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Strength train @ home without breaking the bank

The most common questions I get about strength training at home are about the equipment.

What do I need to have? How much will it cost me? That is often followed up with a list of equipment that was purchased after seeing a new fitness trend or in support of an enthusiastic new year's resolution but hasn't seen much action recently.

Your home strength training program does not need to strain your bank account. Here are my recommendations for starting with little or no budget:

  1. Begin with Body Weight Exercises. Squats, lunges and push-ups are just a few examples of moves that can be done with just our body weight. Practice proper form with these moves to develop the correct technique. (Form IS ALWAYS more important than the weight you lift). Use the number of repetitions and a slow tempo to increase the demands on the muscle in each exercise.

  2. Increase Resistance with Bands and Loops. There are lots of different types of bands and loops. They are color-coded to indicate a tension level - typically light, medium, heavy etc. and run between $7 and $30 for a set. Adding bands and loops provide increased tension on the muscles, challenge our coordination and engage not only the primary muscle you're intending to work but also stabilizing muscles.

  3. Slide or Glide to Add Difficulty. These are really one of my personal favorites. Sliders or gliders are discs that you place under one or both feet during an exercise. Purchase ones that have two different surfaces, one for carpeted surfaces and one for hard surfaces. The simple tools require us to engage the core more and require our muscles to work both during the contraction and the extension of the muscle. You can find these for $8-15.

  4. Handheld Dumbbells for Versatility. With a couple of pair of dumbbells, there is almost an unlimited number of exercises you can begin to do. You don't need a full set to get started. I did strength training at home for 15 years with a set of 3, 5 and 10 pound dumbbells. Right now, during the pandemic - finding dumbbells as been a feat of its own, so take a few moments to think about what you want to accomplish before you spend. Just prior to the pandemic, my local used fitness and sports equipment shop was selling them for $1/pound and today they are running $3-6/pound online. It is helpful to find an household item that is close in weight and try a few repetitions of the exercise to determine if it's going to be too light or way too heavy. My general philosophy is to choose a weight for my upper body that I know shoulders can lift safely and consistently and to go a little heavier than I think I need to lower body work because most lower body exercises can be modified to be performed with only 1 weight.

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