You’ve heard it time and time again: strength training benefits you in so many ways. It can protect your bone health and muscle mass, give your muscles definition for a toned physique, and, when added to your normal exercise routine, make your entire body strong and fit.
Yet if you’re new to strength training, you’re probably unsure how to start. Have no fear; get those muscles warmed up because we’ve put together directions for five exercises that we recommend for beginners: the seated pec fly, squat, plank, one-arm dumbbell lifts, and hamstring curls.
Seated Pec Fly
To work the major muscles in your chest, perform the seated pec fly (you can also try this with dumbbells). The focus of the workout is on the exterior section of your chest.
To perform the exercise, first remember to position the bench, choose your weight resistance, and adjust the pulleys to your seated shoulder height. Once you’re ready, grasp the rings with your palms down and your arms at chest level while slightly bent and away from your shoulders. Pull your arms together as you keep your hands and elbows level, and maintain elbow movement. To finish, return the rings to the starting position. To see this exercise in action, take a look at this video:
Squat with a Ball
A beginning strength training exercise that works your quadriceps, gluteus and hamstrings is the wall squat with a ball. The exercise will strengthen the muscles that you use to walk, stand and jump. Also, if you have back, knee or hip problems, then the ball will help you perform the physical movement.
For this exercise, place a workout ball between your lower back and a wall. Make sure that your feet are shoulder width apart. Lower your body down by 5 to 10 inches by bending your knees and check your shoulders to make sure that they’re level and that your hips are square. Hold the squat for three seconds, and return your body to a standing position.
The plank is a basic yoga position that works your abdominal muscles, arms and legs. Begin the position on all fours with your hands and knees supporting your body. Make sure that your wrists are in line with your shoulders. In addition, your knees should be below your hips.
Step back into a push-up position with your feet hip width apart – your entire body will be in one long line during the pose. Start out by trying to hold the position for 30 seconds, and as you build strength, increase your plank time to one minute (if not longer). Don’t forget to breathe!
Dumbbell Rows with One Arm
To strengthen your upper back, biceps, and shoulders, complete several sets of dumbbell rows with one arm.
Start the exercise in a lunge position with your right knee bent and your left leg stretched out behind you. Place your right arm against your bent knee for support, and hold onto the dumbbell with your left hand. Try to keep your back flat and your upper body stable. As you inhale, pull the dumbbell up as high as you can. During the action, your left elbow should be angled back to guide the motion. When you exhale, lower the weight back down toward the floor. Try to complete two sets of 10 repetitions. Then change sides to perform the exercise with your right arm.
This move is great because you can complete the exercise with paper plates at home! Hamstring curls will work your gluteal muscles, spinal extensors and hamstrings.
Begin the physical movement on your back with your knees bent and your heels resting on paper plates. Bridge up by lifting your hips, and slide one foot out until it is almost straight. Then, slide the foot back. Repeat the action with the other foot, and lower your hips to complete one set. Try to do 10 sets. When you’re strong enough, you can increase the difficulty of the exercise by sliding both feet out simultaneously.
Do you have any questions about these moves or want to share your favorite strength training exercise for beginners? Let us know in the comments below!