Strength is defined and maintained in many ways. In general strengthening means being able to do more activity with some part of your body. Most of the strengthening exercises we use at Great Plains focus on getting particular muscles or groups of muscles to improve functioning by:
- Getting you to use more of the cells in your muscles at the same time so you can lift or pull harder
- Improving the endurance of the muscle cells so they let you do more things for longer periods
- Making the muscles cells bigger so you have more muscle
Strength increases in response to a challenge – muscles without challenge equates to losing strength. That’s why sitting around makes you weaker. But how you challenge your muscles can make a big difference in how quickly you get results. Too little or too much can slow you down and waste your time. To get the most out of your exercises there are a few general principles:
- Be regular. Daily (especially same time of day) at first to get things going. After several weeks taking two (2) days off a week is okay.
- Use good form. Don’t rush through, flinging your body parts around, as you will only use the parts of you that are already strong. Strength exercise should be challenging – to the muscles that need to be challenged, not the ones that are doing fine.
- Breathe! The whole idea of doing the exercises is so your body parts can be relied on to do what you need done in life eventually. That means they need to be able to do their part while you go through your day. A life where you breathe all the time. You don’t want to have to hold your breath to go upstairs because you trained your glutes to only work when you hold your breath do you?
- Know that from a therapy perspective there is an endpoint. For most problems you don’t have to do these for life, once the muscles work well again you will use them automatically during the day and that will keep them strong. (Provided you keep moving. If you take up residence on the couch all bets are off!)
- Things improve stepwise – not steadily. You will have a period of big change and then it will seem like nothing for days and weeks. Then it all improves in a hurry again. It is not a steady improvement. When you think you are not getting stronger your body is actually busy making all the proteins and enzymes and blood vessels it needs to be stronger, but you won’t notice that until it is all done and your system comes online all together. Continuing to exercise during those periods stimulates the body to keep making all that internal stuff you need for strength improvement.