If you’ve ever wanted to know how to scale a workout or modify it to fit your own personal level of fitness, here is your guide!
Workouts come in all shapes and sizes. Which is fitting, because so does the human body.
What this means is there isn’t a one size fits all workout that everyone should do.
There are a lot of general exercises that benefit human movement, and therefore all people can do those exercises, but when it comes to actual workout structure, this should always be scaled to your individual ability.
My Inspiyr Fitness Community program focuses on exactly this idea. I create workouts that utilize basic foundational movements that would benefit any human body, but then teach the members and give guidance how they can scale each workout to fit their own needs and fitness level. You can find our more here.
The way to scale any workout to any individual comes from a few different factors. These factors are weighs, reps, sets, and rest.
This should be pretty straight forward, but the weights you use will dictate the intensity of the workout. You can make it more challenging with more weight or less challenging with less weight. If you’re a beginner for example, and a workout prescribes an exercise with a lot of weight, simply reduce the weights to something you can handle.
Reps, or repetitions, is the amount of times you will lift the weight in each individual set. The amount of repetitions is usually based on the style of training you are doing or goal you are trying to achieve. However, this is also a simple way to modify and scale a workout.
For example, if a workout calls for 30 reps of something, but you can barely do 10, stick to what YOU can do. Or vice versa. If you are quite fit and don’t find the rep range challenging enough you can tack on a few reps to make it harder.
A side note: reps often play inversely with weights. Meaning, if you’re going to go for heavier weights in a workout, you’ll likely do less reps per set. Or if you’re using light weights, you can do more reps within each set.
A great option is to look at the required reps in the workout, and adjust the weights up or down to match your ability to complete the amount of reps prescribed.
This is how many rounds/sets you will do of each exercise. A classic workout will usually have around 3-5 sets per exercise.
Hopefully you get the gist of the scaling process by now and realize that if you’re new to a workout, or even struggling as you go, reduce the amount of sets you do to match your capacity. Or, if you finished the workout but still have gas in the tank, add another set to push a little more.
Last but not least, rest. Actually, last and most important, rest.
Rest is one of the most important factors of your workout. It’s a big factor for determining the intensity of the overall workout or even each individual set. It’s a tricky one and can get a little complicated because you can use both short rest periods and long rest periods to make a workout harder. It just depends on the programming goal.
But without going too far into programming techniques, the main thing you should think about for the average workout is getting enough rest to make the workout sustainable.
What this means that if you get half way through your workout and are completely wrecked, you probably didn’t rest enough or possibly went too aggressive one the first 3 variables we talked about.
However, rest too much (like talking or texting between every set) and you could lose the effectiveness of the workout.
For most people, just focus on using enough rest to feel strong again for the next set of your workout. AND to be able to complete the full workout without killing yourself.
As you can likely see, there are TONS of ways to manipulate these 4 workout variables to get plenty of variation in your workout routine.
Keep following my blogs and I will soon be launching a tool to help you with scaling workouts to make sure you’re getting the most from your training!
If you’re totally new to exercise I suggest starting with my free ebook “Become Consistent with your Workout Routine”.
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