Week 2 Video Tip: Upper Body Strengthening Exercises Using Common Household Items
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Upper Body Strengthening Exercises Using Common Household Items:
This week's tip is about finding items in or around your home that can be used for strength training. Not everyone has access to the gym or to expensive weight training specific equipment, like hand weights (shown in video). But if you have items such as soup cans, candles, and milk jugs, you can still perform upper body strengthening exercises using these items, even just while you watch television.
Today we will demonstrate 2 different upper body exercises, the bicep curl and tricep extension. If you use a wheelchair, transfers and seated push-ups (used to prevent pressure sores) are essential movements that should be performed several times a day. Two important muscle groups that are needed to perform these tasks are the triceps and biceps brachii (locations of these muscles are shown in video). If you exercise your biceps, you will also want to exercise your triceps to maintain muscular balance since these muscle groups create opposite movements.
Improved strength in these muscle groups is also very important for getting up from the floor. People with balance impairments have a higher incidence of falls and will occasionally have to lift themselves up from the floor.
In addition to the directions for each individual exercise, also remember the following general guidelines for performing strength training exercises:
- Do not hold your breath. Instead, exhale (or breathe out) while pushing the weight up or out (during the hardest part of the exercise) and inhale (or breathe in) while letting the weight down or in (returning to starting position).
- 'Think tall' and keep your tummy tight to maintain your posture throughout the exercise. It is important not to slump or arch your back.
- If your goal is to increase your muscular endurance, you should use lighter weights and perform eight to twelve repetitions.
- If your goal is to increase your muscular strength, you should use heavier weights and perform five to eight repetitions.
Sit up straight in a chair, keeping your abdominals contracted for trunk stability and feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart. Exhale as you bend the elbows and bring the weights towards your shoulders, taking care to keep the elbows tucked into your side. Inhale as you slowly lower the weights back to your side, but don't straighten your arm completely. Keep the tension on the muscle throughout the movement. Repeat this process 8-12 times for 3 sets.
Begin by sitting up straight in a chair, keeping your abdominals contracted for trunk stability. Keep your head up and your feet firmly on the floor, shoulder width apart. Holding the weight, extend one arm overhead while using your other hand to support that arm in its position, if needed. Inhale as you slowly lower the weight straight down behind your head, keeping your elbow in one fixed point. Be sure to lower the weight in a slow, controlled manner, and do not let the weight drop behind your head. Exhale as you raise it back up to the starting position. Do not lock your elbows when you bring the weight back up toward the top of the motion. Repeat this process 8-12 times for 3 sets.
Many individuals who use wheelchairs have poor trunk musculature and therefore may have difficulty in performing overhead exercises especially while maintaining appropriate form. It may be necessary to wear a chest strap that attaches to the back of the wheelchair in order to maintain good trunk stability during upper body exercises. These straps or belts can be purchased in most medical supply stores. In other cases, trunk instability may require that you find an alternative way in which to exercise the targeted chosen muscle. Please give us a call or consult the following resources if you have any questions regarding adapting an exercise (312-996-5965).
The following resources are also available on our website to assist you with resistance training:
For questions, please call Blythe Hiss at 312-996-5965.