You’ve had enough. You’ve decided you’re done with the Olive Oyl comparisons from your spinach-touting, Popeye-armed friends.
The time has come to start strength training.
But getting stronger involves more than eating leafy greens from a can. And if you’re unfamiliar with dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and other members of the Bells family, you may be understandably intimidated.
We’ve outlined 4 simple strength exercises that’ll get your body used to the fundamental movements and standard equipment required to build your strength throughout 2018 and beyond. These workouts will not only improve your physique, but your day-to-day mobility, too.
Strength Training for Beginners: General Guidelines
Before moving onto the exercises, there are a few caveats to keep in mind as we build a stronger you.
For each of the following exercises, aim for anywhere between six to 15 reps, at four sets a piece. When you progress to higher weights, keep the rep count low but explosive, and vice-versa when lifting lighter weights.
Oh, and you’ll also need a pair of dumbbells you can actually lift, and a bench or a box that reaches about halfway to your knee from the floor. A box is probably easier to fit in your home.
Builds strength in: Legs, Glutes
The Exercise: This classic move comes second in a gym rat’s list of most hated exercises (burpees top the lot). We think that’s it’s because it’s so damn effective, and almost impossible to exclude in any good strength training program.
How to do it: Start with your feet hip-width apart, pointing forward. Now, you can opt to pick up a barbell and hold it on your back, hold them up both up on your shoulders, or use your own body weight.
Next, with weight on your heels, push your hips back, and your butt down to the ground like you’re sitting in a chair. Remember to keep your chest up for maximum benefit. Extend back up by pressing your heels. Rinse and repeat.
Builds strength in: Triceps, or underarms
The Exercise: We love this exercise as it perfectly isolates your triceps for a true workout. If you aren’t maintaining correct form, however, it’s virtually useless.
How to do it: Sit on your bench or box, and with one dumbbell overhead in each hand, or both hands holding one, keep your palms facing each other.
The most important thing to remember with this exercise: keep your biceps near your ears, and elbows tucked in. If they aren’t tucked in, you aren’t isolating your triceps correctly.
Now, with your chest, head up, and back straight, lower the dumbbells behind your head, again being mindful of your elbows. Extend your arms back up to complete the motion. Repeat.
Chest Press Bridge
Builds strength in: Arms, Glutes, Pectorals
The Exercise: We know fitness noobies will want bench pressing in their strength programs it’s the cool, ‘hey, I’m strong’ exercise in the gym. But the chest press bridge is safer for beginners, and tones more than just your upper body.
How to do it: Start by lying on the ground, but with your knees bent up, and feet on the floor. Have a dumbbell in each hand, arms extended and about shoulder-width apart. Now, raise your hips towards the ceiling, so your glutes lift off the floor. Only your shoulders, head, and feet should be touching the ground.
Next, begin lowering one arm, bending your elbow 90 degrees, like you would with a traditional bench press movement. Keep the other arm straight overhead, and your hips lifted. Push the weight back to the starting, extended arm position. Switch between arms; one movement per arm equals one total rep.
Builds strength in: Triceps, Biceps, Forearms
The Exercise: Single-arm rows fully tone your arms, without adding much stress on your joints. A safe, but strong, strength exercise training choice.
How to do it: Beginning behind your box or bench, put one knee on top, and your other leg behind. Pick up a dumbbell in one hand, hinge at the hips, and put your other hand on the top edge of the box. Your back should also align with the floor for correct form.
Now pull the weight back with your elbow close to your side, and stop when you reach your ribs. Straighten your arm back to its original position. Repeat, switching sides.
Got a taste for strength training, and need a more demanding circuit?
SEMI’s clinics in Toronto offer state-of-the-art strength training equipment that’s easy to use, like Theraballs, Bosu Balls, Therabands, cords, dumbbells, and of course, your own bodyweight. Our professional personal trainers in Toronto are dedicated to helping individuals, from weekend warriors to office jockeys, reach their strength goals.
Book an appointment online today and get to your competitive best!