By now you’re probably well aware of all the incredible benefits of cardio. Those heart racing, blood pumping, can-barely-catch-your-breath workouts can leave us feeling ah-mazing. But what about strength training?! Unlike some cardio workouts, strength training includes exercises such as weight lifting, resistance bands, and weight machines. Since we naturally lose muscle mass as we age (oh, joy!), it’s important to incorporate some form of strength training into your overall fitness routine. And like cardio, the benefits are well worth it.
Here are 5 reasons why you should get on the strength training train:
- Builds Bone Density: Strong bodies have strong bones, and strength training can significantly increase your bone density.
- Builds Muscle Mass: Muscle mass naturally decreases as we age, but strength training can actually reverse that. With regular strength training, you’ll see an increase in your lean muscle mass.
- Joint Flexibility: Keeping your joints healthy and flexible will help you to stay mobile as you age. Strength training is proven to increase your joint flexibility and decrease the symptoms of stiffness and even arthritis.
- Increased Balance: Maintaining a strong sense of balance becomes increasingly important as we age, and the risks associated with falling increase. Strength training works to increase your sense of balance and reduce your risk of falls and injury.
- Better Cardiovascular Health: One of the biggest benefits of weight lifting and strength training is lowering the probability of life-altering heart attacks and strokes. Pretty incredible, right?! And the best part is, there are several simple strength training exercises you can do right from the comfort of your own home, with nothing but a yoga mat, simply by using your own body weight!
Here are 5 moves to get you started:
- Forearm Plank:
- Start by laying face-down, with your forearms flat on the floor, making sure that your elbows are aligned directly under your shoulders
- Raise your body up off the floor, keeping your forearms flat to the floor, and your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. Don’t forget to engage your core!
- Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 8-12 times
- Start with your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart.
- Bend your knees and extend your buttocks backward as if you are going to sit in a chair
- Make sure to keep your knees behind your toes, and the weight in your heels
- Rise back up and repeat 20-30 times
- Bird Dog:
- Kneel on the mat on all fours.
- Reach one arm long, draw in the abdominals, and extend the opposite leg behind you
- Repeat 8-12 times then switch sides
- Modified Push-Up:
- Begin in a kneeling position on your mat with your hands below your shoulders and your knees behind your hips, legs straight out behind you
- Tighten your core, bend your elbows, and lower your chest to the floor
- Be sure to keep your gaze in front of your fingertips so that your neeck stays long
- Press back up and repeat 10-20 times
- Hamstring Bridge:
- Lie flat on your back with bent knees hip-distance apart, and feet flat on the mat
- Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the mat
- Lower and lift the hips for 8-12 reps