If you think you’re too fat to work out at the gym, you’re so wrong, as there are 10 REAL exercises that very big people can do as well as thin people.

I’m a former personal trainer who was inspired to write this article after watching an episode of “My 600 Pound Life,” in which a 600 pound woman stated that she was “too fat to go to the gym” even though she could walk without assistance.

Yes, you may be too fat to — without training — run, jump and trot up and down a staircase. But exercise doesn’t begin and end in the running and jumping realm.

“Obese people can do all of the same exercises that their thin counterparts can do,” says Susan L. Besser, MD, with Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore; Diplomate, American Board of Obesity Medicine and board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

“Of course, it will be a bit more difficult (because most overweight people don’t exercise and so are deconditioned), and being overweight can also affect some of the positions one must be in to do optimal exercise,” adds Dr. Besser.

“But, over time, with practice, an obese person can learn and do exercises efficiently.”

There are plenty of very effective exercises that even the super morbidly obese can perform equally as well as a skinny person could.

What you first must do is eradicate this idea that in order for exercise to be effective and worthwhile, it must involve running, jumping and fast movements.

And by the way, not all thin people at a gym run, jump, leap and move quickly.

10 Exercises Very Fat People Can Do As Well As Thin People

#1 Kettlebell swing. Stand in one spot and swing the kettlebell. This movement works the back, core, legs, shoulders and arms, but mostly the back and core. 12-20 reps.


#2 Deadlift. Stand in one spot, pick a barbell off the floor with straight arms, straighten into an erect position, then reverse the movement to place the barbell back on the floor. 5-8 reps.

This exercise works the entire body, but particularly the back, core and legs. Master excellent form before you increase the weight.

#3 Overhead press. Stand in one spot and press a barbell, two dumbbells or two kettlebells over your head.

Shutterstock/ Reshetnikov_art

This movement primarily targets the shoulders, triceps and core. Avoid overextending the back as you raise the weight. 8-12 reps.

#4 Dumbbell squat. Stand in one spot, feet shoulder width or wider apart, holding weights at shoulder level.

Keeping your back as straight as possible (no rounding), lower by bending your legs. Do not bend over; keep back as erect as possible. Lower so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.

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Straighten and repeat eight to 12 times. Start out with a light weight first to assimilate your body to this butt and leg movement.

#6 Leg press. Most gyms have at least two models of this apparatus that works the legs and butt. Choose the one that you feel most comfortable with.

Shutterstock/Aleksey Boyko

Keeping feet flat on the pushing platform, press out (but do not lock out the knees; maintain a soft bend) and then release.

The angle that’s formed behind your knees, at the start of the movement, should be at least 90 degrees, and ideally more than that. 8-12 reps.

#7 Chair squat. Simply stand up and down from a bench for up to 20 reps. Hold dumbbells as you get better for added resistance. Works the butt and legs.


#8 Seated row. Gyms offer multiple options including on cable devices. Find the option that suits you best, then go. 8-12 reps. Works the back and arms.

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#9 Chest press. I don’t recommend the bench press version because the midsection of a very obese person will limit the range of motion as the barbell is being lowered.

Pexels, Gustavo Fring

But a seated chest press will eliminate this problem, allowing full range of motion to work the chest, triceps and shoulders. Do 8-12 reps.

#10 Walking. Yes, walking. How can you be too fat to work out if you can walk? Since when isn’t walking a legitimate form of exercise?

If it’s too exhausting to walk, then there’s your evidence that walking is the very exercise you should be doing!

Never think, “Walking’s too hard so I can’t do it.” A thin person can suffer just as much through their own workout routine. It’s all about pushing one’s limits or, at least, going at 75 percent of the limit.

So in the thin person’s case, it might be sustaining a 2.5 mph walk on a treadmill at 15 percent incline for 20 minutes (NO holding onto the machine).

For the fat person, the same feeling of effort over 20 minutes might be generated at only 1.5 mph and zero incline (do NOT hold onto the machine).

There’s no such thing as being too fat to work out. And there are many exercises that very overweight people can do as well as thin people.

Dr. Besser provides comprehensive family care, treating common and acute primary conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Her ongoing approach allows her the opportunity to provide accurate and critical diagnoses of more complex conditions and disorders.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.