What Form of Strength Training is Right for You?

By: Becky Chase M.S., RCEP
Leah Baron M.S.
JinLyi Mah PSU Exercise & Sports Physiology Student-Intern

 

Leah Baron, MS and Rebeccah Chase, MS, CSCS, RCEP 2The goal of strength training is to build strength, increase our muscle’s body ability to utilize energy without oxygen and to increase the size of skeletal muscle. The body’s muscular strength is used in almost every daily activity from sitting down and standing up to mowing the lawn. Men and women start to lose muscle mass and strength as early as age 30. It is important to maintain our ability to perform activities of daily living with strength training.

RESISTANCE TRAINING

Many people think of dumbbells and barbells when thinking of strength training. There are many other forms of resistance training including bodyweight exercise, suspension training, bands, and machines. No form or type of resistance training is superior to another; what matters is that you are working hard and providing enough of a stimulus to maintain or increase the strength of your muscles during the aging process.

Bodyweight and gravity are used as resistance during bodyweight exercises. Common examples of bodyweight exercises are a push-up, pull up, sit up, and jumping. All bodyweight exercises can be made more or less challenging with small adjustments. A push-up is less challenging when done at an incline with hands on a chair, table or wall. This places less body weight on your arms and chest and more towards the legs making the exercise easier for beginners.

SUSPENSION TRAINING

Suspension training is a mode of strength training that uses bodyweight and a form of straps. The most popular suspension training device is Total Body Resistance Exercise, TRX.  This fitness tool is made out of high-quality nylon straps with handles at the bottom which can hold up to 1,400 pounds. TRX has become very popular and can be seen in most fitness facilities, yet only a handful of people are willing to give it try.  It is designed for all fitness levels and abilities. By changing body position, resistance will increase or decrease making the exercise easier or more difficult. Every muscle group in the body can be trained using the TRX and almost every bodyweight and free weight exercise can be performed using the TRX including some exercises that can only be performed with a suspension trainer.

Bands and tubing are often used in resistance training when dumbbells are not available. The further the band or tube stretches, the more resistance there is provided. Bands and tubes come in a variety of colors, each color dictates a different resistance level. An advantage of using bands and tubes compared to other strength training modalities is only one or a few bands are needed to perform a multitude of exercises. Other advantages include low cost and easy storage.

STRENGTH TRAINING

strength training

Strength machines are even more common than dumbbells or barbells for strength training. Strength machines are usually found at fitness centers, though some multi-use strength machines like a Total Gym are available for home use. There is a strength machine for almost every muscle group in the body and some gyms provide all of these machines in one location. Strength machines are very popular because of their ease of use and safety. However, many strength training experts disapprove of strength machines. Strength machines isolate muscle groups while decreasing the need for supportive stabilization muscles.

Which modality of strength training is best? The answer is none of them! All strength modalities have advantages and disadvantages. To maintain or improve muscular strength throughout the day, it is important to always provide enough resistance to make a positive change in the muscle and to change your exercise routine about once a month, to keep the body responding. Many people like a variety of strength training types to keep their workout fun and exciting. For any exercise, it is crucial to use proper technique to avoid injury and get the most you can out of the exercise. It is advised to have a certified trainer to demonstrate and guide these exercises to ensure proper form and prevent unwanted injuries.

RehabFit is a fitness center for people of all ages and abilities with special attention to members with medical conditions and diseases. RehabFit features cardio machines, dumbbells, TRX suspension trainers and strength machines. Becky and Leah are exercise specialists at RehabFit and are happy to help with any strength training modality and all fitness. Stop by RehabFit to take a tour at Boulder Point in Plymouth or call (603) 238-2225. No referral needed!

 

 

RehabFit Exercise of the Week – Calf Stretch Lunge

The RehabFit Exercise of the Week is presented by Speare Memorial Hospital’s medical fitness team members, Leah Baron, MS and Rebeccah Chase, MS, CSCS, RCEP. This week they present how to do the Calf Stretch Lunge. This is a popular stretch because it can be done anywhere, and it improves mobility as well as flexibility.

Your calves are made up of two muscles: The gastrocnemius, which is the large part you probably think of as your calf muscle, and the soleus, which lies underneath it. These muscles connect up at the knee and at the bottom of the heel. Your calves get tight over time if you sit at a desk all day without walking around. Your shoes can also play a role, high heels restrict the full range of motion of that muscle group, as do any shoe with a really stiff bottom that doesn’t allow the foot to roll from the heel to the ball of the foot.

RehabFit is a fitness center for people of all ages and abilities with special attention to members with medical conditions and diseases. RehabFit features cardio machines, dumbbells, TRX suspension trainers and strength machines. Becky and Leah are exercise specialists at RehabFit and are happy to help with any strength training modality and all fitness. Stop by RehabFit to take a tour at Boulder Point in Plymouth or call (603) 238-2225. No referral needed!

RehabFit Exercise of the Week: The Bird Dog

The RehabFit Exercise of the Week is presented by Speare Memorial Hospital’s medical fitness team members, Leah Baron, MS and Rebeccah Chase, MS, CSCS, RCEP. This week they present how to do the Bird Dog.

The Bird Dog exercise is a classic core exercise that emphasizes lower back strength and balance. If you’ve never done it before, the first few reps make seem awkward and difficult to balance, but once you get the form down, you’ll want to make it a staple in your exercise program.

RehabFit is a fitness center for people of all ages and abilities with special attention to members with medical conditions and diseases. RehabFit features cardio machines, dumbbells, TRX suspension trainers and strength machines. Becky and Leah are exercise specialists at RehabFit and are happy to help with any strength training modality and all fitness. Stop by RehabFit to take a tour at Boulder Point in Plymouth or call (603) 238-2225. No referral needed!

RehabFit Exercise of the Week: Chair Sit to Stand

The RehabFit Exercise of the Week is presented by Speare Memorial Hospital’s medical fitness team members, Leah Baron, MS and Rebeccah Chase, MS, CSCS, RCEP. This week they present how to do the Chair Sit to Stand.

Chair Sit to Stand cropped

It’s easy to take sitting and standing for granted as a fit, younger adult, but for some people, it is often a struggle to stand up from low chairs or soft couches. The Sit to Stand chair exercise is an excellent precursor to squats that can help gain or maintain the ability to get in and out of chairs independently, improving leg strength, functional balance, and control.

The sit-and-stand is just what it sounds like.

  • Start seated in a sturdy chair, feet planted on the floor about hip-distance apart.
  • Using as little assistance from hands or arms as possible, engage your core, and tip forward from the hips.
  • Press your weight through all four corners of your feet and push yourself to stand, extending your knees and hips fully.
  • Reverse the movement, pressing your hips back and bending your knees to carefully lower yourself to the seated position.

If you can’t press all the way to a standing position, simply shift your weight forward and lift your glutes an inch or two from the chair seat and hold for a second before lowering back down. Over time, work on developing the strength and balance necessary to come to a standing position.

RehabFit is a fitness center for people of all ages and abilities with special attention to members with medical conditions and diseases. RehabFit features cardio machines, dumbbells, TRX suspension trainers and strength machines. Becky and Leah are exercise specialists at RehabFit and are happy to help with any strength training modality and all fitness. Stop by RehabFit to take a tour at Boulder Point in Plymouth or call (603) 238-2225. No referral needed!

RehabFit Exercise of the Week – TRX Low Row

The RehabFit Exercise of the Week is presented by Speare Memorial Hospital’s medical fitness team members, Leah Baron, MS and Rebeccah Chase, MS, CSCS, RCEP. This week they present how to do the TRX Low Row.

TRX is a form of suspension training that uses bodyweight exercises to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously. It requires the use of the TRX Suspension Trainer, a performance training tool that leverages gravity and the user’s body weight to complete the exercises.

RehabFit is a fitness center for people of all ages and abilities with special attention to members with medical conditions and diseases. RehabFit features cardio machines, dumbbells, TRX suspension trainers and strength machines. Becky and Leah are exercise specialists at RehabFit and are happy to help with any strength training modality and all fitness. Stop by RehabFit to take a tour at Boulder Point in Plymouth or call (603) 238-2225. No referral needed!

Rehab Fit Member of the Month for August: Louise Randall

Louise Randall August 2018Louise joined RehabFit in May 2016. She is a regular attendee of the 8 am Strength & Balance Performance Class. Louise’s goal was to strengthen her legs to prepare for a knee replacement surgery. After surgery, she attended Choice PT and continued to rehab her knee at RehabFit. Louise is currently preparing for her second knee replacement. 

Why did you decide to join RehabFit?

When I moved from Laconia to Plymouth I was looking for a new fitness center and found RehabFit. I was looking for a gym to strengthen my lower body to prepare for a knee replacement surgery. RehabFit has a great strength and balance class that challenges me and helped me prepare for the knee replacement. 

What changes have you made in your exercise or health routine since joining RehabFit?

When I started at RehabFit I was using the treadmill and stationary bike. Since then I have learned how to do strength training using the machines and free weights. The strength and balance class has also helped with whole body strengthening.

What motivates you to keep exercising and coming to RehabFit?

I started the strength and balance class to prepare for my knee replacement surgery; I found it very helpful so I came back. I wanted to continue to get stronger so I came back two months after my surgery. I am now preparing for my next knee surgery.

 What changes have you seen in your body, health or general well being since starting at RehabFit?

My weight used to fluctuate a lot and now it is more stabilized. I am feeling better and stronger overall.

 Have you had any setbacks that affected your routine or progress at RehabFit?

I had a shoulder injury and received physical therapy at Choice PT. I also attended therapy for my knee replacement. I had good results both times!

 What kind of advice would you give to other RehabFit members?

Try to get to RehabFit at least 3 times a week. Definitely join the strength and balance performance class!

RehabFIT is a state-of-the-art facility featuring Technogym equipment and the Technogym SmartKey wellness system software to track, monitor and analyze performance.

The goal of our Medical Fitness Program is to encourage members to take responsibility for their physical well-being and to provide the knowledge, tools and supports necessary to reinforce healthy choices and behaviors. We offer a comprehensive array of exercise, fitness and wellness services to our members, provided by highly qualified, service-oriented staff.

For more information and/or schedule a tour call (603) 238-2225.

RehabFit Members of the Month for May: Doris & Dean Roth

May 2018Doris and Dean joined RehabFit in November! They wanted to stay moving during the winter and prepare for outdoor work during the warm months. Doris holds herself and Dean accountable to maintain consistency at RehabFit. Dean just turned 92 and is always ready for new exercises and challenges! 

Why did you decide to join RehabFit?

We began coming to RehabFit in November 2017. Winter is long in NH and we don’t get much exercise, so we thought it would be a good place to keep ourselves in shape for summer when we have a lot of work to do outdoors. It is also good for us to stay fit with cardio, strength and balance. 

What changes have you made in your exercise or health routine since joining RehabFit?

We come to RehabFit three times a week, so that is a more consistent pattern than in the past. It is easier for us to be committed to doing this than it is to exercise at home on our own. Maybe because we know Becky is counting on us to come in! 

What motivates you to keep exercising and coming to RehabFit?

We like RehabFit because of the clean and bright atmosphere. The staff is always ready to help and make sure we are using equipment and doing exercises correctly. We have made progress in our fitness and that is motivating. Sometimes we even add more weight or reps then what we are asked to do! The exercise program and smart key keep pushing us and help us work harder. Our programs also change about every 6 weeks so that we don’t get bored doing the same exercises for months. 

What changes have you seen in your body, health or general well being since starting at RehabFit?

It seems like we must be getting stronger because we can lift heavier weights and do harder exercises compared to when we started. The proof will be in our stamina this spring and summer when we are pruning trees, hoeing corn, mowing lawns and raking leaves. 

What kind of advice would you give to other RehabFit members?

Be consistent and show up! It is so easy to find excuses, but they will never help you. Look to the future and remember that a little effort now will help you live a long and much easier life down the road. Dean just had is 92nd birthday, so he would tell you it is never too late to get moving and come to RehabFit.     

RehabFIT is a state-of-the-art facility featuring Technogym equipment and the Technogym SmartKey wellness system software to track, monitor and analyze performance.

The goal of our Medical Fitness Program is to encourage members to take responsibility for their physical well-being and to provide the knowledge, tools and supports necessary to reinforce healthy choices and behaviors. We offer a comprehensive array of exercise, fitness and wellness services to our members, provided by highly qualified, service-oriented staff.

For more information and/or schedule a tour call (603) 238-2225.

RehabFit’s Member of the Month for February – Linda Allen

February rehabfit Member of the month Linda AllenLinda has been a member of RehabFit since October 2017! Linda has worked hard in the balance improvement class and is dedicated to exercising at RehabFit three days per week. She has made great strides in overall strength and balance!


  • Why did you decide to join RehabFit?
    • I joined RehabFit when it was recommended to me after finishing Physical Therapy. I had 2 knee operations on the same knee and needed to get back in shape.
  • What changes have you seen in your body or made in your lifestyle since you have joined?
    • I can do more things, like shopping and housework without help. I love to cook and now I can stand at the stove and oven and make great meals.
  • What motivates you to keep coming to RehabFit?
    • I made a commitment to myself to do the best I can to improve my knee and get stronger. By coming to RehabFit, I feel so much better about myself and my health.
  • Have you had any setbacks that affected your health and fitness progress while attending RehabFit? What were the setbacks and how did you proceed?
    • Over the holidays, I missed going to the gym but I started back up at the start of January. Now I come in for physical therapy, workout for an hour in the gym, and attend the Balance Improvement Class three times a week. It feels great to get back to my routine.
  • What kind of advice would you give to other RehabFit members?
    • Don’t give up. Do it for yourself, you’re worth it. Once you get into a routine it will come naturally and you won’t skip a workout or class. Good luck on your new get fit adventure!

Our RehabFit team includes registered physical and occupational therapists with advanced degrees and certificates with expertise in orthopedics, industrial medicine, occupational rehabilitation, hand therapy, health and safety and other specialty areas. Our therapists have clinical education in Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) – a manual therapy designed to treat overused muscles. Click here for more information or call (603) 238-2225