Since many of us are still unable to go into a gym during this pandemic, I’m staying within the theme of how you can attain a complete workout without leaving your home.
In this post, I’ll be discussing strength training (also known as weight training or resistance training) because according to the Mayo Clinic, strength training will help you:
- Develop healthy bones: By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Build lean muscle mass: As we age, we lose muscle mass and it is replaced with fat. Building lean muscle mass also gives us more energy throughout the day.
- Manage your weight: Strength training will increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
- Improve your balance: Improved balance reduces the risk of falls, allowing you to maintain independence as you age and improving your quality of life.
- Manage chronic conditions: Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Sharpen your mental skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.
- Improve our mental wellbeing: Studies show that strength training reduces symptoms of depression and thus improves our sense of well being
To get started, you don’t need to break the bank buying equipment. There are a few pieces that would be helpful and you can find them at a major athletic retailer or online. If you enjoy bargain shopping, you maybe able to find some equipment in used but excellent condition. Here’s a list to consider:
- an exercise mat
- resistance bands or tubing
- a kettlebell
- a stability ball
- a medicine ball
A basic lunge works the muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
- Start by standing up tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward with your right foot, and lower your hips toward the floor until your right leg is at a 90-degree angle and your left knee is parallel to the ground. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
- Lengthen your spine to keep your torso upright.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds or longer.
- Then step your right foot back to meet your left, and repeat this movement with your left leg.
- Repeat 10 to 12 times, then rest briefly and do another set.
Squat To Overhead Press:
This exercise not only works your glutes and leg muscles, it also works the muscles in your core, back, and shoulders, as well as your triceps.
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your arms alongside your body.
- Slowly lower your hips down into a squat position.
- Press up to come back into standing and raise your arms overhead.
- Return to the starting position.
- Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
Planks are an excellent exercise for improving your core strength and stability. This exercise can also strengthen the muscles in your back, chest, and shoulders.
- Rest on your forearms and toes only, keeping your body in a straight line with your buttocks clenched and your abdominal muscles engaged.
- Try to hold this position for 30 seconds. If that’s too hard, start with 20 seconds.
- As you gain strength and fitness, try to hold the plank position for 1 minute or longer.
Standard pushups work the chest muscles (pectorals), as well as the shoulder muscles, triceps, and abdominals.
- Start in a plank position with your palms directly under your shoulders.
- Keeping your back flat and bracing your core, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest almost touches the floor.
- Immediately push your body back up to the starting position.
- Repeat 8–12 times. Start with 1–2 sets, and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.
A less challenging version of the pushup can be done by putting your weight on your knees instead of your toes.
Free Weight Exercises
Dumbbell Shoulder Press:
This exercise targets the muscles in your shoulders and arms, and can also strengthen your core and chest muscles.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Pick up the dumbbells and raise them to shoulder height. Your palms can face forward or toward your body.
- Raise the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended.
- Pause in this position for a few seconds, and then bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
- Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.
Dumbbell Tricep Kickback:
This exercise works your triceps as well as your shoulder muscles.
- Grab two dumbbells and hold one in each hand.
- Bend your torso at a 45-degree angle, and bend your elbows so they form a 90-degree angle.
- Then straighten your arms out directly behind you, engaging your triceps as you go.
- You can either do one arm at a time, or both together.
- If you’re a beginner, start with 1–2 sets of 8–12 reps, and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.
Resistance Band Pull Apart:
This exercise works the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.
- Stand with your arms extended out in front of you at chest height.
- Hold a resistance band tautly with both hands. The band should be parallel to the ground.
- Keeping your arms straight, pull the band toward your chest by moving your arms outward to your sides. Initiate this movement from your mid-back.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and keep your spine straight, then slowly return to the starting position.
- Do 1–3 sets of 15–20 reps.
This exercise works the muscles in your hips and legs. You’ll need a light- to medium-resistance band to do this exercise.
- Loop the resistance band around both your ankles. You can use a chair or wall for balance.
- Keeping a straight line in your body, pull your left leg back as far as you can, keeping it as straight as possible.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
- Complete 12 reps with your left leg, then repeat with your right leg.
- Complete 2 sets on each side to start, and work up to doing 3 sets as you build up your strength.
Resistance Band Leg Press:
This exercise works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Like a leg press on a weight machine, this exercise makes you work against gravity.
- Lie on your back and lift your feet off the ground.
- Bend your knees, creating a 90-degree angle. Flex your feet, pointing your toes upward.
- Wrap the resistance band around your feet and hold the ends.
- Press your feet against the bands until your legs are fully extended.
- Bend your knees to return to a 90-degree angle.
- Do 1–3 sets of 10–12 reps.
You want to incorporate strength training like this into your routine at least three times a week. If yourself a day of rest between muscle groups and allow them to recover. A Monday, Wednesday, Friday plan for strength training can work well.
If your current exercise routine is primarily cardio focused, don’t stop the cardio, but modify the routine. For instance, if your normal cardio routine is an hour long, and your strength training is 30 minutes long, on the day you strength train, also do 30 minutes of cardio. You ultimately want to be shooting for 1 hour of exercise per day, 5 days a week. You may not be able to achieve this in the beginning, but that should be your goal.
Let us know how you a doing with incorporating these tips into your exercise routine.
Kudos to the folks at Healthline for these helpful exercise ideas.