So last week I talked about why it’s important to include strength training in your exercise routine. Athlete or not, there are many benefits of strength training to every body. And aren’t we all sort of training for the sport of life? It’s not just about marathons, races, games and running but having/raising kids (not for the faint of heart), feeling confident at work and elsewhere, being able to enjoy vacations by climbing to the tops of things and just living longer and healthier.
If you missed that post, you can read those benefits here.
This week, let’s talk about how to create a strength training routine to fit your needs. There are a few things to consider:
- What muscles do I want to target? This can vary depending on your sport or goals. For example, a swimmer would train differently than a runner, and really differently from a weightlifter. So, for the purpose of general health, our answer is ALL OF THEM. This will help determine which strength moves to include in your routine.
- What is my primary goal? Do you want to get stronger and bigger (if you’re a man, probably) or longer and leaner (if you’re a woman, probably)? Do I have a sport-related purpose (speed training, flexibility training, explosive power)? Again, since we’re going for general health this week we’ll say that you want to GET STRONGER (come on, who wouldn’t want to be just a little stronger). This is going to help determine the number of sets and reps that you do.
- What kind of equipment do I have? Are you a member at a gym? Do they have machines? Free weights? Do you have “fancy” equipment like Bosu Balls or TRXes? Or do I have nothing but my own body weight (don’t think for a minute that’ll get you out of this!)? Today, WE HAVE A SET OF DUMBBELLS.
So, from those three questions, we want to design an all over, total body workout crafted to help us get stronger with little equipment. Piece of cake – I have crafted this up for you.
When creating my workouts I like to divide the body into parts to make sure I hit all the major muscle groups. From there I’ll pick one move to target the specific muscle.
Hamstrings (back of the leg)
Quads (front of the leg)
From here it takes practice to learn what moves work which muscles but if you just do the workout, you don’t have to worry about it – that’s what I’m here for! If you do have specific questions, let me know – my goal is to help you learn how to create your own fitness plan and you can’t do that effectively if you don’t get it.
TOTAL BODY STRENGTH ROUTINE
(Beginners do it one time through, Intermediate to Advanced do it twice through)
- Bodyweight squats (glutes, hamstrings, quads) – 15 repetitions.
- Beginner – stand against a wall with your feet slightly in front of your hips and slide down the wall. This will help you learn proper form.
- Intermediate – Place a bed or chair behind you and move like you’re sitting down onto the chair. Lightly tap the chair with your rear and push through your heels to stand up. Add DBs to each hand for an additional challenge.
- Advanced – Perform the same movement but do it standing on one leg at a time.
- Pushups (chest, triceps, shoulders) – 15 repetitions
- Beginner – start by doing standing pushups against a wall.
- Intermediate – do as many as you can in standard pushup position and complete the 15 repetitions from your knees.
- Advanced – do all 15 from the standard position. If that’s not hard enough, tuck each knee up to your chin (one at a time) between reps.
- Walking Lunges (glutes, hamstrings, quads) – 15 each leg
- Beginner – stand by a wall or railing to hold onto while you walk and lunge. Step one foot forward and drop your rear knee and hips to the ground in a lunge position.
- Intermediate – take a large step forward and bring your hips and rear knee down towards the ground. Push through your front heel to bring yourself back up to standing, moving forward. Step forward with the opposite leg and repeat.
- Advanced – hold dumbbells in each hand as you walk.
- Bicep curls (biceps, shoulders with the press) – 15
- Beginner – start with lighter weights at your sides, curl the DB up until it’s at your shoulder and then lower back down.
- Intermediate – go up in weight for the DB you’re using (instead of 5s, grab 8s)
- Advanced – add a shoulder push. At the top of the curl, rotate your palms forward and then push the weights up and together over your head.
- Calf Raises (calves) – 15
- Beginner – from standing, raise up on to your toes.
- Intermediate – from standing, raise up on to your toes but do one leg at a time.
- Advanced – from standing, raise up on to your toes, one leg at a time, holding the same DBs you used for bicep curls.
- Bent Over Rows (back, biceps and shoulders) – 15
- Beginner – Sitting down, hold one DB in each hand and lean your torso onto your legs. Let the weights hang to your side and pull them up alongside your torso, pinching your shoulder blades together at the top (like you’re trying to pinch a pencil).
- Intermediate – Use heavier weights.
- Advanced – Use still heavier weights.
- Hip Press (hamstrings, glutes) – 15
- Beginner – lay on the floor on your back with your feet flat. Press into both feet to lift your hips and lower back off the floor until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight slope. Lower back to start.
- Intermediate – Raise your arms out over your chest to perform the movement.
- Advanced – Perform the movement with only one foot planted, the other lifted to the ceiling.
- Dips (triceps, chest) – 15
- Beginner – Sit on the edge of a bench (or bed or chair), hands right next to your rear. Slide off the bench supporting yourself with your hands, and lower until your elbow is at a 90 degree angle. Keep your feet together, planted on the floor close to the bench (so your knees are at 90 degrees).
- Intermediate – extend your feet out so that your legs are straight. This puts more of the work in your arms.
- Advanced – lift one leg while you lower yourself and then switch legs on the next rep.
- Plank (core – abs, shoulders, glutes, quads and hamstrings)
- Beginner – hold for 30 seconds.
- Intermediate – hold for one minute.
- Advanced – hold as long as you can.
- Side Plank (shoulders, obliques and abs)
- Beginner – 30 seconds
- Intermediate – one minute
- Advanced – lift one leg up while you hold the plank.
That’s a lotta words today! I’m actually headed to do this very routine right now after an unusually slow morning (I think Tuesday’s schedule is going to wipe me out…) and will let you know tomorrow how it goes 🙂
It’s the middle of the week already!