5 Reasons Strength Training is Good For You

People of all ages and fitness levels can benefit from resistance training. Strength training is placing a demand on our muscles to perform physical work that is greater than our everyday tasks. Here are my top 5 reasons to add strength training to your exercise regime.

1. Improved metabolism: Metabolism is the rate at which you burn calories, and the more more lean muscle mass you have (developed by strength training) the more calories you will burn at rest to sustain muscle increase.

2. It makes everyday activities easier: Increased strength will help you complete everyday tasks more easily. This includes things like bringing in your groceries, scooping your children up out of their cribs, and picking up toys off the floor.

3. Improved posture: The way you sit, and stand is affected by the muscles in your neck, shoulders, abs, back and hips. The stronger these muscles are the straighter you will stand and sit (and it’s more comfortable).

4. Strengthens bones: When your muscles move, they pull on your bones, thereby strengthening them. Strong bones will help reduce the chance of injury and also prevent osteoporosis

5.Graceful aging: Strength training reduces loss of muscle mass due to inactivity and aging. Great news if you’re looking for a natural way to look younger, longer.

Getting started
You can work out in just about any area of your house that suits you, but I suggest that you have access to a stereo, as working out to music is a fun and stimulating way to get through an exercise routine. Dress in loose, comfortable clothes, sturdy runner-type shoes and have your water bottle nearby.

Start with two to three strength sessions a week, allowing for at least one day of rest in between. This is important because the resting period allows muscles to recover and repair themselves, which is what they need to become stronger.

This workout uses your body weight (without equipment, i.e. dumbbells etc.) in 5 simple and effective moves.

Start with a light warm-up for about 5 minutes with moves like marching in place, stepping side to side, reaching your arms side to side and up and down. The goal of a warm-up is to get your blood circulating, increase your body temperature and get you mentally focused for your workout.

1. Squats (12-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets)
Muscles targeted: glutes, hamstrings

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointed to 11 and 1.
  • Chest lifted, brace abdominals, and lower back for support.
  • Initiate movement from the hips; simultaneous movement is through the knees and ankles. (Imagine that you are sitting back into a chair.)
  • Squat position is 90 degree knee flexion, and knees are directed out over 2nd and 3rd toes.
  • Press into your heels and shins, squeeze your glutes and come back up.

Stretch: Knee to buttocks and hold for 30 seconds each leg.

2. Knee push-ups (12-15 repetitions, 2-3 sets)
Muscles targeted: shoulders, chest, back, triceps, and biceps.

  • Place your hands just outside the shoulders with your feet hip-width apart for greater stability, knees on the floor.
  • The torso should be perfectly in line from the neck to the heels throughout the push-up. Think of your body moving in one piece like a plank of wood.
  • The head should to be in line with the body also. Tuck in your chin and keep your eyes slightly forward and focused.
  • To do the push-up, lower your body down to just above the floor by bending your elbows and then push the floor away.

Stretch: Arms clasped in front of chest and hold for 30 seconds, arms clasped behind your back and hold for 30 seconds.

3. Lunges (8-10 lunges on each leg, repeat)
Muscles targeted: quads, glutes, side lunges, hamstrings, hip flexors

  • Start kneeling on the ground with one leg forward. Position knees at 90 degrees and then stand up.
  • Keeping the pelvis square, lower the back knee towards the floor.
  • Press into your front heel, and come back up.

Stretch: Bend knees, place right ankle on left knee hold for 30 seconds, repeat left (hold wall for balance).

4. Plank (hold for 30-60 seconds, repeat)
Muscles worked: core, shoulders, spine

  • Lie face down flat, place your hands underneath your shoulders.
  • Lift your body off the ground with your knees or toes on the ground.

Stretch: Lie face down, hands underneath shoulders, keep your hips on the floor, lift chest away from floor (cobra) and hold for 30 seconds.

5. The Bicycle (8-10 repeat 2-3 times)
Muscle worked: core, obliques

  • Lie face up, flat on a mat with your lower back pressed into the ground.
  • Place your hands behind your ears.
  • Feet off the floor, knees above your hips.
  • Touch your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.
  • Work at a steady pace; inhale as your elbow touches the knee; exhale to extend.

Stretch: Stand with feet together, arms extended overhead, bend toward the right and hold for 30 seconds, repeat left.