Resistance Exercises for Persons with Physical Disabilities

Resistance Exercises for Persons with Physical Disabilities

Resistance exercises build strength, endurance, and muscle mass, and it also helps you lose weight. Having a physical disability can make exercises more challenging, but certainly not impossible. Here are some different resistance exercises for persons with physical disabilities, brought to you by Special Strong:

Resistance Band Exercises for Persons with Physical Disabilities

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One type of exercise you can do to engage in resistance is actually using resistance or elastic bands. Simply adhere one end of the band to an object (or body part) that is stationary and work against that stable force. Here are a few exercises you can do with resistance bands if you have a physical disability:

Yoga Postures with Resistance Bands

Whether you have limited mobility or complete immobility in certain areas of your body, using elastic bands in simple yoga postures is an easy resistance exercise you can do. While sitting, loop the middle of your resistance band around your foot. Extend your leg (or leave it where it is) and lift up with your arms. Let yourself sink slowly into this posture to reap the full benefits of the stretch. Perform this on both sides.

TRX Exercises

TRX is a type of workout that incorporates resistance bands into cardio-quick exercise reps. This will require a specific type of resistance bands and a connection that enables the bands to dangle from the ceiling. After adjusting the straps to reach down to the floor so you can perform the exercise will sitting, you’ll grip the handles and go to town!

Aquatic Exercises for Persons with Physical Disabilities

Have you ever tried to “run” in the pool? It’s like running in a dream: You’re putting in a lot of work, but you’re not getting very far. That’s because the water pushes back against you as you try to move through it. In other words, there’s a lot of resistance there. Here are some aquatic exercises you can do with a physical disability:


Running underwater is basically impossible — running, by definition, is fast — but walking in the water is attainable in a way that is just challenging enough. Doing a few laps around the pool ensure that you’re getting your cardio in while working on balance and building strength. You can also hold onto the edge of the pool and walk in place, or hold onto it with one hand while “walking” your legs with the other.


If possible, lean against the edge of the pool, facing the water with your arms out at a T, gripping the ledge with your hands. Cycling your legs is another great cardio exercise that becomes a resistance exercise when done in the pool. If you’re not able to cycle your legs, grip the side of the pool with one hand and manually move one leg at a time in a cycling motion to get the same benefits.

Gravity-Resistant Exercises for Persons with Physical Disabilities

You’re constantly being pushed down by gravity. Just sitting upright is a way of resisting it, if you think about it. An exercise that resists the force of gravity is one that can help you increase your endurance, strength, and muscle mass.

Arm or Leg Raises

The great thing about gravity-resistant exercises is that you can perform them as quickly or as slowly as you want. Arm or leg raises, for example, can even be stationary. You could simply raise your arms and leave them there for a count of 10 before setting them at your sides again. You could also raise them in reps. It’s up to you!

Sit Ups

We love sit ups because almost anyone can perform them to some degree, regardless of their mobility level. You may modify these to crunches and get practically the same benefits. Each time you raise your chest off the ground, you’re pushing against gravity and building strength.

Weightlifting Exercises for Persons with Physical Disabilities

Weightlifting is the ultimate resistance exercise for persons with physical disabilities. The great thing is that you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to lift weights. Just as long as you’re challenging yourself, it doesn’t matter if you’re working with five-pound weights or 100-pound ones. Here are a few weightlifting exercises you can do:

  • Dumbbell Exercises
  • Medicine Ball Exercises
  • Gym Machine Exercises

Deep Stretches for Persons with Physical Disabilities

Stretching is a great way to cool down from a workout. It signals to your body that it’s time to slow down your heart rate, and deep, slow stretching offers an immediate release of endorphins. It’s a win-win, as far as we’re concerned. Instead of using resistance bands, you’ll simply use the weight of your body and your willpower to lean deeper into each stretch. Here are a few stretches you should try:

Seated Forward Fold

With your legs outstretched in front of you, lean forward and reach for your toes. It’s OK if your knees are bent! If this is the case, however, it’s important to maintain a thigh-to-chest connection. The compression here releases endorphins as well as other happy-making neurotransmitters like dopamine.

Supine Twists

This is really just a fancy way of saying “twisting while laying down.” Lay on your back and T your arms out, parallel with your shoulders, then let your knees fall to one side of your body. Now, turn your head in the opposite direction that your knees are facing. Ta-da! You’re in a supine twist. Whether you have to manually move your legs into the right position or not, you’re still getting the same benefits.

Our personal trainers are skilled and knowledgeable about resistance exercises for persons with physical disabilities. If you want to work with a trainer who understands your disability, sign up for a private training session with a Special Strong trainer.




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