Fitness

 

Strength In Numbers

These 11 easy, at-home repetitions are designed to build bone mass and help ward off the onset of osteoporosis.
by John Kripsak, D.O.
Women begin losing bone mass at age 18. We all know the drill to prevent this — consuming calcium in conjunction with vitamin D — right? What many women don’t realize is that to truly strengthen their bones, they must also incorporate weight-bearing exercises into their weekly program.
There is a medical axiom known as Wolff’s Law, which states that bone develops in response to physical stress. I learned this application while I was a medical resident: My health club was also a karate dojo, and I would often see students hitting themselves on the arms and legs with a bowling pin. I asked an attending physician at my hospital — himself a karate student — about this strange practice. In response, he showed me an X-ray of his forearm. Rather than looking “normal,” it had a bright white, gnarly appearance — the result of months of similar tapping with a bowling pin. The stress applied to his arm had thickened and strengthened his bone. I learned that the whiter the bone is on an X-ray, the denser and stronger it is.

    While this karate exercise is an extreme measure undertaken by those trained in the martial arts (meaning: don’t try this at home!), the principle can be applied to weight-bearing exercise. When performed repetitively, any physical stress, such as weight lifting or heavy manual labor, strengthens the bones. While cardio-vascular exercise is excellent for your heart, it does not promote bone growth as weight training will. If you neglect to lift weights, more friction will be placed on your joints, which could lead to osteoarthritis. The lack of stress to your bones can lead to bone loss and accelerated osteoporosis.

    The following regimen designed by Jennifer Weidemann, an exercise physiologist at Somerset Medical Center Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Center, is an excellent program to help you delay the onset or lessen the severity of osteoporosis.

Dr. John Kripsak is a partner in the Bridgewater Medical Group and director of Sports Medicine Services at Somerset Medical Center.

Bone-Building Resistance Exercises

Strengthening exercises should be performed two to three times per week.  

Use hand weights of approximately 5 to 15 pounds and ankle weights of approximately 2 to 5 pounds. It’s important to select the correct weight for your degree of fitness: If you cannot lift a weight at least eight times with good form, it is too heavy for you. If you can lift a weight more than 10 times, it is too light.

Straight-Leg Raise I Secure ankle weights. Lie on your back. Keeping your stomach muscles tight and left knee bent at a 45-degree angle, tighten the muscles on the front of your right thigh, and then lift your right leg until your right knee is next to your left knee. Pause and then slowly lower until your heel lightly touches the floor. Then, raise again. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions with each leg.

Straight-Leg Raise II Secure ankle weights. Lie on your stomach. Tighten the muscles on the front of your right thigh, and then lift your right leg until the thigh comes off the floor, tightening your buttock muscles. Pause, and then slowly lower your leg until your right thigh lightly touches the floor. Then, raise again. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions with each leg.

Straight-Leg Raise III Secure ankle weights. Lie on your left side (put a pillow under your head for comfort), with your left leg bent at a 45-degree angle and your right leg straight. Tighten the muscles on the front of your right thigh, and then lift your right leg, keeping the toes of your right foot pulled up and pointing forward. Pause, and then slowly lower until your right leg just touches your left leg. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions with each leg.

Push-ups Lie on your stomach. Bend your elbows and place your hands next to your shoulders. Keep your legs straight with your toes pointing down to the floor. Keeping your stomach tight and back straight, push your body off the floor until your elbows are straight. Pause, and then slowly lower to within a few inches of the floor. Perform as many repetitions as you can, building up to 15 repetitions. Do 1–2 sets.

Weighted Squat Keep your head up, back straight, feet pointed slightly out, and elbows bent with dumbbells at shoulder height and palms facing in toward your body. Squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Be sure your knees don’t move beyond the tips of your toes. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, and maintain your weight on your heels. Pause, and then slowly straighten your legs by pushing through your heels to straighten the knees back to their starting position. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions.

Bent-Over Row Hold a 5-pound weight in one hand. Lean over and place the opposite hand and knee on a bench, keeping your back straight. Lift the weight to the side of your chest, keeping the elbow close to your body and squeezing back in your shoulder blade. Pause, and then slowly lower to your starting position. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions.

Biceps Curl With a dumbbell in each hand and both arms at your sides, bend your elbows until your lower arm touches your upper arm. Pause, and then slowly lower your arms to starting position. Do not bend your wrists or allow your elbows to come away from your sides as you move. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions.

Overhead Shoulder Press Stand up straight with your knees slightly bent. Hold dumbbells at shoulder height with palms in and elbows tucked into your body. Press to straighten arms overhead, rotating palms forward at end of movement. Pause and then slowly lower to starting position.
Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions.

Abdominal Crunches Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Holding a 5-pound weight to your chest, push your lower back into the floor, flattening the arch, and hold. Raise your head and shoulder blades a few inches off the floor, keeping your chin tucked in a neutral position. Hold for a count of two and return to the starting position. Do 1–2 sets of 15–20 repetitions.

Wrist Curls Sit on a chair and place your elbows and forearms on your thighs; hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing up. Keeping your back straight, elbows and forearms on thighs, and wrists just beyond the knee, flex wrists up toward your body. Be sure to keep your forearms on your thighs. Pause, and then slowly lower to the starting position. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions.

Wrist Extensions Sit on a chair and place your elbows and forearms on your thighs; hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms down. Keeping your back straight and wrists just beyond the knee, extend wrists back toward body. Keep your forearms on your thighs. Pause, and then slowly lower to starting position. Do 1–2 sets of 8–10 repetitions.

Jennifer Weidemann is an exercise physiologist at Somerset Medical Center Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Center. For more information, visit somersetsportsperformance.com.

Bone-Building Programs


Better Bones Training
: Offered at Can Do Fitness Clubs, this program is designed specifically to promote bone strength. Each trainer has undergone a certification process, which includes hands-on lessons, lectures, and case studies. According to William Smith, director of training and founder of the program, the exercises help individuals build muscle while learning balance and muscle coordination. “Muscles are a shock absorber, so building up muscle helps disperse force and lessens strain on the joints,” he says. (For Smith’s tips on selecting a personal trainer for bone health, visit njlhb.com.)
CAN DO Fitness Clubs: Princeton, 654.514.5555, ext. 415; Short Hills, 473.218.4155, ext. 215, candofitness.com


Phrog Personal Training: Before beginning a bone-strengthening training program, clients undergo a consultation with a nutritionist and an initial assessment that allows a trainer to establish an individualized exercise and diet plan. “The type of training that is going to work is a combination of the right exercise and a diet that’s rich in nutrients that promote bone health,” says founder Thomas Yannitte. Phrog Personal Training Studio, Princeton, 654.683.5542, phrogfitness.com


Kinesis: Meaning “movement” in Greek, this full-body exercise program (shown below) incorporates more than 255 free-flowing motions using rotational cables. “The 365-degree movements help develop posture and balance while strengthening, lowering, and twisting the body,” says trainer Artie Kreutzer. Ethos Fitness and Spa, Midland Park, 251.251.4555, ethosfitness.com
Bookmark and Share