This post was submitted by Lucia Di Cesare, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Training Specialist and a Chemistry geek.
Inside Scoop: Learn the incredible health benefits of starting a resistance training program and get 5 simple exercises you can do anywhere.
Okay, so you’re probably imagining some 300lb weight lifter with barbells trying hard to make that last set and you’re probably thinking to yourself… ”How on earth will I be able to do that?”.
Well, let me redefine a resistance training program for you…
Simply put, resistance training focuses on exercises that resist an opposing force, and that’s where the name ‘resistance training’ comes from (also called strength training or weight training). That opposing force can be gravity, your own body weight, free weights or resistance bands.
The best part is that don’t need to spend hours in the gym, improvement from resistance training can be seen with as little as 20-30 minutes, two or three times per week. Just be sure to target all major muscle groups and I’ll be sharing some great exercise examples below. But first…
HERE ARE YOUR 5 REASONS TO ADD A RESISTANCE TRAINING PROGRAM TO YOUR ROUTINE:
Strengthen bones and muscles.
Did you know that bone is living tissue? The tissue breaks down, grows and repairs itself. Osteoporosis happens when the new bone creation doesn’t happen in the same speed as old bone removal.
Studies have shown that resistance exercises put a good kind of stress on your bones, and through that they can help increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Help maintain a healthy body weight.
Did you know that a pound of muscle burns more calories than a pound of fat, even at rest? It’s true!
Strength training helps to build muscle mass and in turn will increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories. This offers you a means to manage your weight without resorting to any restrictive diets.
Enhance your quality of life.
By building muscle, you will improve your ability to do everyday activities, like lifting that heavy basket of laundry or pushing the lawnmower. Muscle also helps with your strength and balance and in turn reduces your risk of falls. This will allow you to be more independent as you age.
Use it or lose it!
Lean muscle mass will naturally decrease as we age. Sorry, it’s true 🙁
Strength training, however, will help you preserve your muscle mass, and depending on your routine, you can even build muscle. And of course, a fit body looks great! You can enjoy immediate gains by implementing a well-balanced resistance training program that works all muscle groups.
Oxygenate and activate your brain.
By firing up those neurons you’re also exercising your brain both directly and indirectly. When you exercise, your body is able to manage blood sugars more efficiently and this reduces insulin resistance as well as inflammation.
We’re also all familiar with the immediate boost in our mood and energy levels just after a good workout session. This is due to all the good feel chemicals and hormones released when we sweat. Research has also shown improvement in sleep and a reduction in stress and anxiety.
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED?
That is completely up to you. If you’re the type of person that can stick to a resistance training program and workout on your own, then below are some great and simple at home exercises you can try right now! All you need is your own body weight and a few things around the house.
Aim for two to three workouts per week, doing 10 reps each, twice.
Before you get started, make sure to:
- Warm up. This is so important and so simple. Just think of every joint in your body and be sure to rotate and/or bend each of them in all directions to ensure they have all been well lubricated.
- Give your muscles 24 hours to recuperate between workouts. And, listen to your body! The ‘no pain no gain’ rule does NOT apply here. If you feel pain, please stop, then check your form, lower the weight, or change exercises all together. You should notice a significant improvement within 6- 8 weeks.
Please note: if you have a chronic condition, or you haven’t exercised in a long time, be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any strength or resistance training program.
5 SIMPLE RESISTANCE TRAINING EXERCISES TO TRY
- Start easy. Find a wall, place your hands against the wall, just a tad wider than shoulder width.
- Take two steps back to create an incline and slowly lower yourself towards the wall, keeping your body firm like a board.
- Slowly push yourself back until your arms are straight but do not lock your elbows.
- Try a set of 10 reps.
Remember, slow control movements are key! As you feel stronger try this exercise using your kitchen table, then a chair, and slowly move your way down to the floor.
ABDOMINALS AND CORE STRENGTH
- Try a plank. Hold for 15 seconds and increase your time as you get stronger (it’s even more fun with a friend).
- Or try some simple abdominal crunches. Just lie on the floor, tighten your abs to pull yourself into a crunch, lower and repeat.
I think most of you are familiar with this one, and you can do it anywhere!
- With your feet hip width apart slowly lower your buttocks as if you were going to sit on a chair.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes, don’t let them go over your toes or lean towards either side.
- Slowly lift your self back to standing position.
- Start off with a small range of motion and gradually increase as you get stronger.
Want to multi task this one? Grab something to hold in each hand (canned food, filled water bottle, a decorative knick knack, lol) and add a bicep curl as you do each squat.
Just as it sounds…
- With your back up against the wall, lower your buttocks until it is as if you’re sitting in a chair and hold.
- Feel those quadriceps burn.
- Start with 15 seconds and slowly increase your time.
- Take a seat on a chair, place your hands beside your buttocks, carefully lift yourself up and step out. This will be your starting position.
- Keeping your elbows facing back, slowing lower your buttocks towards the floor (not too far down, approximately 10cm should be a good start) and raise yourself back to starting position using your arms, do not let your legs do the work!
These are just a few suggestions; you can download a list of 40+ exercises for a total body workout below.
Just remember that good form is key, and don’t forget to breathe! It may take some time to find the right amount of reps and sets for your fitness level, but the general rule is that your last rep should be difficult to complete but not impossible.
Now if you’re up for more of a challenge, you may want to hire a personal trainer. A personal trainer can add weights to your workout and ensure you’re using good form. Improper form can lead to injury so I highly recommend you get some proper training if you’re just staring out.
Now, this wouldn’t be a nutritionist post without talking about food!
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT TO OPTIMIZE YOUR TRAINING?
Unless you’re a body builder you probably don’t need to increase your protein intake. However, if you would like to increase the ratio of protein to carbs in your diet, use healthy protein sources. The Nutrition Source website, created by the Harvard School of Public Health, recommends that you favour fish, lean poultry, and moderate amounts of nuts over red meat and cured, processed and salted meats. There are also many healthy sources of plant-based protein such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, tempeh and hemp hearts.
I simply recommend a well-balanced diet of whole foods. My food philosophy is ‘Eat the Rainbow’! By being consciously aware of the foods we have included in our meals, we ensure we are getting all our amino acids, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Check out my Instagram account if you need some food inspiration: @simplyhealthyliving_lucy
Last but not least… Stay Hydrated! Drink plenty of pure water. Avoid fruit juices and sport beverages as they often have added sweeteners, colourings, and other unnecessary additives.
And don’t forget to download your Total Body HIIT Program below.
Lucia Di Cesare
Lucia is a graduate from the University of Western Ontario, Canada with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, BSc. After spending many years working in the corporate world, she began to notice how stress, lifestyle, and diet affected the wellbeing of herself and those around her. With her scientific background, she had a natural curiosity to learn how those factors affected our wellbeing and what we can do about it. This brought her to CSNN and her journey to Simply Healthy Living began. Check out her blog here and follow her on Facebook.