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Easy Modifications for STRONGER’s Toughest Moves

author image Rachel Grice
Rachel Grice is a contributing fitness editor for and a certified yoga instructor. Previously, she was the science section editor and titling associate for several other sections of Demand Media Studios, including fitness, nutrition and technology. She completed her undergrad education at the University of Southern California and has worked for Men's Health, FitPregnancy and People magazines.

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Easy Modifications for STRONGER’s Toughest Moves
Ready to get STRONGER with celebrity trainer Nicky Holender? Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

Are you ready to get STRONGER? LIVESTRONG.COM’s video workout series with Nicky Holender will help you build muscle and burn calories. If you’re new to working out or have injuries or weaknesses, you might be struggling with some of the moves. That’s OK! As long as you’re sticking with the workouts, you’ll see results. But if you’re a little lost on how to modify some of the moves to allow for your fitness level or injuries, keep reading for some suggestions that will make things a bit easier.

Modifications for Pain and Injury
Listen to your body! Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

Modifications for Pain and Injury

Bottom line: If it hurts, don’t do it. Not even these modifications — and especially not if you have an injury. If you have a shoulder injury, swap in a lower-body exercise. If you’re experiencing wrist pain, make sure you’re using proper form, and then ease off the push-ups and planks for a while until your wrists get stronger. If you have weak knees or hips, don’t go as deep in any of the lunge or squat moves. If you can’t do the move at all, try marching in place or substituting a move from any of the other STRONGER workouts that you’re able to perform.

Read more: 9 Exercises That Can Hurt Your Knees (And How to Modify Them)

Modifications for Beginners
Beginners can still get a great workout. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

Modifications for Beginners

If you’re just starting on your fitness journey or coming back after a long hiatus, start slowly. Replace most of the jumps with simply stepping through a move. When it comes to plyometrics, stay on the ground and do the moves with intensity, but don’t leave the ground until you’re ready. And when you hit the second part of the challenge (weeks five through eight), feel free to repeat weeks one through four until you’re feeling strong enough to progress.

1. Lateral Doggies
Here's how to modify lateral doggies. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

1 Lateral Doggies

You’re sure to be dog-tired after just 60 seconds of this exercise. The full version of this move has you running side to side and bending down to touch the floor with your outside hand. But if you’re concerned about keeping your knees safe, slow it down a few notches, especially when you’re changing directions. Make it more like a gentle, side-to-side shuffle, keeping your knees only slightly bent. And don’t bend to touch the floor.

Read more: What Is the 8-Week STRONGER Fitness Challenge and How Do I Join?

2. Crab Walk Shuffle
Here's how to modify the crab walk shuffle. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

2 Crab Walk Shuffle

Don’t let this move leave you crabby! If you can’t yet do the full version of the move (facing upward, balancing on hands and feet with hips raised high and walking back and forth), hold the crab position isometrically. If your wrists hurt, make sure they’re pointing away from your body. And if that still hurts, try balancing on closed fists or substituting with a glute bridge instead. Progress only when you can maintain position for 45 seconds. And remember that you can also use this modification for the flipping crab move.

3. Burpees
Here's how to modify burpees. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

3 Burpees

It seems that no one looks forward to burpees. And that goes double for newbies or those with injuries. To modify, start by stepping back into the burpee at a slower pace instead of jumping. An even easier modification than the one shown in STRONGER would be to perform them on an incline, with your hands up on a bench/step/chair/couch instead of all the way on the floor. If this is still too difficult, simply do squats to strengthen your legs. When squats become easy, then progress to one of the other modified burpees. You can also do this modification for single-leg burpees and burpee knee taps.

Read more: 15 New Burpees You Must Try

4. Hop Switch Pulse
Here's how to modify the hop switch pulse. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

4 Hop Switch Pulse

The lunge and all its variations are great for sculpting a lean, strong lower body. But if you have weakened or injured knees, they sure can worsen the pain. And the slight jump in this move puts a lot of pressure on your joints. If you have knee issues, don’t go as deep in the lunge and take out the hop. Even just tiny pulses up and down will help you feel the burn and torch those calories! Or skip the pulses all together and swing your arms side to side, remembering to engage your abs.

5. Breakdance Thruster
Here's how to modify the breakdance thruster. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

5 Breakdance Thruster

If you’re not quite ready to bust out your inner ’80s breakdancer, try one of these modifications. You can skip the one-arm dance part and just squat down, step back, lift one arm (so you’re still getting the core benefit), and then reverse. If that’s still too difficult, try a standing variation of curtsy jumping jacks. From standing, jump one foot behind the other leg as if you’re curtsying and raise your arms overhead. Jump back to standing and proceed to the other side. Or you can simply step through this range of motion.

Read more: 10 Free Workouts to Get You Fitter and Stronger

6. Rain Dance Warrior
Here's how to modify rain dance warrior. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

6 Rain Dance Warrior

Anyone who’s been through the STRONGER workouts knows just how brutal this move can be! If this one is hurting your knees, step through the turns instead of jumping and don’t bend down as far. You’ll start by facing the front. Step to face the right side, step to face the rear, step to face the left and then step to face the front again. Once you get back to the start, reverse the direction. If you can’t do this modification, try static squats that are a little less deep.

7. Prisoner Squat Jacks
Here's how to modify prisoner squat jacks. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

7 Prisoner Squat Jacks

Any kind of squat is great for your booty! And that holds true even for modifications like this one. Start standing with your feet a few inches apart and your knees slightly bent. Keep your hands out to the side for balance and step rather than jump. You’ll step both feet out to a squat, and then step both feet together — all while keeping your knees bent. And as with any of the other squat-based moves, you can lessen the depth of the squat to a point that is comfortable for your knees.

8. Nicky One-Hundreds
Here's how to modify the Nicky one-hundreds. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

8 Nicky One-Hundreds

Here it is: Nicky Holender’s signature full-body strength move crafted just for the STRONGER workouts. There’s a lot going on in this one, but stick with it and you’ll see results quickly. Here’s how to do a low-impact version: Start standing. Step your feet back to a plank, and then step them back to your hands and stand up. Step your feet back to a plank, and then do four mountain climbers. Step back up to standing. Finish with two squats, adjusting the depth to your ability level. You’ll be going a bit slower, but you’ll still feel your muscles working.

Read more: 16 STRONGER Motivations from Top Trainer Nicky Holender

9. Semi Pistol Squats
Here's how to modify semi pistol squats. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

9 Semi Pistol Squats

Pistol squats are one of the hardest squat variations, since you have to balance on just one leg. And even the semi pistol squat in STRONGER can be a real challenge. So try this modification: Do regular squats, but balance on the toes of one foot to make the other leg work harder. You can also put a chair behind you for support as you progress.

10. Plank Jack Runs
Here's how to modify plank jack runs. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

10 Plank Jack Runs

This move combines strength, cardio and a little bit of plyometrics. But if you’re just not ready for the full version — which starts in a plank, has you jump your feet up to your hands and then run your feet back to the start — try one of these modifications. Instead of sprinting, do mountain climbers. Stay in a push-up position and bring your knees to your chest one at a time. To progress, instead of the jump from the full version, simply step your feet up to your hands and then walk your feet back.

11. Box Climbers
Here's how to modify box climbers. Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

11 Box Climbers

Think of this one as basically a two-footed mountain climber. For the full version, you start in a plank, jump your feet up to your hands and then jump back into a plank. Talk about a core workout! But if you’re feeling it too much in your knees, step your feet through the movement instead of jumping.

Read more: Join the STRONGER Challenge on Facebook

What Do YOU Think?
Tell us what you think about STRONGER! Photo Credit: Travis McCoy/LIVESTRONG.COM

What Do YOU Think?

Have you tried the STRONGER workouts yet? Which of the moves were the hardest? Did you modify any of the exercises? Do these modifications help? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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