In order to improve your strength and/or muscular endurance, you will need to exercise against a resistance. This resistance can be your body weight (for example a press-up) or may involve the use of specifically designed equipment such as dumbbells, barbells or resistance machines.
Resistance training should be progressive in nature, individualised, and provide sufficient stimulus to all the major muscle groups to develop and maintain muscular strength and endurance. You should follow the subsequent guidelines to improve your muscular strength and endurance.
- Frequency: 2 to 3 days per week.
- Exercises: At least one set of 8 to 15 repetitions of 8 to 10 exercises that condition the major muscle groups of the body. Multiple set regimens may provide greater benefits if time allows.
The effect of exercise training is specific to the area of the body being trained. For example, training the legs will have little or no effect on the arms, shoulders, and trunk muscles. Therefore a whole body approach should be adopted.
Muscles should also be worked in balance and the following exercises are recommended:
Chest press, seated row, shoulder press, lateral pull down, squats, lunges, step-ups, abdominal crunch, back extensions.
Rest: If performing multiple sets, adequate rest should be given to allow the muscles to recover before performing another 'set'.
NB You should not perform the same resistance exercise on consecutive days. At least 24 hours rest should be allowed before repeating the exercise.
- While lying flat on the bench with feet planted firmly on the floor either side of the bench with your arms extended.
- Slowly lower the weight to chest level. Push the weight back to the start position.
Tips: Ensure your back is flat on the bench and not arched. Perform slowly and in control.
- From a seated position, with arms extended in front of the body and knees slightly flexed, draw the hands into the abdominal area squeezing the shoulder blades together.
Tips: Look straight ahead and maintain the natural curve of the spine. Keep elbows tucked close to the body throughout the movement.
- From an upright position, with dumbbells overhead, slowly lower the weight to shoulder level.
- Push the weight back up to the start position.
Tips: Ensure the back is flat on the bench. Perform slowly and in control. Look straight ahead.
- From a seated position, grasp the overhead bar just wider than shoulder width.
- Lean back slightly and draw the elbows in towards the side of the body so that the bar rests at the top of the chest.
Tips: Do not swing during the exercise.
- From a standing position with feet between hip and shoulder width apart, bend at the knees and flex at the hip until your thighs are parallel with the floor.
- Push through the heels to return to the standing position.
Tips: Ensure that the knees are aligned with the feet and do not pass beyond the toes.
- From a split leg position, with one foot in front of the other, lower the back knee towards the floor so that the front thigh is almost parallel with the ground.
- Push off the front leg to return to the start position.
Tips: Look straight ahead. Ensure the front knee is aligned with the foot and does not pass beyond the toes.
- Lie face up on a soft surface, bend knees and bring feet close to the buttocks.
- Fold your arms across your chest, or place hands lightly behind the head.
- Draw your belly button towards your spine by contracting your lower abdominal muscles.
- Whilst holding this contraction with normal breathing, slowly raise your shoulders towards your thighs while keeping the lower back on the floor.
Tips: Lower your shoulders and upper body slowly and with control.
- Lie on your stomach on a mat.
- Place hands lightly at the side of your head.
- Raise your head and shoulders off the mat as high as comfortably possible.
- Hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
- Lower the head and shoulders.
Tips: Do not tense your shoulder muscles.