Service Member & Family Care

Exercise Substitutions

A list of common exercise substitutions that can be used in the event an individual is not able to perform a specified exercise in the SCGuardFit regimen.


The alternate exercise for the Burpee is the (8 count) Body Builder.

Handstand Pushups (HSPU)

The alternate exercise for handstand pushups is dive bomber pushups. In the event an individual cannot perform dive bomber pushups, the individual will perform two (2) regular pushups for every 1 HSPU prescribed.

Jumping Lunges, Jumping Squats, and Frog Jumps

The alternate exercise for jumping lunges and jumping squats are simply regular lunges and regular squats. The alternate exercise for frog jumps can be either squats or lunges.


The modified exercise for the lunge is a modified lunge. The modification is simply the depth that the individual lunges. Typically the lunge should be performed so that the leading leg goes from 180 degrees (standing up) to a 90 degree angle taking care not to let the knee pass the toes. If the individual cannot complete a lunge by obtaining at least 120 degrees with the leading leg for the lunge (with both legs) then the individual needs to perform an alternate exercise. The alternate exercise will be the squat.


The modified exercise for the plank is a modified plank. The plank should be performed where the individual has only their forearms and their toes touching the ground. The shoulder should be directly over the elbow, meaning the elbow should make a 90 degree angle. The modified plank can be any of the following:

  • Instead of the individual holding the shoulder directly over the elbow, the individual can hold the shoulder farther forward (shoulder would be closer to the individual’s hands)
  • Instead of the individual’s forearms and toes being the only part of the body touching the ground, the individual can have their knees touch the ground as well


There are a few versions of modified exercises for pullups:

  • Assisted pullups: can be performed with another individual or a sturdy structure such as a chair or bench. The individual performing the exercise places their feet in their assistant’s hands or on the chair or bench and presses with as much pressure as necessary to pull their chin over the bar. Care should be taken to ensure that the minimal amount of pressure is applied so as to make the exercise as close to regular as possible.
  • Band pullups: are performed using a large exercise band. One end of the exercise band attaches to the pullup bar and the other attaches to the individual’s knee or foot. Attaching to the knee makes the exercise more difficult because there is less tension on the band. Attaching to the foot makes the exercise easier because there is more tension on the band.
  • Jumping pullups: are performed using a sturdy structure that steadily supports the weight of the individual performing the exercise. The structure should allow the individual to reach the pullup bar with a slight bend in the elbows. The individual will grasp the pullup bar and jump to get their chin over the bar. After the individual’s chin passes the bar the individual should control their weight as much as possible until their feet are securely fixed on the structure.
  • Kipping pullups: there are multiple versions of the “kipping” pullup. In this case we are simply referring to kicking with the individual’s feet and driving with the individual’s hips to “throw” the individual’s chin over the pullup bar. Care should be taken to ensure that these motions are fluid as opposed to using a jerking motion, which can cause injury.
  • Prone rows: in the event that the above modified exercises are too difficult or cause joint pain, etc., the prone row can be used as an alternate exercise.


The modified exercise for a pushup is called a modified pushup. The modified pushup is performed in the same manner as a regular pushup except the individuals knees are on the ground. Commonly referred to as “girl pushups.”


Running can be substituted by any cardiovascular targeting exercise, such as walking, biking, rucking, etc. Most individuals that have a walking profile are not restricted from running at all, most profiles indicate, “run at your own pace,” which is why the walk is performed on the PT test. Use your best judgment, if running hurts, even in short spurts – don’t run, choose an alternate cardiovascular exercise.


There are several alternate exercises for the situp, however, the two most common are the crunch and the rower. If an individual modifies the situp due to an injury, they need to try their best to find an exercise that targets the core, ex.: bent leg body twist, flutter kicks, hands to toes, heel hook, leg raises, knees to elbows, Quadraplex, plank, v-up, etc.


The modified exercise for the squat is a modified squat. The modification is simply the depth that the individual squats. Typically the squat should be performed so that the crease of the hip passes the top of the knees (approximately 90 degrees). Squatting to deepest depth possible without causing injury or pain is the modified exercise to the squat. Full range of motion should not be modified because of muscle exhaustion; it should only be modified due to joint pain, for example.