Resistance strength training is the process of building muscle by imposing demands on the body. As a person overloads his muscles, he can achieve increased muscular endurance, lose weight, and even control diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Although many people believe that resistance strength training, or weight training, must be done in a gym, this is a complete misconception. It is completely acceptable to perform resistance strength training exercises in the home, or any other open, safe area. The best exercises to perform in the home are those that require little to no equipment. With the exception of crunches, all exercises should be performed for 3 sets of 15 reps.
A squat is an exercise that targets the lower body. It strengthens the quadriceps (front of the upper legs), the hamstrings (back of the upper legs) and the glutes. A squat movement mimics sitting in a chair and standing back up. To correctly perform a squat, a person should stand with his feet hip width apart. The second and third toes should be pointed straight ahead. The arms can either be held out in front of the body, straight above the head or with the hands clasped behind the head.
Once in position, the exerciser should lower his glutes to the floor while keeping his feet flat on the ground and head facing forward. The glutes should never lower past the knees. To increase the resistance, one should hold free weights in straightened arms.
A push-up works the chest and triceps. Push-ups are great for at home workouts because they require no equipment. To start easy, an exerciser should kneel on a soft surface with his toes on the ground, then place his hands a comfortable width apart with fingers facing forward. Placing hands too wide or too narrow will increase the difficulty of the exercise.
With abs drawn in and the glutes engaged, the exerciser should lower his chest down to the floor. The exerciser should stop when his chest is around six inches from the ground and then push himself back up until arms are straightened.
To make push-ups harder, the exerciser should move from his knees to his toes. Repeat 3 sets of 15 reps of this exercise. The head should be kept in a neutral position without tucking or extending the chin.
Dips target the chest and triceps and only require the use of a small table or platform (around 18 inches high). To perform a dip, an exerciser should place his hands on the edge of a table with the fingers facing forward. Feet can be placed flat against the floor with knees bent (easiest), on the heels with straight legs (medium), or can be alternated (hardest). The lower the body should be kept as close to the floor as possible, while keeping the back close to the table. Push off of hands until arms are straightened.
Crunches target the abdominal muscles. There is a wide variety of crunches that can be performed with no equipment. To perform a basic crunch, an exerciser should lay on his back on a soft surface with his feet flat against the floor and knees bent. Arms can be placed across the chest (easiest), straight above the body (medium) or with hands clasped behind the head (hardest). The head should remain in a neutral position and should not return to the floor until the exercise is totally complete.
An exerciser should lift, from the abs, until the head, shoulders, and upper and middle back come off of the floor. To complete one crunch, the exerciser should reverse the movement touching first the middle and upper back and then the shoulders to the floor. The lower back should remain pressed into the floor throughout the entire exercise. Perform 25 crunches in a row.
Other types of crunches target the obliques (side abs), involve the legs, and require much more dynamic movements. These types of movements are advanced.
Samantha Kopf - National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer