Why is strength training important? A recent study found that people who did strength training for just one hour a week had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from heart disease compared with people who didn’t do any. The two main factors that seemed to mediate this benefit were stronger quadriceps muscles (the muscles in the fronts of the thighs) and a decrease in body mass index. The study was published in March 2019 in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Stronger muscles help your body pull oxygen and nutrients from the bloodstream more efficiently, lightening the load on your heart. And when you boost your muscle mass, you burn more calories, both during and after exercise.
Here are the top 5 exercises you can do at home with little equipment:
Squat: Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your thighs. Hinge forward at your hips and bend your knees to lower your buttocks toward the floor as if sitting down in a chair, while resting your hands on your thighs. Stop with your buttocks above knee level. Return to the starting position.
Bent Over Row: Stand with a weight in your left hand and a bench or sturdy chair at your right side. Place your right hand and knee on the bench or chair seat. Let your left arm hang directly under your right shoulder, fully extended toward the floor. Keep your shoulders and hips squared, and don’t arch or bend your back. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, then bend your elbow to slowly lift the weight toward your ribs. Return to the starting position. Finish all reps, then repeat with the opposite arm. This completes one set.
The Plank: Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly under your shoulders. Step your feet back, one at a time. For more stability, bring your feet wider than hip-distance apart, and bring them closer for more of a challenge. Maintain a straight line from heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor, with gaze slightly in front of your face. Now, tighten your abs, quads, glutes, and hold.
Pushups: Start in a plank position. Your core should be tight, shoulders pulled down and back, and your neck neutral. If you are unable to hold this position start with your knees bent and touching the floor. Bend your elbows and begin to lower your body down to the floor. When your chest grazes it, extend your elbows and return to the start. Focus on keeping your elbows close to your body during the movement.
Glute Bridge: Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, and arms straight at your sides with your palms facing down. Pushing through your heels, raise your hips off the ground by squeezing your core, glutes, and hamstrings. Your upper back and shoulders should still be in contact with the ground, and your core down to your knees should form a straight line. Pause 1-2 seconds at the top and return to the starting position.