Many of us get the feeling of imposter syndrome when we walk up to the weights of our local gym- the usual crowds watching nearby with expectant eyes make us wonder if we are somehow making a mistake to even try. Thankfully, there are other options available to us that require a little less of the usual jumping through hoops. Don’t get me wrong, I have big respect for anyone that can stride up to the weights with confidence- you’re already a stronger person than me! This is more to provide some alternatives for those that want to try strength training from a slightly different angle.
Resistant training and strength training are broad terms that have taken a pretty important place in the fitness scene. This is because these methods can help you target many areas, and doing so can help tackle other areas of fitness far more effectively. The benefits go far beyond just our muscles. Strength training can help to increase bone mass, improve our balance and posture, and burn higher levels of calories. Learning how to distribute your mass as you work with greater resistance is also a great method of increasing awareness and making future injuries less likely.
Any progress is good progress, and Bamae is here to help you take the first step. Below are some suggestions of resistance training exercises that you can try to see if they work for you. The suggestions below can also be tried from home, so you have the option to start building your confidence in your own space.
Squats are the ultimate place to start for strength training. They improve our leg and core strength, as well as making sure we realign our posture to distribute our weight as we bend. Maintaining good form is essential in most strength exercises, so it’s time to start practicing!
Start by standing with your feet slightly wider than your hips. With your core tight and your back as straight as you can make it, slowly lower your butt down as low as you can without compromising your balance. Make sure your feet remain on the ground, as you may feel the urge to lift your weight onto your toes. Doing this decreases the amount of resistance, meaning you will lose out on some of the benefits if your form is off. Return to your starting position without rolling your back, and begin again!
If you’re looking to add variety to this move, there are ways to make this more interesting, such as trying sumo squats or incorporating lunges into your reps. Once you feel more confident you can start to build up your list of options and add more into your workout.
Whilst planks are one of the more simple moves, don’t be fooled; planking can prove to be a challenge to maintain. Planking begins lying on your front, before lifting yourself onto your forearms and your toes. You will know that you are doing this correctly if your midsection is straight and you feel the strain in your core; the longer you hold the greater the resistance. We must rely on our core to support us for as long as we can hold, which can be pretty difficult the first few tries. Don’t give up! Planking is extremely good for keeping our core strength and can help us to effectively complete other exercises to a better standard.
These are a great starting point with stepping stones of difficulty, so you can get gradually work your way up to greater resistance. One of the most important things to remember about any workout is that it’s a very personal process- no one workout will be identical to someone else’s even if you do all the same things. The best results come from tapping into your own strengths and working with them. If you’re looking to get started but are unsure where to start looking, Bamae has you covered.
The thing to focus on when getting started is creating a stable and balanced foundation for yourself, even before you begin to apply weight and resistance. Using too much weight too soon is a fast track to injury- be sure to start on lower resistance so you can gradually make your way up in difficulty. You can decide what areas you want to work on and when, and do so at your own pace.
Dumbbell chest press
This is an extremely useful option because it targets multiple muscle groups in your upper body. Either lie on your back on a weight bench or on the floor with a weight in each hand. Straighten out your arms in front of you before returning to the original position. Be sure to keep the weights in the middle of your chest and your arms at an angle before you extend them. Once again form and control are important here, so be sure to extend slowly rather than pushing out wide, as doing so can cause damage to your elbows.
This exercise is particularly good for targeting your abs and the muscles in your legs. Start by lying on your back and bring your legs up, extending your legs in outward circular motions as you would pushing the peddles of a bicycle. Be sure to do this slowly and deliberately to keep your form steady and your core tight.
The main thing to avoid is straining your neck as you work through your sets. If you feel a strain in your neck it’s most likely because you are lifting higher than your core can handle. To avoid this, keep your hands behind your head and your elbows bent, as though you are cushioning your head with your hands. Try to keep your forearms on the floor by your head and resist the urge to pull them up as you tighten your core.
Strengthening your legs and butt, lunges are incredibly simple to perform but are a great move to incorporate into any workout. Simply start in a neutral standing position and slowly take a lunging step forward, lowering your body until both of your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Push off the heel of your front foot to return to the original position, before repeating with the alternate foot. For additional resistance training, hold kettlebells in each arm to work on upper body areas simultaneously. Be sure to be extra careful of your form as you practice this move, as doing too much too soon or using the incorrect form can cause us sprains and injury.
Hopefully, some of these options can help with that tricky first step. If starting something new at the gym is a scary thought or just prefer to train in your own space, then these options can let you get a feel for strength training at home first and foremost.