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strength training workouts at home

Strength training also called weight training or resistance training, is an important part of any fitness routine. It helps make you stronger and also builds muscle endurance. This article will help you understand what you need to get started with an at-home strength training routine, along with examples of exercises that you can include in your workout plan.

What are the benefits of strength training?

  • According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training may help:
  • build lean muscle mass
  • Reduce body fat
  • burn calories more efficiently, even after you’ve exercised
  • boost metabolism and make weight loss easier
  • increase bone density and improve bone health
  • boost flexibility and improve range of motion
  • improve brain health and cognitive functions
  • reduce the symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease
  • improve posture, balance, and stability
  • raise energy levels
  • improve mood and overall sense of well-being

With each of these exercises, use smooth, steady, and controlled movements.

Lunges

A basic lunge works the muscles in your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

To do this exercise:

  • Start by standing up tall, feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Step forward with your right foot, and lower your hips toward the floor until your right leg is at a 90-degree angle and your left knee is parallel to the ground. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
  • Lengthen your spine to keep your torso upright.
  • Hold this position for 5 seconds or longer.
  • Then step your right foot back to meet your left, and repeat this movement with your left leg.
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times, then rest briefly and do another set.
  • Lunge variations include walking lunges, jumping lunges, lunges with a torso twist, and side lunges.

Squat to overhead raise

If you’re new to strength training, start off by raising your arms overhead without any weight. Once you can do this exercise with good form, you can add light dumbbells, and increase the weight as you build strength.

This exercise not only works your glutes and leg muscles, it also works the muscles in your core, back, and shoulders, as well as your triceps.

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips and your arms alongside your body.
  • Slowly lower your hips down into a squat position.
  • Press up to come back into standing and raise your arms overhead.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.

 

Planks

Planks are an excellent exercise for improving your core strength and stability. This exercise can also strengthen the muscles in your back, chest, and shoulders.

To do this exercise:

  • Rest on your forearms and toes only, keeping your body in a straight line with your buttocks clenched and your abdominal muscles engaged.
  • Try to hold this position for 30 seconds. If that’s too hard, start with 20 seconds.
  • As you gain strength and fitness, try to hold the plank position for 1 minute or longer.
  • Once you’re ready for a more challenging version of the plank, you can try lifting one leg at a time while you’re holding the plank position

 

Pushups

Standard pushups work the chest muscles (pectorals), as well as the shoulder muscles, triceps, and abdominals.

To do this exercise:

  • Start in a plank position with your palms directly under your shoulders.
  • Keeping your back flat and bracing your core, lower your body by bending your elbows until your chest almost touches the floor.
  • Immediately push your body back up to the starting position.
  • Repeat 8–12 times. Start with 1–2 sets, and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.

 

Free weight exercises

The following two exercises use dumbbells. Start with 5-pound dumbbells. As you build up your strength, you can switch to using 8- or 10-pound dumbbells.

You can also use canned goods or water bottles in place of dumbbells. Just be sure to grip them firmly to avoid injury.

Dumbbell shoulder press

This exercise targets the muscles in your shoulders and arms, and can also strengthen your core and chest muscles.

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Pick up the dumbbells and raise them to shoulder height. Your palms can face forward or toward your body.
  • Raise the dumbbells above your head until your arms are fully extended.
  • Pause in this position for a few seconds, and then bring the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
  • Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.

 

Dumbbell triceps kickback

This exercise works your triceps as well as your shoulder muscles.

To do this exercise:

  • Grab two dumbbells and hold one in each hand.
  • Bend your torso at a 45-degree angle, and bend your elbows so they form a 90-degree angle.
  • Then straighten your arms out directly behind you, engaging your triceps as you go.
  • You can either do one arm at a time or both together.
  • If you’re a beginner, start with 1–2 sets of 8–12 reps, and build up to 3 sets as you get stronger.

 

Resistance band exercises

Resistance bands are another great tool for your strength training workout. They’re lightweight and versatile, and a 2010 studyTrusted Source has shown they work your muscles just as well as free weights or weight machines.

 

Resistance band pull apart

This exercise works the muscles in your back, shoulders, and arms.

To do this exercise:

  • Stand with your arms extended out in front of you at chest height.
  • Hold a resistance band tautly with both hands. The band should be parallel to the ground.
  • Keeping your arms straight, pull the band toward your chest by moving your arms outward to your sides. Initiate this movement from your mid-back.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and keep your spine straight, then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Do 1–3 sets of 15–20 reps.

 

Hip extension

  • This exercise works the muscles in your hips and legs. You’ll need a light- to the medium-resistance band to do this exercise.
  • Loop the resistance band around both your ankles. You can use a chair or wall for balance.
  • Keeping a straight line in your body, pull your left leg back as far as you can, keeping it as straight as possible.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Complete 12 reps with your left leg, then repeat with your right leg.
  • Complete 2 sets on each side to start, and work up to doing 3 sets as you build up your strength.

 

Resistance band leg press

  • This exercise works your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. Like a leg press on a weight machine, this exercise makes you work against gravity.
  • Lie on your back and lift your feet off the ground.
  • Bend your knees, creating a 90-degree angle. Flex your feet, pointing your toes upward.
  • Wrap the resistance band around your feet and hold the ends.
  • Press your feet against the bands until your legs are fully extended.
  • Bend your knees to return to a 90-degree angle.
  • Do 1–3 sets of 10–12 reps.
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