Updated: Jan 5, 2021
Below is my personal experience and should be treated as such. It is not a medical recommendation for any particular exercise and any new exercises should be discussed with a medical professional.
When stepping into a gym for the first time, you may be overwhelmed with the choices; dumbbells, barbells, cable and other types of machines. A recommended approach for someone wanting to find a routine in a gym is to choose a body part to focus on for that day, making sure to then give it 48 - 72 hrs of rest before directly exercising it again. So with this being said, the below is a regular leg day that someone new in the gym with CMT can start with, adjusting the weights accordingly
The start of every gym routine should begin with a gentle warm-up that lasts 5 - 10 minutes to get your heart rate elevated, but without moderately or heavily exercising your muscles. My personal preference is using a recumbent bike, although any low-impact cardio equipment should be adequate.
#2 Leg Extension
Using a leg extension machine is a great way to exercise the quadriceps, offering in most machines a range of customisation allowing people of all ability and sizes to utilise the machine, either with one or both legs. In the example below, both legs are to be used simultaneously.
How to Use: i) Adjust the machine so that your back is supported by the seat, the knees are aligned with the pivot point of the machine, and the ankle bar is sitting comfortably on the front lower leg, just above the foot
ii) Once adjusted, select a desirable weight that will allow for 3 sets consisting of 12 repetitions, with the final repetitions being challenging to complete.
iii) With a suitable weight selected, extend the legs in a controlled manner so that they become parallel with the upper legs, making sure not to lock out the knees. Once this point has been reached, in a controlled, slower manner than the rise, lower the legs to their starting point and repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
#3 Leg Curl
Leg curl machines are an easy way to exercise the hamstrings, while usually having adjustable seats and pads making it accessible to almost anyone. While they come in different varieties, the single-bar is common and targets specifically the hamstrings, whereas other variations (such as the lying down curl) can have a secondary focus on other muscles.
How to Use: i) Adjust the machine so that your back is supported by the seat, the knees are either just in front or behind the top pad and the ankle bar is sitting comfortably behind the ankle.
ii) Once adjusted, extend the foot bar aiming to have your legs at a 90° angle from your hips
iii) Select a desirable weight that will allow for 3 sets consisting of 12 repetitions.
iv) With a suitable weight selected, contract the legs in a controlled manner so that they become vertical. Once this point has been reached, in a controlled, slower manner than the contraction, raise the legs back to the starting point, making sure not to lock the knees. and repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
#4 Weighted Calf Raises
Calf muscles are usually overlooked by gym-goers, but if you have CMT, you want to focus on calves as they can suffer significantly from atrophy, and stronger calves help with cold feet by improving circulation. However, finding machines for just calf raises can be difficult. If you want to expand beyond using bodyweight or use a lower weight, a leg press machine can be adapted to target the calves in lieu of not having a calf raise machine.
How to Use: i) Adjust the seat so that your legs are extended fully with your feet resting either on the lower section of the footpad, or halfway off. This will be your starting posistion
ii) Once adjusted, select a desirable weight that will allow for 3 sets consisting of 20 repetitions.
iii) With a suitable weight selected, push yourself upwards using just your feet, raising your heel above the base of your foot as much as possible. This should target your calves even though the overall movement is relatively small compared with other exercises.
iv) Lower yourself slowly to the starting position and repeat for the desired amount of repetitions.
This workout is ideal for beginners who need some guidance on how to target their main leg muscles and will target the quads, hamstring and calves using common gym machines. Below is a workout plan that can be used for guidance if you want to follow the above, choosing weights that are appropriate for your level of strength:
If you give this a try, drop a message in the community let me know how it goes and if you have any recommendations or pointers!