We may not be aiming for a top prize in a body building contest but the fact remains that physical strength remains a part of our every day lives. Raking the yard, washing windows, taking out the trash - whether you're hauling loads of laundry or handing off a toddler to a loved one over the neighbor's fence, you want to do it without any hassles.
There’s even more to it than that. Muscles use oxygen to function. That oxygen is delivered by the bloodstream and that takes energy. The larger the muscle, the greater the fuel demands, the greater the number of calories which are consumed which is why more muscle means a leaner physique.
When considering strength training as part of your home gym, the options are practically limitless from a DVD on yoga which, when broken down to its simplest Western interpretation, is essentially strength and flexibility training using your own body weight, to a multifunction monolith like the Bowflex.
When it comes to the how-tos of strength training, the first method to come to mind is usually weight training. Dumbbells have come a long way from the old plate and clip pieces. These days, sleek multi-plate lock systems are safer and still pretty affordable to the average user.
There are some dumbbell exercises such as the pec fly that require you to be off the floor. Two ways you can remedy this are by using a Swiss ball or an aerobic stepper.
An updated version of a workout that got its start in 18th century Russia, Kettlebell routines are gaining in popularity.
From the mysteries of the mock-boot camps to the rising popularity of Cross-fit to the number of trainers seen pushing their clients through a routine on some weight loss show on TV, kettlebells are steadily rising in popularity. You can start light and work from a slow movement to a more dynamic motion (also known as "ballistic movement.") The compound movements demand more cardiovascular participation. The result is doing more in a shorter period of time. Full-body exercises and more calories burned all in one lift is a dream come true for many fitness-minded people.
The best way to start out is with a certified trainer. Barring that, a good book or DVD that shows you the correct posture (these exercises can be taxing on your spine) and proper technique (the bells can hurt your arms or separate a shoulder when done incorrectly) would be a wise investment. Once you get down the basics, it will be easy to develop a solid kettlebell routine to keep yourself motivated.
Just remember that there have been a couple of studies that indicate that the kettlebell workout is less effective than traditional weightlifting for gaining strength and less effective than running on a treadmill when you want to build cardiovascular fitness. You will see improvements when used on a consistent basis, just not as much as “traditional” exercises. Where you will probably find your greatest improvement is in speed as it works the hip flexors and glutes.
Strength with Resistance Bands
One of the easiest ways to get in a strength-training workout with resistance is (surprise) resistance bands. What started as a fad has proven to be both a popular and effective method of building strength with everyone from work-at-home moms to personal fitness trainers.
Resistance Bands are becoming a staple in every gym. With a standard set of DYNA-band resistance bands which are more like ribbons, you need to get a little creative with your workouts to work every muscle. They can also be quite effective as a, “dry land,” workout for swimming.