When it comes to working out, whether for weight loss or for building strength, a varied routine is what will yield the most results. One of the easiest and most effective ways to really shake up an at-home workout regime is by adding elements of resistance training to your exercise goals. This can be any form of exercise where you lift or pull against resistance i.e. dumbbells, a barbell, your own weight, machines, kettlebells, powerbands or any other external resistance.
Types of Resistance Exercises
Resistance training increases your resting metabolic rate, decreases body fat, and enhances muscle tone — as well as improves balance and coordination. This type of training becomes even more important as you age because it helps combat loss of muscle mass and strength. Here are some popular ways to add resistance exercises to your workouts:
- Bodyweight: Using your own bodyweight is really convenient, whether at home or even when you’re travelling. These activities can include squats, squat thrusts, lunges, push-ups, dips, sit-ups, chin-ups and step-ups etc. If you are new to resistance training, start with just your body and gravity as your training tools. This helps you to establish good form.
Free Weights: After establishing form and building strength with bodyweight exercises, slowly increase the intensity of these activities by adding classic strength training tools such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. You can also use these hand weights for exercises like bicep curls, lateral raises, triceps kickbacks, bent rows, wall squats and overhead presses.
Multi-Purpose Machine: Many classic resistance exercises can also be done on a single, dynamic machine like a home gym . This means one device can facilitate both upper and lower body training while at home. For the upper body, resistance exercises like bicep curls, tricep pullovers, lat pulldowns, shoulder presses and ab crunches are effective. For the lower body, squats, leg presses, calf raises, leg curls and reverse leg curls are popular too.
- Exercise Balls: As your confidence and coordination grows, you can add various types of balls to assist your resistance training. For example, if you can complete a standard push-up with good form, try performing it with your lower body positioned on the ball. You can always start with it under your knees and as you get more comfortable move the ball closer to your feet.
- Resistance Bands: These are convenient, portable and can be adapted to almost any workout goal. They come in a variety of resistances, including light, medium and heavy to provide more or less slack. You can even use multiple resistance bands at once to increase the intensity of an exercise or challenge.
Weights, Reps & Sets
To start, a typical beginner’s resistance workout should include 8 to 10 exercises that work the major muscle groups of the body and are performed 2 to 3 times per week. You can start with one set per exercise with as few as 8 repetitions per set. As you become more comfortable with the workouts and your strength begins to increase over a few weeks, you can begin increasing the weight slightly and/or increasing the number of sets you do for each muscle group.