An AMRAP Workout That's Perfect for Anyone With Limited Mobility

By , Sara Lewis,
It happened again: You bent down to pick something up and your body yelled, "Nope, not happening." "Why is this so difficult?" you ask yourself. "Why won't my knees bend enough? Why does this simple movement trigger a stiff feeling in my back?" There's no denying that your ease of movement is just not what it used to be. Your body is starting to tell you your joints need mobility.
 
It's common to think you should stretch what feels tight, but sometimes the muscle that is tight is also weak. This tightness you feel could be your brain's way of protecting your muscles from instability. The motor neurons feeding your muscles sense excess tension and tell the muscle to relax. However, if this feedback loop in the nervous system continues over time, your muscles could become weak. Stretch after waking up stiff, for example, and you could be starting a cycle of constantly stretching, feeling looser momentarily and then having to repeat on a daily basis.
 
Imagine a rubber band that is fully stretched. The band is super tight, yes, but only because it is lengthened, not because it is short. The same scenario happens with your muscles. While it may come as a surprise, stretching is not always the solution to improve mobility.
 
As it turns out, addressing alignment should be your first step toward improving mobility. Your core alignment and strength affect your hip mobility, while your spinal posture influences shoulder mobility. 
 
To demonstrate, try sitting up really tall, then raise your arm as high as you can. Now, slouch and hunch over. Try to raise your arm again. Chances are, you probably can't lift your arm as high or as comfortably because proper alignment, especially in the spine, sets the foundation for mobile joints.
 
According to the joint-by-joint approach made popular by the renowned physical therapist, Gray Cook, mobility in the hip, mid-spine and shoulder is critical to moving freely. If your joints are feeling tight or if you suffer from low mobility due to disability or weight, adding movement can help to add circulation to those areas that feel tight. Next time you're feeling stiff as a board, skip the stretch and try this AMRAP workout to build strength and burn calories—all without ever having to get down on the floor.
 

What Can You Do in 25 Minutes?

 
AMRAP stands for "As Many Rounds as Possible." In an AMRAP workout, you set a timer for a specific amount of time, then do as many rounds as possible in that time frame. It's a great way to increase the intensity of a workout without extending the duration. While the workout is intended to keep the heart rate up with no built-in rest time, be sure to take breaks at any point during the workout if you feel strained or out of breath.
 
To begin this workout, set a timer for 25 minutes. Complete the exercises in the order listed below, one time through. Once you've completed all seven, you've completed one round. Keep track of how many rounds you're able to complete, then repeat the workout on another day to see if you can complete more rounds in the same amount of time.
 
Wall Pushups
Photos courtesy of Sara Lewis. 

Wall pushups are a great alternative to traditional pushups on the ground, and you will still be working to strengthen the arms and shoulders.
  • Place both hands on the wall at shoulder height. Walk your feet out slightly. The farther out your feet are, the more challenging your pushup will feel.
  • Bring your nose toward the wall by bending at the elbows.
  • Exhale and push yourself away from the wall to return to standing.
  • Complete 12 repetitions total.
Wall Core Hold

Although this appears to be an arm exercise, it actually targets the muscles in the core.
  • Stand sideways at the edge of a wall with your arms straight out in front of you, palms touching.
  • Press your arms into the wall.
  • Hold and breathe for 15 seconds, then switch sides for another hold.
Toe Taps on Step

Toe taps add a cardio element into the workout, while also strengthening the hip muscles.
  • Stand at the bottom of a staircase facing the stairs to begin.
  • Lift one foot and touch it to the first step, then return it to the ground. 
  • Next, lift the opposite foot and touch it to the first step, then return it to the ground.
  • Alternate toe taps quickly until you have completed 15 per leg or 30 taps total.
  • Place your hand on a wall or the staircase rail if you need some extra support.
Vertical Chop

Set up with your toes turned slightly out to the sides.  This allows your hips to open for more range of motion. 
  • Begin by holding a light dumbbell or ball.
  • Sink your hips down allowing your knees to bend only as far as you can comfortably go. Lower the dumbbell down to mid-thigh or knee height.
  • Push the ground away using your whole foot (not just the heel) to return to standing. At the same time, raise the dumbbell up to shoulder height.
  • Do 12 repetitions
Bent-Over Reverse Fly

The reverse fly is excellent for targeting upper-back muscles that get weak from poor posture.
  • Hold a light dumbbell in each hand, with your hands facing each other. While standing, hinge forward from your hips, spine straight and knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your arms straight and lift the dumbbells away from each other. At the top of the movement, squeeze your shoulder blades in.
  • Lower your arms back to the starting position to complete one rep.
  • Repeat 12 times.
Squats with Target

Using a target for squats is a great way to gauge progress in strength and mobility. The lower your target, the more intense the exercise.
  • Use a chair, the arm of a couch or any other target as your aim. Remember, this does not have to be a big movement. If your mobility is severely limited, use a target that is only an inch or two lower than your standing position.
  • Sink your hips down until your buttocks lightly touches your target.
  • Push the ground away using your whole foot (not just the heel) to return to standing.
  • Do 12 repetitions.
Hamstring Curls

Hamstring curls strengthen the back of your thighs and keep your heart rate up.
  • Alternate bringing your heels toward your knees. You can begin slowly and then increase the speed over time if your body allows.
  • Complete 15 per leg, for a total of 30 repetitions.
About the Author
Sara Lewis, aka "The Uncool Trainer," is the creator of Restore the Core for Posture Improvement. Using knowledge from her degree in exercise science and multiple certifications, she has been helping her clients move better since 2001. Sara is an entrepreneur and mom based in Virginia.

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Comments

KATHYJO56 11/30/2018
Perfect exercises for me and others like me Report
CATNAP629 11/10/2018
good article Report
HEALIN1 9/11/2018
Great do-able exercises. I wish there was a way we could add these to our fitness trackers Report
1CRAZYDOG 9/4/2018
Thank you for these exercises! Report
4CONNIESHEALTH 9/4/2018
Great information. Report
JEWELZEE- 9/4/2018
Good article, thanks! Report
CECELW 9/3/2018
The article was excellent of course, but what I like the most is that the demonstrator looks like the everyday woman not inclined to look super thin. To my mind she reflects the average everyday woman. I just get a bit annoyed to see demonstrators hyper thin and you can tell she she isn't at the beginning of her journey. Report
97MONTY 9/3/2018
Thanks Report
AMYRCMK 9/3/2018
Thank you Report
EO4WELLNESS 9/3/2018
Interesting approach Report
SWEETLILBLUEYES 8/22/2018
This is an excellent article with really important information. I'm so glad you published it. This workout will be very helpful for me as my Mobility improves. Report
SWEETLILBLUEYES 8/22/2018
This is an excellent article with really important information. I'm so glad you published it. This workout will be very helpful. For me as my Mobility improves. Report
BBDELTA 8/11/2018
Great article that I really needed. Thank you! Report
SUSANBEAMON 4/27/2018
Interesting idea. I'm not out of alignment and I have serious trouble lifting my left arm above my head. The ads on this page are annoying. Twice they covered the comment box so I could not finish my comment. Report
SPARKFRAN514 4/21/2018
Thanks going to make this a grouping
Report
CFRAPPE 4/19/2018
Tried this this morning. Only got in two reps. Will work up slowly. THANK YOU! Report
CATHYSFITLIFE 4/16/2018
Great ideas for anyone that has limited mobility. Thank you! Report
TERMITEMOM 4/16/2018
Great exercises! Thank you so much. Report
PADDY52 4/16/2018
Thanks for the limited mobility exercises. Just got the all clear from otho . Doc that I can start moving again, after 3 knee surgeries and 2 ligament surgeries. Need to get my stamina built back up. Report
PLCHAPPELL 4/16/2018
It is important to keep moving however you are able. Report
SPARKFRAN514 4/15/2018
Great exercises did have to skip the first for now but going to work in it made it into a grouping thanks. Report
MSROZZIE 4/15/2018
Excellent article, good, simple exercises demonstrated, thanks! Report
CHRIS3874 4/15/2018
Thanks Report
DMEYER4 4/15/2018
thanks Report
KWEENIE1971 4/15/2018
Being disabled with limited mobility, this was very helpful. Thanks! Report
QUIETWARRIOR 4/15/2018
Best article on limited mobility I have read! Thank you! Report
ERICALEAHA 4/15/2018
Thanks for the info I can do this Report
DAWNGW 4/15/2018
good article! Thanks for posting it. Report
SCOOTERTVRPV 4/15/2018
thank you for posting this--please do more of these articles! Report
PICKIE98 4/15/2018
Most of these are already in my PT regimen. Very simple, but effective in the long run. Report
CATE195 4/15/2018
Just got done. Was able to do 5 rounds, and worked up a sweat. Thanks for sharing. Report
AZMOMXTWO 4/15/2018
thank you Report
SCRAMBLJONES 4/15/2018
I started my post retirement body shape up with a "silver sneakers" level gym and classes. I am a little younger and a bit more mobile than some, but have found wonderful genuine people. The classes focus on range of motion and safety, similar to this article. Thank you for helping us to get in shape without overdoing or getting injured.
Report
MARITIMER3 4/15/2018
My initial reaction was, “I don’t have limited mobility”, but after looking at the exercises carefully, I realize that at 75 maybe it’s time to accept the fact that I’m not as mobile as I used to be. These exercises look great, and I’m going to use them.
And I agree that it’s great to see a woman we can relate to! Report
PATRICIA-CR 4/15/2018
I've been impressed and loving this articles for limited mobility, knee problems, etc. Extremely important. Been there. BTW, the model/author of the article is awesome! Report
MORAVIANSTAR 4/15/2018
Great exercises! Have noted them down and plan to do them regularly - another goal! Report
EVILCECIL 4/15/2018
Good info, thanks. Report
RHOOK20047 4/15/2018
What great suggestions, I will try them today, right now! Report
RO2BENT 4/15/2018
Just like with lifting, rep ‘till you can’t Report
IMEMINE1 4/15/2018
I do a lot of these now. Thank you. Report
AQUAGIRL08 4/15/2018
My PT incorporates many of these exercises in my recovery routine. Thank you for sharing. Report
MAROO358 4/15/2018
Thanks Sara will try these today! Report
-POOKIE- 4/15/2018
Great information. Report
MARUKI52 4/15/2018
I can't do the first one because of arthritis in my wrists. Any modifications for this one? Suggestions would be welcome. Report
TCANNO 4/15/2018
great info Report
AMYRCMK 4/15/2018
Thank You Report
CHERYLHURT 4/13/2018
Thanks Report
EO4WELLNESS 4/9/2018
interesting ideas Report
GOLFGMA 4/8/2018
Saved this one for future use Report
PAULA3420 4/6/2018
I like this!! Report