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Plus Size Exercise Modifications for Beginners – Why is it Different?

As a plus-size person trying to meet your weight loss goals, the experience of joining a gym or workout class – whether it’s a yoga class or a spin class – may feel a little intimidating. Whether you’re a plus-size man or a plus-size woman, some people find it difficult to keep up. Therefore, during your intense workout or exercise class, you need to be realistic about what you can do and modify the exercises accordingly.

Any exercise, including online exercise, can be modified to suit your fitness level, and you need not feel bad about it. In fact, if you can’t properly do the workout, it is in your best interest to modify it. This will prevent injury, and you will be less sore and more motivated to continue working out. After all, you should be enjoying your fitness journey – not nursing injuries on a continual basis.

Why is it Different for Plus-Size People?

Exercise is different for plus-size people because they have bigger bodies. This means certain movements may not work because different areas of the body get in the way. It doesn’t mean you have failed at your fitness objectives, it just means that you need to do things differently.

You need to find a movement that works for your larger body type. This isn’t making excuses; it’s learning to take your physical well-being into your own hands and become proactive.

Regrettably, many people in the fitness industry cater to those who have smaller bodies. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t modify a certain workout routine. These programs fail to account for those who are plus size, and whose legs, stomach, or other parts of their body don’t permit them to do a specific exercise. This makes people feel like they don’t belong and discourages body positivity.

While you may feel like something is wrong with your body, it is not. The exercise is wrong for your body and simply requires modification. Keep in mind that just because you decide to modify an exercise, it doesn’t make the movement itself easier. It simply creates a better fit for your shape.

How do I Change the Dynamic in my Mind?

Most things in life begin with our thought process. We can be self-conscious and afraid of how others may body shame us. Yet while you hear stories of body shaming, it doesn’t have to be this way. People who body shame reflect more about themselves than the person they are trying to bring down. Furthermore, people body shame others for many different reasons, not only because they are overweight. 

Just because you need to modify an exercise does not mean you have somehow failed. Exercises were meant to be done in a safe manner to avoid injury. If you are unable to do an exercise one way, don’t be afraid to modify it for your body type.

To change the dynamic in your head, tell yourself the modification is temporary, and that you just aren’t there…yet.

When we use absolutes like always or never, it limits our thinking. We become discouraged at our own lack of perceived progress or we feel limited–when the person limiting us is ourselves. When we place “yet” at the end of a sentence, we temporarily accept a limitation, but we aren’t limiting ourselves by our own words.

We are simply saying that while presently we can’t do it, we probably will be able to as we reach our fitness goals.

Make Your Goals Realistic

When you set your fitness or workout goals, make sure they are achievable for your body. As you set your goals, take body size and weight out of your equation. Allow yourself to set goals independent of your body size. Focus on doing a certain number of reps in an exercise or working out for so many minutes at a time. Adjust your goals from there.

Even if your body size doesn’t change, there are benefits to exercising, like reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, decreasing cholesterol, improving sleep, improving cardiovascular health, and gaining physical strength. These are all good things. Pay attention to how your body is changing through the fitness routine and measure success that way.

Modified Exercise Suggestions

Here are some modified exercises you can try:

  1. Pilates – Modifications for Pilates movements are simple. To modify the roll up, roll down instead of up. You can modify the hundred and scissors by putting a ball under your sacrum and keeping your head flat. It’s okay if you have to use a wider hip-distance for some movements. For yoga poses and a lot of other helpful suggestions, check out Noom and Healthi. They are great weight loss apps for people beginning a fitness journey.
  2. Indoor Rowing – Overweight individuals can modify this exercise, which is good for the core when you incorporate long and slow strokes. The greater the distance the handle moves, the better the stroke. The slow aspect allows for a rest in between strokes. Begin with short sets (24) and work your way up.
  3. Spinning – If you join a spin class, arrive 10 minutes early so you can get set up on your bike. Ask your instructor to walk you through various leg and hand positions. Learn how to adjust the resistance and discuss heart rate. This will help you in your journey.

Modifications in plus-size exercise aren’t difficult. Most times, you can use your imagination. Begin with a level that you’re comfortable with but still find challenging. You don’t want it to be too easy or you won’t progress. But you also don’t want it to be too hard, because you may injure yourself. And remember, half the battle is in our own mind, so practice positive self-talk.

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