3 of My Favorite Strengthening Exercises

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

“Having been a runner most of my life, it is only in the last 7 or so years that I have actively and regularly strength trained with weights and bodyweight …Running for 40 years became very boring and also was not great for my joints — mainly my knees — because I was not strengthening the muscles around my joints and knees.

…My epiphany was realizing that once you build long lean muscle doing resistance training, your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) greatly increases, so now even while I am resting, I am burning more calories than I ever was in my 30’s, 40’s and even my 20’s because I now do regular strength training!”
 Read more about Kathleen’s journey from runner to strength training enthusiast

Here, 3 of Kathleen’s favorite strength training exercises to Power Up your body and your exercise routine:

Complete 15 reps of each exercise, with a 30 second rest between each exercise.  Find the right amount of weight to use by selecting a weight that is difficult to lift after 10-12 reps.

bulgarianlunge_igniteyourlifeStep by Step:

  1. Using free weights in each hand, elevate one foot on a step behind you.
  2. As you do a lunge, focus on moving your torso up and down, not pushing it forward. Keep your weight balanced evenly through your front foot and press into the floor with your front heel to come back up to the start position, which works and tones more lower-body muscle.
  3. Do not lean forward or let your front knee extend past your front toe.
  4. Complete 15 per leg.

Benefits:

  • Dramatically improves core strength and balance, as well as agility because it isolates one leg
  • Produces noticeable muscle and strength gains in the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings
  • Reduces risk of injury by minimizing strength and muscular differences between your left and right side

weightedrenegaderow_igniteyourlife

Step by Step:

  1. With your hands on the weights at shoulder’s width apart, extend your legs outward into a full push-up position. This is your starting point, ending point and point of stability.
  2. Tighten your core, firmly straighten your left arm, and slowly row the right weight upward until your upper arm is slightly higher than your torso.
  3. Hold one second at the top and then slowly lower the weight back down.
  4. Keep your chest and hips parallel to the floor throughout and try not to rock or sway to one side.
  5. Repeat the same motion with your left arm. Again, keep your core engaged and tight throughout this exercise. This is a great core exercise!
  6. Complete 15 per side.

Benefits:

  • It’s a compound exercise that strengthens your muscles throughout your back, including the trapezius, lats, rhomboids, simultaneously working the biceps, forearms, and rear deltoids.
  • Works the muscles that draw back your shoulder blades, improving posture
  • Forces the abdominals to contract and work hard to stabilize your body — especially the obliques — strengthening the entire body from head to toe in the process!

deadlift_howtoStep by Step:

  1. Using heavy free weights or a barbell, stand up straight with shoulders down and back.
  2. Bend (hinge) from the hips, keeping a flat back: when bending down, act as if you are holding a tray of drinks and need to close the door behind you with your backside. This helps you push your hips back instead of rounding your lower back — a form blunder that puts you at risk for back problems.  Keep the weights as close to your legs as possible, as if you are shaving your legs with the weights or barbell.
  3. Go down as far as your flexibility will allow you, then squeeze your glutes as tight as possible to lift the weights back up to standing, keeping shoulders back and down away from your ears. Squeezing the glutes will engage your butt rather than straining your lower back.
  4. Remember to always keep those abdominals tight, as you should with any strength exercise that you do!
  5. Complete 15 reps

Benefits:

  • One of the top glute strengtheners
  • Increases your core strength and adds to core stability
  • Targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities
  • Works your lower and upper body, including your back muscles
  • Develops the muscles you need to carry things, such as heavy grocery bags and suitcases
  • Builds amazing grip strength — your forearms also work hard!
  • Can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength of your muscles and critical tendons and ligaments. Supporting joints with strong muscles is crucial to preventing injury, especially in the hamstrings and lower back.

Power Up | iGnite Your Life

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