So, here goes. Do understand that most of this information comes from experts, certainly not me, and as with any exercise, you will need to see your doctor, who will set your pace and share with you anything that you will need to guard against.
Our reader has a list of carbohydrates that he takes before, during and after he exercises. Make sure you know how to keep your blood glucose levels in the normal range. Lifting a weight when you’re hypoglycemic sounds like a accident waiting to happen. Also, know when not to exercise, i.e. when your blood glucose level is too high.
Now, think about lessons before you go it on your own. Some of the machines in our gym look very imposing and, without kind people, I would not have known how to move parts or change headrests, etc.
Experts in the field suggest that you do weight lifting exercises three times a week when you begin. They also suggest that you don’t do the same routine two days in a row as your muscles need time to rest and repair.
For example, you may do upper bodywork one day and lower body the next. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that most people complete two or three sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise for maximum strength results.
This means that it will be easy to begin the exercise, you’ll get fatigued by rep number five or 6 and you’ll struggle with the last rep. Now, one caveat from this medical association, if you are over 50 and have been sedentary, do only two sets of 10-15 repetitions using lighter weights.
Now let us share with you some ideas from more experts:
- Don’t let the amount of the weight you’ll be lifting scare you. Rather concentrate on what you are doing. Then go ahead and lift. Make sure you’ve warmed up first or you’ll be in big trouble.
- Remember that more than one group of muscles are being used when you lift weights, so contract them all. That way you won’t get hurt. This is another reason to have lessons. I didn’t know which muscles I was supposed to use before the trainer drew diagrams and gave me directions for each exercise.
- Exercise a bit after you’ve eaten so that you have extra energy. Those of us with type 1 diabetes know this is the only way we can exercise, but for those of you don’t have to take insulin many times a day, this is an excellent idea. Try to exercise when your energy level is high.
- Learn to listen to yourself and body. Don’t over-exercise or try something that you’re not ready for just because the person next to you can do it.
- If you are on a schedule- as a diabetic, I am-then exercise the same time each day.
Tom McCullough wrote an excellent article on how to design a workout. I wish I had that knowledge, but as I stated before, I need to rely on the experts for this. He thinks a periodized workout, for strength gains and avoiding over-training, is important. What this means is you have someone design a program for you that is a gradual cycling of specificity, intensity, and volume of training to achieve proper levels of strength.
The cycle will shift gradually from high volume and low intensity to low volume and high intensity over several weeks. The typical power lifting cycle will consist of three phases: hypertrophy, strength, and power. Hypertrophy is responsible for developing good muscular and metabolic base for the future. It allows you to do more repetitions as the weeks go by. Rest between the repetitions should be about 1 minute.
Strength is the second phase. Here you can have more repetitions of sets, but as importantly, the amount of weight will also become heavier. This is the phase where you will gain strength. Here your rests will be longer between repetitions so that your muscles can recover.
Finally, you get to the power stage. This is when you are into power lifting. Many of us will not get here as this is the phase of competition.
So, what type of exercises will your trainer set up for you? The answer is easy. You’ll learn squats, bench presses, dead lifts and light bench presses. You’ll be learning leg presses, leg extensions, standing calf raises, crunches, leg raises, and incline dumbbell bench presses. weighted dip, close grip bench, shoulder presses, side laterals, dead lifts back extension, leg curls, weighted pull-ups, one arm row, barbell curls, grip work, and that’s not all. Your trainer will set the pace, change the exercises, up the ante, and all in all help you gain increased strength, no matter your age, increase lean muscle mass. All of this will enhance your quality of life and extend your functional independence.
I know, we always share the negatives of each type of exercise we talk about: It is important that you understand that weight training can be dangerous if you are careless. My husband wound up with 9 stitches when carrying a too heavy weight made him fall. Remember you are lifting cold metal. Here are some reasons that people get injured. Once you are educated, you can make sure that you take precautions.
Incorrect technique-don’t think because the machine in the gym has a picture that you will do the exercise properly. Learn from an expert who will understand how your body works. Then, exercise with a friend. My dear friend, Barbara, and I do our weight lifting together, and we spot each other and tell each other when we are doing something incorrectly.
Too much weight-don’t do this one. When we exercise at 6:00 a.m., we are usually joined by a serious weight lifter who uses 100-pound bar bells, while we are still using 15 pounders over our heads. If we were competitive, we might go up in weights too quickly. As it is, we have graduated from 8 pounds, to 10, 12 and now 15. Onward and upward.
Bad spotting-as I said before, once you get to more complex exercise and higher weights, you may need an informed friend to spot you to make sure your form is safe.
Cheating-this occurs when you use momentum to lift weights rather than muscles. There is a man who lifts when we do and we’re all waiting for his back to just say “no more” as he looks like he is whip lashing it each time he lifts way too heavy weights.
Training too often-remember to cross train. We run or power walk every other day. Although a “real weight lifter” may say that aerobic training is not necessary, we look forward to breathing clean air, looking at trees, and watching the natural life along the river here in Tulsa. We lengthen our muscles and have an iced tea at a local spot close to where we park our car. Then we talk while we watch the river flow by.
Not stretching-if you have been reading these exercise articles, you know how important stretching is and how many people are injured because they don’t warm up and cool down. If you’re looking for examples of these exercises, just reread some earlier articles about this subject. If you stretch properly, you will help relax and elongate a muscle. The muscle will become warm and your exercise, whether weight lifting or walking, will be safer.
Inadequate warm up-a warm up is not stretching, it is a high rep, low intensity, quick paced exercise which will increase blood flow to the muscles so that you become more flexible and can move easier. In the gym, we walk quickly on a treadmill, or pedal on a stationary bike. some mornings, when the gym is busy, I just run around the track for 5-8 minutes. I’m warm.
Lifting too much weight-this can be dangerous and so you need a good spotter. The good thing about straining is that it stimulates muscle growth, but these may be the last weights you ever lift, so be careful.
Poor training-make sure you continue to see your doctor to make sure you are taking in enough calories if you really get into weight lifting. You don’t want to undereat, but if you take insulin, this would have to be carefully balanced. If you are lifting weights to loose weight, as we do, it means that we also diet at the same time. Remember to talk this one over with your doctor, and keep those weights lighter than those who want to build muscle.
Lack of concentration-if you are distracted you are asking for trouble. Stop, get your head around the problem and come back to exercise only if you can concentrate again.
OK; that’s our article on weight lifting. Remember you’re never too old to begin a program. Research tells us that. You can add muscles, slim down, sculpt your body, or go for competitions. No matter what you do, do it correctly. Get expert advice before you begin, exercise with a friend, take lessons so that you do things correctly, and finally get ready to like the way you look, feel, and control your diabetes. See you at the gym.