Strength training. Why does it sound so intimidating to so many of us, especially women?
For someone who is new to fitness, it's a whole lot easier to go for a walk or a run than to the gym.
But that's okay. You can get stronger at home, too!
For someone who is new to strength training, the gym may be scary with all the heavy equipment, complicated machines and all those people looking at you..
The last thing is actually not true. It's very unlikely that anyone is looking at you – everyone is busy with their own workouts (or smartphones. But that's another topic).
However, it's completely understandable that beginners may feel uncomfortable doing any strength work in front of the “treadmill arena”, especially when they have no clear idea what to do with all this weird stuff.
But the fact is that we all need to work on our strength. You don't need to have bodybuilding or weight lifting goals, strength training is still important for all of us.
Being strong is useful in everyday activities. We need strength to carry our grocery bags, move the furniture, play with your kids and so on.
Strength training builds muscle. The stronger the muscles, the better balance, posture and coordination. Bigger muscles also use more energy. A positive side effect: You can eat more, because you burn more.
Strength training increases bone density. By constantly working on your strength, you also strengthen your bones. This becomes particularly important in older age, but it's something we have to keep in mind and work on all the time.
It gives your body a nice shape. Skinny may have been sexy five or ten years ago, now strong is the new skinny. Not to mention that strong is by far healthier.
There are so many other reasons why you should start strength training, if you are not already doing it. It doesn't mean that can't run, walk or practice any other activities that you like. Just make sure to get couple of strength sessions in every week.
Now that sounds easy to someone who goes to the gym on a regular basis. But the thing is…
A lot of us don't like the gym atmosphere.
A lot of us can't find the gym they like.
A lot of us are so busy that going to the gym just doesn't fit into their schedule.
A lot of us would simply love to train at home.
The great thing is that you don't need to go to the gym to work on your strength. There are so many bodyweight exercises or exercises that need only minimal equipment that you can do no matter where.
I have had couple of periods in my life when I didn't have a gym membership, which doesn't mean that I skipped strength training altogether. Here's the equipment that I had at home: My own body (of course), a jump rope and a kettlebell. And that was it! I still worked out four to six times a week, plus some runs and long walks here and there.
What are the benefits of bodyweight exercises and exercises with portable equipment?
You save money. Gym membership is not cheap. You may save hundreds of dollars by doing bodyweight exercises at your home or outside at a nearby playground or a park. You can use stairs for working out. You can run sprints. It's all completely free.
You can also make an investment and buy yourself a kettlebell, a pair of dumbbells or a medicine ball. Sure, it costs, but this stuff is durable and once bought, it's there.
You don't have to wait after anybody. When working out at the gym, it happens too often that somebody is using the exact pair of dumbbells that you need. Gyms can get really crowded, so waiting is usual. That can make your gym session way longer than you had planned.
And, there is very likely someone waiting for you to finish your sets too. I don't know about you, but for me it's always a little annoying and makes me feel that I can't work out at my own pace.
It's safer. If you are not sure about the technique, you don't know how the machines work or you don't have a personal trainer to help you, you may not know how to do things correctly. Sure, also bodyweight exercises have to be performed safely and with a good technique, but it's much more likely to hurt yourself when squatting with heavy barbell than squatting your bodyweight. Set of bodyweight squats, performed with proper technique, are by far useful than heavy barbell squats that you are doing with poor technique. You don't want to hurt yourself.
You choose your own time. Maybe you're an early bird who would love to work out at 5 am, but the gym is still closed at this time? Or is late night the best time for you to go to the gym? Opening hours were a problem for me at my last gym. On Sundays they didn't open until 10. By that time I had been awake for three hours and would have really wanted to get my workout done. So, a lot of times I opted for at-home bodyweight or home equipment workout instead of waiting for the gym to open.
You will get good results, and that's a promise. Going to the gym is not necessary to get stronger! Depending on your fitness level, try to do 50, 75 or 100 push ups or two minutes of burpees or alternate squats with burpees. I'm pretty sure that you get your heart beating and muscles burning. These short minutes (they definitely don't feel that short though…) can be more efficient than entire hour at the gym.
So, no excuses! No need to go to the gym – get stronger at home our outdoors. Here are some of my favorite no-gym workouts to try out.
Oh My Quads and Power Sprint Pyramid Workout
You need: Bodyweight Only; a track or quiet street for running
100 to 10 Pyramid Workout, Double Unders & Burpee Workout
You need: Minimal equipment, such as box or bench for jumping; Jump Rope
Kettlebells Only and Lift ‘N' Run Workout
Do you do strength workouts at home?
What are your favorite at-home strength training exercises?