26 Practical Steps to a Healthier You: Spend 10 Minutes Strength Training 2 Days a Week {Week 22}

For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.

Spend 10 Minutes Strength Training 2 Days a Week 

It is common knowledge that if you don’t use your muscles they atrophy. Yet, how many of us intentionally work on maintaining or building up our muscles? Doing strength training activities on a regular basis has a myriad of health benefits as seen below:

-Tones & firms muscles
-Makes you feel younger
-Boosts metabolism
-Improves posture
-Improves balance
-Improves sleep
-Reduces stress & anxiety
-Maintains lean muscle mass
Doctors Marty Ross and Daniel Amen advocate individuals incorporating two days of strength training into their weekly exercise regimen. Dr. Amen says, “The stronger you are as you age, the less likely you are to get Alzheimer’s disease.” One of his patients increased one particular function of his brain from 4% to 45% after performing regular exercise over several weeks. In another study, researchers found that participants who weight trained three times a week for 24 weeks improved their memory and concentration skills significantly in comparison with those who only did stretching exercises. In addition to that, muscle building speeds up your metabolism: the more muscle you build, the more calories you burn each day.
It is recommended that on two to three days a week, you do five to ten different exercises: one to three sets of 15 reps each. As you get stronger, increase the number of reps, sets, and/or resistance.
You don’t have to spend hours weight lifting in order to reap the benefits. In fact, participants in one study who strength trained for two days a week for 10 weeks reaped the same benefits of increased muscle mass (3.1 pounds on average) as those who trained for one extra day a week. It’s a mere 15 minute commitment, twice a week. You could even multitask by doing the exercises while watching television twice a week.
Not sure where to start? All you need is two 5lb dumbbells. If you don’t have a floor with a rug, you may want an exercise mat for some of the exercises, as well.
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STRENGTH EXERCISES:

Flutter kicks
Flutter Kicks

Flutter Kicks: Lie flat on your back with your head and arms resting on the ground. Tighten your ab muscles and raise both legs a few inches off the ground. Raise one leg higher than the other, then, as you lower that leg, raise the other higher in the same motion. Continue alternating legs up-and-down slowly for a total of 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat 1-2 more times.

Bicycle
Bicycle

Bicycle: Begin by lying on your back, hands lightly touching the back of your head and legs extended. As you straighten your right leg, twist your upper body to the left- bringing your right shoulder toward your left knee. Reverse this motion, straightening your left leg and twisting your upper body to the right. Continue alternating, as though you’re pedaling a bike, for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat 1-2 times.

SAM_0354
Plank

Plank: Start in almost a push-up position, with your forearms resting on the floor. Tighten your ab muscles and hold the position for 30 seconds. Rest 30 seconds, then repeat 1-2 times.

Mason Twists

Mason Twists: To perform this exercise, start by balancing on your bottom, knees bent in the air while holding a 5lb dumbbell above your stomach. Twist your upper body to the left for 2 seconds, almost touching the dumbbell to the floor, and then return to the center. Do the same motion on the right side. Repeat 12-15 times total on each side. Rest 30 seconds. Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side.

Lunge
Lunge

Lunge: Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at sides, feet about 6 inches apart. Keeping your back straight, step forward with your left foot and lower your body until your right thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Be sure your knee does not extend past your toes (Note: in this picture my left knee was too far forward). Push back to standing position and repeat lunging forward with the right leg. Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps per leg.

Dumbbell Squat

Dumbbell Squat: Start with a dumbbell in each hand, arms at your side, feet hip-length apart. Without leaning forward, bend your knees and lower your body. Then, return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Rear Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Rear Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Bend forward at your hips, holding 5lb dumbbells in each hand with your arms extended out in front of you as shown above. Without moving your torso, raise your arms out to your sides (no higher than to your shoulders), then return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps.

   Upright Row

   Upright Row: Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you while you are in a standing position. Slowly raise both arms up to your chest, elbows in the air. Lower your arms to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Curl Press

Curl Press: Bend your elbows and hold a 5lb dumbbell just above your shoulders. Extend your arms straight up, then return to starting position. Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Bicep Curl

Bicep Curl: Hold a dumbbell in each hand to the side of your body. Bend your arms at the elbows until you reach your chest. Return to the starting position. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

Chest Press

Chest Press: Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet and head flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand just above your chest, arms bent at the elbows. Slowly raise both arms straight up and hold for two seconds. Return to starting position. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 reps.

What are your favorite strength training exercises?

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