Fitness Articles

Strength Training with a Disability

More Strength Means Greater Independence


Last but not least, always warm up and cool down during each exercise session.

Special Considerations
Ninety-four percent of gyms do not offer machines that are accessible by wheelchair, according to recent surveys. But more progressive gyms are taking deliberate steps to be more inclusive to individuals with disabilities and mobility issues by making their layouts and equipment wheelchair-accessible. Before joining a gym, find out if their space and features are accessible to you. Freemotion, for example, is one major brand that makes weight machines that are accessible to both wheelchair and able-bodied exercisers. You may be more likely to find these features in university or hospital fitness facility, many of which offer memberships to the public.

If you have trouble using your hands, wrist cuffs that help secure weights in your hands can help. You may also want to consider using wrist weights or weighted gloves (instead of dumbbells) if this is the case.

If you suffer from a condition that causes your limbs to move involuntarily, try to use strength training machines instead of free weights. Machines (both those with wheelchair access and those without it) are designed to help your body stay in good form and offer more support so that you work in good form and within a safe range of motion.

SparkPeople's Seated Exercises
You can perform almost any strength training exercise from a chair or seated position. Virtually any upper body exercise can be done while seated instead of standing, and you can also strengthen your legs and abs from a chair as well. Many of SparkPeople's exercise demonstrations involve sitting in a chair and several standing exercises for the upper body can be modified to be done while seated, whether you're using dumbbells, resistance bands, or even no weights at all.

The following list includes strength training exercises (and the muscle groups they work) with demonstrations that already involve sitting on a chair. These are great for individuals with limited mobility. SparkPeople's Adaptable Exercises
The following list links  to exercise demos that you can easily modify to perform while seated in a chair. Each exercise lists the muscles worked and a note for how to modify it to meet your needs (sitting or standing). Not only will exercise tone your muscles and strengthen your heart, but working out can also help to improve your self-esteem and your feelings about your body. Talk to your doctor about starting your strength training program today!

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
‹ Previous Page   Page 2 of 2  
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

x Lose 10 Pounds by April 5! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.