Why Get Stronger? Now?
According to the CDC (U. S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention), “Research has shown that strengthening exercises are both safe and effective for women and men of all ages, including those who are not in perfect health. In fact, people with health concerns - including heart disease or arthritis - often benefit the most from an exercise program that includes lifting weights a few times each week ... As you grow older, it can be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, depression.”
For bone strength and balance, strength training for just two days a week produced “1% gains in hip and spine bone density, 75% increases in strength and 13% increases in dynamic balance ... [for] reducing risk for falls, which translates to fewer fractures”. CDC
"Like muscle, bone is living tissue that responds to exercise by becoming stronger... The best exercise for your bones is the weight-bearing kind, which forces you to work against gravity. Some examples of weight-bearing exercises include weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing." (National Institutes of Health, January 2009). You know how I feel about dancing. But unless you're doing some serious upside-down break-dancing, your upper body still needs some Better Cheaper Stronger upper body exercises.
September 13, 2010. Full disclosure: Better Cheaper Stronger means you get stronger. Not like Arnold. Just stronger. Stronger than you are now. So that you can do a lot of things more easily and comfortably - no strains, no injuries, no grunts, no embarrassment.
Means you can get stronger anywhere, anytime - for free, or nearly for free. You can do it with small hand weights; you can do it with a resistance tube or band; you can do it with no equipment at all.
In this video and the ones that you'll see in coming weeks, I'll demonstrate the exercise with small hand weights and with a resistance tube. Click here to find out what you should use - and to see my 60-second show-and-tell video about bands, tubes and weights. Which you should use. How much you should use.
Before you start
Warm up: take a brisk five- or ten-minute walk around the block or on your treadmill. Stretch for five or ten minutes. Or both.
I'll start our Upper Body Strength Training program with this exercise because it's familiar and easy. The video's worth a million words, but here are a few words to describe what I do with a resistance tube. I hold onto its handles; if I used weights, I'd be holding onto small hand weights.
I stand on the center of the tube to hold it in place. One handle in each hand, hands at my sides, palms facing forward. Feet comfortably apart. Legs straight but knees soft, not locked. My elbows are close against my sides. I keep them in place and bend my arms to bring my hands up to my shoulders. And back down to my sides.
Do it ten times – 10 repetitions, or 10 “reps” as they say in the health club – then, take a breather, maybe a sip of water. And do 10 more. Takes a minute or two. Do this at least 2 or 3 times a week. If you’re just starting out with this strength training thing, just do the biceps curl for a week. Get in the groove, and next week, add another exercise. I promise I'll have one for you.
For burning calories, muscle is better than fat. Three to five times better. People who began and completed a 16-week strength training program at Tufts University increased their resting metabolic (calorie-burning) rate by 15%. That’s an additional 200 – 300 calories burned every day while you’re doing ... nothing. Of course, you’ll burn additional calories while you’re doing your strength exercises.
"Results showed that most people were gaining weight gradually over time, with the average American adult gaining 1 to 2 lb per year ... relatively small changes in energy intake and expenditure adding up to 100 kcal/day could arrest excess weight gain in most people." Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Yup, knocking off 100 calories a day is enough to prevent weight gain for most of us. That's a brisk 15-minute walk - or a few sets of Better Cheaper Stronger exercises.
For preventing and managing diabetes, “strength training produced dramatic improvements in glucose control that are comparable to taking diabetes medication. Additionally, the study volunteers were stronger, gained muscle, lost body fat, had less depression, and felt much more self-confident”. CDC
Resistance Tubes, beginner
Resistance Tubes, advanced
Resistance Bands, beginner
Resistance Bands, advanced
Hand Weights, 2, 3 & 5 lbs.
Adjustable Hand Weights, 2.5 - 12.5 lbs. in 2.5-lb. steps