Diabetes Workout Program


I am trying to plan an exercise program for a male 40 years old, has type 2 diabetes and is 20 pounds overweight.

Can you please advise some good exercises to use and reps and sets involved.

I was thinking my program would consist of a 10 minute warm-up, about 20 minutes of cardio, strength training with low weights and high reps (about 3 sets) with a 30-1 minute rest periods.

Finishing with a cool down and stretch. Please let me know if this sounds good or if you have any suggestions.

Answered By:

Mike Behnken, MS, CSCS ANswers the Fitness Question


The plan sounds pretty good. A type 2 diabetic who is only 20 pounds overweight has a good prognosis of reversing the adult onset diabetes with a good weight training program.

Before the exercise session starts make sure the client knows he should have eaten around 45-90 minutes before the training session so he doesn't run out of blood sugar during the training session.

Start with 5 minutes of general warm up such as a stationary bike or elliptical machine at a low-moderate level. After the general warm up it is a good idea to perform some dynamic flexibility such as the first 3-4 videos on the Leg Stretches page.

What comes next depends on the level of training which the client is at. A couple core exercises should come next for most people. Core exercises will help the client progress his training in the future and reduce the chance of injury.

There are many different ways to work a diabetic or any other client. Overweight clients usually struggle with muscular endurance more than strength at the outset of the program. Therefore rest should be the primary controlled factor during this exercise program.

Instead of concentrating too much on weights, set and control the rest in between sets most strictly. Start with 30 seconds rest, perform large muscle group exercises such as bench press, lat pull down, leg press, etc. in a circuit fashion with 30 seconds of rest in between exercises.

Progress the exercise program by shortening the rest rather than increasing the weights. Use a moderate weight such as a weight only liftable for 10-15 reps

Even better than using machines is combination exercises which work multiple muscle groups at a time. Perform super-sets of 2 opposing muscle groups back to back then rest to get the most work done during the weight training.

For overweight clients a Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) workout has been demonstrated in studies to be the most efficient for weight loss. A general PHA program involves supper-setting an upper body with a lower body exercise in a circuit fashion.

20-30 Minutes of Cardio Should follow the Weight Training

This will ensure the client devote enough energy so the weight training can achieve proper intensity.

Having a recovery drink with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio to consume during the cardio would be a good idea. It would ensure the client will get through the cardio without bad drop in blood sugar, and help the muscles start their recovery process from the weight training at the same time.

After the cardio, a general static stretching session would be great.

Remember, always rely on the feedback your client gives you and modify the exercise program as you see fit

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