Why People Living With Diabetes Need Strength Training

Why People Living With Diabetes Need Strength Training

Just because you have diabetes, it doesn’t mean you have to focus on regulating your blood sugar levels exclusively via diet.

Regardless of the condition, many diabetics continue pursuing the dream of a fit, chiselled, good-looking body, so they hit the gym to work hard for it every day! Still, despite good old aerobic exercises, resistance trainings (lifting weights) can actually tremendously help with keeping your blood glucose and weight in check and improving your overall health.

Let’s delve a little deeper and see how this can be done.

First Off: What is Diabetes?

For those who do not know, diabetes is a condition where the body simply doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone comprised of peptides which is generated in the pancreas.

We need it to regulate our metabolism of both carbohydrates and fats by absorbing glucose from the blood, which consequently provides our cells with much needed energy.

Type I diabetes is usually developed in early childhood and teenage years, however it is not the most common one (5-10% of all cases are of this type), but it is more debilitating and cannot be prevented.

This is when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, thus eliminating its necessary production. Without it, we cannot absorb sugar needed to produce energy.

Type II diabetes can develop at any age, but most commonly during adulthood. Sadly, due to unhealthy dietary standards, the number of children with this condition is on the rise. The case with #2 is that the body isn’t able to use insulin right away, so it is also referred to as insulin resistance disease.

As it worsens, the pancreas produces less and less of this hormone, but with a healthy lifestyle, bodyweight control, regular exercise and a proper diet, it can be delayed and even prevented.

Prepare yourself

This especially goes out to those who are insulin dependent diabetics (type I)! You simply cannot take a plunge into the world of fitness and expect no drastic repercussions.

Some things must be deeply considered here. What you require is a carefully laid out plan based on a thorough research if you want to get big and strong. Also, think about how training will affect your body, what meals are good before and after your workout, who do you keep alert if an episode ensues, etc.

The Difference Between Resistance and Cardio Training

Without a doubt, cardiovascular exercises are excellent for burning calories, but will also make your blood sugar drop while you work out, which will stabilize shortly afterwards.

On the other hand, resistance trainings will do the opposite. Apart from building muscle mass, they stimulate a rise in blood sugars which will drop over the next 24 hours or so. This is why you have to monitor your body’s reaction to each new routine, because you can either experience hypoglycaemia (lack of sugar) in the first case, or hyperglycaemia (excess sugar) in the second.

Why Focus on Resistance Training?

It’s more effective in the long-term. Just by boosting your muscle mass, you permanently improve your metabolism, which is perfect for weight and glucose management. The point is that you can get things under control this way.

You’ll burn more fat, regulate your insulin sensitivity and the less you need your insulin shots, the easier it becomes to maintain a stable blood sugar level. Combine this new-found stability with a low glycemic diet, supply yourself with supplements like creatine (more strength, longer endurance, faster recovery) to max out your efforts at the gym, remember to rest, let your body recuperate and you will beat this disease.

It is always recommendable to focus your attention on resistance trainings, rather than on traditional cardio exercises, because it holds diabetes at bay.

Naturally, it all depends on the goals you’ve set, your bodyweight, metabolism rate and overall physical condition, but two to four 1-hour power training sessions (weight machines, resistance bands, rowing, lifting weights, use of bodyweight, etc.) per week and two 20-30 minutes of cardio will do you incredible justice. Just keep in mind that you have to stay the course and remain diligent.

Additional Advice

It is always good to keep track of your progress in a notebook. Take into account what you have eaten, how much you have eaten, your blood sugar readings, the type of workout you’ve endured, the duration of workouts and other relevant data.

This information will help you manage your diabetes as well as your training regime, just remember to clearly put everything on paper. Such findings and trends can even boost your confidence and elevate your mood once you see and feel how progress is being made. Strive to catch that empowering feeling and hold on to it.


Yes, of course you can live a normal life even if you have been diagnosed with diabetes. It may take some decent effort, but it will always be worthwhile if you remain true to yourself and your goals. This isn’t supposed to be a motivational article, but an educated push to make people realize that developing healthy habits is necessary for overcoming all sorts of obstacles, set-backs and maladies. It may be hard in the beginning, but you’ll thank yourself over time when you look in the mirror and the blood findings.


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