When doing strength exercises it’s important to strengthen the entire body and all muscle-groups. The muscles work together and supports the skeleton by keeping it straight. Training only one area of the body will create imbalance and distort the natural alignment. That said, it is important to strengthen those muscles which are weak and strained so they can perform their function ideally.
Dumbbells are a good way to strengthen individual muscles and increase balance and range of motion, they are easy to use and get started with at home or at the office, with no need to take more time out of the schedule than some 20 min a day. Workout machines are good for greater muscle-groups, the drawback is the dependency on a gym or expensive equipment and that it is harder to target specific muscles which need training. Finally there are a range of exercises which can be done with no equipment at all, squats, push ups, lunges, sit ups and so on. Since many of these involve the whole body moving they are good for balance and endurance as well and can get your heart racing.
There are many websites available giving advice and instructions on strength exercises, below are my two favourites which I use several times a week:
http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/dumbbellexercises.html – good page for dumbbell exercises. It has descriptions and animated illustrations which makes it easy to do the exercises yourself. The site itself has several fitness programs and advice, though membership is needed for some of it. Certainly worth exploring and my favourite for dumbbell training. There are more than 20 exercises, so I find it good to break it down into portions, saving one for each day of the week. This way I give certain muscles a chance to rest and recover while others are trained.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnt65CBU5RE&feature=related – Burn with Kearns, a free Youtube video showing some very effective strength and cardio exercises. In the video are displayed sledgehammers as a tool to train with. I’ve found dumbbells can be used for a number of the exercises in lack of sledgehammers. Following this video and you’ll be panting and sweating as if you’ve been out running, all the meanwhile strengthening your muscles. I’ve found these to be good warm-up exercises and good for increasing my range of motion, my flexibility and loosening muscles that have gotten tense or sore. Burn with Kearns is also a very good method to burn bodyfat and replace it with muscles.
I combine the above and have come up with a nice cross-training exercise series which allows me to train all my body. I can focus on certain problem areas when its needed, or do a general cross training and cardio exercise. I aim to do about 20-30 minutes training every day, if I do not have other physical demands that day, such as massage or cleaning. I also try to give my body a rest and chance to recover by keeping two days free of work-out. I train to stay fit and strong, to make my body serve me longer, so there is no need to push myself so hard it is no longer fun.
Strength training is for your general health and for your well-being. Keep this in mind and do not allow it to become a sour habit. Find the methods and training that suits you and commit to it and you will soon find yourself with increased energy, better body understanding and acceptance and pride in doing something good for yourself.