STRENGTH TRAINING AND CMT
STARTING WITH STRENGTH TRAINING
Focusing on improving strength in a controlled environment
Strength training focuses on improving muscle strength and endurance rather than focusing on other factors, such as cardiovascular health or flexibility, however, these can be improved alongside muscle strength. The most commonplace to engage in strength training is in a gym, which offers many opportunities for someone with CMT to improve their physical fitness. Before starting any new exercise program, it is important to consult a qualified medical professional who will be able to assess your physical capacity for exercise.
WHY USE A GYM?
A gym has several advantages over other forms of exercise for people with CMT looking to maintain or improve their fitness and strength.
ACCESS TO PERSONAL TRAINERS
Many gyms have personal trainers readily available, for a fee, who can introduce you to strength training and your way around a gym. It is important to always be transparent about CMT, it's health implications and your limitations to a trainer to see if they are able to provide the training required.
ABILITY TO ISOLATE MUSCLES
A good gym is usually equipped with many different machines and types of weights. When used correctly, the equipment will allow a user to isolate muscles, and therefore be able to focus on weak muscles in an appropriate way, or avoid potentially problematic areas.
USABLE BY PEOPLE WITH CMT
Unlike certain sports that are not accessible to a majority of people with CMT, due to the physical limitations imposed by the disorder, a gym is a highly adaptable area, allowing people of all shapes, sizes and physical ability to train effectively.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A GYM
Gyms come in many different forms, from large franchises to small independent ventures. However, most of the time they should offer the following three components
An Area for Cardiovascular Health
A gym usually has a large, dedicated area that contains many different forms of equipment dedicated to cardiovascular fitness. This includes running machines, static fitness bikes, step machines, rowing machines and more.
Machines Designed for One or Several Targeted Exercises
Weight machines tend to focus on one type of exercise motion e.g. a bicep curl. This allows the user to focus on performing an exercise correctly and with the correct weights given that most have a wide range of easily adjustable weights.
Allowing Complete Freedom of Choice
For maximum versatility, free weights offer a wide selection of possible exercises. Whether they are used with other equipment, such as a weight bench, or without, they can be highly effective in any training program.
WHERE TO START
FIND A ROUTINE
Any strength training program should adapt according to the user's needs. If you start to improve your stamina or strength, or fall ill or suffer an injury, your training program should adapt to account for these changes.
PUT SAFETY FIRST
Safety has to be at the forefront of any gym routine, and the exercises chosen, as well as frequency, should reflect this. If you are unsure what a safe training routine is, consult with a professional who should be able to guide you to a program that will allow you to focus on improving strength while keeping you injury free.
ADAPT YOUR TRAINING
Any strength training program should adapt according to the users needs. If you start to improve your stamina or strength, or fall ill or suffer an injury, your training program should adapt to account for these changes.
KEY CONCEPTS IN A GYM ROUTINE
Gym routines can vary drastically, but most will contain the following concepts
SETS AND REPETITIONS
Sets and repetitions are the main focus of any exercise. A repetition is a complete motion, from start to end, whereas a set is made up of repetitions. An example repetition for a bicep curl would be where one repetition is moving the dumbbell from your waist, contracting at the elbow to move the dumbbell to the top of your shoulder, and then back down. A set is then created from a number of repetitions, with several sets usually being the goal of an exercise. The most traditional set and repetition model for beginners is 3 sets comprising of 12 repetitions, with one minute of rest between the sets.
The time you take away from the gym and exercise can be just as important as the time you put in. If you are new to exercise, resting for between 48 - 72 hrs is recommended between muscle groups to allow time for the muscles to recover. Not allowing for rest can result in overtraining and injury.
BALANCE CARDIO WITH STRENGTH TRAINING
For strength training to be effective, cardio training has to be limited as it can be counterproductive to try and work the two together due to the physical energy required. While cardio is important for overall health, under a strength training program, cardiovascular fitness will not be the priority and therefore time spent on cardio should be limited in order to reserve energy for resistance training.
To make the most of any exercise program, you have to ensure that the amount of food you are eating matches your goals. In order to gain strength, you will need to eat more calories than your resting metabolism. More information on nutrition can be found here:
FURTHER INFORMATION ON EXERCISES
If you would like further resources on exercises that can benefit some of the weak muscles caused by CMT, follow the links below: