Strength Train For Your Heart Health

Did you know that after the age of 40 you begin to lose 3%-8% of your muscle mass per decade, and after the age of 70 this muscle mass loss increases to 15% per decade?

This loss of muscle mass is the fundamental cause of falls, and disability in older people. As we lose muscle mass we lose muscle strength, which directly impacts our ability to perform our daily activities and maintain our independence.

Evidence shows we lose leg strength at about 10-15% per decade after age 40, and then 25% – 40% every decade after age 70. That’s incredible! As we lose our muscle mass, we gain fat, have an increased risk of insulin resistance, bone density decreases, joint stiffness increases, and our risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and osteoporosis rise!

For these reasons it is EXTREMELY important for strength training to be part of our weekly exercise routine. Strength training 2x per week consistently, can minimize, or even reverse both muscle mass, and muscle strength loss. This will dramatically impact our ability to maintain independence, avoid falls & frailty, and decrease our risk of chronic disease including heart disease.

Consistency is the key! The best thoughts go to waste without a plan and an action to follow. So sit down and make a plan as to when you will do your strength training session twice a week, and then the trick is to follow through! Tell someone about your plan, write it down, plan to exercise with a friend, whatever it takes to hold yourself accountable. You can even tell us about it.. we would be happy to check in on you and see how its going!

Below is a strength training routine that captures all the main muscle groups to keep your whole body strong! Complete 10 repetitions for each exercise, and perform each exercise 2 -3 times. I

I have also included a video where I demonstrate each exercise.

Start with a gentle warm up: 5-10 min walk or any of the warm ups in our exercise classes.

1) Squats:

  • Stand with feet forward and hip width apart, chair placed behind you (optional), and your arms raised out in front of you for balance.
  • Keep your chest lifted, looking straight ahead
  • Press your hips back as you bend your knees and lower yourself as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Make sure your knees stay in line with your toes.
  • Squeeze your bum muscles as you stand back up
  • Repeat 10 times
  • To Add weight:
    • With dumbbells in your hands, either hold your hands down at your sides, or bend your elbows and hold the weight at your shoulders.
    • With tubing stand on your tube with the handles either at your sides or pulled up to your shoulders.

2) Deadlifts:

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  • Keeping a soft bend in your knees, and holding your knees still
  • Hinge forward from your hips, lowering your chest towards the floor.
  • Back stays flat while you hinge forward, keeping your head above heart level. (important not to go too low)
  • You may feel some slight tension in the back of your thighs.
  • Squeeze your bum hard to pull yourself back to standing.
  • To Add weight:
    • With dumbbells in your hands, keep your shoulders back, and let weights trace down the front of your legs and shins until you stop lowering.
    • With tubing, stand on the tube, and grab the band low by your shins. From that point, squeeze your bum to stand back up.

3) Calf raises:

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart, near a wall for balance (optional)
  • Raise up on to your toes as high as you can
  • Lower yourself back down with control
  • Add Weight:
    • With dumbbells, hold the weight at your sides
    • With tubing, stand with the tube under the ball of your feet, and hold handles either at your waist, or up at your shoulders
    • Option, is to stand on a step so heels have the option of falling below your toes. Increases the range of motion you have to move. (be mindful of your balance)

4) Chest Press:

Dumbells:

  • Roll back onto a bench, roll out on an exercise ball so the ball supports your body and head, or lay on the floor or bed.
  • With the dumbbells in your hands, extend your arms straight (soft bend in your elbows) so they are in line with your shoulders.
  • Wrists are flat, like they are splinted between two boards
  • Bend your elbows out to the sides, to lower the weight.
  • Maintain your hands over your shoulders.
  • Elbows should not go lower than your shoulders.
  • Press back up to the starting position.
  • Keep breathing

Tubing:

  • Standing feet hip width apart, place the band behind your back, and under your arms.
  • Hold onto either the handles, or grab onto the band itself, sinching up closer to your chest to create more tension.
  • Holding elbows at shoulder height, press forward to extend arms, controlling the motion as you return to the starting position.

5) Row:

Dumbbells:

  • Stand with one foot in front of the other.
  • Hinge forward to bring your chest parallel to the floor.
  • With your weight in one hand, place your free hand on your front thigh for support.
  • With shoulders back, hold the arm with the weight straight below your shoulder.
  • Pull your elbow towards the ceiling to lift the weight
  • Control your motion as you lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Switch hands after you complete 10 repetitions.

Tubing:

  • Stand with one foot in front of the other. Tubing under the front foot.
  • Hinge forward to bring your chest parallel to the floor
  • With the tubing in one hand, place your free hand on your front thigh for support.
  • With shoulders back, pull the tubing back, draw your elbow back towards the ceiling.
  • Control your motion as you lower the weight back to the starting position.
  • Pass the tube to the other hand after you complete 10 repetitions.

6) Shoulder press:

Dumbbells:

  • Standing with feet hip width apart, soft bend in your knees
  • With a dumbbell in one hand, raise arm so elbow is in line with your shoulder and bent to 90 degrees.
  • Press hand towards ceiling.
    • Note: if you have had open heart surgery within the last 8 weeks, you want to work both hands at the same time so there are no sheering forces on your chest. This may mean you have to keep the weight light.
    • It is easier on the heart to lift one arm at a time, which is why we suggest this method. However if you have had open heart surgery recently, it is better for you to do both hands at the same time, just with lighter weights.
  • Return to starting position with control

Tubing:

  • Stand with feet shoulder width apart, soft bend in your knees
  • Stand on one end of the tube with one foot
  • Raise arm to shoulder height, elbow bent and in line with shoulders, hand facing the sky.
  • Press tubing up to the ceiling, and lower back down to starting position with control.
  • Switch the tube to the other side when 10 repetitions are complete.
    • Note: If you have recently had open heart surgery, sit to complete this exercise instead.
    • Place tubing under your legs, hanging on to both handles
    • Arms raised to shoulder height, elbows bent and in line with your shoulders.
    • Press both hands to the ceiling at the same time.

7) Bicep Curls:

Dumbbells:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart, soft bend in your knees
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward.
  • Keeping elbows tucked against your sides. (Elbows to not move away from your side.. they always stay stationary)
  • Raise your palms towards your shoulders, and lower back to starting position with control.
    • Option to lift one arm at a time.

Tubing:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart, soft bend in your knees, and tubing under your feet.
  • Holding one handle in each hand.
  • Elbows tucked into your sides and do not move
  • Raise hands towards shoulders, and return with control to the starting position.
    • Option to lift one arm at a time.

8) Tricep Press:

Dumbbells:

  • Standing with one foot in front of the other
  • Hinge forward to bring chest towards the floor
  • Hold on to weight with one hand, & place free hand on thigh for support
  • Bring elbow in line with body, and hold elbow still
  • With elbow bent so weight is facing the ground, straighten elbow so weight now faces behind you.
  • Return to starting position with control
  • Once 10 repetitions are complete, switch sides.

Tubing:

  • Standing with feet hip width apart
  • Fold tube in half, and grab onto fold.
  • Take this hand and place it on your opposite shoulder
  • With the free hand, grab onto tube halfway down. Elbow will start bent at about 90 degrees, and tucked into your side.
  • Straighten arm to bring hand down towards hip, and return to the starting position
  • Once 10 repetitions are complete, switch sides

9) Dead Bug:

  • Laying flat on the floor or bed
  • Lift feet so knees are bent and shins parallel to the ground
  • Raise arms to hands are reaching for the ceiling
  • Keeping back pressed into the floor
  • Lower one straight arm back towards your head, and the opposite leg towards the floor.
  • Pull back to starting position and switch sides
  • Keep breathing, and maintain back position.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me! Have fun staying strong!!

Shawna

Shawna Cook

Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.

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