Strength Training

Strength training builds muscle mass and improves bone density, while cardio exercise improves our endurance levels - each is important for maintaining fitness as we age. Strength training also improves the structural integrity of our joints and our sense of balance, and some studies have shown a correlation for preventing type 2 diabetes.

In our 40s, our bodies start losing about a ¼ pound of muscle mass each year, a rate ex- acerbated if our lifestyle is more sedentary. But by maintaining or even increasing our percentage of muscle, we create a greater resting energy after exercise, which in turn helps burn more calories during the course of our day.

Combining strength training with cardio exercise gives us a more holistic approach to fitness. For example, we can schedule our cardio work for M-W-F, with strength training for T-TH-S (Sunday is still a day of rest). Alternating our days this way not only brings variety to perk our interest level, but also enables recovery time for the affected parts of our body.


Strength Training - Five Most Recommended

  1. Squats
    • Stand up straight with feet placed apart the width of your hips and pointing straight forward or angled slightly outward, and holding a hand weight/dumbbell in each hand;
    • Lower your hips towards the floor by bending your knees to a 90-degree angle as if you’re sitting on a chair until your thighs are parallel to the floor, while keeping your torso vertical and your abs pulled in;
    • Use your thigh muscles to slowly push yourself up, keeping your weight on your heels.

    Do at least 12-25 repetitions per session, at least twice each week.

  2. Push-Ups
    • Place yourself facing the floor and parallel to it, with legs and back in a straight line, and balancing your weight on your toes (use knees if necessary) and the palms of your hands placed shoulder-width apart;
    • Keep your back and legs in a straight line throughout – no humpback or sagging;
    • Use your arms to slowly lower your upper body to the floor until your arms form a 90 degree angle while breathing in;
    • Breathe out and use your arms to raise yourself back up to the starting position, again keeping your back and legs in a straight line.

    Work you way up to 10-15 reps initially per session, 2-3 times each week.

  3. Lunges
    • Grasp a hand weight/dumbbell in each hand with arms held vertical throughout, and stand with one foot forward and on foot back, about three feet apart;
    • Lower your hips to the point where each knee forms a 90 degree angle while keeping your torso vertical, making sure that your knees do not move forward past your toes;
    • Raise your hips back up to the starting position, keeping your weight on your heels.

    Do 12-15 repetitions per session, 2-3 times each week.

  4. Planks
    • As if you were going to do a push-up, place yourself facing the floor with your legs together and your elbows/forearms on the floor next to your chest;
    • Tuck in your abs and raise your hips up so that your weight is evenly balanced between your elbows/forearms and your toes, keeping your back and legs in a straight line (no humps or sags);
    • Hold the up position for 30-60 seconds, keeping your abs tucked in.

    Do as many repetitions as you’re comfortable with per session, at least twice each week.

  5. One-Arm Rows
    • Grasp a hand weight/dumbbell in your right hand, extend your right foot all the way back from your left foot, keeping your back and right leg in a straight line and causing your left leg to bend at the knee;
    • Rest your left forearm on your left thigh;
    • Inhale and pull the dumbbell up and slightly away from your torso in a recoil motion;
    • Exhale and lower the dumbbell down until your arm is fully extended but without locking your elbow.

Do as many repetitions as you’re comfortable with, then transfer the dumbbell to your left hand and reposition your feet and right forearm accordingly, i.e., extend your left foot all the way back from your right foot, keeping your back and left leg in a straight line causing your right leg to bend at the knee, and then rest your right forearm on your right thigh. Perform these routines at least twice each week.


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