I've been harping on about getting fit(ter) for several months now. I hope that I'm beginning to convince you that adding some fitness to your life would be a Really Great Thing. And, further, I hope that I'm convincing you that strength training should REALLY be Something You Want To Do. Because being strong and fit will serve us all well as we age.
So let's . . .
Okay. So many of you have let me know that . . . yeah, yeah. You're interested.
But you don't want to go to a gym.
And you don't have the time. (See my quote from yesterday.) (Just sayin.)
And you don't know where to start.
And can you do this at home? Without any equipment?
Starting today, I'm going to take those comments on!
Let's begin here: What, exactly, IS strength training???
Well. Strength training can be explained by two things:
- Movement of any weight . . . including your own body weight. Turns out that doing ANY exercise that pushes your muscles outside their comfort zone will force them to rebuild stronger. Y'know . . . to prepare them for their next challenge!
- Progressive overload . . . exerting just a little more effort than last time - consistently. That means lifting heavier weight or doing more repetitions. You need to make your muscles adapt constantly -- rebuilding themselves to get stronger.
And what does that mean?
Well. If you do 10 wall push-ups and 10 squats right now . . . you've just done a strength training workout! (Right there, right now . . . without a gym or a trainer or anything.)
The trick? Do it on the regular a few times. And then . . . you need to up your game! Maybe 11 (or 12) wall push-ups and 11 (or 12) squats. Or add more days. Or do them twice with a little rest in between.
Well. You need to push your muscles outside their comfort zone. Regularly. When you do this . . . pushing your muscles like that . . . you're actually "breaking them down." Kind of "tearing" them (just a little bit) during your workout. And then, as you rest and recover . . . they build up again. Stronger and more resilient. (Rinse. Repeat.)
What about soreness after you work out?
Yep. That's going to happen. Because you're working specific muscles you probably haven't worked in a while -- hard enough to make them "tear" a teeny bit. This soreness actually has a name: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS (which usually peaks on the 2nd day after your workout). And the best "cure" for DOMS? Movement. Getting the blood flowing to those sore muscles. (I know. Counterintuitive and NOT what you want to do. But true.) So. You need to work through the muscle soreness (not to be confused with an injury, which is different thing altogether).
So. Here are my strength training beginning basics for you:
- Intentional, regular workouts
- Progressive overload
- Work through the soreness
Now. What about a workout to get you started?
First, I'm just going to say this: Personally, I think it is best if you can get to a gym and take a strength class (many of them are designed specifically for women or for the "over 50" set) or - if you can swing it - work with a trainer for a while. Proper form is important, and sometimes it's hard to figure out if you're doing your exercises properly on your own, at home. (Plus, it is nice to have a personal cheerleader.) BUT . . . don't let that stop you from beginning! If you absolutely can't (or don't want to) do the gym thing, doing it on your own is better than not doing it at all!
The best way to get started at home . . . is to begin with bodyweight training -- "lifting" the weight of your own body. No equipment needed! You can do it anywhere! And it really works to build strength.
Here is a great beginner-do-at-home-strength training workout for you to try (20 min). It's from NerdFitness and includes a video. (You'll have to scroll down to the middle of the article to the headline Beginner Body Weight Workout Video & Exercises. They also promote their online coaching services, etc. so you'll have to scroll past all that to find the workout.) NerdFitness does a great job making fitness accessible for people who aren't "athletic." I really like their attitude and approach, and if I were beginning at home with strength training, this is where I would begin.
You can also do what Carolyn does . . . and find YouTube videos featuring beginning body weight workouts. I just tried a YouTube search using the terms "beginner body weight workouts" and a BUNCH of options appeared, so that's a great source of at-home workouts. (The top video in my search? The NerdFitness workout referenced above!)
And if you've already doing some at-home workouts and would like suggestions of other body weight exercises to mix things up, here is an "encyclopedia" (pretty much) of 53 different body weight exercises to try. It takes a while to load because it includes a lot of photos and videos of people doing the 53 different body weight exercises.
And if you have access to the New York Times online, they have a great at-home strength workout option that includes detailed instructions and videos. There is even a chart of the workout you can click on to save to your computer or print out so you don't have to load the whole article each time you want to do it. (You need to scroll down to the "Time to Train" headline, and then to the "At Home Workout" headline.)
Okay. I imagine that's probably total overload. But certainly a place to begin! Please let me know what you think -- and especially let me know if you try any of these workouts. And if you're already working out at home, please add your suggestions or tips. I'll be sure to share them in future posts.
(Next up: Adding equipment for your at-home strength training workouts.)