever recommend that you begin with the hardest version of a workout, so try these modifications to ease yourself into some of the most common exercises.


Abdominal workouts are not easy, and while your abs are a fairly forgiving muscle group, sit-ups done improperly can lead to pulling muscles in your neck or injuring your back.

To modify the exercise, start by climbing your hands up your legs until you’re in a seated position, then slowly climb your way back down to the ground. This method allows you to gradually build up some strength in your abs necessary to complete a proper sit-up. You can also check out this modified sit-up option.


Even some workout fanatics don’t use proper form when doing push-ups, which is why it’s best to take baby steps into this exercise.

There are many modification options, including wall push-ups and knee push-ups. If neither works for you, try instead holding a plank, which will help build up arm and core strength.


Burpees are good for your body, but they are tough! For this reason, most trainers will ease you into burpees by breaking down the workout into steps.

Begin in a squat, then step out to a plank, hold for a second, then step back in and return to a squat. This is a great way to get started but won’t work for everyone. Feel free to tone burpees back to whatever you’re comfortable with and work your way up.


Even some seasoned athletes modify squats to spare their knees from additional stress. If you have bad knees or are just learning how to do this exercise, start by doing your squats up against a wall.

First, press your back against the wall and make sure your knees don’t go over your toes when you squat down and push back up. With this modification, you’re still benefiting from the workout without adding that unnecessary pressure to your knee joints.

Weighted Arm Workouts

Many individuals who are officially new to working may not have the arm strength necessary to complete weightlifting activities with proper form. When you add weight to a workout, you’re not only making it more challenging, but you’re also increasing your risk of injury.

For this reason, beginners should start without weights – and thoughtfully target muscles while going through the same motions. Trust us; you’ll still feel the effects. From here, ease your way into using light weights. The next logical step might be using water bottles, then 3-pounders, 5-pounders, etc. You can always push yourself, but when you feel that you’re compromising form, it’s important to tone it back.

Working out is challenging enough, so if you’re just getting started, don’t make things more complicated than you have to. As a beginner, it’s essential to listen to your body. If you’re unable to perform an exercise with proper form, modify it until you build up the necessary muscles. It’s much better to ease into these exercises than to end up injured!

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