How to Gain Muscle with Diabetes (with Pictures)

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How to Gain Muscle with Diabetes (with Pictures)
How to Gain Muscle with Diabetes (with Pictures)

Leading an active life is very important for those who have certain health problems, such as type 2 diabetes. Some studies show that weight training exercises can prevent and even contain the condition - since muscles are dense tissues and have a high metabolic rate. The more you train, the more calories you burn, even when sitting (especially compared to sedentary people). Still, be careful. Read the steps in this article to find out what to do.


Part 1 of 4: Preparing to train

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Step 1. See a doctor

While physical activity is ideal for people with diabetes, it's best to consult a doctor before adopting any heavy weight training routine. He will test you to determine if you are in good condition and may not recommend the exercises if he detects one of the items below. In this case, it is better to opt for lighter alternatives, such as walking or running.

  • Retinopathy: when the capillaries in the retina increase in size and form a pocket. In these cases, it is not recommended that the patient do weight training, as he may end up bursting the bags and having more serious problems with the eyes during the exercises.
  • Neuropathy: affects the nervous system and prevents the body's systems from functioning properly. The problem is worse for people who are dehydrated. In this case, the doctor may not recommend the practice of exercise - or, at the very least, suggest frequent breaks to avoid complications.
  • High blood pressure: lifting weights can harm the body of those with high blood pressure. Your doctor may recommend that you lighten weight training and aerobics to lower your blood pressure before moving on to heavier loads.
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Step 2. Buy a good pair of running shoes

People with diabetes know that wounds take longer than usual to heal and are often infected. If you train in the wrong shoes, you can develop blisters and abrasions on your feet and end up susceptible to some complications. Always use the correct accessories to prevent this from happening.

  • Buy a pair of sneakers with good cushioning. They have to be the right size: if they're too big or too small, they can create friction with your skin and cause injury. When you try on a new pair at the store, walk around to see if you feel any discomfort.
  • Always check for pebbles or other objects inside your sneakers before putting them on.
  • Always wear comfortable socks and never repeat the same pair over without washing. Sweating also increases the risk of infections.
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Step 3. Understand how your body reacts to physical activity

You may already have a sense of this if you have exercised before. However, if you've been inactive for a while, you might need to remember some details. Start with light exercise, such as walking, before adopting a heavier regimen. Test your blood glucose before, during and after walking. If it doesn't decrease too much, it's because it doesn't hurt to increase the load. Remember to repeat this test. If your body tolerates physical activity and your doctor gives the go-ahead, you can start weight training.

Part 2 of 4: Building Muscles with Exercise

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Step 1. Hire a personal trainer

This part is not necessary, but it can help - especially if you are not experienced with bodybuilding. The personal trainer will be able to guide your progress and put together training sheets suitable for you. Many academies have staff and faculty lists for students.

Tell your personal trainer that you have diabetes so that he or she can put together the best workout possible, taking into account your safety and signs of hypoglycemia and other complications

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Step 2. Understand the general rules of bodybuilding

In general, try to do two or three sets of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, remembering to let your body rest for a minute between each set. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you return to the starting position. These rules apply for the entire workout.

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Step 3. Focus on the main muscle groups

Thus, you will see results all over your body in less time. The main areas are the back, chest, arms and legs. There are several effective workouts for those looking to gain muscle mass.

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Step 4. Train your back

Many inexperienced people don't care about the back, but it's essential to exercise in a balanced way to tone up the area.

  • Barbell: As the name says, you only need the barbell to do the exercise and train your upper and middle back. Grasp it with your hands parallel to your shoulders and lift your body until your chin is past the height of the accessory. Contract your scapulae to put the strength of the exercise in the right region and, for a break, work your biceps. Read this article for a more detailed description of the process.
  • Front Knob: The exercise is similar to the barbell, but you have to sit on a machine to do it. Grasp the bar with your hands just beyond your shoulders and pull up to your chest. Then return to starting position little by little.
  • Seated Handle: For this exercise, sit on a bench (this can be the same apparatus as the front handle) and pull the accessory in the shape of a triangle towards you. The movement works the mid-back and biceps. Click here to see a video of the movement (in English).
  • Shrinking: This exercise works the trapezius, the muscle that lies between the neck and shoulders. To do this, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell or dumbbell in each hand and lift your shoulders toward your ears.
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Step 5. Train the chest

The pectoral is formed by the pectoralis major and minor muscles - which are already big, but grow even larger with proper training. Do the following exercises:

  • Flexion: you don't need any equipment, just the floor to support yourself. Exercise also works the triceps. Read this article for a detailed description of the technique and variations of the movement. Push-up is also a good form of warm-up before heavy weight lifting.
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: Similar to a push-up, but done on the bench and with free weights. Lie down and hold the dumbbells above your shoulders to adopt the starting position. Then raise your hands to touch the weights on the chest, before going back to the beginning.
  • Fly machine: Sit on the machine and place your hands on the supports on each side. Push the weights until they are in front of your chest. Exercise isolates the pectoral more than flexion and bench press; therefore, it is essential for anyone who wants to develop muscles in the region.
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Step 6. Train your arms

The biceps and triceps are the two main muscle groups in the arms. Train them to gain mass in the region. Several of the movements mentioned above are also effective: the barbell and puller work the biceps, while the push-up and bench press work the triceps. Also, there are other exercises that isolate specific muscles.

  • Bicep curl: This exercise isolates the biceps. You can do it standing or sitting. In both forms, take a dumbbell in each hand and start with your arms rested. Then bend your elbows until your hands are close to your shoulders. Click here for an instructional video (in English).
  • Straight Bar or Rope Cross: This exercise isolates the triceps and is also done on a machine. Attach the bar or rope to the weight and assume the starting position with your hands at chest level. Then use only your elbows to force the attachment down to the height of your hips before returning to the beginning.
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Step 7. Train your legs

The legs include some of the biggest muscles in the human body; therefore, it is essential to train the region to gain mass. You can do several different exercises:

  • Squat: This exercise mainly works the quadriceps and glutes, but it's also good for the whole leg and lower back. Read this article and watch this video (in English) to learn the correct technique. It's also good to consult a gym teacher - as beneficial as exercise is, you can injure your knees, back and neck if you do something wrong.
  • Leg Extension: This exercise works the quadriceps. Place your feet on the machine and extend your legs forward, lifting the adjusted weight.
  • Dip: This exercise trains the hamstrings, which are at the back of the leg. To do this, hold a weight in each hand and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Take a big step with one leg and bring the other's knee to the floor. Read this article for more details.
  • Calf Lift: This exercise works your calves, which are located on the back and lower part of your leg. You can do it on the device or with free weights. To do this, place your feet on the edge of a platform, with your heels suspended. With the load (free or from the appliance), transfer your weight to your forefeet and lift the back of your feet. Return to starting position and then repeat.
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Step 8. Vary your workout

If you do the same exercises for several weeks on end, your muscles will get used to it and reach a so-called “plateau” - which will slow down the results. To avoid this, only train one muscle group at a time, doing one or two of the workouts suggested above. Repeat the process for a few weeks and change tokens. That way you will optimize the results of the process.

Part 3 of 4: Taking Care of Your Safety During Exercise

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Step 1. Monitor your blood glucose

Keep measuring your blood glucose before and after training, even if you've already gained some exercise experience. If you notice that your blood level drops a lot during weight training, consult your doctor for advice on what to do.

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Step 2. Keep an eye out for symptoms of hypoglycaemia

Exercising can cause drastic drops in blood glucose, leading to hypoglycemia - which, in turn, can cause fainting or even a diabetic coma. If you experience any of the symptoms below, stop training immediately and measure your sugar level:

  • Dizziness and confusion.
  • Tremors and muscle weakness.
  • Excessive hunger.
  • Headache.
  • Irritability.
  • Accelerated heart rate.
  • Pale skin.
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Step 3. Always have a carbohydrate source with you when training

Measure your blood glucose and you think you have symptoms of hypoglycemia. If the level is too low, stop and have a snack to get back to normal and avoid complications. Here are some interesting and useful examples:

  • Some sweets (with sugar).
  • ½ cup of soda.
  • ½ cup of fruit juice.
  • 1 cup of skim milk.
  • Glucose pills.
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Step 4. Wear an identification bracelet

That way, emergency responders will know you're diabetic and take the correct action - which is even more important in the event of fainting from hypoglycaemia. Wear this bracelet whenever you train to avoid taking risks.

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Step 5. Drink plenty of water

Moisturizing your body is essential in exercising. Replace all the water you lose from sweating and keep an eye out for dehydration symptoms.

  • Dizziness or confusion.
  • Dry mouth or swollen tongue.
  • Fatigue.
  • Reduced or interrupted sweating.
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Step 6. See if you have abrasions or blisters after every workout

These wounds can take a long time to heal in people with diabetes, and can become infected if left untreated. Do a careful self-examination to see if there is anything like that, focusing on the hands and feet (the parts most affected by intense training). If you find something, see your doctor as soon as possible so he can clean the wound and apply a bandage.

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Step 7. Get plenty of rest

Rest is essential for anyone who trains, even if the person does not have diabetes. Let your body regain its energy and develop its muscles. Also, take a few days off while your muscle fibers repair themselves.

Part 4 of 4: Eating Well to Build Muscle Mass

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Step 1. Eat a proper meal after every workout

Exercising ends up affecting the presence of essential fluids and nutrients in the body. So, you have to replace everything to recover and develop your muscles. Use ingredients with the substances below to prepare a quality meal that does not affect your blood sugar.

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Step 2. Ingest lots of protein

Proteins are essential for muscle development, as they are the foundation of human growth. There are several interesting protein options:

  • Nuts: Every nut is rich in protein. Include some of them in your diet throughout the day.
  • Beans: Beans are not only proteinaceous, but they also have a low glycemic index, which does not affect the blood sugar level. If you buy canned beans, take out all the liquid so you don't get too much sodium.
  • Non-fat dairy: Milk and yogurt are excellent sources of protein. Have a cup or a cup of these products.
  • Fish: Salmon, tuna and herring are among the best alternatives, but all fish do well. Just avoid eating a lot of fried fish, which have a lot of saturated fat.
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Step 3. Ingest carbohydrates from whole grain products

Without carbohydrates, the body ends up “stealing” muscle proteins for energy - which prevents them from growing. In addition, carbohydrates in processed products such as French bread have a high glycemic index and raise blood sugar levels. Always prefer wholegrain alternatives (bread, pasta and cereals).

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Step 4. Consume healthy fats

Don't believe them when they say it's healthy to cut out all the fats in your diet. Saturated and trans fats are harmful, but mono and polyunsaturated fats are good for your health - and can reduce cholesterol levels, in addition to contributing to muscle development. See some examples:

  • Avocado.
  • Fish: Salmon and sardines contain high levels of omega-3s.
  • Olive oil.
  • Seeds, mainly sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.


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