Smart Workout Substitutions

Smart Workout Substitutions

May 2024

This is not intended to be medical advice.  Consult your healthcare provider before starting a new diet, exercise or health program. 

*These Statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

In this post I offer a comprehensive guide to optimizing your workout routine by replacing common exercises with safer and more effective alternatives.

Instead of this….

…do this!

Crunch for abdominals

Movement plank (downward and upward dog) either on your knees or elbows. Allow your hips to move upward and downward but initially drawing in your belt line muscle (transverse abdominus - TVA) while simultaneously not allowing your belly to sag downward. The TVA stabilizes your spine and also allows a firmer contraction from the gluteals. Squeeze the gluteals as your hips drop and be careful not dipping too far, offsetting potential low back issues.

Sagging Push ups

Pushups on your knees or arms extended. These can also be done with an elevated bench or staircase so your upper body has less load. Draw in your TVA and start with a short and shallow arm flexion eventually getting lower beyond 90 elbow flexion.

Hamstring toe touch from standing

Back lying arms at a “T” bring one leg straight up and the ankle dorsi flexed. Now let your leg swing across your body to the other side, allowing gravity to lower it to the floor. This also increases thoracic spine rotation.

High Box Jumps

Quick hops. On a slight step of 2-5 inches, jump up and stick the landing then jump back and quickly absorb the shock; immediately jump up. The fast movement is when you are jumping back and down. Use your arms as you jump upward, keeping your eyes looking forward. The eccentric strengthening as you jump back is a tremendous quad and gluteal strengthening in combination with the calves and feet muscles.

Leisurely walk

Long strides, shorter and faster strides, walking backwards and integrating hills. Varying the stride, tempo and load of the hills will stretch your hip flexors, increase quad, gluteal and lower leg strength all magically increasing core strength.

Lying Back Extensions

Torso twist from side to side while swinging the arms in a helicopter fashion plus large forward and backward circles and side to side bending. The back extensions put a huge load on your thoracic and lumbar spine. Allow your spine to free flow with these other movements.

Over head press behind the neck

Barbell overhead press starting with a short range up to 140 bend in elbow then eventually going to 180 degrees. Draw in TVA to limit low back arching. Spread feet wider than shoulder width. Behind the neck press can overload your shoulder and neck.

Upright rowing with narrow grip

Bent over back flat, soft knee lock and wide grip outside shoulder width. Draw in TVA. Great exercise for your anterior and posterior core, shoulders and arms. The top of the upright row is murderous on your shoulder joint and absolutely must be avoided.

Wide lateral pull down

Grab the bar just outside shoulder width, pulling downwards to your chin - never behind the neck. Try these kneeling on your knees and not sitting on the bench to create better core stability and enhances mobility of your back and shoulders.

Leg Extensions on seated chair with upper leg immobile

Seated Leg Press with double or single leg and feet slightly everted. Push through the extension with your entire foot but emphasizing the heel to increase tension on gluteals.


These exercises can be done in a circuit. Repeat each 2-3x for approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.

These modifications not only prevent injury but also enhance the effectiveness of your workouts by engaging core muscles and promoting proper movement patterns. By incorporating these safer alternatives, you can achieve better results and enjoy a more balanced and sustainable fitness routine.


Dave Scott


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

This information is not meant to be medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider before starting a new diet, exercise, or health program.  Results may vary. 

Dave Scott is a Nutrex-Hawaii ambassador.