Make Strength Training One of Your New Year’s Goals for Better Health

Lynn Batalden, DPT, OCS  (more pictures below)

The American Heart Association recommends strength training two times weekly, working individual muscle groups close to their maximum ability.  Recent research affirms that the work-out can be short and concise: just working four muscle groups close to their maximum yielded improvement in blood sugar levels.

The Total Gym is aptly named because it can work all muscle groups in the body.  The machine uses a percentage of your body weight as resistance; adjusting the level of the incline will increase or decrease resistance. When sitting on the Total Gym, one has to hold the torso upright. This automatically means that you are using your core to maintain your position while working your arms.  This makes almost all of the upper body exercises into core exercise as well.

Strength training with the Total Gym:

  • Helps reduce natural muscle mass loss that starts to occur after age 30
  • Reduces body fat
  • Stimulates bone mass
  • Improves balance by improving overall body strength
  • Improves blood pressure
  • Improves cholesterol
  • Improves posture
  • Improves knee and shoulder joint function by strengthening supportive muscles
  • Helps avoid strain in everyday life through increased strength
  • Improves tensile strength of tendons

Tips for using the total gym more effectively:

  • Breathe out as you pull or “blow before you go.” This helps activate the deepest layer of core muscles and avoids abdominal wall strain
  • Keep shoulder blades away from ears and retracted toward the spine with upper body work. This is the key to good shoulder function and avoiding shoulder strain.
  • Sit tall and balanced over pelvic bones
  • (see examples below article)

Our initial focus in total gym class is developing proper form.  This helps avoid injury and avoids recruiting only your habitual muscles.  There are some muscles we have never developed due to poor posture and movement habits and there are muscles that we overuse and often are causing our pain. Total Gym workouts will help you discover new ways to move.

Once better form is attained, pushing muscles toward the maximum is possible and safer.  This is the difference between working muscles for strength gains vs. working for gains in endurance.  Both ways yield health benefits and both are important.

Creative Therapeutics offers expertly instructed classes in the Total Gym all throughout the week and at convenient times of the day. You get a super-efficient, full-body workout in just a half-hour’s time. All age levels and ability levels are represented in our current classes, working out side-by side and having a great time.

Links:

AHA Recommended Exercise Guidelines

Research on Strength Training and Blood Sugar

Research article on Resistance Training and Tendon Health

The basics of form: Here, the spine is straight, shoulders are pulled back, and the core is engaged for stability.

Versatility: Arms, legs, and core muscles all in one exercise

Functional movement: Here, the shoulders, back, and muscles throughout the core are all engaged. The Total Gym allows you to work muscle groups through multiple planes of movement–not just up/down, side-to-side.

A stable, upright posture helps get the most out of this exercise working the pectorals and upper back.

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