Lifting Weights - Getting Started
I hope the new year is off to a good start for you. There's a good chance that you, like thousands of people, have made some resolutions to improve something in the coming year. I hope that at least part of your resolution plan is to be just a little healthier and feel a little better this year, which should include exercise.
And I definitely hope that part of that exercise will be strength training. Everyone should pay more attention to strength training: men, women, and especially cancer survivors! We have the effects of surgeries and treatments to overcome. And many of our drugs put us at risk for osteoporosis. Resistance, or weight training is an effective tool to slow bone loss.
I'm not talking about being like those muscle-bound, bulging young boys at the gym (although, cool if that is your goal). I'm talking about functional strength - for whatever it is that you want to do. Do you want to be strong enough to climb mountains? Or just strong enough to pick up your kids? Want a little more definition and less sag? Or the ability to get yourself up off the floor if you fall? The goal is yours, but how to get there is something I can help with.
Getting started is hard if you've lost your strength for whatever reason. It's even harder if you've had surgeries or treatments that affect your strength. I was just asked about some tips for getting started with upper body strength just the other day - so, Nancy, this is your post.
First, make sure you have regained good range of motion. If you still have limited mobility, continue working on stretching before you begin strengthening.
And start off easy. Don't worry how much weight you can lift at first. Focus more on form. Always strive for perfect form. Always do any exercise in a slow, controlled manner.
As you begin to add weight, do it slowly. With my Life-Cise clients and in my workshops, I often suggest using water bottles as weights. Depending on the size, they weigh a pound or 2, and you can vary the weight by more or less water. (and they encourage you to stay hydrated!)
Here are a couple of my favorite first exercises, the wing pinch and straight arm raises. Both can be very effective as no-weight exercises, but can progress into weighted exercises. I'm always in favor of any exercise that strengthens the shoulders and upper back, so often ignored, and so needed after a whole variety of cancer treatments.
With your arms at your sides, bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Hold your hands, palms up, slightly wider than your body, keeping elbows at your side. Draw your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. To increase the intensity of this exercise, change the level of your arms: Raise your arms out to the side, at shoulder-height. Bend your elbows 90 degrees so your hands point forward. Keeping your shoulders down, pull your arms toward the back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. As you gain strength, add weight (water bottles or light weights).
Stand straight with your shoulders back and down. Slowly raise your arms to the front, keeping them straight. Raise them only to shoulder height. Slowly lower. Do this exercise to the side as well, only raising arms to shoulder height. In the beginning, do this exercise using no weights; the weight of your arm will provide enough resistance. As you gain strength, begin adding a little weight (water bottles or light weights).
|My mom, showing excellent form.|
So, good for you if weight training is part of your plans for a healthier new year, and add it to your plans if it wasn't already. Start slowly and progress gradually. The key is to start.
Give me a shout over at Life-Cise if you want more help developing a comprehensive plan or figuring out a good progression.
The key is to start!
- BY Julie | 01.05.2011
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