Situps during Pregnancy
I be performing situps or crunches throughout my pregnancy?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)
guidelines for the safe prescription of exercise state:
Women should avoid exercise in the supine position after
the first trimester. Such a position is associated with decreased
cardiac output in most pregnant women. Because the remaining
cardiac output will be preferentially distributed away from splanchnic
beds (including the uterus) during vigorous exercise, such regimens
are best avoided during pregnancy.
Up until that time, consider crunches until you abs are conditioned
enough to support your spine during situps or any other hip flexor
movements such as leg raises. Also consider other ab
exercises performed in an upright posture, such seated or
standing crunches on a cable and lever machine. Hanging or Vertical
Leg Raise movements are generally more advanced.
Consult with your physician regarding your exercise program.
Congratulations and good training.
Stunted Growth with Weights
I'm 15 but have no specific training regimen. Will bodybuilding
stunt my growth? I'm fairly short but I know I'll still grow
but I'd rather not risk my height for muscles I can gain later.
My legs are fairly large 22" calves are 16" my upper
body is puny I have no delts, traps you name it I would love
to have huge lats especially. My apology for asking I know you're
not the internets sports physician but I don't think I could
get excellent help except from you, look at the experience you
have gained and the information on your site!
Weight training will not stunt your growth unless you damage
your growth (Epiphyseal Cartilage) plates. This is rare and will
not happen if you follow a sound exercise program. To be safe,
avoid one rep maximum lifts for now and check your ego out at
the door; follow sound progressive weight training practices.
See weight training
guidelines. Certainly, you can concentrate on your upper
body but realize squats
are exercises that can significantly increase the production
in men, a muscle building hormone, for overall muscular development.
Also see Weight
Training for Youth.
Kids Weight Training
I thank you for your site - it's really helping get back into
shape after a long time and I'm feeling better for it!! I would
like your opinions on kids and weight training. My 8 year old
daughter sees me working with the weights and would like to do
some too. I've let her use the lightest weights (5 pounds) and
some basic exercises including push ups and sit ups (legs, arms)
and a few minutes on the bike. I don't want to send her away
because I would like to keep her interested so that she appreciates
her physical well being but as a growing child, I don't want
her to push too hard to damage anything. Perhaps you could add
a section on your site for kids. I thank you in advance for your
In the early days, orthopedic physician's expressed concern
that weight training would pose a risk to these structures in
youth. Later scientific studies failed to substantiate these
claims and even suggested resistance training can improve joint
integrity. Damage to epiphysis (growth) plates is possible during
severe trauma, but extremely rare with weight training. She will
be much more likely to incur an injury during other activities
and sports, particularly if she does not perform regular conditioning
exercises, including weight training.
Your daughter can use more resistance with little danger,
as long as the workloads are progressive and time for adequate
adaptation is permitted. It has been demonstrated that young
children can perform weight training with little chance of injury.
In fact it can help decrease risk of injury, particularly if
your child participates in sports. A repetition range of 10-15
reps is generally recommended for pre-pubescent youth. ACSM even
suggests a repetition range of 8-12 reps for children, but never
a weight so great that they would be unable to perform at least
6 repetitions. However, many youth have even participated safely
in Olympic-style weightlifting under proper coaching. Its actually
much safer than many traditional sports, even for young athletes.
Potential of Weight Training.
In any even, the children wishing to engage in weight training
should demonstrate adequate behavioral maturity. Adult supervision
is always recommended.
See our article on Youth
Weight Training. There we
have several titles that give suggestions for youth as young
as 7 years of age and on up.
Lower Back Rehabilitation
Your website is excellent. I am hoping very much that you
can help me. I am a 38 year old man. I am in pretty good shape.
I am 5 foot 10 in, 160 pounds. I injured my lower back at work
4 months ago. The doctor said I have a herniated disk in L4/5.
I am going to physical therapy. They use TENS and heat. It is
not helping. I have pain every day. I have a very hard time bending
to pick some thing up. My pain is worse in the morning when I
get out of bed. I am very stiff. I was reading your information
about the lower back. Would the Stiff leg Deadlift and Squats
help me or hurt me. Can you please make me up a quick routine
for my lower back. I have been in pain for 4 months. I want to
help myself and get better. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
I would strongly recommend you listen to our audio interview
with Dr Brian Nelson,
MD. Find the link included to the Physician's Neck and Back
Clinics to obtain the following journal articles (listed below).
His peer reviewed outcome studies are extraordinary compared
to other therapies. Read these papers and share these peer refereed
articles with your physician. If your doctor does not seem to
be helpful, you should ask to be referred to a specialist such
as an orthopedic physician or sports medicine doctor. Although
the articles suggest a more aggressive treatment than what is
typically prescribed by mainstream therapists, I suggest to stay
away from squats and straight or stiff leg deadlifts at this
Understand the treatment of lower back pain is a controversial
and debated issue. Also understand that I cannot legally prescribe
therapy for a specific injury since this a considered a medical
issue. In the US, only a license physician can legally do that.
Good luck and let me know how it is going.
- Nelson, B.W. (1993). A rational approach to the treatment
of low back pain. J Musculoskel Med, 10(5), 67-82.
- Nelson, B.W., O'Reilly, E., Miller, M., Hogan, M. Wegner,
J.A., Kelly, C., (1995). The clinical effects of intensive, specific
exercise on chronic low back pain: a controlled study of 895
consecutive patients with 1-year follow up. Orthopedics, 18(10),
Physical Therapy Prescription
I am a 67 year old male. Both my shoulders have been "frozen"
through accidents. Every few years they start to freeze-up again.
Is there a set of daily "movements", as opposed to
painful exercises, to keep the joints limber and prevent future
An examination by a qualified health care provider is required
for proper diagnosis and rehabilitation prescription. Ask your
general physician for a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon
or physical therapist to prescribe therapy exercises.
Exercise Participation Questionnaire
Should we be using the or the ACSM Risk Stratification
Method for screening Participants or is the PAR-Q adequate?
The PAR-Q or the Exercise Participation
Questionnaire would be considered the minimal standard for
entry into a moderate-intensity exercise program (40-60% VO2
max). The ACSM and ACE suggest this type of questionnaire can
be used as pre-participation health appraisal in a non-medical
setting. I noticed you work in a medical setting. The ACSM, AHA,
or AACVPR would offer a more comprehensive screening questionnaire.
You may choose to use the Modified
ACSM Risk Classification Calculator which can be used in
conjunction with a comprehensive Medical History Questionnaire.
The ACSM urges the pre-participation health appraisal be both
cost-effective and time efficient, so unnecessary barriers to
exercise can be avoided (ACSM, 2001).
I have a question concerning the low
volume training article on your site. It is very appealing
to me as I am familiar to Dorian Yates' training technique. I
am curious, however, about warm-up sets. Is it recommended to
to do a warm-up set of 50% prior to every exercise you do? An
example would be for back/bicep day. Would I need to do a warm-up
prior to every bicep exercise? I am somewhat confused on that
issue. It seems I could induce overtraining that way, but wanted
to find out your opinion on the matter.
I believe it was Arnold Schwarzenegger who advocated the use
of the warm up set, citing he once foolishly thought he was too
advanced for a warm up set, until he hurt himself.
I personally perform and recommend a warm
up set before every exercise. Not only are you warming up
those specific muscles used in the exercise, but you are also
warming up the joint structures in the exact mechanics unique
for that particular exercise. In addition, the warm up set can
give you an opportunity to rehearse your motor skill on that
specific exercise, ideally, allowing you to perform the subsequent
set(s) in better form. In any case, the warmup set is so light
it would pose a relatively low risk in overtraining. It will,
however decrease the chance of injury and prepare the body to
work at a greater intensity during the workout set. Now, what
would more likely increase your chances of overtraining is performing
multiple warm up sets on the majority of your exercises over
a period of time.
If the subsequent exercise is even slightly different in the
mechanics and the involvement of the assisting muscles, certainly
perform a warm up set for that next exercise. If the exercise
is very similar, sure, you could probably get away without performing
an additional workout set with little danger. Though, I would
question the use of performing such similar exercises within
the same workout, particularly if your concern is to avoid overtraining by abbreviating
Lever Machine Discomfort
There must be something about the angle of the grips for
the lever triceps extension and lever preacher curl because there
is discomfort in my elbows when doing both these exercises that
I don't experience when using barbells, dumbbells, or cable.
I am unable to directly observe your form or examine these machines,
I can only make some suggestions you can look at during your
Make sure the pivot points of your joints are aligned with
the fulcrum of the lever. This alignment can be more forgiving
if your machines have an accommodating
lever to compensate for any misalignments. Make sure your
seat is adjusted so the back of the upper arm is parallel to
the arm pad. You could experience more stress in the joint if
these settings are off on these machines. Also if the machine
permits, experiment with placing a slightly wider or narrower
grip to determine if the discomfort is better or worse.
As with any new exercises, maintain very strict form at a
slower repetition speed, particularly when just getting used
to or coming back to an exercise you have not performed for a
while. Perhaps, in this case, you could consider lightening the
weight 10 or 15 pounds for the first week, so your joints may
have an opportunity to adapt.
On the lever preacher curl (or other preacher curls for that
matter), it is important to go throughout the full range of motion
from the very beginning, allowing the joint and tendons to adapt.
Some people, mistakenly do not go through full range of motion
(ie failing to extend the elbow straight at the bottom). Later,
they may inadvertently go through the fuller range of motion
and end up hurting their biceps tendon or joint; not because
of the full range of motion, but because their joints and tendons
never had an opportunity to adapt to the full range of motion.
Likewise, make sure you are not shrugging your shoulders before
(or during) the initial flexion. This again does not allow adaptation
throughout the full range of motion, since the elbow is already
flexed slightly when the shoulders are shrugged.
Perhaps, on these exercises, you should back down to a trial
weight and check your form and progress upward 5 lbs or 2.5 kilos
every workout (keeping an eye on your form) until you find your
workout weight. Certainly, if they continue to give you problems,
you should switch to another exercise, preferably one that is
still not too familiar. Also see changing
weight training exercises.
In response to Straight
Leg Deadlift Essay and Tendon
& Ligament Tidbit, Martin Paul, B.Sc. Kin., PFLC writes:
An In Vitro setting, a ligament can stretch quite a bit. The
only ligament that can match the 50% elasticity is the ligamentum
flavum. Even then, Nachemson & Evans (1968) reported,
"Beyond this point, the stiffness increases greatly with
additional loading and the ligament failed abruptly (reached
Pmax) with little deformation. Furthermore, Butler et al (1978),
observed that beyond 4%, "small force reductions (dips)
can sometimes be observed in the loading curves for both tendons
and ligaments. These dips are caused by the early sequential
failure of a few greatly stretched fiber bundles. When sequential
failure occurs, it compromises the strength of the ligaments
and thus increases the instability of that particular joint.
Fung (1981), goes on to add that the upper limit for physiological
strain in tendons and ligaments is from 2 to 5%. Finally, Kear
& Smith (1975) findings suggest that "normal activity
of a tendon in vivo is subjected to less than one fourth of its
- Butler, D.L., Groods, E.S., and Noyes, F. R.: Biomechanics
of Ligaments and Tendons. Exerc. Sport Sci. Rev., 6:125, 1978.
- Fung, Y.C.B.: Biomechanics: Mechanical Properties of Living
Tissues. New York, Springer Verlag, 1981, p.222.
- Kear, M., and Smith, R.N.: A method for recording tendons
strain in sheep during locomotion. Acta Orthop. Scand., 46:896,
- Nachemson, A.L., and Evans, J.H.: Some mechanical properties
of the third human lumbar interlaminar ligament (ligamentum flavum).
J. Biomech., 1:211, 1968.