This year is all about achieving your fitness goals. But alas, where to start? Well, if you want to increase your store of lean muscle mass, reduce body fat, And burn calories in a productive way, strength training rules, according to the Mayo Clinic. That sounds like a win-win to us, so we’ve put together five of the best strength exercises you can do to totally improve your fitness.
As you age, your lean muscle mass decreases. If you don’t take the necessary action to get in shape and build that muscle mass, you’ll accumulate more body fat, explains the Mayo Clinic. By doing strength exercises, you can maintain and even increase your muscle mass. In addition to training lean muscles, strength training can also improve your ability to perform everyday tasks and activities, help you lose weight and improve your cognitive skills.
Now that we’re excited about the benefits of strength training, let’s dive into the following “must-do” moves Orangetheory’s director of fitness design, Rachel Vaziralli, put together that will completely change your fitness game this year and beyond. As for how often you should perform these exercises, it all depends on your goals and fitness level. The Exercise Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults do strength training at least two days a week.
Vaziralli says some people may be able to exercise as much as six days a week. She adds: “At Orangetheory, we believe in prioritizing every movement to improve overall health and well-being. With our heart rate-based and coach-driven training delivering proven results, we recommend members take two to three classes per week. to spend recovery time between workouts. It’s important to listen to your body to adjust your routine or intensity as needed.”
Keep reading to learn all about these strength exercises, then check out the best leg strengthening exercises for seniors.
Legs: Alternating Dumbbell Goblet Transverse Squats
If you’re familiar with squats, you probably know that this exercise is great at strengthening your major lower body muscles. Take this exercise to the next level by performing it in the transverse plane, where you rotate your body “imitating the multidimensional aspects of movement from our daily lives,” explains Vaziralli.
She adds, “The cup hold helps you maintain an upright posture, which helps you perform proper form, protects the lower back, and engages the muscles of the upper and mid back. The transverse squat requires more coordination and balance than a traditional squat through tighter core activation and control. Plus, it requires flexibility, so it can help increase hip and overall lower-body mobility.”
Legs: Dumbbell Split Stance Deadlifts
Performing classic deadlifts is definitely effective, but if you want to take your fitness to the next level, Vaziralli suggests adding the split stance deadlift to your routine.
“Splitting your stance means you have to distribute your weight differently, forcing you to pay more attention to balance and therefore core activation,” she says. “The split posture also reduces lower back strain and can help increase flexibility demands by requiring more hip and ankle mobility.”
Core: body weight ipsilateral dead insects with press
If you’re looking for a variation on the dead bug exercise, Vaziralli says there are plenty. This core-strengthening move activates your superficial and deep abs, along with your hip flexors. “This exercise can improve the stability, coordination, balance and posture of your spine and improve athletic performance by increasing power transfer through the core and to the extremities. This is also a great exercise for reducing the risk of injury to your lower back ,” explains Vaziralli.
In this variation of the dead bug, you enjoy the benefits of the traditional exercise, along with the added pressure of your hand against your bent leg, which increases the amount of tension in your intra-abdominal area. Think of performing a classic dead bug, but press your hand into your leg that is bent (which will be on the same side in this variation), instead of holding it up to the sky.
“Achieving the same side (ipsilateral) arm and leg in opposite directions requires a stronger workout of your transverse abdominus (deep abs) to maintain a neutral spine, creating an added challenge that is sure to fire up your core and will lead to improvements in all your athletic movements,” adds Vaziralli.
Upper Body: Each upper body moves while kneeling on a BOSU ball
Take the same old upper body moves to greater heights by completing them while kneeling on a BOSU ball. There are a wide variety of upper body exercises you can perform on a bench or standing up, such as lateral raises, front raises, bicep curls and overhead presses. To complete the challenge, put them on your BOSU!
According to Vaziralli, “The unstable surface of the BOSU requires you to have greater core activation and recruitment of your posterior chain (back of the body). In this form, you work your abs and glutes more than you would without them! Don’t you have no BOSU? Try doing your upper body exercises while standing on one leg for a similar effect.”
Upper Body: One-arm belt reach with rotation
For this last exercise, you’ll need a TRX strap, with a one-arm row and trunk rotation. The beauty of working with a belt is that you have total control over how easy or difficult this exercise can be. Move your body closer to the anchor point to complete the challenge, or move further away from the anchor point to make this exercise easier.
“The belt also gives you instant feedback on your muscle tone and coordination, so you can see if you’re moving smoothly and efficiently,” adds Vaziralli. “The one-arm aspect makes this a progression from the double-arm row, as it puts more demands on your lats and biceps. Add the rotation as a benefit to improve trunk mobility and work your core, especially the obliques!”