Strength training is the process of exercising with resistance to strengthen the musculoskeletal system. In simple words, any form of exercise that uses some kind resistance (like machines, dumbbells, resistance bands, or even self body weight), will strengthen the muscles and bones in the body, and this is Strength Training. It is often addressed by various names like resistance training, weight training, toning, etc.
Why Are Muscles So Important?
Muscles are used every time the body makes a movement. From blinking eyes to running and climbing stairs, for any activity muscles are used. Muscles can contract, relax and release force. The more muscles the body has, the more is the calorie burning capacity, which means these are metabolically active tissues, which means higher BMR. Apart from all the benefits of strong muscles, this is the highlight – muscles burn calories, reduces fat, and makes us fit. And, strength training helps in developing these muscles. Not only while a person is exercising does he burns calories, but long after the workout is over.
How To Introduce Strength Training Workout In Daily Routine
To look like the ladies in the pictures who never seem to have gained a pound in their lives, we need to use such exercises to our benefit.
- Perform the exercises in cycles, including at least three cycles.
- Rather than low impact, monotonous movements, these exercises are high intensity with variations that will not be similar to each other.
- Incorporate strength training routine for 3-4 days in a week.
- Combine the routine with cardio exercises for best fat burning results.
- It would take 2 to 3 months to see the sexy side you thought you never had.
- Once you do, the lean muscle mass you gain would burn more calories on an average, and so, you would continue to look toned (3).
Strength training like other exercises must be done after consultation with your physician, and the classes should be with certified instructors. If you want to go solo on the same, the initial investment is only a pair of dumbbells and good shoes. Start with at least a 5 pounds dumbbell and build it up.
The warm-up should be dynamic and should include stretching all the major muscle groups including legs, arms, and shoulders. There should be a 5-10 minute warm up, and the heart rate should be slightly elevated after the warm up.
Legs are the biggest muscle group and are able to bear the maximum weight. Squats and lunges are done in repetitions to build endurance. Leg raises and kicks are also a must.
Squats and kicks make up this portion. Skier squats are particularly challenging.
4. Shoulder And Arms
Various push-ups and plank positions are repeated to increase endurance. Bicep curls add further to the torture.
The most common exercises include chest flies.
6. Cool Down
Cool down includes static stretching and bringing the heart rate down.
It’s recommended to introduce two upper body and two lower body strength training sessions (four in total) in one week. Never target same muscles on two consecutive days. Another option is to do a full body routine three times a week. Cardio can be done for 15-20 minutes prior and after these routines as warm up and cool down. Long duration cardio or the lat pull down HIIT can be performed on the rest days between each resistance training routine.
Strength Training For Women
It is for anyone who wants to look hot, and that goes for you ladies who assume dumbbells give you muscles (1). If cardio burns calories, a strength training routine defines those sexy muscles. You would not only lose weight but also tone your body.
Considering the hectic lives we lead today, it is only important that we build on our strength reserves. Exercise for strength training effectively equips you to go through the daily grind of home or office work without feeling tired or depleted. These top 13 strength training exercises are a sure fire way of starting off an effective strength training routine in your daily lives.
Grab those dumbbells and follow me.
Top 13 Strength Training Exercises
1. Dumbbell Squats
Any list comprising of strength training exercises is bound to have squats on it. A basic everyday movement, whether you are sitting on a chair or picking up an item from the floor, squats can be done the simple way or you can use barbells or dumbbells while doing squats to effectively build more strength and stamina.
- Make sufficient space around you and stand with feet slightly apart.
- Ensure the back is straight.
- Hold two light weight dumbbells in each hand.
- Bend the arms at the elbows and hold the dumbbells near your shoulders, palms facing forward.
- Here, bend your knees and squat into a seating position.
- Do not allow your knees to reach past the toes.
- Simultaneously, raise your hands above the head.
- Hold for a breath and return to the first position.
- Continue for at least 15 repetitions.
This classic routine works out all the major leg muscles including thighs, lower legs, and hips and, if done correctly, it also strengthens the upper body.
2. Dumbbell Lunges
Working on the same muscles as squats, the lunge is a form of one of the primary movement patterns such as walking up and down the stairs, up and down hill or simply walking. You can perform simple lunges or use dumbbells to build up more strength and stamina.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Hold the dumbbells in your hands and let your arms hang to the sides.
- Step forward with your right leg and bend at the knee.
- As you lower into the lunge, your knee should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
- The knee of the left leg is now facing the floor.
- Your hands should rest on both the sides of your body.
- Hold the position for a breath and then return to the first position.
- Now step ahead with the left leg and lunge forward.
- Continue the lunges for 15 repetitions.
Along with squats, deadlifts are also one of the most important exercises for strength training. Combining squats and pull, the deadlift works effectively to build stamina even as you squat down to pull up weights. Working out all the major muscles in the lower and upper body, deadlifts are integral to strength training.
- Stand with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Grab the barbell while keeping your back straight. Hold it at hip height.
- Bend your knees slightly and lower the bar till it reaches your shins.
- Don’t move the bar. Keep it over your mid foot.
- Keep your back straight. Do not squeeze your shoulder blades or drop your hips.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Pull back slowly bringing the bar the initial hip height.
- Continue for 12-15 repetitions.
Pull-ups effectively work out all the big pulling muscles of the body such as the back muscles, the shoulders, and the arms. Pull ups are great workout techniques for firming, toning, strengthening and building all these muscle groups. They are also great exercises for burning fat and assisting weight loss.
- Hang on a bar with your hands more than shoulder width apart.
- Pull your entire body up until the bar reaches chin level.
- Pause for two to three seconds and then lower your body.
- Do 15 reps.
5. Lateral Pull Down
Equally effective as the pull-up, the lat pull-down works on all the same muscle groups and is easier to perform by beginners as the load is more easily adjusted. The lat pull down is an open chain exercise as opposed to the closed chain exercises mentioned above. Closed chain exercises involve pushing or pulling against immovable objects whereas open chain exercises causes the resistance that is being pushed or pulled against to actually move.
- Sit down on a pull-down machine and adjust the seat so that you can easily reach for the bar hanging above.
- Grab the bar with the palms forward, as shown in the pic.
- Bring your torso back at an angle of around 30 degrees with a slight curve in your back.
- Pull down the bar till it reaches your chest, by moving the shoulders and upper arms downwards and backwards at the same time.
- Hold for a second and feel the squeeze in your shoulder blades.
- Release the bar and bring it back to its original position.
- Continue this for 15 repetitions.
6. Bent Over Row
The bent over row is another great strength training exercise that works on all the same muscle groups as pull-ups or lat pull-downs. As you pull up the barbell or dumbbells to your torso, it moves you away from your center of mass pulling you forward and off balance and even as you push yourself against gravity to stay steady, this workout effectively works on your core strength.
Hold the barbell or dumbbells at hip length. Bend your knees slightly, keep the back straight, and bring your torso forward until your back is almost parallel to the floor.
- Lift the dumbbells towards you and make sure keep the back stationary.
- Keep your elbows close to your body and ensure to pull the weights with your forearm strength.
- Squeeze your back muscles in this position.
- Hold for a few seconds and then slowly lower the dumbbells to their starting position.
- Repeat this for 15 times.
7. Bicep Curls
Lifting barbells while standing with a strong underhand grip is known as bicep curls. Bicep curls effectively work on the major upper body muscles and help build stamina.
- Stand with feet slightly apart on the floor.
- Hold dumbbells weighing 5 pounds each in either hand.
- Start with your arms on either side.
- Now, curl them upwards (2).
- Bend your arms at the elbows and bring them up towards the shoulders.
- Hold the dumbbells firmly, facing towards your body.
- Simultaneously, bring your left knee up, parallel to the floor.
- Hold the position for three seconds.
- Return to the first position and switch sides, this time raising the right knee.
- Perform 15 repetitions.
In addition to your biceps, you will have worked your hamstrings and butt as well.
8. Forward Squats
This is a variation of the squats. You won’t need dumbbells for this. You are essentially defining your hands, abs, and legs with this exercise.
- First, step ahead with your right leg and squat.
- Meanwhile, bring both your hands forward and touch the fingers to the floor.
- Return to the first position.
- Next, step ahead with your left leg.
- Squat and touch the fingers to the floor again.
- Continue 15 repetitions.
9. Plank Raise
This exercise is ideal for your upper back and abs too.
- Begin by taking your position on the floor on your forearms and toes.
- Balance on your forearms and ensure your body is aligned in a straight line.
- Hold for a few seconds.
- Slowly raise your hips upwards, making a V shape.
- Hold and return.
- Perform 15 repetitions.
Anybody who actively works out on a daily basis would know how to do a basic push-up, but it is important to know why pushups are so integral to strength training. Push-ups build up the shoulders, chest, and triceps, and it also requires core strength to maintain a safe, neutral spine position throughout this exercise.
- Get into the high plank position, with hands firmly on the ground and directly under your shoulders.
- Keep your body parallel to the ground.
- Tighten your core muscles and lower your body until your chest grazes the floor.
- Don’t let your butt dip or stick out at any point during the move.
- Push your body back to its original position.
- Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.
11. Bench Press
A popular workout routine for most bodybuilding enthusiasts, the bench press is integral to strength training. It works on all the pushing muscles namely the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
- Lie down with your back aligned against a flat bench, with knees bent and your feet firmly on the floor.
- Your eyes should be lined under the barbell.
- Hold the bar firmly with both hands at an L-shaped angle.
- Raise the bar, by straightening your arms. Move it over the shoulders while keeping your elbows locked.
- Lower the bar to your mid-chest by tucking in your elbows at a 75 degrees angle.
- Hold for a second.
- Raise the bar again over shoulders and repeat the above motion.
- Continue for 12-15 repetitions.
The new term “burpees” is all the rage now. A burpee is also known as the squat thrust, and is a full body exercise used in strength endurance training and as an aerobic exercise. It is performed in four counts.
- Begin in a standing position.
- Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
- Extend your feet back in one quick motion to assume the front plank position. (count 2)
- Return to the squat position in one quick motion. (count 3)
- Return to standing position. (count 4)
Any strength training workout done out in the open would definitely include running as it effectively builds up stamina and works on all the major leg muscles. You can simply run to improve core strength or even jump over hurdles as you run.
Sample Strength Training Plan
Benefits Of Strength Training
1. Adds More Muscles And Burning More Calories
Muscles not only strengthen the body but also increase the BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). The physical act of lifting weights does burns calories at the very time of performance, but also it increases the calorie burn at rest. Body burns more calories at rest to maintain the muscles tissue cells than to maintain the fat cells.
2. Builds Stronger Bones
Bones are actually living tissues that get stronger with weighted exercises. Regular strength training helps in improving the bone density, hence reducing the risk of osteoporosis. This is especially true for women, who tend to lose a lot of calcium and bone density in many different phases of life like the monthly menstrual cycle, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. By a certain age, the calcium absorption power decreases, bones lose their calcium deposits, and this leads to osteoporosis, hence weak bones.
3. Helps Heart
Studies have shown that strength training reduces heart problems in the people suffering from them, and it also helps to keep such problems at bay. Several studies also show that strength training lowers the HDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and increases the LDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Research conducted in the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University has shown that resistance training can lower blood pressure by as much as 20%. These results are due to increased blood flow to muscles, heart, and body.
4. Reduces Risk Of Diabetes
Researches have shown that strength training improves and alters the way body processes sugar. They prove that it helps the insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control. As stated above, strength training helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure which also play a role in diabetes management.
5. Lose More Weight And Look Slimmer
Other than burning calories and boosting the metabolism, strength training also helps is losing fat from the body. A study at Penn State University found that, on average, people who lift weights lose six more pounds of fat than those who don’t. It all comes down to the baseline of building muscles. When just dieting, body burns fat as well as muscles (which is not good). While cutting calories and exercising, body burn burns fat to fuel itself, maintaining the muscle mass. That means the body is burning fat, and keeping the muscles. This makes the body slimmer and defined.
6. Enhances Physical And Mental Well–Being
Strength training makes the body strong. It has more energy to perform day to day activities. It improves flexibility and balance. Researchers have proved that it reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. It decreases tension and anxiety, and helps to alleviate depression. It also boosts brain health. According to an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, older women who did an hour or two of weight lifting each week improved their cognitive function, and better planned and executed a variety of tasks.
Women should not be afraid to pump up the iron. We can never bulk up our muscles. We don’t have that hormonal configuration. It requires high testosterone level like men to bulk up, which are just not present in a female body. And it takes lots of hard work, a lot of weight training and supplements to look like body builders. Instead of becoming huge, females will reshape their body, build lean muscles and burn calories faster than someone who sticks to just cardio exercise.
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