The statistics are in. The most popular resolution for 2022 is to ‘Get Healthy’. While it’s no shocker that getting healthy tops the list, this year, people are specifically interested in getting strong. Why is that statistic important? Because upwards of 80 percent of resolutions fail.
Let’s face it: life is full. Every day you juggle a hundred different responsibilities, opportunities and distractions vying for your attention and finding time to exercise is hard. If you’re going to do it, it usually has to be easy or very convenient. But we all know most things worth having don’t come by either of those routes.
Here’s the trickiest part of a goal like getting strong: Strength isn’t measured by a number on a scale. In fact, sometimes strong numbers have a way of messing with your head. So if you’re like the vast majority of women, if you make it to the gym you deliberately dodge the weights and head to the cardio machines. You want strength and yet you fear it, so strength training isn’t part of your routine. But it should be. And you need not be afraid.
Here’s why. Strength training will help you:
1. Lose/maintain weight: Not only does strength training aid in weight loss, it also helps you keep it off over time. The more you increase your lean body mass the more calories you will burn even at rest. Strength training combined with a low-carb diet can accelerate weight loss dramatically. And before you think “oh, but then I will be hungry all the time,” know that when done right, low-carb doesn’t equal starvation or deprivation.
2. Become stronger: Strength training tones and strengthens your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. This force can be your body weight, added weight or pushing against a non-moving object like the floor. Strength training helps to enhance your performance of everyday tasks like lifting, carrying and walking up stairs.
3. Change body composition: While you’re busy burning calories during your strength session, you can take sweet satisfaction knowing you’ll continue to torch calories even after you’re done. Because more calories are required to make and maintain lean muscle than fat, strength training can boost your metabolism by up to 15%!
4. Protect bone and muscle mass: Lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. Starting at puberty, you begin to lose 1% of bone and muscle strength each year. If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body. Not only can strength training stop or prevent that loss, it can reverse it.
5. Manage stress: As you begin to notice the positive physical changes in your body and develop a regular exercise routine, your ability to handle stress will improve.
In addition to the above benefits, strength training is also correlated to things like injury prevention, overall wellbeing, deeper and better sleep and happiness. Who isn’t up for some extra of all of that?! Pressed for time or money, strength training delivers a powerful punch. AND, you can see significant improvement in your strength with just two or three 20-30 minute sessions per week.
So now that you know it matters and what you need to do, you might be wondering how to start. Here’s the great news: You don’t need a gym or fancy equipment to get a good strength workout. Often you can find everything you need right at home. A set or two dumbbells and you’re well on your way. You might also purchase a resistance band or kettle bell. If you don’t have any of these items, see what you have at home. A stair, bench or boulder work great for jumping, lunges, tricep dips and incline push-ups. A brick, piece of flagstone, a rock or even a soup can can be used as weights. What you want to do is start slow and increase your sets, reps and weights over time.
Not sure exactly what that means? A set is a group of repetitions performed for different exercises. You’ll often see it described like this: 2×12. That means you should do 2 sets of 12 repetitions, not twenty-four repetitions at once. You should lift a heavy enough weight that you can only do 12 reps. Then you rest and do it again.
How many sets should you do? There are different perspectives on this but the average is 1-3 sets. It really depends on your goal. If you’re a beginner, 1 set is going to be a great start, especially if you’re lifting a heavy enough weight. If you’re looking to build endurance or strength, aim for 2-3 sets. If you’re pressed for time, do less sets.
I created a circuit training workout to help get you started that requires zero investment. Only your time.
With circuit training, you do each exercise, one after the other without rest. This allows you to build muscle while keeping your heart rate elevated, which can help you burn more calories during and after your workout. One of the greatest benefits to circuit training is you won’t get bored. As you get familiar with the exercises and equipment you can switch up the sequence, swap in a different movement, do it at the gym with equipment or at home or outside with dumbbells and resistance bands. You can push yourself as hard as you want. To make it more challenging, move between exercises more quickly or boost the intensity. Not feeling your best? Move at a more comfortable pace.
For this workout, start with Set 1: Do each exercise one time through, 10-15 reps, then do it again. Move on to Set 2: Do each exercise one time, 10-15 reps, and then repeat. Move to Set 3 and do the same. When you’re ready, increase to three sets of each exercise, doing 10-15 reps. As you continue to build strength and endurance, increase the amount of weight you’re lifting. Still feel great? Add 20-30 minutes of cardio after your workout. Walk, jog/run, dance, bike, swim, stairs or chase some kids around!
This workout targets all the major muscle groups in your body including your core, arms, legs, glutes, back and shoulders. It combines strength with cardio bursts and flexibility, building strength for the everyday movements of your life. Your objective is to gradually increase your sets, reps, weights or time to keep your body reaching and working for more, and higher levels, of fitness. The sweat you feel will be your body thanking you.
Life is full. While you juggle all the responsibilities, opportunities and distractions vying for your time, you must remind yourself that taking care of your body matters. It matters to you; it matters to your children and your family; it matters to your purpose, your legacy and your life. After all, you’re in this for the long haul.
If you want to get healthy this year, the best time to start is now – AND you don’t need a gym membership or fancy workout equipment to get going. Chances are you already have everything you need at home. Adding two to three sessions of strength training to your schedule each week will not only change your physical body and it’s composition, but will help you build strength for a better life too.
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