Woman doing a plank

Exercise Swaps

There are many reasons to modify your workout. An exercise may be uncomfortable, or you may have an injury, an equipment limitation, or just want to shake up your routine. After a period of 5-8 weeks of performing the same exercises, it is also a good idea to vary some of your exercise choices. This ensures you are continuing to challenge and work your muscles in different ways, as well as keeps it fresh and interesting for you. Whatever the reason, we have options for you! For example, if one squat variation is uncomfortable, a different one may work perfectly for you. Don’t give up – it is all about trial and error to see which variation meets your needs right now. Keep reading to learn more about modifications to keep you moving forward in your strength training.

What if I have limited equipment?

  • Barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells can be interchanged
  • If you do not have access to weights, utilize household objects like water jugs, backpacks filled with items, or your own body weight
  • Resistance bands and cable machines can be interchanged
    • Swap cables for bands by anchoring the band where the fulcrum of the equipment would be on a cable
    • Example: Lat pulldown – anchor the band up above you, over the top of a door, with one handle on each side to achieve slight tension on the band at the top of the movement. Adjust your seat height, sit on the floor, or perform in a tall kneeling position. Close the door and make sure the band is sturdy before pulling.

What if I have pain?

  • If the recommended exercise causes you pain, try an exercise swap. Some interchangeable exercises that work similar muscle groups are listed by category below.
  • Match the category in your personalized plan to the category section below to swap.

Exercise Swaps

Upper Body Horizontal Push

Barbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Bench Press Neutral Grip

Dumbbell Floor Press

Incline Push Ups

Machine Chest Press

Upper Body Vertical Push

Standing Barbell Overhead Press

Single Arm ½ Kneeling Landmine Press

Dumbbell Overhead Press with a Neutral Grip

Scrape the Rack Shoulder Press

Seated Arnold Shoulder Press

Machine Shoulder Press

Upper Body Horizontal Pull

Bent Over Barbell Row

Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

Single Arm Dumbbell Row

Seated Cable Row

Inverted Row

Upper Body Vertical Pull

Pull Ups

Lat Pulldown

Chin Ups

1/2 Kneeling Single Arm Cable Pulldown


Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Modification for pain: Thumbs Up Dumbbell Scaption Raises

Dumbbell Front Raise

Modification for pain: Thumbs Up Dumbbell Front Raise

Bent Over Reverse Dumbbell Fly

Rope Face Pull

Lower Body Push

Main Squat Variations

Goblet Squats

Barbell Back Squat

Barbell Front Squat

Additional Squat Variations

If one main squat variation gives you pain, try a different variation. If no main variations are comfortable, try one of these additions!

Heels Elevated Squat 

  • GREAT addition for those who have pain OR difficulty getting low enough without losing your form

Banded Squat

Adductor Squeeze Squat

Box Squat

  • Start with a high box and aim to decrease the height as you feel comfortable with your form

Spanish Squat

  • Great variation for those with knee pain

Machine Squat Variations

Great to try if one of the main squat variations is uncomfortable or difficult for you to perform.

Leg Press

Hack Squat

Belt Squat

Single Leg Variations

Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

Bottoms Up Split Squat 

Spanish Reverse Lunge 

Lateral Lunge with Contralateral Dumbbell Hold 

Lower Body Pull

Barbell Deadlift

Trap Bar Deadlift

Kettlebell Deadlift

Dumbbell Deadlift

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Single Leg Kickstand Romanian Deadlift

Elevated Kettlebell Deadlift

  • Start with dumbbell on a box that is about mid-shin height, and aim to decrease the height as your form improves

Elevated Barbell Deadlift

  • Start with dumbbell on a box that is about mid-shin height, and aim to decrease the height as your form improves


Barbell Hip Thrust

Machine Hip Thrust

Dumbbell Glute Bridge

The JuvYou Mobile App does not provide medical advice and is not meant to treat or prevent disease or replace a visit to your healthcare provider. You should not rely on it solely to make important medical decisions.