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  • Writer's pictureAndy Fortuna

How to Modify Your Exercises and Training

If you're reading this blog its because you either create your own workouts or are following a particular program that you need help adjusting, no worries I got you covered.

[ Watch video version below]

I will teach you exactly what I teach my athletes, and that's how to adjust your training sessions to better fit your level of health and performance.

You might be just starting out OR returning from an injury and need to scale it down, get more comfortable with the movements, and slowly work your way up.


You might be progressing really well and want to challenge yourself safe and effectively.

Wherever you are in your training, this blog help will clarify and teach you how to maximize each session.

In order to change the intensity of an exercise and modify our training we need to understand:

  • Tempo

  • Volume

  • Resistance

  • ROM or Range Of Motion

  • Rest

Tempo is the speed at which the exercise is done.

For resistance exercises like : body weight movements or weighted movements for example a Goblet Squat

  • Slower tempo is more difficult as it increases tension over time

  • Faster tempo is easier because it decreases the tension over time and reduces the amount of work your muscles need to do

For plyometric exercise like skaters, its the opposite

  • Slower is easier = require less control and gives time for body to adjust

  • Faster is more difficult = requires more control and stability from you

Volume is the amount of work you're doing in a session like reps, sets, and resistance

To make it easier we are going to focus on reps and sets when talking about volume leave resistance as a separate category.

  • Repetitions are the number of times the exercise is performed

  • For Example: 10 Squats

  • Sets are the number of cycles of a particular exercise

  • For example: 2 sets of 10 Squats

The more reps and sets you, do the higher the particular volume and more work your body will be doing.

Resistance is the amount of load or weight you add to the exercise

In this case for the squat: You can use your own bodyweight (easy) , use a medium resistance band (moderate), or a 50lb dumbbell (most difficult)

The lower the resistance the easier it is, the higher resistance the more difficult it becomes.

Range of motion is the amount of movement used for a particular exercise

Ideally we always want to use full range of motion and control whenever possible. But reducing or increasing range of motion is one way to change the difficulty of an exercise

For example: A full Squat vs a Box squat Squat

This type of modification is usually used for those working back from an injury or learning an exercise for the first time. Its a great way to expose yourself to the exercise as you build up confidence and comfort

Disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of reducing range of motion just to add more resistance or weight. Instead I encourage your to prioritize full function of your joints and quality of movement whenever possible.

Rest is the time it takes between exercises for your body to recover

  • Resistance Exercises : energy depletion of muscles to do work

  • For strength and power : 2-5 minutes

  • Muscle Building : 30 sec to 1 minute

  • Aerobic or Conditioning exercises : energy and aerobic depletion

  • Rest 30 secs to 1 minute

The more work you do, the more rest you will need to appropriately recover and perform again.

To start, you made need more rest as your body acclimates to the training volume and demands.

The more you train, the more you gain the ability to push yourself and shorten the window of rest while still performing at a high level.


Now that we understand the concepts, lets learn how to apply them to your training.

  • Tempo = Speed

  • For Resistance exercises :

  • Slow it down: more difficulty

  • Speed it up: easier

  • For Plyometric exercises :

  • Speed it up: More difficulty

  • Slow it down= easier

  • Volume = Work

  • Higher Reps and Sets = More work

  • Lower reps and sets= less work

  • Resistance = Load/weight

  • Higher weight = more difficulty

  • Less weight = less difficulty

You can always mix volume and resistance to change difficulty

If you want to increase the weight you use, you can change the reps & sets to accommodate and promote good form and control:

3 sets of 10 reps with 20lbs = ( 3 x 10 x 20 ) = Total 600 lbs


3 sets of 6 reps with 35lb = ( 3 x 6 x 35 ) = Total 630 lbs

  • Range of Motion = Movement

  • Reduced : exposure and comfort

  • Full : optimal

  • Rest = Recovery

  • Build Strength & Power = Rest 1 to 5 min

  • Build Muscle = Rest 30 sec to 60 secs

  • Conditioning = Rest 30 sec to 60 sec

More difficult = longer rest time --> Less difficult = shorter rest time

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