Muscular strength is an important part of overall wellness and can improve your health, in addition to boosting your confidence. Strength training makes your muscles work harder than they usually do. You also build endurance so your muscles can work hard without making you tired afterward.
Strength training usually requires some form of resistance for your muscles to work against, from free weights, resistance machines, or resistance bands. If you’re just starting and don’t have access to gym equipment., your body can offer enough resistance to get you going with the simple exercises listed here.
You can do these exercises at home. You’ll just need a sturdy chair, a nonslip surface, and a tennis ball.
Classic squats work your buttocks, hips, and thighs. All you’ll need for this variation is a chair. Here’s how to do it:
- Step one: Stand in front of the chair with your back toward it and your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Step two: Lower into an almost-seated position while keeping your weight in your heels. Lean slightly forward from the waist.
- Step three: Count to four on the way down. Pause, and then slowly stand up. Repeat eight to 10 times for one set.
Push-ups work your chest, arms, and shoulders. Traditional push-ups are often done lying on the floor, but wall push-ups are a great beginner modification. Here’s how to try them:
- Step one: Stand a little more than an arm’s length from a wall.
- Step two: Place your palms flat against the wall, shoulder-width apart. Keep hands at shoulder height.
- Step three: Slowly push your chest to the wall while keeping your back straight.
- Step four: Move toward the wall for a count of four, and then push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat eight to 10 times for one set.
Toe stands strengthen your ankles and calves, and you can do them anywhere. Here’s how:
- Step one: Face the back of a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold onto the chair for balance.
- Step two: Slowly lift yourself up on your toes for a count of four. Pause. Lower slowly. Repeat eight to 10 times for one set.
This simple exercise increases your grip and hand strength. You can practice gripping anything, but for this version, you’ll need a tennis ball. Here’s how:
- Step one: Hold a tennis ball in your hand, and slowly squeeze it as hard as you can. Slowly release.
- Step two: Repeat eight to 10 times, and then do the same with the other hand for one set.
A plank exercise, also known as "planking," increases your core and lower back strength. It’s a little like a traditional push-up, but you hold yourself straight — like a plank — instead of raising and lowering to work your arms. Here’s how to do planks:
- Step one: Lie on your stomach, and put your forearms on the floor. Make sure your elbows and shoulders are aligned.
- Step two: Flex your feet, and use your toes to help push your legs off the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and lift your body so it’s almost hovering over the floor.
- Step three: Hold the position as long as you can. Time yourself to mark improvements. You can also do this exercise on your knees to make it easier.
Benefits of Strength Training
Making your muscles stronger can enhance balance, help you keep a healthy weight, and improve your range of motion. Strength training can boost your confidence and may help lower mild depression. It can also help you keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels healthy.
You may feel better during your day-to-day activities. Strength training targets your muscles, but it also helps your bones become stronger, which can help you avoid injury. Your joints may ache less, too.
Before you start any exercise program, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor about what level of activity is best for you.
Warm up before your session. You’re more likely to injure yourself if you work cold muscles. Take a brisk walk for 5 to 10 minutes before starting.
Think small, and plan to start a new exercise with a single set. You can tire your muscles by doing just one set of 12 to 15 repetitions. When you gain endurance, go for more sets.
Proper Exercise Technique
You may avoid injury by learning how to do the exercises correctly. A professional trainer can help.
Try to work all your major muscle groups at least twice a week. You can work out for as few as 20 minutes at a time and go longer as you get stronger.
Give your exercised muscles one full day to rest between sessions. You might work different muscle groups on different days, alternating which groups are getting rest, so you can eventually train every day.
Take it slow. It takes time to build muscle and endurance, but you’ll get all the physical and mental benefits. Don’t forget to give your muscles a good stretch after you’re done with your session.