If you are tired of not reaping the rewards of your regular exercise routine, maybe it’s time you considered doing strength training. What is strength resistance training? It is any type of exercise that contracts your muscles while building your strength, endurance, and muscles.
Don’t be put off though, as contrary to popular belief strength resistance training does not make women bulky. There are also many benefits, including an increased metabolic rate, postural support, bone density, and overall flexibility.
Tips before you start Strength Training
Wait! Before you run off to grab 20 kg dumbbells, there are some basic principles that you should bear in mind if you are new to strength resistance training:
Learn the proper way of doing your chosen exercises. Exercises that are not done correctly may cause injury and make your routine ineffective.
Start off with 8 – 10 exercises that target the entire body at least three times per week in the first months.
Do the most important exercises first to reduce fatigue
Make sure you get at least a two-day break to recover before doing further training.
How to take Strength Resistance Training to the next level
After you’ve mastered the basics of resistance training you can take it up a notch by:
- Doing exercises that challenge your entire body. Skipping, swimming and cycling are all exercises that challenge the entire body.
- Incorporate weights into your chosen exercises
- Increase the size of the weights as your muscles become stronger.
- Increase reps
The best way to train for weight loss and toning
The best way to train for weight loss and tone up simultaneously is to do the correct strength training exercises and by eating properly. Doing dumbbell exercises, squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, sit-ups, and increasing the reps for these exercises will eventually build up your muscles.
Ensure that you eat a balanced diet, which should include nutrients from the different food groups. Protein and carbohydrates are especially important. Protein is needed to repair and build muscles that have broken down during exercise, and carbohydrates provide the body with a source of fuel and energy required to carry out your exercise routine.
Types of exercises to include
There are many methods of strength training and it can be done with, or without the use of weights. Bodyweight exercises are a form of strength training without weights. These include squats, pull-ups, dips, the power clean, and bench presses. Include all of these in your strength resistance training for maximum results.
Squats target most muscle groups in the body placing emphasis on the core and the large lower body muscles.
Pull-ups target every part of your back and are the most effective exercise for back development.
Dips target your triceps and I can vouch for this. If you are new to this you can start off doing bench dips. If you are experienced you can add weights to your dips by holding a dumbbell between your feet.
The power clean is similar to the deadlift and works the lower legs, quadriceps, gluteal and upper back.
Bench presses work the pectorals and can be done in many ways to target areas of the chest.
Kettle Bells can be a great way to perform resistance training. Have a look at this link for a good introduction and sample workouts.
How many Reps to do
According to experts, many factors will determine the number of reps you should do. These include your level of experience, your age, your body type, your fitness level, and your goals. The debate is ongoing regarding the number of reps to do, but it is generally recommended that you perform 6 -20 reps on each set.
How long to train for?
Aim to keep your workouts short. Anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes is fine. Studies have shown that your glycogen is depleted after an hour and there is a risk of overtraining. In other words, training for more than 60 minutes is like running on fumes and is a recipe for disaster.
Sample plan for strength resistance training at the Gym
The advantage of going to a gym is that it offers a variety of machines and different sizes of dumbbells, as well as trainers that can boost your strength resistance training.
Monday – 45 minutes cardio workout 🙁 treadmill 20 minutes, skipping for 5 minutes, bicycling for 10 minutes, and jogging on spot for 10 minutes).
Tuesday – 30 minutes of cardio workout- 10 minutes of squats, 10minutes of bench presses, 5 minutes of deadlifts, and 5 minutes of stretch.
Wednesday – 45 minutes cardio work out
Thursday – 30 minutes of cardio workout – 10 minutes of pull-ups, 10 minutes of power cleans, and 5 minutes of stretching.
Friday – cardio work out
Saturday and Sunday – Rest
Sample-training plan for home
Performing your strength-training program at home can be an inexpensive and convenient alternative to a gym membership.
If you do not own dumbbells, you can improvise by filling two matching water bottles, or milk jugs with water or sand, or both.
Monday – 45 minutes cardio (20 minutes of stair climbing (2 at a time), 10 minutes of skipping, and 15 minutes of on-the-spot jogging).
Tuesday – 30 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of squats and 10 minutes of dips (you can use a sturdy chair to do this), 5 minutes of dumbbell exercises, and 5 minutes of stretching.
Wednesday – 45 minutes cardio
Thursday – 30 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of sit-ups, 10 minutes of squats, 5 minutes of dumbbell exercises, and 5 minutes of stretching.
Friday – Cardio work out
Saturday and Sunday – Rest
This is a great video to watch to get a sample of the exercises you could do at home. It mentions that you need dumbbells, but to start off with just use bottles filled with water or sand, or cans. Hope you enjoy it.
On a final note, if you want your strength training to be successful, changing your routine every four to six weeks, or whenever you feel you feel you are beginning to the plateau is crucial. This helps your body to keep adapting. Now that you have all the information on strength training, what are you waiting for? Start doing those bench presses!