Does your gym routine need some invigoration? Are you bored out of your mind running on the treadmill and stepping on the elliptical? Well, look no further than that rack of weights that is calling your name! If the thought of pumping iron seems daunting to you either because you are afraid you will bulk up or the equipment intimidates you, those are merely myths that you don’t have to worry about.
For most people, going to the gym typically means getting in a solid cardio workout on the treadmill, bike, or elliptical and leaving it at that. However, it’s important to incorporate strength training into gym workouts because not only does it provide a workout that is just as effective as the cardio machines, but it also helps with improving muscle strength and endurance. In other words, it keeps you healthy and toned.
Before engaging in any strength and resistance training exercises, it is best to consult with a health professional to make sure that you are in the clear. Proper body form and alignment is essential while performing strength exercises to prevent injuries. Additionally, don’t strain your body by choosing weights that are too heavy. A good reference marker to keep in mind while selecting weights is to choose those that you can comfortably lift for 8-12 repetitions.
For a beginner’s guide to strength training, below are some exercises to help get you started:
Bicep Curls – targets biceps
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms by your side and palms facing forward.
- Making sure to keep your elbows by your side, curl both dumbbells up toward your shoulder.
- Lower, and repeat for a total of 8-12 reps.
Dumbell Row – targets core
- Get into push-up position with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- With a dumbbell in each hand, positioned below the chest, pull the right dumbbell up towards the right shoulder and then lower down.
- Repeat the same movement on the left side.
- Alternate each side and repeat for a total of 8-12 reps.
Dumbell Deadlift – targets entire body
- Start with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and arms by your side.
- Keeping your arms and dumbbells close to your side, bend your knees slightly as you lower the dumbells to the floor.
- Lower the dumbbells just until you feel a good stretch in the back of your hamstrings. Remember to keep your spine in a neutral position.
- Come back up to standing and repeat for a total of 8-12 reps.
Squat to Overhead Press – targets quads, abs, shoulders and glutes
- Standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand, bend the elbows to shoulder height so that the palms face forward.
- Lower into a squat, making sure not to bend your knees past the toes.
- As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead and then return to starting position.
- Repeat for a total of 8-12 reps.
Michelle Chen is a sophomore at Cornell University majoring in Nutritional Sciences with a concentration in Dietetics. She plans to enter the field of medicine.
Photo Credit: Belen Rediet