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Invictus Games | Top Tips For Wheelchair Workouts

In 2016, when Prince Harry announced that Toronto, Ontario would host the next Invictus Games he spoke of the importance of how these games will “shine a spotlight on the unconquerable character of servicemen and women and their families”. Indeed, the Invictus Games highlight the competitors’ “human spirit.”
Through its inspirational participants, the Games provide a platform for the effectiveness of support, rehabilitation while promoting awareness of injured veterans and compassion.
Those competing in the Games are men and women who know what the reality of sacrifice for their country means, having suffered (along with their families) often life-changing injuries. As the Invictus Games demonstrate, these servicemen may have been hurt physically, but nothing can dampen their drive.
For those on a similar journey with an obstacle to overcome, we take a look at the top bodybuilding training tips for wheelchair users.

cable flys

Resistance Bands

These simple but effective pieces of equipment can turn your environment into a gym. By attaching them to your wheelchair you can work your biceps with curls, your shoulders with upward presses and your triceps with overhead extensions. For aspiring Invictus archers resistance bands are an effective way of imitating the action of a bow and arrow.
Resistance bands are also invaluable in warming up and cooling down your muscles at the end of a workout.


Go Heavier – Cable Work

Similar to your resistance band warm-up, cables provide the same versatile range of movement from a stationary position. The advantage of cable lifts is that they allow for the most natural movements that will suit those you are likely to perform when competing. Try the following at 3 sets of 15 reps:
Lateral raises

Front raises

Chest fly

Reverse fly


Compound lifts

Compound lifts are the most effective way of developing strength and building muscle mass. Multi-joint lifts involve several muscle groups and while you may be focussing on one in particular, you will also develop the auxiliary supporting muscles that contribute to that movement.
Breaking this down into even simpler terms, you need to focus on pushes and pulls, or rather: presses and rows. Pushes build your triceps, shoulders and chest, while rowing builds your back muscles, biceps and forearms.
Working with a range of 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps of a moderate-heavy weight, try the following:
Bench press

Shoulder press

Declining row

Inclined row

incline bench press


A wheelchair is not a limit, it’s an obstacle to overcome. There’s no reason to neglect your cardiovascular workout. In fact, you should make it a higher priority to ensure you regularly get your heart rate up. The answer is just that: getting your heart rate up. Cardio isn’t all about running, it’s about building a sweat, working in varying intervals of intensity to get your heart pounding to keep it healthy and burn calories. That said, the sky’s the limit and if your sights are set on the Invictus game, the best kind of training (as with all sports) is the kind with a context that relates directly to the sport you are training for.


The 2017 event will take place from September 23 to 30 and will see more than 550 ill, injured and wounded servicemen and women from 17 allied nations compete in 12 adaptive sports.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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