Strength training is a critical part of all workout regimes. Whether it be for bodybuilders, older adults, or just your average Joe, strength training has benefits for everyone and should be taken up to improve one’s health and naturally, one’s physique. Strength training has proven to improve posture and bone density, as well as lowering the risk of lower back pain and osteoporosis later in life. It is recommended to do 1-3 sets of approximately 8-12 repetitions of each exercise in a smooth, controlled manner. These exercises should be done at least twice a week but not on consecutive days as to allow for rest. Remember – Rest days are just as important as gym days.
Here are some exercises you should think about including in your strength training workouts:
1. One Armed Dumbbell Row
This exercise targets both your back and biceps. You will need a dumbbell and a flat bench. As with all the exercises here, a warm up set should be completed before beginning the workout sets.
• Place your left hand flat on the top half of the bench and rest your left knee on the lower end of the bench. Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, outstretch your right leg backwards in order to keep your back straight and stable.
• Lift the dumbbell up to your side and lower it gently back down. Try to engage just your back and bicep muscles and maintain a stable and straight back throughout.
Targeting your thighs, buttocks and hips, the squat is an exercise that is universally used in strength training. Starting off all you will need is a medicine ball but you may progress into using a squat rack and weights.
• Place the ball in between a wall and your back. Position your feet shoulder width apart and face them forwards.
• Go to sit down, keeping your back straight and your chin up. Squat down and hold for a couple of seconds before returning to the standing position in a controlled manner.
3. Chest/Bench Press
Mainly working chest and tricep muscles, this is another very popular exercise in most people’s strength workouts. This exercise can be done using either dumbbells or a barbell.
• Lie flat on your back on a bench and outstretch your arms directly in front of you, holding a dumbbell in each hand about shoulder width apart. Lower the dumbbells down to your chest, hold for a second and then push the dumbbells back to the original position in a controlled manner. This is 1 repetition.
• Using a barbell, load the desired weight onto each side and secure with clips. Holding the bar at shoulder width apart, copy the movement from above.
4. Shoulder Press
Many gyms have shoulder press machines which are handy to use to get used to the movement and the muscles being used. However, this exercise may be done using dumbbells and a bench.
• Adjust the bench so that you may sit on it with your back supported. Begin the exercise by holding two dumbbells straight up in the air. Lower the dumbbells either side of your head until they are just above your shoulders. When you reach this point, push the dumbbells back up until you are in the original position.
• Try keeping your head facing forward while performing the reps in a controlled manner.
The Plank is a great strength exercise, especially or your core muscles. It works the abdominals as well as your arm and leg muscles. You may want to use a yoga mat when performing this exercise.
• Get down onto all fours but except for leaning on your hands, bend your arms, bring them together below your head and lean on your elbows/forearms.
• Being propped up by your feet and arms hold this position for 30 seconds, progressing up to as long as possible.