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Workout Split for Wheelchair Users

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

Getting a workout plan started after becoming paralyzed was definitely a challenge. Because I could no longer workout my legs, but I also did not want to overwork my upper body and cause injury, I had to really sit down and think about how to workout my new body.

Since we are constantly pushing our wheelchairs, we are going to have a much stronger chest, and in turn, a weaker back.

We are also constantly putting stress on our shoulders by pushing our wheelchairs and transferring in and out of of them. After factoring in all of this, I have developed the workout split that you see here on the left.

As you can see, there are two days where I focus on my back, and only one day to focus on chest, shoulders & triceps. This is due to what I had touched on above--our back muscles are typically much weaker compared to our chest and shoulders. By choosing two back days, I can strengthen the different muscle groups in our backs.

When it is just back day alone, I will exercise the larger back muscle groups, and use heavier weights. When I am working back and biceps, I will usually focus on the smaller back muscle groups and use lighter weights. I will also typically do more superset style exercises on this day.

There is also a decent emphasis on core. This is because many wheelchair users with spinal cord injuries have a weak core, or no core at all. Core balance is super important for wheelchair users. We need it for stronger transfers, moving in our wheelchairs better, and for proper posture!

Whether you are going to the gym to workout, or working out at home, having a plan set in place is going to help you to achieve your strength goals and help you to stay consistent.

Consistency is KEY to any goal that you have!

This is just an example of the workout split that I have refined and use myself. I have found it to be super helpful, and it has helped me increase the total strength of my upper body and core significantly!

Key takeaways--make a workout plan that is going to set yourself up for success, and one that does not lead to injury! If you need further help on what exercises to do, lets chat!

Happy exercising!!


Nikki Walsh


BS Kinesiology

Nutrition Advisor

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1 Comment

What lifts/exercises are good for each of these?

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