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Strength training, also known as resistance training, is a kind of exercise that increases muscle strength by having your muscles work against weight resistance. This resistance can come from weighted equipment, band-resisted equipment, or your own body weight. If you’re an exercise beginner, bodyweight exercises and strength training may be quite daunting, especially if you have no idea where to start and you’ve got no personal trainer to lean on.
Knowing the basic movements involved in strength training allows you to build a solid foundation before moving on to more advanced variations. In this article, we’ll be helping you learn the classic strength exercises that you can do to improve your body and kick-start your journey to being stronger.
Benefits of Strength Training
The phrase “strength training” can be very intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner. You may feel like you would want to steer away from any kind of strength training workout, but let us break the news to you: strength exercises can enhance your ability to move safely and effectively in your daily life. In fact, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that beginners add a strength routine to their workouts to improve muscles over time.
When you do workout routines that include strength training exercises, you’ll be able to reap the following benefits:
Improve Your Upper Body Strength
To maintain mobility, flexibility, and range of motion, you need to improve the strength of your upper body. As we age, we are more prone to injuries and disease due to our muscles deteriorating. By doing strength exercises, we are able to perform at our optimal strength and minimize muscle loss.
Protects Bone Health and Muscle Mass
Bodyweight movements help in maintaining muscle mass as we age. According to a study published in the Journal of Bone of Mineral Research in 2017, doing 30 minutes of high-intensity resistance and impact training twice a week can improve functional performance, bone density, and strength in post-menopausal women. There were also no negative effects noted.
Works Major Muscle Groups
Strength exercises are usually compound movements that recruit a lot of muscles simultaneously. When you strength train, the multi-joint exercises force your body to work in unison, making them a very efficient way to increase communication between muscle fibers and build strength than doing numerous different isolated exercises.
Helps Burn Calories Efficiently
Any form of exercise can help boost your metabolism. Pairing a strength training routine with an aerobic activity allows the body to continue to burn calories even as it returns to its more restful state.
When you engage in a strength training program, your body demands more energy based on how much energy you’re exerting. This effect can be amplified depending on the amount of energy you put into the workout. This means that the more calories burned during the workout, the more calories are burned after the workout too.
What are the 5 Strength Training Exercises?
You don’t need to be a personal trainer or a degree holder in sports medicine to build a good workout foundation. The following strength training exercises cover fundamental movement patterns. Once you have mastered the proper form, you can move on to doing more advanced variations. Think of these basic movement patterns as building the foundation of your house.
Squats work all the major muscle groups of the body, all of which are needed to live a functional and healthy life. It is also one of the most natural movement patterns for the human body. Additionally, many other exercises are also based on squats. If you want to nail the barbell squat or jump squat, you will have to master the basic squat first.
To do this, stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Push your butt back and bend at the knees, lowering your hips toward the floor. Keep your spine in a neutral position. Aim to end your move with your thighs parallel to the floor and knees in line with your toes. Drive through your heels to push back to a standing position.
Pushing movements strengthen the upper body through vertical or horizontal movements against resistance. Once you learn how to do a proper push-up, you’ll have a good foundation to go into other pressing exercises such as a chest press or a bench press.
To learn how to perform a push-up, begin by getting into a high plank position on the floor with your arms extended. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders. Brace your core and bend at the elbow to lower your body to the floor with control. Push back up to the top position.
The plank is a key move that can increase your core strength, especially if you’re just starting out. Place your body in a push-up position, arms shoulder-width apart. Next, engage your core as you stack your shoulders over your wrists and your heels over your ankles. Hold for 30 seconds and work up to a few minutes over time.
Movements that hinge at the hips are important for the lower body as they strengthen nearly every muscle in your back, butt, and hamstrings. Body weight lunges have up-and-down movements that can help improve your hip mobility and give you more stability. To perform a lunge, stand with your feet hip-width apart as a starting position.
Sitting for long periods can weaken the back muscles. Doing row exercises can fix poor posture and reduce spinal misalignment and pain. This key exercise is great for any level of strength. One of the most basic row exercises that you can do is the bent-over row.
To do a bent-over row, you’ll need a dumbbell. Start by standing with your feet apart and taking a big step back with the right foot. Next, bend your knees and lift the right heel, leaving your right toe planted on the floor. Using your preferred weight, pull the dumbbell to your waist. Concentrate on lifting the weight by squeezing your shoulders together. Keep your elbow tucked to your side.
Slowly, extend your arm to the starting position. During the movement, keep your back straight and your chin tucked into your chest.
Strength Training Exercise Variations
Weight training is the best kind of exercise to do if you are looking to gain muscle strength, reduce body fat, and reduce muscle imbalances without spending numerous hours working out. A short 30-minute weight training session can yield great results. Once you’ve mastered the basic movements, you can progress into doing variations to maintain a fit and healthy body.
One of the ways to make an exercise more challenging is to add weight. The barbell deadlift is a weight-training hip-hinge movement to help improve your lower body. Start by setting a heavy barbell on the floor. Push your hips back as you bend forward.
Grab the bar with your hands positioned more than shoulder-width apart. Your palms should be facing your body. Keep your back straight as you stand, lifting the bar and thrusting your hips forward. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
A squat focuses on the largest muscle group in the body which are the legs. It also enhances your core and lower body. The split squat is the more challenging version of a squat as it involves an added weight. Start by standing on your right leg with your left foot resting on a bench or a box.
Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your right knee, lowering your body until your left knee hovers just above the ground. Straighten your right leg to return to the start. Complete reps on one side before switching legs.
Bench presses are a tried and tested weight training movement that helps in building strength. It especially targets the chest muscles, triceps, and front shoulders. To do this, lie face-up on a bench, holding a heavy barbell at your sternum. Position your hands shoulder-width apart. Your elbows should be bent into the sides. Extend your arms, pushing the bar directly above the chest. Pause, and lower the barbell to the initial position.
A chest press can help build strength and physique while improving your overall fitness. Start by lying down with your back on the floor or a bench. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and press them above you. Pull the dumbbells back to your chest. Repeat about four to eight reps.
This exercise can help improve your balance. Start in a neutral standing position. Lift your right leg off the ground. Then, raise your right hand back while extending your left arm forward. Perform a throwing motion as you twist your core. Follow through with the movement by tapping your right hand against your left knee. Switch legs after.
Weight training exercises that focus on rotational movements protect your spine and strengthen your core. The side twist is one such exercise that will give your entire body a burning sensation. Sit on the floor and bend your knees as you hold a dumbbell with both of your hands, positioning them in front of your torso.
Balance your upper body as you keep your back straight. Lean back onto your tailbone. If you can, lift your feet a few inches off the floor. Rotate your body left and right with the dumbbell.
Pull-ups are technically a form of rowing exercise. Hang from a bar with your palms facing away from you. Keep your arms straight, knees bent, and your feet off the floor. Next, bend your elbows as you pull your chest towards the bar. Slowly lower back to the initial position.
All of the exercises above relate to our everyday movements. They can be used to improve our success in both recreational activities and in daily life. Strength gains may take a while to achieve, but by consistently doing weight training exercises, you’ll be able to stay healthy and achieve your fitness goals in no time. If you find discomfort during any of the exercises, seek the advice of a personal trainer or a medical professional.