Are you new to exercise? Never picked up a weight in your life? Don’t worry, you are not alone! Many individuals start an exercise program and feel as though they need a little guidance. This post reviews the basics of strength training, one of the best ways to feel stronger, lose body fat, and increase your metabolism. Strength training does not have to be performed for hours on end in order to see and feel results. Nor does it have to be performed in a gym setting. The following exercises require one tool: your own body, and a couple of ordinary household items.
Before you begin, it is always a good idea to review any new exercise program with your doctor and obtain approval. Begin with a 5-10 minute warm up of light cardiovascular exercise (walking in place, outside, light cycling, etc.) to prepare your body for strength training. Perform each exercise for 12 repetitions, resting when you need to. The first time around is simply about learning proper technique. Also remember to stretch each muscle gently after each exercise for approximately 30 seconds.
1) Sit & Stand (works thighs, butt, and abdominals):
Stand in front of a chair or couch with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles (pretend you have an elastic band connecting them to your spine) sit down on the chair. Once you’ve made contact with the chair, slowly return to a standing position. You can place your hands on your thighs if you need to. For an additional challenge, clasp your hands in front of you as you perform the exercise.
2) Step Calf Squeeze (works calves):
Stand on a stair with both feet, shoulder width apart, holding a railing if possible. Move your feet backwards so that only your toes are on the edge of the stair. Gently lower your heels, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. Now, stand up on your tiptoes, squeezing your calves for 1 second, and then lowering. Repeat.
3) Inner Thigh Raise (works inner thigh):
Lie on your right side with your head resting on your elbow (you can place a pillow under if this is more comfortable). With your left foot on the ground (knee is facing towards the ceiling), slowly raise your right leg 2-3 inches off the ground. Hold for 1 second and lower. Repeat 12 times, then switch sides.
4) Wall Push Up (works chest, arms, and shoulders):
Stand 2-3 feet away from a wall and place hands on the wall at shoulder height, a couple of inches wider than your shoulders. Keeping abdominals tight, and back straight, bend your elbows and lower body towards the wall. Your body should be as straight as a board during this exercise. Push back to starting position and repeat. The further away from the wall you are, the harder the exercise. Make sure you don’t sag in the middle–keep the abs tight and the back flat.
5) Towel Lat Pulldown (works back and shoulders):
Lying on your back, grasp the ends of a rolled up towel and extend arms overhead. Feeling tension between your two hands, slowly bring the towel overhead and down to touch the tops of your thighs. Raise towel overhead and repeat.
6) Water Bottle Lateral Raises (works shoulders and upper back):
Stand and hold two 16 oz. (full) water bottles at your sides. Keeping arms and wrists straight (don’t lock your elbows), raise your arms to shoulder height. Keep your palms facing the floor. Your body should form a “T” shape. Lower arms to sides and repeat.
7) Water Bottle Bicep Curls (works upper arms):
Sit or stand holding your water bottles palms facing away from you. Keeping your elbows close to your sides, bring the water bottles up to your shoulders as you contract your bicep (upper arm) Lower back down to your sides. Repeat.
8) Tricep Clap (works back of arms):
Stand with arms at your sides. Keeping arms straight, bring hands together in back of you in a clapping motion. You should feel the backs of your arms squeezing in order to make hands clap. Clap 12 times.
9) Abdominal Toner (works stomach):
Lying on your back, with hands on the floor at your sides, bring your knees to your chest. Keeping feet together, and knees bent, slowly lower your feet to 1-2 inches from the floor. Bring knees back to your chest and repeat.
About the Blogger:
Founder and owner of McDermott Nutrition, Jamie McDermott is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer specializing in weight management and sports nutrition.