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Quick start strength training program

Quick-start strength-training program

Work out at home or in your office to improve muscle mass.

Muscle mass tends to diminish with age, so making strength training part of your overall exercise regimen is very important. And while many people assume that effective strength-training programs require joining expensive fitness clubs and lifting heavy weights, there are plenty of strength-building exercises you can do at home and at work with little or no special equipment. “You really can strength train without the big machines and get effective results, without spending a lot of money,” says Elissa Huber-Anderson, a physical therapist at Harvard-a-ffiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Starting a program

Getting a green light from your doctor is the first step to starting a strength-training program. Next step: make an appointment with a physical therapist. “A physical therapist will tailor a strength-training program to your specific needs, whether you have new or old injuries or you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or osteoporosis,” says Huber-Anderson. You’ll be required to complete a course of two to 12 physical therapy sessions over weeks or months. During that time, the physical therapist will teach you about the principles of strength training and will show you how to step up the program on your own.

What you’ll need

It takes very little exercise equipment to get a good strength-training workout at home or at your office. That’s because many exercises, such as wall push-ups, use your own body weight to create some resistance.

If you’d like to add equipment, consider buying a set of resistance bands, usually between $5 and $20, or buying dumbbells in 1-, 3-, or 5-pound weights, whichever your physical therapist recommends. Huber-Anderson says you can also make your own weights. “Low-cost options include lifting soup cans, shopping bags with added weight, rolls of coins in a stocking, or sand in an empty gallon bottle,” says Huber-Anderson. She advises that you start with a small amount of sand or coins, whatever you can lift comfortably, and gradually increase the weight by increasing the amount of coins or sand.

What to do

Your physical therapist will help you develop a strength-training routine that you can do at home or even at work. It will include exercises that use your body weight, such as squats, heel raises, and leg lifts.

Huber-Anderson recommends that you spend 15 to 20 minutes per session, two days per week. This time is part of the 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise that’s recommended for older adults, with the rest of the time devoted to aerobic conditioning and balance training. “We lose strength as we age, and but there’s something you can do about it, whether you’re at home or at work,” says Huber-Anderson. 

Your physical therapist may suggest strength-training exercises like these for home or work

Standing side leg lift

Starting position:
Stand up straight behind a chair, holding the back of it with both hands. Put your feet together and evenly distribute your weight on both feet. Keep your spine neutral, shoulders down and back.

Movement:
Lift your right leg straight out to the side until your foot is about six inches off the floor. Return your leg to the starting position. Repeat ten times. Then repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Front plank on desk 

Starting position:
Stand facing a desk or counter with your feet together.

Movement:
Tighten your abdominal muscles and lower your upper body onto your forearms on the desk or countertop. Clasp your hands together and align your shoulders directly over your elbows. Step back on the balls of your feet until you are balancing your body in a line like a plank. Hold 15-60 seconds.

Michael Carroll Photography

Heel raise 

Starting position:
Stand up straight behind a chair, holding the back of it with both hands. Position your feet hip-width apart and evenly distribute your weight on both feet.

Movement:
Tighten your abdominal muscles. Lift up on your toes,letting your heels rise off the floor until you’re standing on the balls of your feet. Try to balance evenly without allowing your ankles to roll inward or outward. Lower your heels to the floor, maintaining good posture as you do. Repeat ten times.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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