Can I Still Get Results by Modifying My Workout? While workouts should mirror proper form, exercise is not about PERFECTION. It's about EFFORT.

Many people think that because they have some physical limitations due to bad knees, an injured shoulder or arthritis (for example) they are unable to exercise or engage in many of the Beachbody workouts.

I'm here to tell you differently!

modifying a workout
modifying a workout

As a young person, I tore my body up playing soccer. It's an incredibly physical sport and I gave it my all, and my body pays for it now that I'm older. There are days that exercise of any sort is tremendously painful, but I power on through, often with modifications to standard moves.

Fitness isn't about trying to perfectly perform each and every move you see in Insanity or P90X. All of the expert trainers will tell you that you have to pay attention to your body. Those painful messages your joints are sending you mean something.

Should you completely back off? No.

Should you attempt to modify your motion so it's not aggravating an old/new problem? Yes!

It's pretty difficult to know how to properly modify your exercise so that it's still effective, but not continuing to damage your physical health. That's where all of the Beachbody trainers come into play. Not only do you see the hard-core move during the workouts, but the trainers also instruct you in other exercises that may be kinder to your body, but still achieve results.

For instance, in the 21 Day Fix, Kat continuously does the modified exercises during the workout, providing viewers with an easy example of how to adjust the plan to their needs. Other DVDs give similar examples.

Kat 21 Day Fix
Kat 21 Day Fix

And, some workouts are automatically a little easier on your joints. PiYo, for example, focuses on using your own body as weight resistance and utilizes low-impact exercises to build muscle and burn fat. The newly released P90 program is geared for all levels of fitness, including exercisers who may have injuries or other issues that have prevented them from other forms of working out.

As you're learning to modify your motions during a workout, you should focus on two simple criteria:

  1. Comfort: Your movement should be pain-free, natural and conducive to your current physical limitations
  2. Control: You should be able to demonstrate the technique or positioning with ease

Overall, if you are looking for some ways to start modifying simple workout moves, try these examples:

  • Squat: The squat requires ankle, hip and thoracic spine mobility, along with foot, knee and lumbar spine stability. If you have knee injuries, consider only going 2/3 of the way down and leaning slightly forward. If problems persist, try lunges, instead, which may be easier on your knees. Wall squats or slow front kicks (raise knee up, then kick straight out) are also effective alternatives.
  • Push-up: The push-up requires upper body strength in the arms, shoulders and chest. Take some of the pressure off by doing knee push-ups, instead. Or, rotate your hands at a 90- or 180-degree angle to change the muscle groups worked during the push-up and alleviate some shoulder or back aggravation. Planks are also good replacements, as long as they don't irritate back issues.
  • Jumps: Various forms of jumping exercises focus on balance, leg strength, knee flexibility and ankle stability. If injuries make these exercises uncomfortable, do full floor-to-ceiling stretches extending your body as much as possible.
  • High knee extensions: These work leg, buttocks and core muscles and can cause irritation to knee injuries. Substitute knee strikes, where you lift your knee and touch it to the opposite elbow. This does not require as high of extension of your leg, but still achieves similar results.
  • Mountain climbers: Mountain climbers can tax your wrists, knees and ankles, along with putting pressure on your back. Reduce pain issues by doing towel slides (place towels under your toes) and complete the exercise with lower impacts. Take breaks to reduce strain on your wrists, along with reducing the distance you move your feet to ease wrist issues.
  • Modifications ACL Back Issues
  • Planks: Planks are fairly low impact, but can irritate a bad back or unstable ankles. You can do one-legged planks and take pressure off ankles one at a time, as an alternative. And, doing several repetitions, instead of longer intervals can diminish back pain associated with the exercise.

Sometimes, all that you need to do during a workout that seems extra taxing on your limitations is to just take it at a slower pace.

Even if you only get 10 reps in instead of 25, that's better than not doing it at all.

Depending on your injuries or physical issues, building strength, increasing your balance and enhancing your core will minimize your symptoms, reduce pain and help your body heal itself.

When you realize that fitness is not about perfection, but about progress as a result of EFFORT, nothing can hold you back -- not even those physical limitations you've been using as an excuse!