In Part 1 we discussed safe and effective ways to progress with aerobic exercise. Now we’re moving on to strength training activities that can be performed just about anywhere.
Research has shown many benefits for strength training in men and women of all ages. In fact, strength training can have a profound effect on numerous diseases and chronic conditions including heart disease and arthritis.
Strength is the foundation for all activities. The stronger you are, the less you have to work at a given task, whether it is walking, climbing steps or any other activity throughout the day. Evidence is clear that by increasing strength you can decrease arthritis pain, the risk of fractures, and body weight and fat; increase bone density, metabolism and overall vitality; restore balance and therefore reduce falls; and improve glucose control in diabetics, sleep and heart health.
We’re bombarded with different exercise videos, diets, machines, pills, and other gimmicks. The reality is you don’t need much to start a highly effective strength training program: really just your own body weight and possibly a partner, for both moral support and motivation.
If you’ve ever looked at a gymnast or a rock climber, you can see the benefits and overall fitness that can be achieved without lifting a weight. There are many benefits to bodyweight exercises: it’s easy and can be reproduced anywhere, provides mobility and stability, works on strength and endurance, and is authentic to your body not to a machine.
Below is a video showing some excellent bodyweight progressions, from easiest to hardest. Your fitness level will determine where you start in these progressions. Remember that we’re more concerned about the quality of the movement versus the quantity. As with all exercise programs, be sure to consult with your physician before beginning.
Make sure you start with the exercise that you able to perform comfortably with perfect technique for three sets of six to 10 repetitions. You should feel as though you have one or two good repetitions remaining after completing the set. Once you’ve compromised form to complete the repetition, your set is complete. You can progress the routine by increasing one to two repetitions per week. Once you’re able to complete three sets of 20 repetitions of that particular exercise, you can progress to the next level of difficulty. These progressions will minimize your risk of overuse injuries that can occur when starting too quickly.
For further in-depth reading there are some excellent bodyweight training books available: I recommend “The Naked Warrior” and “Convict Conditioning” for descriptions on how to perform bodyweight exercises and how to progress safely from beginner to expert.
As you can see from both articles, you don’t need a fancy gym or equipment. All you need to do is get off your couch and start.
Good luck and good health!