Strength-Training Guidelines

IAE Kate

Resistance bands, stability balls, hand weights or just your body weight can be used during strength training. Remember to follow the FITT principle when developing your strength-training routine.

Frequency

Exercise each body part two to three times per week, allowing 48 hours between sessions for adequate rest. When you are strength training, you actually are tearing down muscle fibers. You must allow adequate rest for those muscle fibers to grow back stronger. For example, if you are working your quadriceps and hamstrings on Monday, you should not be training those same muscle groups Tuesday.

Intensity

Choose a weight that can be lifted 8-12 times per set. The last 3-4 reps should be quite intense. If the intensity is not great enough, you will be less likely to see results. When you can perform more than 12 repetitions without rest, increase the weight slightly for your next workout.

Time

Beginners typically benefit from exercise sessions of 30-45 minutes. When resting between sets, try not to take longer than 2-3 minutes as a beginner. As you get more fit, try to reduce this time to 1 minute or less.

Type

When performing strength training, it is important to work every major muscle group — arms, chest, back, core, and legs. Make sure you work opposing muscles, not just the ones you see when you look in the mirror — biceps, chest, abs, quads. The opposing muscles work in opposition to those. In this case, it would be the triceps, back, lower back, and hamstrings. Also be sure to work your sides — obliques, hips, abductors and adductors. The idea is to achieve balance. The same goes for the upper and lower body. Don’t neglect one or the other just because one is more important to you. This can create imbalance and set you up for injury and pain.

Sample Exercises

Modified Push-ups

Muscles Worked: Chest, Triceps, Shoulders

Begin on your hands and knees with your hands shoulders-width apart and slightly forward. Your knees should be directly under your hips, your abdomen tight, and spine neutral. There should be a straight line from your knees to your shoulders — no high hips or glutes in the air! Exhale and bend your elbows to lower your chest to 90 degrees at the elbow. Inhale and press your body back up to the starting position, making sure your elbows don’t lock or completely straighten. If you can’t go to 90 degrees at the elbow, just go to a comfortable position until you can work up to 90 degrees.

Wall Squats

Wall Squats

Muscles Worked: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings

Stand with your back against a wall. Bring your feet shoulders-width apart and a few inches in front of your body. Slide down the wall until your knees are bent at a 90 degree angle. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Your weight should be in your heels and your knees should not come forward of your toes. Keep your shoulders pressing back into the wall and your abdominals engaged. As you become more proficient, you can increase your hold from 10 seconds to 30-60 seconds. Don’t lock your knees when you extend your legs back to the starting position.

Crunches

Muscles Worked: Abs

Lay on your back, with knees bent, hands resting behind your head, and feet flat on the floor. Keep a space between your chin and chest, looking toward your knees. Exhale and lift your head, neck, and shoulders up until your shoulder blades are off the floor. Inhale and slowly return to starting position. Don’t interlace your fingers; allow them to rest gently behind your ears. Think about drawing your ribs toward your hips while doing the exercise.

Oblique Crunch

Muscles Worked: Abs, Obliques

Lay on your back, with knees bent, hands resting behind your head, and feet flat on the floor. Keep a space between your chin and chest, looking toward your knees. Exhale and lift your head, neck, and shoulders, rotating your upper torso to the right as if to bring the right shoulder to the right hip. Inhale and return to the starting position. Repeat on the left side. Keep your elbows back and out of your peripheral vision. Don’t interlace your fingers; allow them to rest gently behind your ears. Think about drawing your ribs toward your hips while doing the exercise.

Read Upper Body Blast Beginner for more upper body workouts.