This 10-Minute High-Intensity Workout For People in a Wheelchair Uses Light Dumbbells


Sonja Ast, an ACE-certified personal trainer and certified inclusive fitness trainer (CIFT) woat the Lakeshore Foundation, always wanted a career supporting people with disabilities. Ast, who uses a wheelchair herself, told POPSUGAR that she felt called to help others.

Ast’s CIFT certification was created in collaboration between the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) and the American College of Sports Medicine, (ACSM). (NCHPAD is hosting a two-day virtual workshop about inclusive fitness training in March to help trainers gain knowledge about serving clients who have a disability.)

Kelly Bonner, associate director at NCHPAD who is also an ACE-certified trainer and CIFT, told POPSUGAR that having this certification makes for a safer training atmosphere simply due to the specific knowledge of working with those who have disabilities. Though Ast trains people with and without disabilities, when developing exercise routines for those who use wheelchairs, she also carefully assesses their muscle function and ability levels as well. Ast created the following 10-minute workout for people who use wheelchairs.

10-Minute Workout For People Who Use a Wheelchair

Equipment needed: two light dumbbells (Ast uses a set of five-pound weights) or household items you can lift with.

Directions: Warm up for a few minutes with exercises such as neck circles, arm circles, wrist circles, and trunk twists. The workout is broken up into three parts: two Tabatas and one separate cardio round. For each Tabata, you’ll do 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeating the moves two times through. For the cardio round, you’ll do two exercises for one minute each. There are no breaks other than the 10-second rests programmed in the Tabatas, though you can take longer breaks in between rounds if needed. (Keep reading for specific instructions on how to do each exercise.) Ast recommends cooling down by stretching your wrists, arms, neck, and back.

Tabata 1: 2 Rounds

  • Bicep curl to overhead press: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Crunch: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Row to triceps extension: 20 seconds (10 seconds on each arm) followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Crossover crunch: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest

Straight Cardio: 1 Round

  • Punch: one minute
  • Four leaf clover: one minute (30 seconds in each direction)

Tabata 2: 2 Rounds

  • Ski erg: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Hip hinge: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Triceps dip: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest
  • Russian twist: 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest

Love trying new workouts? Want a community to share your fitness goals with? Come join our Facebook group POPSUGAR Workout Club. There, you can find advice on making the best out of every sweat session and everything else you need to help you on your road to healthy living.

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