Strength Training Guidelines
The following guidelines should be followed by individuals with SCI as they engage in a strength training exercise program:
- Training sessions should be held three days per week.
- Refrain from training the same muscle groups on consecutive days.
- Upper-body pushing and pressing exercises (bench press, overhead press) will help transfers and wheeling, while pulling/rowing exercises will help prevent shoulder overuse injuries and improve sitting posture.
- If you do not transfer weight regularly, perform wheelchair push-ups every 10 to 30 minutes and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. When doing wheelchair push-ups, be sure to bend the elbows slightly.
- Use straps or a partner for stabilization and balance.
- Vary exercises to reduce over-use injuries and emphasize muscle groups that are still functional.
Types of strength training that benefit individuals with SCI are free weights, weight machines (e.g., Nautilus), medicine ball, wall pulley, cable columns, and theraband.