Fitness, the principles of strength training.
Strength training should play a big role in any fitness program. It helps you burn calories, maintain a healthy weight, build strong muscles, reduce inflammation, improve your concentration, and increase your energy. It enhances athletic performance while making it easier to perform daily activities.
For example, a strong core allows for good posture when you sit at a desk, strong legs and glutes help with any kind of movements such as walking and climbing stairs, and a strong upper body helps you lift and carry objects. Follow these principles of strength training to enhance your overall fitness.
Bodyweight exercises vs. weight training
People new to strength training, also known as resistance training, should start with bodyweight exercises to build a solid fitness foundation. You don’t want to start lifting weights right away, since you are at a greater risk of injury if your muscles aren’t strong enough yet.
Bodyweight exercises are generally simple to perform, they are low-impact, and they can conveniently be done at home.
They can help prepare you for exercises using weights. For example, barbell squats should only be performed once you are comfortable doing bodyweight squats.
Introduce dumbbell exercises such as front and lateral arm raises triceps extensions and bent-over reverse flies when you start weight training.
They are performed best with light weights (which allow for a full range of motion and help prevent momentum from being used), and you don’t want to lift too heavy at first.
Generally, you should do 12-15 reps for each set of an exercise with weights. If you can’t do that many, the weight is too heavy.
If you can do more, the weight is too light. You need sufficient time to recover from a weight-training workout to reduce muscle soreness, so don’t work for the same muscle group with weights on consecutive days.
For bodyweight exercises, the difficulty is generally increased by performing more reps or holding a position for a longer duration of time. When you use weights, the difficulty is generally increased by increasing the weight and keeping the number of reps the same.
Resistance bands are commonly used for strength training. They keep your muscles under tension throughout an exercise, forcing them to work harder. They also add variety to workouts and can make certain exercises easier to perform. For example, placing your knee on a long band can assist you with pullups.
Target the major muscle groups
All of the major muscle groups should be worked as part of a balanced strength-training program. Do squats, lunges, and leg raises to strengthen your legs; donkey kicks, the fire hydrant exercise, and bridge exercises to tone your glutes; planking, crunches, and V-ups to build a strong core; and pushups, bicep curls, and shoulder presses for a toned upper body.
Some prefer isolating certain muscle groups in a workout, while others prefer full-body workouts that target multiple muscle groups. Full-body workouts are time-efficient and a great way to burn calories.
The following exercises don’t just target the upper body, lower body, or core (instead, they work at least two of these areas): squats with shoulder presses using dumbbells, crunches withholding a medicine ball high, walking lunges holding dumbbells at your sides, side plank with row on a cable machine, bench press with hips raised in a bridge position, renegade rows with dumbbells in a high plank position, and kettlebell swings.
Progression of fitness.
To challenge yourself in your workouts, make progression part of your strength-training program. For example, make it a goal to add 10 more seconds to a plank hold or a wall sit each week. If you find full pushups difficult, start with knee pushups or wall pushups, and gradually progress to full pushups.
A progression for squatting exercises can look like this: practice holding the squat position, then perform squats, then do squat jumps, and then do box jumps (an explosive exercise in which you jump onto a plyo box or bench and land in a squat position).
Gradually increasing the number of reps, the weight, or the level of difficultly with your exercises helps to prevent injury and keeps you engaged in your workouts. Motivation plays a big part in sticking with strength-training fitness, and enjoying small successes along the way is a way to stay motivated.