Contrary to popular notions, strength is not just for athletes or people who do high-endurance workouts. Strength is required for the smallest to the largest movement that you make right from opening a door to lifting objects, walking, climbing, running and so much more. So, what is your strength? It is the ability of our muscles to exert force while doing physical activities. This muscular strength i.e. the amount of force that you can exert while doing a particular activity coupled with muscular endurance, which is how many times can you do that activity without feeling exhausted, form the basis of our everyday health and mobility. Not only this, but it also has a direct implication on our ability to prevent diseases of our musculoskeletal and cardiac system and our lifespan.
Strength training, also known as weight training or resistance training, is a critical part of any fitness routine. It is a group of exercises especially designed, according to the ability and age of the person doing them, to improve flexibility, mobility, and enhanced performance in all the major muscle groups. The major group of muscles that strength training focuses on include: Chest: This includes muscles like the Pectoralis major, Pectoralis minor, Serratus anterior, and Subclavis. Back: This includes muscles like Trapezius, Rhomboids, Latissimus dorsi, and Erector spinae. Arms: This includes muscles like Biceps brachii, Biceps brachialis, Triceps, and Forearms. Shoulders: Our shoulders include the three heads i.e. anterior head, lateral head, and posterior head. Legs: The legs are made up of muscles like the Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Glutes. Calves: The calves are made up of muscles like the Gastrocnemius and Soleus. Strength exercises may involve either the use of machines and tools like dumbbells or resistance bands or your body weight. Strength training is a very versatile form of training that can be done not only at the gym but can also be built into your regime of strength training exercises at home. These at-home strength training exercises include yoga, cardio exercises, dance workouts, etc. Strength training, especially strength training at home, is extremely flexible and can be modified according to your objectives, age, gender, and health or medical conditions if any.
Low muscle strength, also referred to as weakened muscles or muscular weakness, is when your muscles are not able to produce a normal movement or contraction despite putting in full effort. Low muscle strength may be short term or long term and may be caused due to reasons like: A decrease in the body’s general physical fitness due to illness, frailty due to age. Autoimmune diseases like Graves disease, Myasthenia Gravis, etc. Thyroid conditions like hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Disorders of the neuromuscular system like multiple sclerosis, lateral sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, etc. Herniated disc Hypotonia Stroke Chronic fatigue system Neuralgia Polymyositis Peripheral neuropathy Immobilization due to surgery or injury Botulism Complications resulting from viral infections like rheumatic fever, polio, etc.
Weakness in the muscles or the loss of strength in the muscles is characterised by symptoms like: Constant fatigue, exhaustion, tiredness, etc. Twitching Pins and needles Numbness in your arms, legs, or the back Spasms Frequent falling episodes Unsteady gait Unexplained or unintended weight loss
Strength training can be done by anyone who desires optimum core strength and wants to make fitness a priority. Strength workouts can be customised i.e. scaled-down and up for: Children as young as 7 years can easily do strength training at home or the gym. Seniors can do strength exercises at home. People who have experienced injuries and are recuperating can easily do strength exercises at home. People who have undergone surgeries and are healing can do strength training at home. Pregnant women
The following categories of people who avoid doing strength training exercises without consulting their fitness instructor or doctor: If you have a fever you should avoid strength training. Strength training workouts should be avoided if you are experiencing cold or flu. Strength training exercises must be avoided if you have had a recent bout of asthma. Pregnant women should do strength exercises only after consulting their doctor. If you have had a sports-related or head injury, you should avoid strength exercises. If you have just undergone surgery for an illness or accident. You have sore muscles or back pain. If you are fatigued, haven’t slept properly, and are stressed, you should avoid strength training.
Strength training can be done at the home or gym using free weights, resistance bands, free weights, and machines. Here is a list of the top strength exercises to engage your core muscles that include both in-gym and strength workout at home: Chest: Pushups Barbell bench press Shoulders Overhead dumbbell press Lateral raise Back Lat pulls with band Barbell rows Arms Overhead extension Bicep curl Legs Lunges Planks
Here is a detailed step-by-step explanation of some of the best muscular strength exercises: Chest: Pushups: One of the best muscular strength exercises, pushups are an excellent way to work your chest muscles. To do this strength workout, start with all fours with your hands wider than the shoulders. Lean your weight on your hands and flatten your back down to the back of the knees. Pull your abs in and bend your elbows and lower your body towards the floor till you are at a 90-degree angle. Total sets: 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps each Total time: 3 seconds Barbell bench press: This is one of the best muscular strength exercises that involves not only the chest but also the shoulders and the triceps. To do this strength exercise at home, lie down on a bench with your feet on the floor. Hold the barbell just over your chest bending your elbows. Place the hands on the barbell a little wider than the shoulders. Push the weight straight above the chest till your elbows are locked and your arms are fully extended. Bend your elbows and lower the weight till the barbell touches your chest. Total sets: 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps each Total time: 3 seconds Shoulders Overhead dumbbell press This strength training exercise is a great way to engage your shoulders and core for better stability and flexibility. To do this strength and conditioning workout, stand upright, and hold a dumbbell in each hand. Raise the weights above your head while exhaling. Pause in this position for a few seconds. Return the dumbbells to the shoulders while inhaling. Total sets: 4-5 sets of 8-12 reps each Total time: 3 seconds Lateral raise: A comprehensive strength workout, lateral raise helps in developing stronger shoulders and arms. To do this strength workout at home, stand upright with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms at your side and place your feet hip-distance apart. Raise your arms simultaneously out to each side and pause for a few seconds. Lift the weights up and down on each side while keeping your arms almost straight. Breathe in as you lift. Lower the weights while breathing out slowly. Total sets: 1-3 sets of 8-16 reps each Total time: 3-5 seconds Back: Lat pulls with a band: This strength exercise at home closely resembles its version at the gym. To do this strength workout, hold the band over your head and squeeze your back to pull your elbows towards your rib cage. Bring down your arms lower closely. Total sets: 5-6 sets of 12-16 reps each Total time: 3 seconds Barbell rows: This is a very effective core strength exercise that engages your shoulders as well as the arms. To do this powerful strength training for beginners, hold the barbell with your palms facing your body until your torso is at an angle of 45-degrees. While keeping your knees bent, take the bar straight out and squeeze the back to pull the barbell in towards the centre of your belly. Total sets: 5-6 sets of 12-16 reps each Total time: 2 seconds Arms: Overhead extension: This is a very comprehensive strength training exercise that works your triceps, shoulder, and upper back. For this strength training workout, stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Grip the dumbbell with both your hands vertically. Keep your wrists straight and bend your elbows as you lower the dumbbell behind your head. Keep your upper arms close to your head and elbows pointing towards the ceiling. Straighten your arms upward. Total sets:2-3 sets of 8-12 reps each Total time: 5 seconds Bicep curl This strength training workout improves the flexibility and agility of your biceps and forearms. This is especially a great workout for strength training for women. To do this strength workout, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart as you grasp a dumbbell in your hand. With your palm facing forward, bend your elbow and pull the weight towards your shoulders. Lower your arm. Total sets: 3-4 sets of 8-11 reps each Total time: 2 seconds Legs: Lunges: This is a great exercise for strength training for beginners that works your lower body including your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quadriceps. To do this great lower back strength exercise, stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with your right foot and lower your hips towards the floor until your right leg is at an angle of 90-degrees and your left knee is parallel to the ground. Lengthen your spine to keep your torso upright. Hold this position then step your right foot back to meet your left. Repeat this strength workout with your left leg. Total sets: 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps each Total time: 5 seconds Planks: This is one of the best exercises to increase stamina that is also a powerful lower back strength exercise. It works your muscles in the back, chest, and shoulders. To do this strength exercise at home, rest on your forearms and toes only keeping your body in s straight line with your hips clenched and your abdominal muscles engaged. Hold this back strength exercise position for a shorter duration initially and gradually increase the duration. Total sets: 1-3 sets of 4-5 reps each Total time: 20 seconds- 1 minute
Strength training has amazing health and aesthetic benefits both for men and women. Here are some of their most important benefits: Strength training fights muscle loss due to injury, age, or certain disorders. Regular strength training at home or the gym helps you in keeping agile and mobile for a long time. Alternative strength training exercises like yoga for strength have tremendous physiological as well as psychological benefits like stress reduction, calmness, etc. Since our bones and muscles are interconnected and work together, one of the most important benefits of strength training is that it helps in strengthening our bones and preventing fractures, frailty, osteoporosis, etc. Strength training especially lower back strength exercises help in improving your range of motion, coordination, balance, and flexibility. Strength training for women helps them in gaining strength without adding on the bulk and reduces menstrual cramps and stress. Strength training including back strength exercises help in protecting our ligaments and tendons, especially as we get older. Back strength exercises help in removing the pressure from the spine, reducing stiffness, and improving blood circulation that helps in the distribution of nutrients in the body. Since regular strength training exercises tone your body and help you lose weight, they have a direct impact on your self-esteem and coordination.
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