by Michelle Cederberg, Certified Exercise Physiologist
By now you probably know that strength training is a great way to get better energy. Inside the muscle is where the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell) are located. So if you’ve got more muscle, you’ve got more energy!
You’ve also got better posture, stability and mobility for doing things like climbing stairs and getting in and out of your chair. And believe me, you’re going to enjoy your activities a lot more if you’re stronger.
But who has time to fit in strength training along with all the other things you need to be doing to stay healthy?
Well, I’ve got good news for you. In this episode, I’m going to share 5 strength training exercises that will strengthen your entire body. Five exercises, that’s it:
All I ask is that when you’re doing these exercises, that you do them to fatigue. That means by the end of the set, you’re happy to be done.
Keep it simple, have fun – and if you don’t believe that five exercises will make a difference, I dare you to give them a try.
For these exercises, you will need a few basic pieces of equipment. A mat, some tubing that has a little bit of tension in it, some weights – probably 8 , 12 and 15 lbs. dumbbells, and a fit ball.
These are available at most sporting goods stores, or check out my favorite online resource, www.fitter1.com.
Exercise Number One in my “Full Body 5” is for legs, the largest muscle group in the body. You want to make sure that you always include some strength training for this part of the body if you want to pack an energy punch. The simple, basic squat is the first exercise:
All I want you to do is get something heavy, it can be milk jugs filled with water if you don’t have any dumbbells, and just drop down. Your knees stay at almost 90 degrees, your butt drops back and your chest tilts forward.
If you feel this one is a bit too complicated, try not to go down too deep to begin with. You can also try an alternative to the squat, called the walking lunge.
It’s one of my favorite strength training exercises for legs because you can do it anywhere. Walking through the park, down your hallway. Front knee at 90 degrees, back knee at 90 degrees, drop it to the ground – your legs are strong!
Number Two in the Full Body 5 is the fitball hamstring curl. It’s another one of my favorite exercises. It targets the muscles behind the upper leg, and it also gives a great burn for your glutes.
Make sure that you’ve got your legs fully extended and your hips elevated as you pull the fitball toward your buttocks. You’re not only going to feel this in your hamstrings and your glutes, but you’ll also get a great stability burn in your low back and your abdominals.
If you’re new at this, keep your arms out wide to stabilize and keep on going until your body says no more.
Number Three in my Full Body 5 is the seated back row. The back is the second-largest muscle group in the body, so make sure when you’re selecting your tubing that you get some with a little bit of a tension, as you are probably stronger than you think.
Wrap the tubing around your feet, sit up nice and tall, and pull just like you’re rowing a boat across the lake. You want to pull right into the middle of your back and imagine you’re breaking an egg between your shoulder blades every time you pull back.
As you’re doing this motion, not only are you isolating the powerful back muscles, you’re also getting your biceps and shoulder muscles involved.
If you prefer to use dumbbells for your workout, then a great option for your back is the bent over dumbbell row.
The movement is essentially the same as the seated band row, and the thing that is nice about this one is that when you’re bent over in this position, your abs and your low back have to stabilize:
Make sure that you don’t round out your back, and I think the reason people do that is because they are afraid to show their booties to the world.
So go ahead, stick it out, flatten your back and have some fun with this exercise. It’s a great one for the back.
Exercise Four in the Full Body 5 is for the chest, and I am going to give you two options. The first is the fitball dumbbell chest press:
The reason I like this exercise is because not only are you targeting the bigger chest muscles, you’re isolating the triceps and the shoulders and the extra oomph of having to hold your lower torso up. That means your glutes, hamstrings and low back are also getting a workout.
A second option for chest is an exercise you can take anywhere: the pushup. I know most of you don’t like pushups because they are hard. But they are only hard because you haven’t been doing them.
The standard pushup is the most challenging, and do as many as you can even if it’s only one. When you get tired, drop down to your knees and keep on pushing. You want to get your chest as close to the ground as possible, isolating your chest, triceps, shoulders, abs and low back.
If you are still tired, then get on your knees and pretend like you are going to give the mat a kiss. Don’t have such a hate relationship with pushups – this is how you are going to get strong!
The last exercise in my full body five is something for your abdominals. I have also included a download with more ab exercises on my homepage at worklifeenergy.com. Just type FULLFIVE into the ‘free dose of energy now’ box on the right side.
The exercise I am going to explain now is called “bicycle knees.” And before you start any abdominal exercise, pull your abs in, tighten and stabilize. Then start slow and in control:
Then extend one leg out and rotate toward the other leg. Start out slow, keep on going and feel those abs start to get the burn.
Try to do the Full Body 5 twice a week, and you should soon see your energy levels rise accordingly. If you don’t believe that 5 exercises can make a difference, I dare you to give them a try!
(published September 29, 2013)
Michelle Cederberg is a Certified Speaking Professional, Co-Active Life Coach, Health Expert and Author. With a Masters in Kinesiology, a BA in Psychology, and a specialization in Health and Exercise Psychology, Michelle combines mind, body, and practicality to inspire change! She speaks with humour and passion, and encourages her audiences to put their own health and well being back on their priority lists with a small steps approach that leaves them believing they can. The author of Energy Now! Small Steps to an Energetic Life, is also a bit of a video girl, regularly posting helpful (and at times hilariously funny) videos on her Energy TV channel. Learn more at www.ifyourlifesucks.com.