Adults should get 2 to 2.5 hours of exercise each week. However, only a quarter of Americans comply with this recommendation.
Those that fit in little or no exercise over the week site various reasons. Top among them is lack of time or even funds to pay for a gym membership.
The good news is, you don’t really need a fancy gym to start a strength training program.
Read more on why you need a strength training program, and some great workouts to start you off.
Why Strength Training?
Strength training used to be for people looking to get ‘buffed up.’ Not anymore.
As a matter of fact, if your current routine excludes some form of strength training, you are doing yourself a disservice.
Strength training can help burn fat. For those looking to slow down aging, lifting counteracts the loss of muscle mass. Similarly, for those looking to bulk up, resistance exercise aides this.
While the specific exercises you should do greatly vary in form and in safety, there are some safe ones you can carry outside the confines of a gym and a trainer.
However, even with these, ensure you get the correct form from the beginning. Failure to do this makes the exercise less effective and could cause physical injuries.
We have outlined ten great workouts for your strength training routine, complete with descriptions of how to carry them out.
Effective Great Strength Training Program Workouts
Here are some effective exercises to get you started on your strength training regimen.
1. Dumbbell Bench Press
Targets: chest, shoulders, and triceps
• Lie on a bench holding dumbbells above your chest with your palms facing forwards
• Ensure that your back, butt, upper back touch the bench
• Place your feet firmly on the floor
• Keeping elbows close to your body, slowly lower the weights to the side of your chest
• Pause, then return to starting position
All you need to do this at home is a good set of dumbbells. As your strength increases, you can gradually increase the weight of the dumbbells.
Target: glutes, quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings
• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with arms straight in front of you or behind your head
• Lower your upper body by pushing your hips back with bent knees
• As you descend, look straight forward, and pay attention to keeping your back straight
• Lower your body as low as you can before slowly easy back up into starting position
To make squats more challenging, you can use resistance bands to increase the output required to do the exercise.
3. The Plank
• Take a push up position
• Place your weight on your forearms, such that your elbows are directly underneath your shoulders
• Squeeze your glutes and brace your core (harden it as if you are about to take a punch)
• Ensure your body is straight from head to heels (like a plank)
• Hold for as long as you can before releasing
Aside from the typical; plank, you can alternate with side plans and reverse planks to target a different set of muscles.
4. Shoulder Press
Target: triceps, shoulders, upper back
• Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand with your feet hip-width apart
• Tuck your elbows and draw the dumbbells in front of your shoulders
• Bring the weights directly above your shoulders until your arms straighten out, and your biceps are next to your ears
Once you execute a shoulder press, try lengthening the duration at which you hold the position before going back to start position.
5. Chair Dips
Target: triceps, pectoralis major, trapezius
• Sit on a sturdy bench or chair
• Draw your arms from your body to sit palm down beside your hips
• Plant your feet firmly on the floor at hip width
• Extend your arms and move your torso off the chair
• Your knees should bend slightly and your buttocks should be slightly above the floor
• Inhale deeply as you lower your body until each angle forms a 90-degree angle
• Exhale as you draw your body to starting position
Ensure to choose a sturdy chair. You can also back it up against a wall to prevent it from shifting.
6. Mountain Climbers
Target: biceps, triceps, deltoids, abdominals, quads, hamstrings
• Start in plank position and with your core pulled in and glutes squeezed
• Bring your right knee into your chest
• As you do this, brace your abs even tighter to ensure your body remains in the correct plank position
• Switch quickly and do the same with the left leg
Work on quickly alternating your knees and increasing your speed to simulate running.
7. Pull Ups
Target: chest, triceps, shoulders
• Start with hands on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder width
• Lower your body in a controlled movement, until you are a few inches off the floor
• Squeeze your glutes and abs and ensure to keep your body straight
• Ensure to keep your elbows close to your body
In time, you can try this with one hand on the ground, crossing a leg over the other and even with your body at an incline.
8. Chin Ups
Target: lats, outer back, biceps
• Position hands on a strong bar with palms facing you
• Place arms at shoulder width or narrower
• Cross one leg over the other, so your entire body weight is on your trunk
• Contract shoulder blades and elbows, pulling your chest up to meet the bar
• Go higher until your chest goes above the bar
• Lower yourself down, without fully extending your elbow
You can brace your core and hold your body above the bar for longer periods as you advance in your training.
Target: hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps
• Stand with feet hip width apart
• Engage your core
• Taka wide step forward and begin to lift weigh forward so that the heels meet the floor first
• Slowly lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor
• Your shin should be vertical, but your knee should not go past the toe
• Press into the right knee to push yourself back into starting position
As with squats, ensure to learn the correct form from the beginning, you will get maximum benefits this way, and you will avoid injuring your back.
10. Lateral Shuffle
Target: hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, calves
• Start with your feet at hip distance apart
• Sink your body into a deep knee bend
• Draw out both arms in a guard position
• Begin with the right foot moving right and the left one moving left
• Shuffle right for four right-left steps before doing the same with the left
Remember to keep your chest lifted and your core engaged while performing the exercise.
Keep at It
The success of your strength training program will largely depend on doing the exercises correctly and sticking to a strict workout schedule and routine.
And as you can see, you do not need to step into a gym to complete these exercises. Your home, office, or even your vacation spot will do just fine.