Most of us dread the idea of working out. We think of expensive but smelly gyms, confusing weights machines from the space age, sweating all the time, and feeling embarrassed because we feel old and out of shape compared to all the 20-somethings with perfect bodies we see everywhere all pumping iron.
They might have perfect bodies, but they got them by working out. Note the word working. If you put in the work, you too can get a better body. But it does not have to be all work and no play. Strength training can be fun once you know how to get started.
First, you don’t have to go to a gym. You can work out with light weights and resistance bands anywhere in your own home, even in front of the TV watching your favourite show. You don’t need expensive memberships or equipment, just a commitment to devote about 10 to 30 minutes per session to your better body. Head to the kitchen to find some heavy cans or bottles you can grip easily and you will have enough to get started. Once you have mastered several exercises to tone and trim your body, then you can consider investing in some inexpensive weights and/or resistance bands.
In terms of weights, dumbbells come in all shapes and sizes, but if you have not worked out for a while, begin with light weights and gradually increase your load. You can get a tower with several different pairs of weights. Or you can get a fun set of Aquabells, which you fill up with water in order to achieve the weight you want to lift. They come with 4 sets of ‘wells’ per side which will each fill up to 4 pounds of water, for a total of 16 pounds each side. They will therefore ‘grow’ with you as you progress from 2 pounds to 4 and so on upwards.
Then there are wrists and ankle weights. Wrist weights are useful for a ‘hands-free’ workout, for example, as you do the housework or go for a walk and swing your arms to add intensity to the exercise, as well as for many other lifting moves you would usually do with dumbbells.
Ankle weights serve a similar purpose, giving your legs more of a workout so they become firmer faster. You can do ordinary weight lifting exercises with them, or add them to your yoga or tai chi moves, for example, along with wrist weights, to build strength even more rapidly.
Resistance bands come in a range of attractive colours and weight loads. A good set of resistance bands will give you a range of weights, and will also allow you to combine bands to increase your loads. They should also come with a door attachment and an ankle strap so you can do a range of exercise which will help you target your trouble spots or areas you wish to improve. They are a bit like using the space age weight machines to give you a full body workout, but without all the heaving and clanking.
The best exercise routine is one you will stick to. Use light weights and resistance bands to maintain interest and have fun, and see what a difference your new strength training routines can make to your health and appearance.