Wheelchair Exercise

Training With Health Issues: Post Surgery Update - 3 Weeks

It has now been about 3.5 weeks since my surgery. I am still in the weeks 3-4 time up restrictions of 30 minutes up for every 2 hours. I left in a few sections below from my previous posts as I think that info is valid for ANYONE looking for more info on dealing with wounds, the only real update is in the Training section.

Training Update

As I stated in my last post the great part about the current window I am in is I get to work out a little! Due to only having 30 minutes of up time I do a 20 minute timed work out.

  • A1 Bodyweight Pull Ups x10reps

  • A2 Bodyweight Dips x20reps

  • Done on a rotation every 2 minutes for 10 sets each. Equating to 100 pull ups, 200 dips.

I have stuck pretty much to this routing above. I set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes, then do 10 rotations of A1 then A2. A couple enhancements are each workout I change up the type of pull ups from Pronated Grip ( hands facing away from you) to nuetral grip/hammer grip to supinated grip (hands facing towards you). The dips are done exactly the same way each time. Although I am upping the reps per set after every 3 workouts and am now doing 23 dips per set. The more work you can do in the same timeframe equates to Density and is among my Top of the Top methods to building muscle.

I have also upped the number of pullups to 11 per set. So the workout I did last night resulted in 110 pull ups, 230 dips. In 20 minutes. I will not be adding any weight to these exercises until the restrictions are fully lifted. By adding more volume in the same exact timeframe is all the increased intensity required at this stage.

I do this workout 3 times per week. Starting Friday I will be allowed up 1 hour for every 2 hours so I will look at tacking on 10-15 minutes of workout time.

This workout will get your heart moving, will build back up any strength you may have lost due to down time. An added benefit is there is absolutely zero weight bearing on your bottom, which is huge. You can substitute horizontal rows, or pushups or many other types of exercises. The important element is to do something to get your body active again.

Adding Cardio

I also added 1 session last week of cardio with Battle Ropes and Punches with my Quiet Punch. I again set my timer for 20 minutes and rotate between a session of Battle Ropes and punches. I did this for 6 rotations of:

  • 50 Rope Waves per Arm

  • 50 Punches per Arm

I will be doing these cardio sessions on the days I do not do the pull up/dip workout for 6 workouts total between the two types os workouts. My goal is to get my heart moving, break a sweat, but not risk being up too long or anything too overly strenuous. However the competitive athlete in me continues to want to push harder. In good time.

My Advice

As I noted in previous posts I had been battling the pressure wound for well over a year. My advice to anyone in a wheelchair that gets a wound like this on their bottom to not waste more than a month or two seeing a wound clinic or wound doctor. They cannot help us. For wounds like this there is a 99% chance surgery is the only answer. Please seek out a reconstructive surgeon as soon as humanly possible to get your life back on track as soon as you can. You are wasting your time, and money, seeing a wound doctor.

Surgery

From Previous Post: The surgery is called a wound flap. I had one done 10 years ago and the recovery time had scared me off of going through it again. I kept going to wound doctors hoping the tiny bit of improvement would continue but it hit a brick wall several months ago. The surgery for my situation took about 2 hours. When I went in for the consult with the surgeon he looked at my wound for all of about 5 seconds before knowing exactly what he needed to do and surgery was the only option. Again, we are wasting our time seeing a regular wound doctor.

Recovery

From Previous Post: The recovery time 10 years ago scared me off going through this again. I was mistaken as it is not nearly as bad as back then. After the surgery I was in the hospital for one week, not the 3 weeks I was in 10 years ago. After the week I was actually able to get into my chair to get into the car for the ride home, while riding on my side to keep any weight off the side that was operated on.

The restrictions and timeline are as follows:

  • First 2 weeks after surgery, virtually no time up at all. This is the biggest challenge but the first week of this is spent in the hospital so it is 1 week at home, no getting up.

  • Weeks 3-4 I am allowed up 30 minutes, for every 2 hours. This is still very limited but allows me to do the necessities and heavily lifts the burden off of my wife.

  • Weeks 5-6 I am allowed up 1 hour, for every 2 hours. Same as above, but now I at least have time to get up and make my own meals.

I am currently in the middle of week 3, so heavy restrictions but I am able to do stuff up in my chair.

Training With Health Issues: Wound Update - Surgery

I posted a couple months back about my pressure wound. It came to a point where surgery was the only answer. I have had the surgery and am currently in a recovery window.

My Advice

As I noted in previous posts I had been battling the pressure wound for well over a year. My advice to anyone in a wheelchair that gets a wound like this on their bottom to not waste more than a month or two seeing a wound clinic or wound doctor. They cannot help us. For wounds like this there is a 99% chance surgery is the only answer. Please seek out a reconstructive surgeon as soon as humanly possible to get your life back on track as soon as you can. You are wasting your time, and money, seeing a wound doctor.

Surgery

The surgery is called a wound flap. I had one done 10 years ago and the recovery time had scared me off of going through it again. I kept going to wound doctors hoping the tiny bit of improvement would continue but it hit a brick wall several months ago. The surgery for my situation took about 2 hours. When I went in for the consult with the surgeon he looked at my wound for all of about 5 seconds before knowing exactly what he needed to do and surgery was the only option. Again, we are wasting our time seeing a regular wound doctor.

Recovery

The recovery time 10 years ago scared me off going through this again. I was mistaken as it is not nearly as bad as back then. After the surgery I was in the hospital for one week, not the 3 weeks I was in 10 years ago. After the week I was actually able to get into my chair to get into the car for the ride home, while riding on my side to keep any weight off the side that was operated on.

The restrictions and timeline are as follows:

  • First 2 weeks after surgery, virtually no time up at all. This is the biggest challenge but the first week of this is spent in the hospital so it is 1 week at home, no getting up.

  • Weeks 3-4 I am allowed up 30 minutes, for every 2 hours. This is still very limited but allows me to do the necessities and heavily lifts the burden off of my wife.

  • Weeks 5-6 I am allowed up 1 hour, for every 2 hours. Same as above, but now I at least have time to get up and make my own meals.

I am currently in the middle of week 3, so heavy restrictions but I am able to do stuff up in my chair.

Training

The great part about the current window I am in is I get to work out a little! Due to only having 30 minutes of up time I do a 20 minute timed work out.

  • A1 Bodyweight Pull Ups x10reps

  • A2 Bodyweight Dips x20reps

  • Done on a rotation every 2 minutes for 10 sets each. Equating to 100 pull ups, 200 dips.

This workout will get your heart moving, will build back up any strength you may have lost due to down time. An added benefit is there is absolutely zero weight bearing on your bottom, which is huge. You can substitute horizontal rows, or pushups or many other types of exercises. The important element is to do something to get your body active again.

Training With Health Issues: Train Smart Over Hard

Continuing with the theme of dealing with my health issues over the past year, this post covers a very important consideration. Train Smart over Training Hard.

Train to Remain Sane

I need to workout regularly. If I am not doing some form of strenuous exercise at least 5 days a week I go a bit crazy. The endorphin rush is real. The feeling of accomplishment is real. Since so many of us work desk jobs or live fairly seduntary lifes due to work or netflix or any of the million other modern conveniences, we need to FORCE movement. One of the biggest challenges with my wound was how I would be able to train because if I was not able to I would be miserable to be around. Which is code word for my wife would hate me.

The objective at first was to do something, anything, that allowed me to break a sweat and evolve from there. Something is better than nothing.

Train Around Health Issue

When training with health issues you must intelligently assess your situation and train around it. With my specific health issue, offloading or not putting more pressure on my backside is vital. This is where my absolute FAVORITE exercises for people in a wheelchair are a perfect marraing. Pull Ups and Dips.

Over the past year I have done so many different variations of rep ranges of pull ups and dips its a bit crazy. When limited to a tiny few exercises it becomes even more important to vary up rep ranges or any additonal weight you can add (if possible with your health situation).

I recently had to deal with a Pick line for IV antibiotics which limited me even more! What did I do? I did very little with my right arm where the pick line was installed. I did battle ropes with my left arm only. I was not able to do any repitition style exercises so I utilized static holds.

EX: Instead of doing a full pull up, I would just hold the bar and do 1 arm static holds, or 2 arm static holds. Same thing with dips where I would do 1 dip and hold the top postion for up to a minute.

This went on for 6 weeks and these were not the most exciting exercises in the world, but it was better than nothing.

Wound Update

As I stated, I still have the wound. But it is getting much better. I will post weekly updates on where things are at with the wound as well as begin releasing what I did to maintain my fitness. As of this week I now have a wound vac back on and am still doing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) treatment. We are hopeful!

Training With Health Issues: My Pressure Wound

I have been fairly quiet on my updates for the past year. This has been the case for a reason as I have been dealing with among the worst types of ailments an active wheelchair user can get. A pressure wound. I will be posting a series of posts on what I went through, how I managed to exercise albeit limited execrise and the types of exercises I was still able to perform.

I had to deal with extremely limited time up in my chair. I had to deal with a wound vac. And I had to deal with a pick line for taking IV antibiotics. I trained through all of this.

The Wound

On January 1 of 2018 I woke up, with a minor hangover from the New Years celebration but nothing too bad. When I was getting up I could feel a lump on my backside, it felt like a golf ball was under my skin. My wife and I tried to deal with it as best we could but over a week or so this turned into a wound. My first advice to anyone in a wheelchair is if they feel something abnormal on their backside would be to go to a wound doctor as soon as possible. Its possible the doctor could have drained or treated whatever was going on before it got any worse. Then again, most pressure wounds have been building for a long time deep within the tissue and there may not have been anything that could be done.

Anyways, since that time I have been dealing with this wound and have done everything possible to avoid flap surgery. I had flap surgery back in 2007 for a somewhat similar issue and wanted to avoid going the flap route if at all possible. I have heard many stories where once a person goes back for that second flap, or beyond, they can very easily break down leaving you with a worse situation that when you started. My thought was to allow it to heal more naturally and prevent another breakdown within a short timeframe.

I am still not fully healed but after just completing IV antibiotics we are starting to see improvements again. This is the other reason I kept avoiding the flap, there was often slight incremental improvement. Often a few millimeters at a time but improvement is improvement and when your goal is to avoid surgery, any improvement will suffice.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

I am currently receiving Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), where I drive in 2 hours round trip each morning for a 2 hour session. I have completed 44 of these sessions, with 16 remaining. There are a lot of amazing things reported from HBOT treatment. Among its biggest reasons for success is it gets blood flow to places where blood flow may be restricted, like the backside of a person in a wheelchair. One negative to this treatment is it can take a long time to see any visual evidence it is working, at minimum 30 treatmets in some cases. This was further complicated in my case due to Hurricane Micheal which ripped a part Panama City Florida. Panama City is where I was receiving my treatment, had just completed 11 treatments before the hurricane hit. I had to find a new place to receive treatment as well as get the insurance approved for the new clinic. This all took time and has delayed the effectiveness of the treatment as it is preferred to stack the treatments with 4-5 per week. For me this was broken up once because of the hurricane, then a second time when the new year started as my health insurance changed.

Wound Vac

Another treatment I received was getting a wound vac. I hated this thing. And it is VERY likely I will have to have another one to attempt to aggressively close up the remaining wound. On one hand the wound vac did work initially, but then it didn’t. And probably caused infection to occur. The wound vac is like a ball and chain attached to you, literally. Doctors and nurses will claim you can live your normal life with it but this is not the case. A person can do some things around the house but in no way are you going to want to do more in public than you absolutely have to. I am not looking forward to having another one put on but I am hopeful it will be on for a short time, and close up this wound.

IV Antibiotics

I just completed IV antibiotics, something I probably should have received months ago. Some doctors do not believe in antibiotics, my original doctor was one of these people. When you have a wound where wheelchair users get wounds, and you are having trouble getting it to close down, its very likely you have osteomyelitis. You need to get IV antibiotics to address this problem. This means getting a Pick line, which means more limitation on exercise. And you get this for 6 weeks. I just finished up my 6 weeks yesterday and was able to go back to doing a full workout, or a modified workout for someone with a wound.

Whats Next?

As I stated, I still have the wound. But it is getting much better. I will post weekly updates on where things are at with the wound as well as begin releasing what I did to maintain my fitness. As much as anything, when you have a wound you need to keep your mind right as you are forced into a life of seclusion. For me that means exercise, pretty much daily exercise.

Why Regular Programs Fail Wheelchair Lifters?

There is a ton of info on the internet regarding training.  At this point there is too much info as every personal trainer in the world rushes to publish a paid service or ebook before spending enough time actually in a gym experimenting to know what works and what doesn't.  This problem is increased 10 fold for wheelchair lifters as a lot of the information itself is garbage, plus the program rarely fits appropriately for a wheelchair lifter.

Random Exercise Selection

Often times when looking through other programs I see a hodge podge of exercise selection.  It often looks to be more of a trainers favorites than an attempt for each exercise to build upon the previous.  This can be a further pain for wheelchair lifters to follow if the program has you changing the load on every exercise.  I have explained numerous times that this is a waste of our time.

It is also useful for us wheelers to leverage a single piece of equipment for multiple exercises.  Bench for Chest, Tri.  Squat rack for Bench, Tris, Pullups, etc.  Yes, we technically would be hogging one piece for a long time, 20 minutes or so, but this makes for a very efficient use of our time.  Plus it can minimize the amount of time we have to clean up someone else's leftover mess on equipment.  

If you are using a public gym, you must have a plan of attack when you go in.  Try to fit in two or more exercises where applicable.  This can turn a 60+ minute workout into a 45 minute workout quite easily.  Template online programs pay no mind to any strategy, nor much thought to be honest...

Bodypart Overload

Another real problem I see in online programs is an insane devotion to a single bodypart in one workout.  Any program that has you hitting triceps with a Close Grip bench, then skull crushers, then cable pressdowns, then overhead extensions, then dips, then ....  STOP!!!  Each bodypart does need variety, but not in a single workout.  You really do not need more than 2 movements for a specific bodypart in any given workout.  And if one of those movements is a compound movement (bench press, military press, pull ups), than you really only need that one exercise for that workout.  

Aim for 5-6 sets for a bodypart per workout.  Much above that converts to wasted effort.  Make those 5-6 exercises really count, then move on.  The exception is if you are in a volume modality with German Volume training in a 10 set per exercise manner.  But again, the max on a bodypart would be 10 sets.  This would still pale in comparison to some of the 25+ sets for Biceps I have seen online.

25+ sets for a single bodypart is plain dumb, wasteful and meant for people who pump in steroids through an IV.

Lack of Suggested Alternatives for Wheelers

This is one of the biggest problems wheelchair lifters face if they try to follow a poorly constructed online program.  There are some specific exercises that can be very difficult for us to do, such as a bent over row, yet there are alternatives.  These online programs are often too rigid and do not offer up suggested alternatives.  While a bent over barbell row may not work for me, a lying down one arm dumbell row works great!  I have to adjust, no problem.  But when people first start out they may not be aware of the alternatives, become frustrated, and give up.

This is why I created this site, to help guide folks trying to train from the chair.  If you have any questions hit me up and check out my Beginner Wheelchair Fitness ebook!

Dumb Exercises: Lat Pulldowns

Stop doing lat pulldowns and start doing pull ups.

There are a lot of exercises that you see people doing in the gym that a lot of times are a waste of time or just pointless.  Lat pulldowns are not necessarily pointless, but they are way over-used.  People may get results from pulldowns but they are ignoring a better movement that the body is meant to do which will minimize the full potential of the movement.

As often as possible when performing a loaded lift you should be attempting to mimic a real world movement.  This is what your body will respond the best to as you cannot easily trick 1000s of years of human evolution.  Things like lifting a weight from the ground to over your head is a natural thing your body expects to do.  There are A LOT of exercises you can split this movement into that make sense such as a deadlift, clean, military press, etc.  That one complete range of motion breaks down into several exercises, or could be done in a single movement as a Clean and Press or Snatch.  This theory is exactly why Squats are nearly unanimously the exercise annointed as the king by anyone in the strength training industry.

In the Lat Pulldown scenario that true real world movement that your body is accustomed to doing should be pulling your body to something.  A Pull Up.  This is my major gripe with pull downs, there is already a GREAT, closed chain movement for it in the Pull Up.  This is the exercise people should be spending the majority of their Vertical Pulling time on, not the Lat Pulldown.

The general real world idea of a Lat Pulldown is beyond stupid.  In what real world setting would you PURPOSELY pull down as much weight as possible down onto your head?  This would likely end in a very similar manner as The Mountain's fight with Oberyn in Game of Thrones, a crushed head.  Not ideal.

A real world application would be lowering a heavy weight from above your head but that action would feel more like a push as you SLOWLY lower something from above your head.  Or the real world movement is pulling yourself up to something, again, the Pull Up.

The real truth when it comes to lat pulldowns is they are easier.  Pull ups are a lot more work, people don't like real work.  People like to use the Cables in the gym as much as possible because it allows them to look like they move a lot of weight, yet when in reality they probably cannot do 5 strict pull ups.

Do not be one of these people. 

Use lat pulldowns as a finisher or supplement to the king of Vertical Pulling, the pull up.  If you can't do a pull up, practice.  Start with hanging from a bar for a set time until you can perform a full rep, keep adding time.  Then move into bands or assisted pull ups, it will come with time.

Best Workouts: German Volume Training...

Hand Down, the BEST volume workout for me over 20 years of lifting is German Volume Training.  This a workout set/rep scheme that I always come back to at least once a year for a month or two.  If done correctly this approach will really test your will.

When working out you can focus on one of three areas.  Volume, where you attempt to pile on more muscle mass.  Max Effort, where you attempt to improve your 1-3 rep max on a lift.  Dynamic Effort, where you attempt to improve your power and acceleration on lifts.

What Is German Volume Training (GVT)

To perform German Volume Training you select a main compound exercise and do 10 sets of 10.  That is it, sounds so freaking simple, yet the execution by that 8th set can feel like torture.  Plus the name sounds like something out of the old Eastern European Bloc of countries that would massively abuse Steroids for any and all competitions, which is always a bonus.  Identifying the correct weight for a lift is probably the biggest challenge.  Starting with around 50% of your max on a lift is a solid starting point.  Another way to look at it is to pick a lift you can do 20 reps in a single set for.  Mix in the Double Progression method to work your way up to 100 reps. 

EX:  You start with 135lbs on a bench press and you are able to as follows

·      Set 1-6 for 10 reps each for 60 reps.

·      Set 7-10 for 8 reps each for 32 reps

·      Total workout of 92 reps.

Since you did NOT hit 100 total reps you would remain at this weight.  On your next workout with this exercise your primary goal is to raise that rep number.  Once you are able to fully knock out 10x10, move the weight up by around 5-10 lbs.

Compound Exercises

Compound pushing exercises such as Bench Presses, Incline Bench Presses and Military Presses are ideal for 10x10.  Pulling exercises such as barbell rows and weighted pullups are also ideal.  For the lower body deadlifts and squats are ideal.

Avoid Isolation Movements

This is not a worthwhile approach for isolation single joint type movements such as Curls, Shoulder Raises, Tricep pushdowns, etc.  You do not get the bang for your buck on these types of exercises so attempting this much volume on a single joint exercise would be using up way too much of your gym time spend.

Olympic Lifts

I would NOT suggest performing this type of volume with Olympic lifts.  By the 8th set the final reps are likely to get a tad sloppy and that is a HUGE no-no on Olympic lifts as so many bodyparts have to work in perfect unison.

Benefits of GVT

With most things in life, simple is almost always better.  From a tracking and thinking standpoint GVT is as simple as it gets once you identify a proper weight to start with.  Also, not having to get up to change the weights every set provides an extremely efficient workout and an ideal technique for wheelchair lifters.  The physical benefits are surprising as it will always result in size improvements when used in short spurts. 

Be Warned, it is grueling as you approach the last 3-4 sets.  It will feel easy at first but as the cumulative fatigue sets in it will become painful.  Good painful, but painful.

 

 

 

Are You Training Enough?

Probably not.  

There is a myth out there propagated by jokers who want to sell people products and programs that have you only working out for 60 minutes total for a week and that overtraining is a real risk.  That all you need is 20 minutes a day, three times a week, anything more is overtraining.  BS.  Overtraining is really f-ing hard to achieve for most people.  The real risk people actually run into is under-recovery.  To properly recover you must have nutrition and rest.

Nutrition:  If you eat properly, taking in enough protein and carbs to match your physical exertion levels you are good on nutrition.

Rest:  If you sleep properly, getting at least 7.5 hours, your rest should be hitting a proper target.  But this is the more likely area you are lacking.  Get your sleep!

Beginners

Anybody just starting out with lifting weights along with some cardio should be advised to take it easy at the beginning.  Starting with 3 sessions per week of 40-60 minutes would be an okay starting point.  One session of 20 minutes is not enough, in any universe.   I would also argue that 3 sessions of 20 minutes per week  will not be enough for very long, but starting with something is better than nothing.  To get results over time you will need to put the time in.

Beyond Beginners

Assuming you have been doing some regimen for several months and beyond, the "overtraining" syndrome becomes less and less likely as your body will adapt.  If you work out smart and don't kill your joints with a bunch of silly accessory lifts and follow the Stimulate, Don't Annihilate principles you should be fine as far as working out smart.  The body can take a lot more punishment that most of us actually give it.  If you work a desk job that has you doing jack squat for 40+ hours per week, I would suggest your body is starving for more stimulation.

There are only so many days you can lift "heavy" or put on a lot of volume but there is plenty left in the tank to fit in energy work, crossfit style workouts and boring old cardio.  Elite athletes get into the double digits on hours per week spent training, including all forms.  I am not suggesting you hit this type of threshold unless it can be a full-time gig where everything in your life revolves around training, then eating, then sleeping.  Rinse and repeat this trifecta multiple times per day.

300 Minutes

I do think a reasonable goal per week is 300 minutes, which equates to 5 hours for the math majors out there.  Break this down any way you want but 300 is a realistic goal.  This could be 4 gym sessions of 50 minutes, and add in 3 cardio sessions of just over 30 minutes and you hit your 300.

If right now you are quite a ways from 300 you can begin week to week by adding a few minutes per session, or the better route is to add in some extra shorter sessions.  20 minute sessions are fine, but not if you only do them 3 times per week and nothing else.  Actual weight training sessions where building muscle is a goal should be 30 minutes minimum to get a bang for you buck.  But if you want to do several cardio sessions at only 20 minutes per because you don't want to blow your brains out, I get it.  Do as much cardio as you possibly can outside, that will help a lot!

At the end of the day your body can probably be pushed much harder than you currently push it.  If you are properly taking care of yourself it will be quite a challenge to reach an overtrained state.  Don't be afraid to push it.

 

 

 

 

Stimulate! Don't Annihilate

There is a great saying in lifting circles, Stimulate your Muscles, DO NOT Annihilate them.  It's a saying that I have not followed closely enough over my years of training but I am taking much more seriously now days.  On a basic level, stop piling on useless volume once muscles are properly stressed.

T-Nation has a solid article published back in January, The Best Damn Workout Plan for Natural Lifters  by Christian Thibaudeau that re-surfaced this topic in my mind.  I believe this practice applies even more-so to fellow wheelchair lifters as we have a limited amount of areas we can truly work on the body.  We have Chest, Triceps, Back, Biceps, Delts and Traps that we can train.  That is it if your injury puts you at Para or worse like myself.  One of the main themes of the article is that the biggest mistake experienced lifters make is doing way too much volume.  We fall into the trap of thinking more is better but this is not how the body works and we actually get to a point where we cause more damage than benefit.

Once a newbie lifter graduates into intermediate or advanced they tend to continually applying way too much volume.  One way to help prevent this problem is to limit your workouts to 50 minutes or less.  If you split your workouts into a Chest/Tris day, Back/Bis and Delts/Traps I would recommend staying well below 30 sets.  For me 20 to 25 seems to be a sweet spot of getting a challenging workout in but not throwing tons of useless sets at the end that bumps up the volume.  A very basic breakdown is as follows:

  • 5-ish warmup sets
  • 5-10 sets on your main lift (Bench, Military Press, Rows)
  • 3-6 sets on an accessory lift (Close Grip Bench, Dips)
  • 3-6 vanity lift (Cable Curls, Cable Extensions, Dumbell Raises)

Another approach is to do fewer workouts per week, but hitting all areas.  Full disclosure, for wheelchair lifters I am NOT in favor of a workout that hits all the areas unless it is a challenge for you to get to the gym at least 3 times per week.  Doing too much work in a single session is obviously better than doing nothing, it just gets to a point of diminished returns as bodyparts in the latter part of the workout get hosed.  

As an example, the shoulders get way too much work on most chest movements so adding some military presses or dumbell raises to an already exhausted pair of shoulders is counterproductive and will do little for your delts.  The first lift of the day should be the focus of the workout, that is the lift that should be the biggest mover, involving the most bodyparts and pushing the highest volume or weight.  This lift is the showcase, the main attraction, everything else is a supporting actor. Each exercise after that first lift is an accessory or cosmetic lift.  One could split this major movement into a press and a pull but the quality of work will suffer on that second movement.  If it doesn't suffer, than you were not working hard enough on the first movement.

My preference is working out 4 days per week with three of the workouts spent focused on Chest/Tris one day, day two focused on Back/Bis, day three focused on Delts/Traps and then the fourth day is a do whatever the hell I want day where I may mix in several supersets in a crossfit timed fashion.  Or it can be spent on focusing on a bodypart that I feel needs some attention or is just a fun/challenging movement.

Another problem with too much volume for wheelchair lifters is your joints will give out.  If you pile way too many cable pushdowns after already doing heavy bench and other triceps movements your elbows will F-ing HATE you!  Same goes for pounding set upon set of isolation curls after you have done a bunch of heavy rows, pullups and barbell curls.  And when you feel a pop in your elbow, good luck buttercup; cause you will be babying that elbow for weeks.

So just follow these basic principles:

  1. Get in the Gym and favor frequency over longevity.  
  2. Hit your muscles hard, but smart.  (better have a GREAT reason to be there > 50 minutes.)
  3. Then get the hell out with your limbs still attached.

 

Cardio Sucks! Two Fixes

Cardio sucks but if you have any goals related to health and looking good you gotta do it.  The term "cardio" itself instantly gives me images of zombies at a big box gym chain monotonously walking on a treadmill like a hamster stuck on a wheel.  I cannot think of a more joyless activity as steady state cardio done time after time in the gym.  This boring, zombie-like workout is a reason why so many people quit their self-made workout program.  They keep the membership but no longer go because they have turned working out into a chore.

 

Cardio has obvious benefits as periods of elevated heart rate are required for basic cardiovascular health.  If you are a long time weightlifter your joints must have some blood flow that is NOT related to pushing massing weights.  The human body was made to move around, to run, sprint or jump.  Not to sit in front of a tv or computer for every waking second of your life so having movement in your life is certainly a must.

 

Fix 1:  Kill Cardio Term

First, kill the term Cardio and replace with Energy system work and it instantly seems better and more useful.  Go even further with High Intensity Intervals Training, (HIIT) and not only does it sound better that boring cardio, it actually sounds challenging and fun!  These workouts are far from monotonous and provide plenty of variety and a change in the word association may provide a subconscious boost.

Fix 2:  Make it  Competitive

Making energy work fun can be a game changer.  Add some competition to compete against yourself, a training partner or a group.  Getting more specific, crossfit style workouts where you mix in multiple exercises in circuit fashion while racing against time are a TON more entertaining than straight cardio.  Going to a gym to get a treadmill for a set amount of time becomes a boring punishment over time that makes you want to jump off a cliff.  It's boring, who wants to purposely do something boring?  One big reason Crossfit has taken off is it has taken a typical housewife off of a treadmill, put a barbell in their hands where they lift it over their head and pound it to the ground when done.  It is difficult to not feel awesome after such a workout.  These types of workouts just make you feel better!

For wheelchair lifters I I would focus on some bodyweight exercises as the primary options.  By having a challenge in front of you, say a combination of Dips and Pull Ups with a goal of hitting 100 total pull ups and 200 total dips for a 300 total in a targeted amount of minutes.  The first time you attempt this cycle it takes you 25 minutes, track it.  The next time you attempt this workout your goal is to beat 25 minutes.  Bodyweight Pull UPs and Dips are just two examples of bodyweight exercises that can be used for a circuit style energy session.  Pushups are another item that can be used.  Add in battle ropes or kettle ball swings.  The options are endless on what you can rotate in.  

The key to keeping this more of an Energy workout versus a Strength workout is to keep any lift well below a 50% of a max.  In other words, the exercise should be something you can at least do 20 reps of. Mix in a couple of exercises in rotating fashion with a goal set of total reps in each, time yourself, then beat it next time.  Again, not rocket science but the variety will be a ton more enjoyable than any steady state cardio and this enjoyment will lead to better results.