You’d be amazed at how many people focus just on aerobic exercise and ignore strength training, fearing they’ll bulk up and look like the Incredible Hulk. It isn’t that simple or everyone would become a body builder. There’s a good reason to start a course of strength training for beginners if it’s not already part of your workout program. Strength training helps build muscle tissue, protects bone density, helps you lose weight faster and helps prevent injury. In fact, strength training is known to be as effective for reducing or even reversing bone loss as some medications for osteoporosis.
Strength training can be done with weights, but also with no equipment at all.
When you think of strength training, most people envision free weights, such as dumbbells, weight machines, barbells or kettlebells, but there are other ways to achieve a great workout without those. Resistance bands are one. These are like huge rubber bands that provide resistance when you stretch them. They have some advantages, like being easy to store, relatively inexpensive, light and versatile. You can even do body weight exercises for strength, such as chin ups, push-ups and squats.
You can start at home if you don’t have access to a gym.
Of course, I always believe you benefit from having the expertise of a personal trainer, but some people don’t have a gym close to them or prefer starting on their own because they’re a bit intimidated by a gym or trainer. I believe that no matter where you start, getting started is the top priority. You can do circuit body weight exercises that not only will build your muscles, but give you a good cardio workout. The circuit could be a combination of squats, push ups, walking lunges, dumbbell rows, a plank and jumping jacks.
Base your repetitions on your fitness level.
One nice thing about those particular exercises is that you can modify them based on how fit you are. You can start with 10 to 20 squats and as you get fitter, either increase the number or if you’re at 20, modify the squat by either raising your arms or putting your hands behind your head. The same is true for every exercise on the list. If you can’t do ten regular push-ups, do five and work up. If one is impossible, do knee bent push-ups. The deeper you lunge for walking lunges, the harder. Do up to ten on each leg. Dumbbell rows don’t need to use dumbbells, but plastic detergent bottles, gallon milk jugs or even a large can. The amount of time you hold the plank should vary by your fitness level. Work up to 20 seconds. If you can’t do a full jumping jack, start with just the arms and then work up to 30 full body ones.
- Do the circuit of exercises, take a 30 second breather and repeat two more times for a good workout.
- Once you master this program and can do it with ease, you’re no longer a beginner. The first time you do all the exercises in a modified form to make them harder, you’ve moved to the next level.
- Don’t forget to warm up first before you exercise. Running in place, riding a stationary bike, swinging arms and legs as you march in place or whatever it takes to get the blood flowing is good.
- Never do strength training two days in a row. Your body needs time to recuperate.