5 Ways to Increase Strength-Treat You to a Stronger Body
How to start strength training today. Seriously. When you read this, your excuses will melt like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day in the French Quarter!
Here are a couple of science facts. Humans begin “aging” at about 20 years old. Yes, I know that from birth we age chronologically but until about 20 we are essentially growing not deteriorating as we often call the aging process. For most, our muscle strength also peaks between 20-30 years of age. That means on the other side of 30 without training or movement you begin to experience a loss of strength that could equal a third of your original strength by age 70. That is a lot of loss and for some it can be more. So not all science facts are a bummer. Strength training can reverse loss at any age. BOOM! That is powerful.
YOU can START today! I promise. This isn’t scary or complicated. It is an act you will thank yourself for doing the rest of your life. If you do one knee pushup right now, that is strength training. DONE! You have begun. Do two tomorrow and you are on track. It all depends on where you are when you start. You may be stronger than your friend or spouse. Fine. Do regular pushups. Let’s count the ways to begin, shall we?
Body weight training. This is similar to the above example of doing one knee pushup. It is using the weight of your own body as resistance to get stronger. Doable. Convenient, because you always have your body with you (unless you are a ghost, then that may be scary). Regardless of age or fitness, this is the best starting point for all. Yoga, anyone?
Your body is designed to do this! Yes, it was designed to push, pull, squat and lunge. Just watch a kid on the playground! Make yourself anti-fragile and less injury prone. Mix it up. Just like your mind, your body enjoys challenge. You can do as little as 20 minutes twice a week as a beginner but toss your body some surprises (legs one day and arms the next, for example). Prepare your body with surprise and it will surprise you! (Personal side note: Learning Ballroom Dancing *insert shout out to Ann Marie* is not what people think of as weight training. However, it was a new skill for me and when I started, I noticed the benefit of increased strength in my body! I had surprised my body.)
Use the Goldilocks approach. Not too much, not too little but just the right amount of challenge to get your body to adapt to the new demand and recover by being stronger! Speaking of Goldilocks, you need to eat just right too. I’m not talking “diet” or restriction. Actually, building muscle requires calories/food/nourishment. So if you are attempting to live on water and lettuce leaves, your muscles have no resource to rebuild themselves.
Let your heart rate rise enough (2-5 minutes) to pump blood supply to your muscles before you do any type strength training (anaerobic) by marching in place and don’t forget to swing your arms. Here are four major movements, you can do in four 2-5 minute increments, if that is all you can find at one time in your day. That’s 5 minutes (or so) of movement each time to get all 4 done (remember to warmup first). Ready? Body squats (hold the back of a chair if needed), pushups (whichever type you CAN do), one arm rows (use a light weight, your laptop bag, your purse), planks (on elbows or hands) to start you may do 15 seconds and rest between for a total of 5. If you are swimming or biking, for example, there is no need to do something aerobic first because these movements are aerobic AND build muscle strength. Not familiar with the 4 movements? Here are some photos + YouTube is your friend.
5. Truth people. You can reach your goals with 2 things in mind. Eat real food and eat enough (not too much) of it. Gradually increase the difficulty of your routine with either increased repetitions (such as going from 2-5 to 8-10), decrease the time it takes to do routine (in other words, do 10 pushups in 1.5 minute instead of 2 minutes) or adding a weight. Just start where you are. If you use the examples in #4 above, do as many of the moves as you can slowly while concentrating on good form (body correctly aligned) for 2 minutes. Next week, try for 3 minutes. Keep building your muscles!
You are worth these few minutes twice a week. You are worth hiring a fitness trainer, if you want one. You are worth the accountability your health coach (ME!) provides.