Weight training improves balance, as well as strengthening your bones and muscles – including your heart. A study by the University of Bangor in 2012 found that that resistance training reduces symptoms of chronic conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis. Lifting weights can also help maintain a healthy body weight and promote restful sleep – all important for a healthy, happy lifestyle.
it’s easy to get started
You don’t need to be fit to start strength training, but you should always check with an expert prior to engaging in any exercise programme. As for what to lift, you don’t need to go out and buy a set of weights. It’s great if you have some already, but feel free to use anything that is safe to grip and offers an appropriate level of resistance – you can even use bags of sugar! It’s all about matching your goals with your body to find the right strength training plan.
How much to do
You should build up to doing 1–2 sets (10–15 reps each) for all the muscle groups. Build up to working out 2–3 times per week for 30 minutes; if you’re just starting out, divide the 30 minutes into three sessions. Also, make sure you rest your muscles at least a couple of days a week. And remember to warm up and cool down every time you exercise. This will improve your flexibility and reduce the chance of injury, soreness and stiffness. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that everyone’s body is unique, and therefore any strength training plan will be relative to the individual. If you’re more comfortable with 10 reps as opposed to 15 when weight training, go with 10.
Strength building exercises
Here are some exercises you can do at home. When performing each rep, the movement should be controlled and its speed should be slow – 2 seconds going down and 2 seconds coming up.
Sit in a chair or stand with your chest up. Grab a weight and curl it up towards your shoulder, and then lower it back down again – always keeping a slight bend in the elbow. Be careful not to swing the weight wildly as this can result in injury. Breathe freely and keep your tummy tight.
You can stand or sit for this one. Holding a light weight, put your hands to your side. With your elbows slightly bent and your wrists straight, slowly lift your arms so that they are stretched out to the side. Slowly return your arms to the starting position.
Stand in front of a chair with your feet shoulder width apart. Pull tummy in. Taking two counts, lower yourself until you almost sit down. Hold your position for one count. Stand up again, pushing through your heels and squeezing your bottom. Make sure your knees are in line with the middle of your feet and avoid tilting your pelvis.
Stand with your feet a hip-width apart. Bring your tummy in and step forward, dropping your back knee. Keep your back straight. Make sure your front knee doesn’t go beyond your toes. On the way up, push through the front heel. Keep your body weight spread evenly between both legs.
Lie down and bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your tummy in and extend your arms forward, holding a weight in your hands. Make sure your elbows are bent slightly, your hands are slightly wider than your shoulders and your shoulders are not raised to your ears. Lower the weight to the centre of the chest and push the weight back to the top.
- Get clearance from an expert prior to starting
- Start slowly and increase weight training gradually
- Be consistent in your weight training
- Warm up and cool down before and after exercise
- Don’t hold your breath when exercising
- Sip water before, during and after exercise to maximise hydration
- Wear comfortable clothing that also keeps you safe during exercise
- If something hurts, stop doing it immediately to avoid injury