Strength for day to day living
In last month’s issue we discussed the importance of flexibility and mobility. This month we will look at strength. Basic strength can be defined as the ability to perform day to day tasks by lifting and carrying things comfortably. Let’s admit it, we all need a basic level of strength to carry the shopping in from the car, to walk up stairs and to lift or move objects around the house. This article will not make you a bodybuilder, but it will give you a better understanding of how you can become stronger and live a more active life.
Exercising should be fun. You should first start with bodyweight exercises before you use resistance machines or free weights. This is important because it develops a basic level of strength. If you are overweight, exercising may be difficult, so I will give you alternatives may make it easier for you to do.
My Top 5 bodyweight exercises are shown below. You can follow them after you have done your mobility exercises from last month’s edition. Once you are warmed up, proceed with the following –
Start with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart. Turn your toes out a little and keep your chest up. From there, bend your knees whilst keeping your back in neutral spine (not curved) then push through your heels to stand back up. Try to do this 10 times. Rest and then repeat for 3 sets = 30 reps. You should feel this working the muscles in your legs. The easier option is to do half range reps and don’t go down too low.
On the floor, facing down, extend your arms and hold that position. From there, bend your arms to bring your upper body closer to the floor, then push back away from the floor. There are two options; number 1 is to perform this exercise on your knees. Number 2 is to perform this exercise on your toes. Aim to do this 10 times. Rest and repeat 3 sets = 30 reps. You should feel this in your upper body, mainly the chest, triceps on the back of the arm and front of the shoulder. The easier option is to do push ups on your knees so they are resting on the ground for better stability.
3. Sit Ups
Also on the floor, but this time in a lying down position facing the sky. Bend both knees and keep your shoulders flat on the ground. From here, place both hands on the top of your thighs. Aim to slide your fingers to the top of your knees, in a sit up position. Try not to twist your spine but keep it straight as you reach forward. Do this 10 times. Rest and repeat for 3 sets = 30 reps. You should feel this working your abdominals in your stomach. The easier option is to start with your hands lower down on your thigh then work up to reaching past the knee.
This challenges your balance, whilst working your legs. You need to set up with a split stance, one leg in front of the other. Make sure both feet are facing forward and hold still. Then bend your back knee to the floor, whilst keeping your back straight and posture up right. You can start doing half reps as the easier option, then build up to full range where you go all the way down. Aim for 10 reps on each side = 20 in total then repeat for 3 sets = 60 reps.
Probably one of the most dreaded exercises – why? Because it’s hard and holding your body flat in a still position for a period of time can be uncomfortable. Start in a lying position facing the floor. Then rest on your elbows with your legs straight so you are up on your toes. From here, keep your back flat in a ‘plank’ position. Try to focus on balance by holding as still as you can. You can drop down to your knees if it gets too intense. Try to do 30 seconds, then adjust the time accordingly depending on how easy or hard you find the exercise. Repeat for 3 sets.
Remember to start off gradually with the above. Then look to build up slowly by increasing the range of movement or depth, the reps and then the sets.
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