Let’s face it. Running marathons, doing extreme workouts or expensive gym memberships are not for all of us. How would you like to make a valuable investment in your future while reaping immediate benefits? Wouldn’t you like to feel younger, stronger, have more balance and ward off the ravaging affects of gravity and aging? If you’re shaking your head right now and think you are too old to start a strength training routine at home, you are dead wrong. It is time to quit denying yourself an easy to do, feel-good way to get better life NOW!
Strength training can benefit people of ANY age in a variety of long lasting ways. Results are quick and many. There is no need to sign up for a costly gym membership or spend tons of money on exercise equipment. By doing resistance moves using simple tools as well as our own body weight we can challenge ourselves and easily fight osteoporosis, burn more calories, lower blood pressure, eliminate lower back pain, increase flexibility and mobility and fight Father Time effectively. Since no time is better than the present, here’s how to get started for a better today and a stronger tomorrow!
COMMIT TO 10-15 MINUTES 3X A WEEK
In the whole scheme of things, this small amount of time is a drop in the bucket. Make a decision to begin your strength training and remind yourself often that your investment and commitment are valuable to the quality of your life from this day forward.
SAME TIME EACH WORKOUT DAY
Strength training is the best way to begin the day! It will boost your metabolism and allow you to burn more calories throughout the entire day. You will immediately feel more energy and get that blood pumping as well as boost your mood.
USE CALMING MUSIC TO SET THE TONE
Turn off the television, don your non-restricting workout clothes, and turn up the music. It’s a good idea to use calmer paced beats that are relaxing and calming. This will help you focus on your concentrated efforts and not rush through your routine.
BEGIN WITH A FEW MINUTES OF CARDIO
As with any workout, a short warm up session is necessary to prepare our bodies for the mission at hand. Stand up straight and tall and lift your arms up above your head as you take some slow, deep breaths in and out. Reap the most benefits from this by breathing IN through your nose and out through your mouth to a count of 5 for each part. Now spread your legs about two feet apart and begin shifting your body weight from side to side. Concentrate on the sound of your breath, while relying on your music to set the rhythm. As you shift from side to side, bend from the knees and stoop down a bit in order to activate your quad (thigh) muscles and burn a few more calories. Do this for about 5 minutes total.
GET OUT YOUR EXERCISE BAND(S)
Holding your exercise band with an end in each hand, raise your arms above your head while you continue to shift your body weight from side to side. Hold the resistance band taught and begin pulling against it, as if to stretch it as far as it will go. This activates the muscles in your arms. Pull apart for 5 counts and then release. Be sure to keep your breathing going – don’t hold your breath. Repeat this resistance exercise 10-15 times. Vary the height of your arms to incorporate the use of different muscles. Try raising and lowering the bands behind you as another variation.
QUALITY BEATS QUANTITY
While you are working out, pay close attention to form. QUALITY beats quantity always. By focusing on good posture and engaging your abdominal muscles, you will protect yourself from unnecessary injuries and gain better results. Sit or stand tall, with your hips square and tucked under a bit. Hold your shoulders back and do not let gravity pull them forward. Concentrate on even the smallest movements that you make and breathe into them.
APPLY RESISTANCE TO NORMAL STRETCHING
Even the most simple stretch can be enhanced by using your resistance bands. As you are lying on the floor stretching your legs, loop the band around your foot and push against it or loop around both feet while trying to stretch them open. Remember, small, isolated movements offer BIG rewards, so wake up those muscles! Resistance bands can be wrapped around doorknobs or around chair legs, too! Use what you have and use your imagination!
ADD A LITTLE WEIGHT
If you do not own any hand weights, try using a few soup cans from your pantry instead! The addition of weight will further increase the effectiveness of your workout. A couple of empty milk jugs filled with water work well, too, and even offer ‘handles’ for you to grip. You can sit tall and hold onto a water-filled jug, moving it from side to side, touching the floor with it briefly, to work on your oblique muscles (sides of the abdominals.) Keep the movements fluid and don’t forget to breathe. Ankle weights are a great and not to expensive addition to your daily workout. You can put them on at the beginning of the day and just leave them on throughout your normal daily activities. The calorie burn is amazing and you will be surprised to see just how ‘light’ you feel when you finally take them off. Do not use more weight than necessary. Starting off with lighter ones and building up to more weight as time goes on is the best approach.
WORK ON BALANCE
Since our bodies’ cores are at the center of all movement, it’s important to strengthen them. By doing this, we help to keep everything in correct alignment and not place unwanted burden on other body parts. Most back soreness can be fully cured (and avoided) by strengthening the core muscles. A good way to work on them is by using a balance ball! These are fun and very inexpensive. Begin by lying on your back atop one. Relax and let your spine mold to the shape of the ball, keeping your feet firmly on the ground. Now, by using your feet to gain slight movement, roll the ball from side to side. Even the smallest of movement will make it necessary for your engaged abdominal muscles (core) to react in order to keep you situated on the balance ball. Practice makes perfect, so if this seems hard at first, it will become easier each time you do it again. After you get the hang of it, you can vary the difficulty by raising one foot off the ground and extending the leg. Try the same exercises while lying across the ball on your stomach. With increased balance comes confidence and even better posture. This will help keep you safe from injury during daily activities and will also decreases the risk of falls or accidents.
COOL DOWN WITH FOCUSED STRETCHING
Now that you’ve spent this short (but also intense) time weight training, you need to finish the workout by doing a slow stretch. Our excercises have worked muscles and shortened them in the process. Now we want to stretch them out again. Stretching after a workout of any kind, decreases the likelihood of severe pain and injury. While still listening to your music, take in some deep breaths and begin some simple stretches to loosen up before heading to the shower.
Don’t get discouraged. You will begin to feel the results in as little as a week and begin to SEE a change in your body after a few weeks.
Strive for quality movements. Looking at yourself in a mirror will aid you in accomplishing this. It may even give you a few good laughs until you perfect your form and begin to feel less clumsy.
A general warning to everyone is to be sure to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine- especially if you haven’t been doing any other exercise for an extended length of time. Instead of going all out or over doing things in the beginning, begin slow and build up time spent and repetitions slow and steady. Realize your limitations and don’t try to do anything that is beyond your abilities too quickly. Your abilities will increase steadily, but be sure to listen to your body and don’t advance too fast. Adding additional weight or time should be done in small increments after a few weeks.
Consistency is the key and results are the benefit!
Stretching and weight training shouldn’t HURT, but only cause mild tension in the muscle group you are working on. This tension is the muscles’ response to the new activity.