One of the most valuable services a personal trainer can offer is suggesting exercise modifications and alternatives to address the specific needs of your body. This is especially true if you have been slacking for a while and your body doesn’t quite move like it did back in your glory days. Below are three simple variations you can immediately apply to your next workout. Try them out and see how they work for you.
The lat pulldown is typically performed with your palms facing forward, slightly wider than shoulder width. If you feel discomfort in your shoulders, try it with your palms facing towards you, about shoulder width apart. If your gym has a high row machine, this could also be a nice substitute.
Dumbbell Shoulder Press
You will often see the starting position of a Dumbbell Shoulder Press with the palms facing forward and elbows out to the sides.
Instead, try starting with the palms facing slightly inward, and the arms forward about 30º.
If you feel restriction in the neck or shoulders, or have difficulty pressing directly overhead without leaning back, try a single arm dumbbell press.
If that doesn’t help, omit this exercise until you have the mobility to do it smoothly and pain-free. Good alternatives might also include the landmine shoulder press, dumbbell front raise, dumbbell side raise, or pushups.
Barbell Biceps Curl
Looks simple enough, right? If you have trouble supinating your wrists, you may feel pain in your elbows, forearms, or wrists during a biceps curl.
Instead of using a straight bar, try an easy curl bar, which allows you to have your palms turned slightly inwards. Dumbbells should also be more comfortable, with a hammer curl being the least stressful variation.
Finally, you can omit biceps isolation exercises altogether and stick to pulling movements, such as pulldowns and rows, which will give you more bang for your buck anyway.
These small variations can make big differences and allow you to work through some minor issues, but don’t forget about the underlying problems that cause these difficulties in the first place. See a doctor if you’re in pain and add stretching or yoga if you have poor flexibility. Exercise should never cause joint pain or excessive discomfort (other than normal muscle fatigue). When using exercise tutorials, always consider the unique structure of your body and make adjustments where necessary.