She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. Proverbs 31:17
I take this passage very literally. I even have an exercise tank with this passage on it. I wear that exercise tank as often as I can when I am working out hard.
The skill set that God has given me includes an able body, a passion for exercise and the ability to teach others how. One of my favorite types of exercise is strength training. I LOVE to lift weights. Absolutely love it. It is a type of exercise that too many women tend to neglect. Maybe for fear of the smell of sweating, too much manliness, or bulkiness, or intimidation, or simply because they don't know how. I want to teach you why you should start now and how you can get started.
The benefits of strength training far outweigh the risks, but be sure to consult your physician upon beginning any new exercise regimen. Did you know that muscle mass naturally diminishes with age? If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body. Strength training can help preserve and enhance your muscle mass - at any age. Other benefits of strength training (and by no means is this an exhaustive list) are:
- Develops strong bones - which reduces your risk for osteoporosis
- Helps control your weight - your body will burn calories at a more efficient rate the more muscle mass you have
- Can boost your stamina - what mom doesn't need more of that?
- Contributes to better balance - which will help you maintain independence as you age
- Manages the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions - including back pain, arthritis, MS, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic conditions, obesity and even hormone regulation
- Sharpens your focus - some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults
That was the why. The following sequence is the how. Perform 8-10 repetitions (each side if applicable) and up to three sets of each exercise. Find a weight that is hard to complete 10 reps. If you can even do 11 or 12, the weight isn't heavy enough. You should be struggling. And be sure to change the weight depending on what muscle group you're working with. Your legs, back and chest are larger muscle groups and can afford more weight than your biceps, triceps or deltoids. You'll notice how I changed the weight amount depending on what exercise I am performing. If you do not have dumbbells, get them. It's an investment that will pay you back ten-fold. Or do these exercises at your local gym, if you can. You can even substitute household objects for weights, however, I caution all of my clients about this because typically the size of the object that you'll need to lift to make sure it's heavy enough will be rather lop-sided and bulky. My dumbbells for me are like another girl's shoes, or bags, or sunglasses - a MUST have accessory that's always changing. Perform the exercises in the sequence shown in a circuit format. Do one set of each exercise, resting 30-60 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. Repeat up to three sets, resting at least two minutes between sets.
Plank Row. Try to keep hips and pelvis stable and square to the ground when pulling your elbow to the sky. Modify by assuming the kneeling plank position before rowing.
Lateral Lunge with Front Raise. When you lunge to the side make sure you keep your toe slightly pointed out, not perpendicular to your body. Lift arms only to shoulder height.
Pullover with Single Leg Stretch. Be sure to keep your spine imprinted into the mat/blanket the entire movement.
Reach Across Row. Minimize the forward flexion at the waist and keep the length in your spine the entire movement.
Chest Fly with Hip extension. Start and stop your knee right on top of your hip when you straighten your leg as you fly. Alternate legs with each fly repetition.
Static Lunge with Bicep Curl. Fatigue one side of the lower body by performing an entire bicep set on one side. Switch legs for the second set.
Squat with Upright Row. Keep chest lifted and pull elbows up only shoulder height. (Do you like Eleanor's cameo appearance?).
Squat with Shoulder Press. My favorite!
Triceps Extension. My least favorite. Notice that I start with a 90 degree angle in my elbow. Don't allow your hand to swing all the way back to your shoulder.
Feel free to comment below about form, technique, weight amount or any other questions you may have.
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7