Strength Training~

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Warm-up for 5-7 minutes with easy cardio. This can be on any cardio machine of choice, or a walk around the neighborhood. If it’s too cold, try 5 minutes of a dance cardio video on YouTube, or walking or jogging in place while listening to your favorite warm-up song.SLIDESHOW

How to Start Strength Training

man resting on weight bar
1/14Why Strength Training?It’s not just to get big muscles and look buff. Your bones will get stronger, too. And it can help your balance and coordination, which means you’re less likely to fall and hurt yourself. More muscle also means you burn more calories when you’re doing nothing at all, which can help keep off extra pounds. You’ll appreciate these benefits as you get older and start to lose muscle mass.
woman doing pushups at home
2/14Do You Need Lots of Equipment?Not at all. Pushups, pullups, and other “bodyweight exercises” can help build up your muscles and make it easier for you to work out longer. Simple props like elastic resistance tubing and giant inflatable balls can help with some movements. And don’t be afraid to switch it up. More variety may help you get stronger.   
mature class curling free weights
3/14Free Weights”Free” doesn’t have to do with money. It means the weights aren’t attached to a machine. If you’d rather train at home, start small with a couple of hand dumbbells. You can always add weight or take it away. A larger barbell and weight bench put variety in your routine.Be careful, though. It’s easier to injure yourself with free weights than weight machines, so make sure you learn how to use them the right way.
woman exercising on reformer
4/14Weight MachinesWhen you use one of these, you work one muscle group at a time. Though they’re usually safer because they’re better at keeping you in the right position, they may not provide as natural a motion as free weights. And weight machines generally cost more, whether you buy one to use at home or pay for a gym membership.  
trainer helping man with free weights
5/14Talk to a trainer it’s important to do your strength exercises the right way. It lets you get the most from your hard work and keeps you from hurting yourself. If you go to a gym, ask the experts there to watch you and make suggestions. If you like to work out at home, hire a certified professional trainer, who can check your technique and even help design your training routine.
calendar close up
6/14How Often Should You Train?Your muscles need rest to grow. A good rule of thumb is to work each muscle group twice a week. For example, you could alternate your upper and lower body every day, or do a full-body workout 2 or 3 times a week.Just remember that your muscles need a full day’s rest before the next workout. It’s also a good idea to train all your major muscle groups. When one of them is much more developed or less developed, you can injure yourself. 
woman lifting empty weight bar
7/14How to Choose a Starting WeightNo matter your age, take it slow when you begin training, so your body has a chance to get used to it. Don’t be afraid to start with just a bare barbell or dumbbell bar to learn the right motion. When you’ve got that down, you can put on weights. You should be able to do 8-15 repetitions in comfort.  
man using incline bench
8/14Add More Weight When You’re ReadyOnce you have your technique down, you’ll want to add weight slowly. For good results, you should feel like you can’t do anymore as you get to the end of a set of 12-15 repetitions.Check your form. If it breaks down with more weight, then you may be doing more harm than good. Take some off. When it gets easier, or you can do more than a full set with good form, add more weight.
woman in gym breathing hard
9/14BreatheYou may feel like you want to hold your breath when strength training. Don’t do it. Try to breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower it. It will improve your performance and may help stop injuries like a hernia. If it’s hard to breathe, you may be using too much weight.   
shoe on exercise bike close up
10/14Dodon’t Skip a WarmupYou can injure your muscles more easily when they’re cold. So warm up with 10 minutes of jogging or biking. Even a brisk walk should do it. You can combine that with some simple exercises, like jumping jacks and lunges.
man using bench press
11/14Learn How to Bench-PressLots of folks make this part of their fitness routine. Keep your shoulders back and down against the bench. If you pull them forward when you lift, you’ll get less of a chest workout and you may hurt your shoulders.Some other tips: Keep a natural arch in your lower back — not too much or too little.Use your stomach muscles as you work out.Try not to lock your elbows into full extension when you lift.Relax your neck.
woman squatting free
12/14Try Some SquatsIt’s best to work with an expert to learn this one and start with little or no weight. You should feel the biggest effort from your legs and lower yourself as if sitting down. Try not to round your back.Follow this style: Turn your feet slightly out and keep them at shoulder width. Pull your shoulders back and down, and keep them above your hips.Push your chest out.Try to keep your knees from moving past your toes as you get lower.
man doing pushups against wall
13/14Do a Wall PushupYou won’t need any equipment besides a sturdy wall. It can help strengthen your chest, shoulders, and arms.Face the wall, a bit more than arm’s length away, feet flat on the floor.Keep feet and hands shoulder-width apart. Lean forward with palms against the wall at shoulder height. Slowly lower your upper body toward the wall, bending at the elbows.Hold for about a second.Breathe out as you slowly push yourself back up.
mature man talking with doctor
14/14Get Your Doctor’s ok if you’re not used to exercising and you’re middle-aged or older, check with your doctor before you start strength training. Also, talk to him if you smoke, have a health condition, or you’re overweight. Stop an exercise or lower the weight you’re lifting if it causes pain. If it doesn’t go away, see your doctor or a training specialist.

Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler on 2/18/2020

Complete 2-3 sets of 15 reps for the following exercises. (For example, You’ll do 15 biceps curls. Wait a few seconds to recover, and do 15 more biceps curls. If you’d like, do the third set. Then move onto the next exercise.)

  • Biceps curls. Hold the weights so that the palms of your hands are facing forward. Keep your elbows close to your torso, a tight core, and a slight bend in your knees. Flex at the elbow, bringing the weight all the way up (aiming towards your shoulder, lifting up through your chest as you go ). As you release, try to resist the weight, and go for a nice full extension at the bottom of the movement.
  • Sit to stand. Hold 1 dumbbell (with both hands, one at each end of the dumbbell)at your chest and stand about 2 feet in front of a couch or sturdy chair. Place your feet just under your shoulders with toes slightly angled out. Keep your chest lifted and a tight core as you sink back and down into your squat. Tap your booty to the chair, like you’re sitting down for a second. Make sure that your body weight is in your heels (you should be able to lift your toes). Exhale to rise.
  • Good mornings. Hold the dumbbells in your hands and cross your arms at your chest. Stand with your feet underneath your hips with a slight bend in the knee. Keep your back flat as your hinge from your hips, like you’re folding your body like a book. Stop when your chest is parallel to the floor. Squeeze your glutes and exhale to stand. 
  • Overhead press. Stand with legs hip-width apart, core engaged. Hold a weight in each hand, at shoulder level, with palms facing inward. Inhale to bring the weights up to 90 degrees and exhale to press up overhead. Lower down with control to 90 degrees and repeat.
  • Lunge. Hold the weights at your sides, palms facing inward, and stand with feet hip-width apart. Take one huge step forward, and keep your feet in line with your hips. Try to keep your torso perpendicular to the floor as you sink down into your lunge. As you lunge, watch the front knee to make sure it stays stacked above the front ankle. As you rise, actively think about trying to squeeze your legs together. Switch sides. For this exercise, you’ll do 8 lunges on the right side and 8 on the left for a full set. 

You can do this workout 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days. In between strength days, feel free to add in some cardio, whether through a class, cycling, walking, or dance cardio (the Fitness Marshall on YouTube is my fave!).WebMD Blog © 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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