Weight Training and Arthritis – How To Pick The Right Exercises


People with arthritis need to be very careful when exercising and especially weight lifting but being active plays an important role in becoming stronger for these individuals. In fact, it has been found that weight-bearing activity can help strengthen joints in people with arthritis and give density to bones in people who suffer from osteoporosis. Many doctors will encourage their diagnosed clients to take up exercise if they have not already but they need to do so progressively and with very slow movements when starting out. This is excellent news for active individuals who suffer from these diseases and for those who are not active it is even more essential that they get started!

It’s important to work within the proper range of motion at all times when you’re working out with arthritis. People with arthritis can have good days and then they can have bad days so it’s important to avoid exercising when you you’re not feeling well. Learning to read your own body and choosing whether or not to take the day off and rest is crucial when following an exercise program.

Certain exercises are better choices than others due to the specific movements and range of motion. Making a decision based on each individual is always the best choice since some people can do more than others within a safe range. Once again, listen to your body and avoid overdoing it at all times.

Squats can be a scary exercise so make it a little easier by using a ball behind your back which is a great modification for a person with arthritis. Even a joint sufferer can do a beginner squat and work toward achieving a full range of motion. Hold the weights in your hands to help enhance the weight-bearing effect with the squat exercise.

You can enhance bicep curls by standing on one foot or being seated on an exercise ball with one foot elevated. Make sure to switch your legs after each set. This will really help activate the ankle joint while working the biceps, core, wrists, elbows and shoulder joints. Other exercises you can try this way include front or side shoulder dumbbell raises, overhead dumbbell shoulder presses and overhead tricep presses. Always focus on paying close attention to your core at all times.

Working out on the cable machine or using elastic exercise bands is always ideal for those who don’t have the ability to use free weights. Machines are great also but working with cables and bands will allow a free range of motion whereas the machines will limit your range of motion to some degree. Exercises listed in ShapeFit’s exercise database that you might want to use include cable crosses, bicep curls, tricep pushdowns, upright rows, hip extensions, along with inner and outer thigh pulls.

Using lower cables allow for mid back rows which are excellent to help enhance your postural muscles. When using upper cables, such as the lat pull machine, you should focus on pulling the bar to the chest with a shoulder width grip to execute this exercise without aggravating existing joint problems even further. If the exercise is performed incorrectly, impingements can occur which can cause additional pain.

An exercise ball is a great tool to use beyond squats or doing basic seated balance training. The ball can also assist you through exercise like chest presses, chest flys, rear deltoid flys, ab crunches, pushups, knee pull ins, and additional abdominal training. I highly recommend the exercise ball to everyone! I like to have my clients perform bridges on the exercise ball with their feet up on the ball or their head on the ball because both ways will provide a great workout.

Make sure you are fully hydrated during your workout by drinking enough water and try to always use an exercise mat when performing balance work on the ground. Try to stretch for additional relief and circulation but avoid stretching beyond the point of pain. Keep your stretches passive and you will be on the right track. Remember, consistency and dedication in training is a must for success and reaching your fitness goals.

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About Author

Linda Cusmano

Linda is a national level fitness and figure pro who dabbles in bodybuilding competitions, obstacle and strength challenges along with fitness model competitions. She is a triple certified elite personal trainer and the owner of Body Rush Personal Training. See my profile page for more information!

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