Learn MORE about strength training. As a follow-up to my WebMD for a great strength training workout:
2) Perform one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions each. Choose weights heavy enough so that the last rep is a real struggle (but not so much of one that you’re forced to contort your body). You may need to use a different amount of weight for each exercise. With some of the moves, your body weight may be enough, so you might not need to add a dumbbell.
3) Perform each exercise with controlled movements, taking a full two seconds to get to the extreme position and a full two seconds to return to the starting position. Rely on muscle power, not momentum.
4) Rest no more than 30 seconds between exercises.
So you’re committed to the idea of strength training, but don’t know where to start? With these six exercises, you can work all of the body’s major muscle groups at home or at the gym. All you need are two or three sets or dumbbells (try 5-, 8- or 10-pound weights) and a chair.
1. Modified push-up (works the chest, triceps and front of the shoulder). Kneel with your ankles together, arms straight, palms on the floor a bit to the side and in front of your shoulders and your face to the floor. Bend your elbows and lower your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Keep your abs tight so your back doesn’t sag. Push back up.
2. One-arm row (strengthens the back, biceps and back of the shoulder). Place a chair in front of you with its back to the left, out of the way. Holding a dumbbell in your right hand, stand with your right foot on the floor and your left knee resting on the seat of the chair. Lean forward and place your left hand on the seat in front of your left knee. Keep your back straight and parallel to the floor and your right knee slightly bent. Your right arm should hang straight down. Bend your elbow, lifting the dumbbell until your elbow is higher than your back and your hand brushes against your waist. Lower the weight slowly back down. After completing the reps with your right arm, switch sides.
3. Dumbbell shoulder press (works the front and middle shoulders). Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and abs tucked in. Raise your upper arms to shoulder height so that the dumbbells are at ear level. Push the dumbbells up and in until the ends of the weights are nearly touching directly over your head. Then lower the dumbbells back to ear level.
4. Squat (Works the buttocks, quadriceps and hamstrings) Hold a dumbbell in each hand or place your hands on your hips or on the tops of your thighs. Stand up tall with your abs tight, feet hip-width apart and your weight slightly back on your heels. Sit back and down, as if you’re sitting into a chair. Don’t squat any lower than the point at which your thighs are parallel to the floor, and don’t let your knees shoot out in front of your toes. Stand back up.
5. Lunge (Works the buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves) Hold a dumbbell in each hand or place your hands on your hips. Stand tall with your abs tight, feet hip-width apart and weight back on your heels. Lift your right toe slightly and, leading with your heel, step your right foot forward about a stride’s length. As your foot touches the floor, bend both knees until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your left thigh is perpendicular to it. Your left heel will lift off the floor. Press off the ball of your right foot and step back to the standing position.
6. Crunch (Works the abdominals) Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head so your thumbs are behind your ears, without lacing your fingers together. Hold your elbows out to the sides but rounded slightly in. Tilt your chin slightly toward your chest and tighten your abs. Curl up and forward so that your head, neck, and shoulder blades lift off the floor. Hold for a moment, and then lower slowly back down.
When I first began lifting weights at home and in the gym, my hands started to really hurt. The trainer that I hired to help me get started, Janeen, told me to get some weightlifting gloves to avoid getting blisters. I was really hesitant at first because I thought that those gloves were for men or those big bodybuilding women – not for regular girls. I didn’t want to look stupid in the gym, but after a couple more painful workouts, I gave in to her suggestion.
Weightlifting gloves have ended up being one of my most important workout tools. They protect my hands when I’m pushing, pulling or lifting barbells and dumbbells, and I’ve never gotten another blister. I’ve also found that I can lift more weight when I have on my nifty gloves.
Over the years, I’ve used many different brands, and I’ve found that it really doesn’t make much of a difference. You just have to find a pair that fits snugly on your hands without being too tight. You should be able to open and close your hands comfortably. You can find weightlifting gloves at discount stores like Target and Wal-Mart or at regular sporting goods stores.
The best feeling is when I wear out a pair of weightlifting gloves because then I know that I’ve been putting in hard workouts over the months, and I get to treat myself to a brand new pair. These are the ones that I’m using right now:
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