lessons from MS: when in doubt, lift heavy.

14Aug13

Another lesson I’ve learned from MS, the great teacher: to keep my strength, I need to lift heavy at the gym.

There’s a trend in gym fitness classes toward endurance-based strength training. For most people, ain’t nuthin’ wrong with that. (Though I’d love to see most people balance this with some short sets of heavy lifting.) As someone who enjoys social exercise, I find myself one day per week in a weights class where we’ll do 5 minutes of chest work with little break, then 5 minutes of triceps work… you get the idea. It’s great for stamina, which is definitely a real-world skill to develop.

Were it not for this pesky disease which rids me of muscle, I might be fine taking this class a few times a week for my strength training component. However, I spend at least 4 other days a week in the weight room doing 3 sets of 8-10 reps cycling through other body parts: legs one day, back/biceps another day… sometimes I have to modify based on what’s sore… sometimes I’ll put three body parts in a day and lengthen the weight workout if I have more time, if I feel more energetic that week… it’s never written in stone.

But the general tiredness that manifests… I find sometimes that I get to rep #7 in my own workouts and think–“I don’t wanna,” and I give up, rest a few, then start the next set. Or for the same reason, I lift the same weight over and over again, months on end.

Since my diagnosis, however, I’ve found that not only has this plateaued my progress, it has weakened me. Recently, during my weight workouts, I’ve picked one exercise to really challenge. By that, I try to increase my dumbbell size for each of the three sets (if feasible), or I slow down on reps 5-10, or something that will really leave me sore the next day.

Because I’m learning (through this “wonderful” teacher) that the tiredness is just fleeting, just momentary. I just take a moment to make sure I’m set up properly and won’t hurt myself, and push a little harder. If I’m sore somewhere the next day, I know that my workout did something, and that hopefully my muscles will rebuild more strongly.

So… don’t be afraid to push your limits. You may surprise yourself.

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One Response to “lessons from MS: when in doubt, lift heavy.”


  1. 1 strength training for ms… my opinion | In Search of My New Normal

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