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Strength Exercises for Wheelchair-Bound People

Mar. 27, 2023 / VASA Admin
Strength Exercises for Wheelchair-Bound People

Establishing and maintaining an active fitness routine is important for everyone. For those who are in wheelchairs, the need for strengthening exercises can be very important for maintaining good posture, strength, and overall health. If you are in a wheelchair, there are many exercises you can do to build strength, endurance, and flexibility, decrease joint or muscle pain, prevent injury, improve range of motion and mobility, and increase muscle tone.

Before you begin, you’ll want to assess your fitness background and ability. If you are new to exercising, or it’s been a while, it’s important to check with your doctor before starting a new routine. A great place to start is with two sessions a week of strength-training exercises that will also increase your heart rate. As you progress, you can increase to working out three to five times a week. It’s important to start small and stay consistent. Focus on sustainable life changes instead of immediate results. Keep reading to find out about different wheelchair exercises you can do to stay strong and healthy!



A well-rounded strength training program can help you avoid injury and build strength in the muscles you might not use on a daily basis in you wheelchair. There are a variety of exercises that can be done in a seated position that will raise your heart rate and increase muscle strength.

Resistance bands are an inexpensive way to get started with strength training. They can be used by people of any ability for strength, cardio, balance, flexibility, and more. Resistance bands are easy on joints and connective tissues, helping to lower the risk of injury.


The following exercises will lead to better strength, posture, and injury prevention:

Bicep curls can be performed with dumbbells, or by looping a resistance band under your feet or chair and holding each end in your hands.

Side twists target the core and oblique muscles and can be performed by twisting your body from side to side. To add resistance, hold an object such as a weighted ball stretched out in front of you while you twist.

Overhead extensions strengthen your triceps. Lift a weighted object above your head, bend your elbows and bring your hands towards your neck, then straighten your arms back overhead.

Overhead raises strengthen both your shoulders and core. Hold a dumbbell in each hand by your waist, then raise them directly in front of you to shoulder height and then directly over your head. Slowly release your hands back to their starting position by your waist, bracing your core the whole time.



Chest presses help build the pectoral and upper back muscles, which will lead to better posture. Wrap a resistance band around the back of your chair and hold one end in each hand. With palms facing down and elbows out, press forward using your chest handles until the handles touch.

Back extensions are great for easing tension in your back and increasing mobility in your spine. Start by sitting with your back as straight as possible, with your shoulders back and down, and your core engaged. Lean your torso as far forward as you can while still maintaining control and a straight back. Your arms should stay straight and in line with your torso. Hold for a few moments before gently making your way back up to the starting position.



There are many effective strength-training exercises you can do in a wheelchair. The more exercise you do, the easier it will be to increase the number of days per week you exercise, leading to improved overall health and quality of life. Schedule a session with a VASA personal trainer today to get personalized fitness advice and support!