Weight Training and Chiropractic Care in MN
Weight training is a
vital part of a balanced exercise routine that includes aerobic activity
and flexibility exercises.
Regular cardio exercise, such as a stationary bike, makes your muscles
use oxygen more efficiently and strengthens your heart and lungs. When
you strength train with weights, you're using your muscles to work
against the extra pounds (this concept is called resistance). This
strengthens and increases the amount of muscle mass in your body by
making your muscles work harder than they're used to.
Most people who work out with weights typically use two different kinds:
free weights (including barbells, dumbbells, and hand weights)
and weight machines. Free weights usually work a group of muscles
at the same time; weight machines typically are designed to help you
isolate and work on a specific muscle.
Most gyms or weight rooms set up their machines in a circuit, or
group, of exercises that you perform to strengthen different groups of
muscles. People can also use resistance bands and even their own body
weight (as in pushups, sit-ups, or body weight squats) for strength
training. Many people tend to lump all types of weightlifting together,
but there's a big difference between strength training, powerlifting,
and competitive bodybuilding!
Strength training uses resistance methods like free weights, weight
machines, resistance bands, or a person's own weight to build muscles
and strength. Olympic lifting, or powerlifting, which people often think
of when they think of weightlifting, concentrates on how much weight a
person can lift at one time. Competitive bodybuilding involves
evaluating muscle definition and symmetry, as well as size.
Before you start strength training, you should be checked out by your
chiropractor to make sure it's safe for you to lift weights. Any time
you start a new sport or activity, start out slowly so that your body
gets used to the increase in activity. Even if you think you're not
exerting yourself very much, if you've never lifted weights before, your
muscles may be sore when you wake up the next day. And, because of
something called delayed onset muscle soreness, the pain may be at its
worst 2 or 3 days after you first exercise. Before you begin any type of
strength training routine, get some guidance and expert advice. Your
coach or trainer can give you advice on how many times a week you should
lift and what kinds of warm-up and cool-down activities you should do
before and after lifting to avoid soreness or injury.
When lifting weights — either free weights or on a machine — make sure
that there's always someone nearby to supervise, or spot, you.
This person, called a spotter, encourages you and also can act as your
coach, telling you if you're not doing a particular exercise correctly.
Having a spotter nearby is particularly important when using free
weights. Even someone in great shape sometimes just can't make that last
rep. It's no big deal if you're doing bicep curls; all you'll have to do
is drop the weight onto the floor. But if you're in the middle of a
bench press — a chest exercise where you're lying on a bench and pushing
a loaded barbell away from your chest — it's easy to become trapped
under a heavy weight. A spotter can keep you from dropping the barbell
onto your chest. . If you're just starting out in the weight room, most
fitness experts recommend you begin by training three sessions a week,
ranging from 20 minutes to 1 hour (including warm-up and cool-down
periods), allowing at least a day off between sessions. It's best to
work only two or three muscle groups during each session. For example,
you can work your leg muscles one day, your chest, shoulders, and
triceps at the next session, and your back and biceps on the last.
Before you head for the weight bench, warm up your muscles by spending
5–10 minutes pedaling on a stationary bicycle or by taking a brisk walk
around the gym. After finishing your workout, cool down by stretching
all the major muscle groups to avoid injuries and keep your muscles
You can use many different exercises for each body part, but the basics
— like bench presses, lat pull-downs, and squats — are great to start
with. Learn proper technique first, without any added weight. Perform
three sets of 8–10 repetitions (or reps) of each exercise, starting out
with a light weight to warm up and increasing the weight slightly with
the second and third sets. (Add more weight only after you can
successfully perform 8–15 repetitions in good form.) Perform two to
three different exercises for each body part to make sure you work each
muscle in the group effectively.
Here are some basic rules to follow in strength training:
Don't rely on strength
training as your only form of exercise. You still need to get your heart
and lungs working harder by doing some kind of additional aerobic
exercise for a minimum of 20–30 minutes per session. Chiropractors
recommend an hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity — so on days
when you're not lifting weights, you may want to get more aerobic
Start with body weight exercises for a few weeks
(such as sit-ups, pushups, and pull-ups) before using weights.
Work out with weights about three times a week. Avoid
weight training on back-to-back days.
Warm up for 5–10 minutes before each session.
Spend no more than 40 minutes in the weight room to
avoid fatigue or boredom.
Work more reps; avoid maximum lifts. (A coach or
teacher can give you specifics based upon your needs.)
Ensure you're using proper technique through
supervision. Improper technique may result in injuries, particularly
in the shoulder and back.
Cool down for 5–10 minutes after each session,
stretching the muscles you worked out.
Strength training is a great way to improve strength, endurance, and
muscle tone. But remember to start slowly, use proper form, avoid heavy
weights, and increase workouts gradually to prevent injury. Just a few
short sessions a week will really pay off — besides better muscle tone
and definition, you may find that you have more energy and focus in both
activities of daily living and your occupation.