Move Monday: Modifications

I am pretty immune to the crazy looks and stares I get at the gym these days. I can’t decide if it’s because people think I’m just going to lay down and have the baby AT the gym or just because people can’t help but stare at pregnant women. I’ll admit it – I stare at them too.

Sam and Dean staring

I mostly wonder if people are thinking “Is that safe?” because honestly, if I didn’t know better, I would probably wonder the same thing! I feel like I should wear a shirt that says “I’m modifying my workouts!” because since I hit 13 weeks (and even before then) I’ve modified almost every single one of them.

It’s important to note that modifying my workouts doesn’t make them easy or less intense. It just means that I am able to do exercises using proper form without risking harm to myself or my baby. Sometimes I have to learn the hard way what works (like when I attempted to do burpees a few weeks ago. I think it took me about 10 minutes to get up off the floor, and no I did not actually do said burpee) and sometimes I know outright that I’m just not going to be able to do it.

How do I modify?

As my body and bump have grown, there are definitely certain moves that I cannot comfortably do or do without risk of falling over. It happens. I’ve accepted it and instead of just skipping a workout, I attempt to find other moves that still work out the same muscle group.

For example… here’s the HIIT Lean Workout that Melissa posted last week.


(Stolen from Melissa, of course)

I did this workout on Saturday (from home) and while the general concept of the workout was the same, I modified the crap out of it. This is everything I could and couldn’t do.



Umm – so there was obviously a lot that I needed to change!  In the end, the workout was completely different. But the concept (8 reps for 8 sets) remained and I still feel like I worked the same muscle groups she did. Just in a different.


PS – Melissa’s picture is much prettier than mine.

Here’s what I changed — and why:

  • I knew going into the workout that I wouldn’t be able to do the one-legged deadlifts, so I changed those just regular straight left deadlifts AND I added static lunges (with weights on my shoulders) – a set on each side.
  • The lunges replaced the narrow squats. There’s nothing “narrow” going on with my body right now. 
  • I also knew that my wrist was not going to cooperate with me and pushups are now OUT of the lineup (boo!) so I changed the tricep pushups to tricep extensions. No, it’s not the same as a pushup, but it works for the time being.
  • While I was doing my first set, I realize that because of my carpal tunnel, I also can’t do overhead presses (again, boo – this is one of my favorite moves). It just hurts my left arm way too much. Knowing that I still wanted to add a shoulder exercise, I switched the clean and press to just squats and then as a separate move I added a front lateral raise (a set on each side).
  • Because I did the squats already, I decided not to do them the second time (my legs were already dead as it was!) and just did hammer curls.

Where do I find my modifications?

There are  a few places I search when looking up workouts because they provide extensive explanations about both the anatomy of the move and provide how-to videos:

If I really can’t find ANYTHING at those 4 sites, I will just do a simple Google/YouTube search.

Who should modify their workouts?

ANYONE. While I’m not a certified personal trainer, I will give you this advice: If you are not comfortable doing a particular move or exercise – or you can’t do it using the proper form — DON’T. It’s not worth it. You could hurt yourself in ways that you can’t even comprehend!


Do I really feel like I still get a good workout when I modify?

HECK YES. I am so, so sore from my workouts this weekend (but in a good way!). This workout above is just one example of how you can find what works for you and still get a workout in. Just because you are modifying some doesn’t mean you aren’t WORKING. You should still challenge yourself. You should still sweat.  Most importantly: Don’t confuse “modify” with “easy.”

How do you modify your workouts? Any resources I’m skipping when it comes to “how-to” videos?


  1. jim says

    Michelle you are doing so good but be carefull you are in great shape and you are almost done go slow and behave

  2. says

    This is great! I love that even though this is modified, it’s just as difficult a workout as mine was :) Keep up the great work, lady! You’re taking great care of yourself and your baby.
    Melissa recently posted..Redemption?

  3. says

    What an amazingly informative post. Though I’m not expecting – I will be eventually, and the thought has crossed my mind about the limitations it puts on your body. Seeing all the stuff you still CAN do is pretty awesome. And I definitely encourage my clients to modify based on their needs. This is just great!
    Martha recently posted..Ripped Cream – Behind The Scenes and Giveaway!

    • says

      Thanks — and yes, you can definitely still do a lot while pregnant! Sometimes I find it more mentally challenging because I want to do more, but there’s time later to do more :)

  4. says

    I’ve had to seriously modify my workouts lately and for me that has meant doing my circuit workouts a lot slower and taking more breaks. I keep reminding myself that a modified workout is MUCH better than no workout at all! :) You ROCK for still kicking ass this far in your pregnancy! You’re my inspiration!
    Ashley@cupcakesncrunches recently posted..Big News

    • says

      You WILL get some energy back soon and you’ll be able to pick it up again. I would say I promise – but I hope for your sake you do! (and if you don’t – definitely check into your iron levels!)


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