Common exercise recommendations for women with Hashimoto’s include walking, doing light cardio, stretching, and going to yoga and pilates. But I know when I did these with Hashimoto’s, I felt worse afterward, gained more weight, and my joints ached to no end. I needed to work out smarter, not harder. I returned to my kettlebell strength training sessions I had done in the past but with a twist; I no longer worked out so hard I would want to puke after. I did fewer reps, heavier weight, functional movements, and no more than 20-30 minutes in the gym.
Every lift was full body compound movements, not body parts like I used to do way back when on my back/bicep days or chest/ tricep days. This strength training along with the guidance of a functional medicine doctor was magic. The weight came off, the brain fog lifted, and I started to get definition. I took what I learned from my chiropractic continuing education with Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) and tweaked it for my Hashimoto’s body, so I wouldn’t injure myself or push into a Hashi flare-up. After playing with many different training styles, these are some of my favorite workout equipment to train effectively while living with Hashimoto’s.
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The key to maintaining a successful exercise regimen with Hashimoto’s is to use your energy wisely to build strength day by day in small increments. Kettlebells are my favorite recommendation for women looking to fit into their favorite pants and gain definition. Beyond these cosmetic benefits, kettlebell workouts offer dynamic movement patterns that combine resistance training and cardio. All the benefits without burnout? Yes, please.
Kettlebells are a great way to increase grip strength. This is important to note because based on the review by Campbell University, “It appears that there is adequate evidence to support the use of grip strength as an explanatory or predictive biomarker of specific outcomes such as generalized strength and function, bone mineral density, fractures, and falls, nutritional status, disease status, and comorbidity load, cognition, depression, and sleep, hospital-related variables, and mortality.” This simply means that if we want to live a long and healthy life, we need to have a strong grip.
Training with the kettlebell’s offset weight with the bell on the back of the wrist encourages shoulder stability muscles like the serratus anterior and latissimus dorsi. Kettlebells are useful to every level of expertise because they allow a natural range of motion, and they are considerably safer to use while learning proper form. They’re also great for more advanced ballistic exercises to get the heart rate up like a kettlebell swing and a snatch. The best part is most kettlebell exercises translate into building functional strength useful beyond the gym environment.
- Increases grip strength
- Combines resistance training and cardio
- Increases functional strength
- Forgiving when first learning proper form
- Easy to use when rehabilitating from an injury
- Easier to do a heavy carry with the kettlebells than a dumbbell
- Allow a natural range of motion
- As with any weighted exercise, there’s a risk of injury without proper form
- The shipping can cost as much as the kettlebell
- Some women find it uncomfortable to hold a kettlebell on the back of the forearm at first, but a wrist band can pad the wrist while first learning
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Dumbells are the classic foundational piece in home gyms. They are easy to access and cheaper than a kettlebell. Dumbbells don’t have the offset weight like a kettlebell to stimulate neurodevelopmental biomechanics — the brain’s process of creating new neural pathways to complete the physical movements or function — but their cost and accessibility make them a great option to choose behind the kettlebell.
You can use dumbbells to equalize muscle imbalances by training your limbs separately, to create versatile routines with very little equipment, and to counteract some of the effects of Hashimoto’s. Similar to the use of a kettlebell, weight training with dumbbells is highly recommended for those with Hashimoto’s because it covers all the bases: it helps increase strength and muscle mass, improves joint support, helps get rid of excess weight, supports hormone balance, and provides opportunities (between sets) for recovery breaks. With low repetitions – somewhere around five or less – you have the opportunity to lift heavier weight and push your body towards your goals.
I’m a big fan of weight training because it prevents burnout, overuse, and injury that can lead to long-term debilitating fatigue. I prefer kettlebells to dumbbells, but the most important thing is to just start your weight training journey.
At first glance, the K Box seems like a simple platform with resistance training capabilities. Its surprising versatility is what landed the K Box on this list. In addition to resistance training, the K Box can be used for eccentric training and overload, injury prevention and rehab, and strength training. Results of the many research-backed studies by the Swedish company Exxentric showed that eccentric training with flywheel resistance exercise training (2–3 times/week) has the potential to enhance muscle strength, muscle power, and physical function in older adults.
In comparison to the shortening (concentric) phase, your muscles are stronger in the lengthening (eccentric) phase of motion. During regular strength training with weights, the load in the eccentric phase is limited to how much the weaker concentric phase can lift. As a result, the eccentric phase is rarely loaded to its maximum, and the training loses efficiency. Read more about Eccentric Training and Overload on the K Box site. A recent study confirmed: “In addition to its efficiency in sports performance and rehabilitation, the eccentric training interventions constitute an attractive strategy to prevent muscle wasting in many chronic diseases.”
Eccentric training yields highly favorable results from a low-intensity movement which means the K Box is perfectly aligned with our goals in the Thyroid Strong course. The K Box platforms have a built-in automatic belt length adjustment function for smooth and easy transitions between exercises. The platforms can accommodate up to four flywheels. Exxentric also offers add-on pieces like a foot block for lateral lower limb movements. These customization options save an incredible amount of space in home gyms which is a big win in my book.
- Improves muscle strength, power, and function
- Constant inertia through a full range of motion
- Increases strength by activating the muscle and nervous system
- Safe eccentric training at home
- Easy to store
- Can jerk the low back if the movement is not in sync with the eccentric movement
I love sharing what worked for me because no one should feel resigned to their diagnosis.
My course Thyroid Strong incorporates each of these machines for Hashimoto’s friendly workouts that will help you build muscle, clear brain fog, and feel energized. Click to read Thyroid Strong success stories, what’s included, and sign up today! Between the community, the workouts, the resources, and weekly calls, I guarantee that you’ll find more confidence and energy in the first two weeks of the program. Let’s get you feeling like yourself again.
In Good Health,
Dr Emily Kiberd
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