You don’t have to train for long before you realize what your favorite exercises are. Maybe you relish the ego boost of a heavy bench press, or love what deadlifts do for your overall power. And pullups? You’ve been the king of those since high school. But now ask yourself: What if you couldn’t do those lifts anymore—would you quit working out altogether?

If you’ve been training for a few years, chances are you’re no longer able to do all your favorite lifts, due to injury or age. But that’s no excuse to bail on hard training entirely.

Instead, with a few exercise substitutions, you can continue to challenge yourself, build muscle, and burn off the fat to see your abs inside of a month. Our routines work the whole body with joint-friendly movements that help you burn more calories and see your six-pack. This won’t hurt a bit.

How it works

When your joints are beat up or you lack flexibility, continuing to perform conventional strength exercises like the squat, bench press, or deadlift can make matters worse, as they’re relatively unforgiving. But there are variations that allow for safer lifting without sacrificing gains.

For instance, you can squat onto a box, which will take pressure off your lower back and knees but still work your quads and hamstrings. To go easier on your shoulders, you can perform chest presses using a neutral grip or while lying on the floor (to cut down the range of motion). And deadlifting with a trap bar instead of a straight one puts you in a stronger pulling position, biomechanically, lessening your risk of back pain while increasing the amount of weight you can lift. Of course, you can make these substitutions to prevent injuries, too. Chances are you’re about to discover a few new favorite exercises either way.


Perform each workout once per week in the order shown. Exercises are performed as straight sets, so you’ll complete all the prescribed sets for one move before going on to the next.