Add in Strength Training to Make your Fitness Equipment Workouts Do More

It’s no secret that making it to the gym can be tough to fit in, but if you’re skimping on strength training, you’re missing the chance to get the most from your workouts. Strength training reduces your chances of injury, letting you workout more intensely and burn more fat to show off that great looking muscle that you gained by (you guessed it) strength training.   Unless you’ve managed to fit a complete weight room into the corner of your basement, a successful at-home workout needs to be light on equipment requirements and time commitment and heavy on the motivation. Circuit training is a great way to fit that bill. Turn on some music to keep your energy high and hit the following exercises for one minute each. If you’re really strapped for time, you can do each station once before your cardio routine (see my blog post earlier this month for more on using your warm up to squeeze in some strength training). For even bigger results, try alternating this workout with your usual cardio every other day and work up to completing three circuits.  

Squat to Row:

Holding a pair of 5-10 pound dumbbells, stand with your weight on your heels and squat down. As you come up, lean slightly forward rowing your arms with elbows bent at your sides to work the muscles of your middle back.  

Yoga Cobra to Down Dog:

For illustrations and descriptions of this and other yoga poses, check out this link.  From a prone position, lift up to a yoga cobra then push back to a down dog. Return to your prone position and repeat. You’ll work your postural muscles and get a great stretch for your whole body.  

Lunge to One Legged Overhead Press:

Stand, holding a pair of 5-10 pound dumbbells and step one leg back into a long lunge, bending both knees. Step back to your starting position, lifting the same knee in front of your body while raising both hands overhead. Repeat using the other leg.

Push Up to Plank Leg Raise:

Complete a push up (knees or toes) and come to a high push up position/plank. Keeping your abdominal muscles tight, lift one leg from the floor. Return the leg to the floor then repeat for the other side.  

Squat Touch Down to Calf Raise:

From a standing position squat down with your weight in your heels, bringing your butt low towards the floor. Touch your ankles, push through your heels to lift up to standing, reaching your arms overhead and lifting to your tip toes.   

Abdominal Crunch to Leg Extension:

Lying on the floor in a face up position, bring your knees above your hips with shins parallel to the ground.  Tuck your chin in and pull your belly tight while lifting into an abdominal crunch. As you hold the crunch at the top, extend one leg, pull it back in and then release your body to the floor.  Repeat on the other side.   Once you master the simple moves of this workout, you’ll be able to increase the intensity and pace of your movements during your one minute training blocks.  If you’re doing this workout on its own, warm up and cool down for five minutes on your favorite piece of fitness equipment before and after your workout and finish with a few stretches focusing on your major muscle groups.
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Joli.