When the brain has lost it’s ability to signal the muscles in the body (or motor neuron loss) than the muscles will start to atrophy due to inactivity. For me this started in my left leg and has since spread to my right. With ALS you’re constantly fighting fatigue as well which makes you want to rest and conserve strength, however that same fatigue takes away your desire to get up and move (at least that’s what it does to me). If we rest all the time and not exert ourselves our muscles atrophy with or without ALS.
That’s why it’s so important to keep active and exercise as long as you can. And that’s not said to ever overtax your muscles but to at least exert them. A physical therapist once told me “it’s not how you feel during the work out but how you feel the next day” that should determine how much you should do. I started very slow and worked my way up to something that felt comfortable and not too challenging, but always remembering that I’m trying to increase when I feel strong enough to increase. To let my body be my guide.
I’ve found that working out every other day gives my body the strength it needs to continue throughout the week. So I workout Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and rest on all other days. But resting doesn’t mean sitting around the house and doing nothing. For me I’m trying to either take walks or going into the office on those days to work.
Below is my workout routine when I’m at my strongest. If I take a couple of weeks off (like what happened after I took a fall) I cut that workout into a 1/3 or 1/2 and start my slow climb back up to full strength and let me body tell me how much or how little to do on the next workout day.
|Arc holds – 2 sets||5ea at 5 second intervals (1 hold for 5 secs, rest for 5 secs, repeat 5 times = 1 set)|
|Leg lifts – 2 sets||5ea at 5 second intervals (1 hold for 5 secs, rest for 5 secs, repeat 5 times = 1 set)|
|Pushups –||10 ea between Arc Holds and Leg Lifts (total of 30 pushups split between 2 sets of Holds and Lifts)|
|(core strength training)|
|Repeat twice rotating pushups between Arc Holds and Leg lifts||example: 5ea Arc Holds, 10ea pushups, 5ea Leg Lifts, 10 push ups, 5ea Arc holds, 10ea push ups|
|Mid-Row – 20lbs||10 reps at 20, 8 reps at 30, 6 reps at 40 (2 sets)|
|(muscles affected – biceps, Lats)|
|Knee left – 30lbs||10 reps at 30, 8 reps at 40, 6 reps at 50 (2 sets)|
|Knee curl – 40lbs||10 reps at 40, 8 reps at 50, 6 reps at 60 (2 sets)|
|(muscles affected – thighs)|
|Overhead press – 20lbs||10 reps at 20, 8 reps at 30, 6 reps at 40 (2 sets)|
|Bench press – 30lbs||10 reps at 30, 8 reps at 40, 6 reps at 50 (2 sets)|
|(muscles affected – delts, triceps)|
In future updates I’ll give a link to the history of how my workout routine has evolved to what it is now and where it’s going.