C is for carrying a load. Strength or resistance training is vital for many reasons; besides the obvious muscle-building, it can help burn more calories and shore up bones, among other benefits. Here are 10 exercises from our 10-week workout program that can help you get and stay strong:
- Leg abduction
- Leg adduction
- Side plank
- Short arc squats/wall slides
- Straight leg raises
- Wall shin raises
- Heel step downs
- Arm raises
- Internal and external rotation
Here's why and how to get started with load-carrying exercises, adapted from Fitness Over 40 by Vonda Wright, M.D.
"Carrying a load" simply means resistance training or weightlifting. Resistance training is important because of its role in building and maintaining muscle. You truly will lose it if you don't use it; to stave off muscle decline, you must carry a load. Maintaining and building muscle is good for your metabolism, makes you strong, prevents falling, prevents injury, and lifts your mood.
Lifting heavier weights is better than lifting light weights. But you do not have to do endless repetitions of heavy weights to receive a benefit. There are a lot of different ways to carry a load. It is not necessary to have access to a weight machine. Dumbbells, exercise bands, and your own body are excellent. One of the best "loads" to carry is your own body weight.
There's not enough room here to describe the exercises that would work all of your muscle groups. There are four key areas that represent the most common areas of complaint I see in my office.
The key to your back is your front, and the most important way to prevent the misery of low back pain is to concentrate on your core muscles. Your core is the belt of muscles that wraps around your midsection. Place your hands just above your hips and tighten the muscles under your palms. Engaging this natural weight belt is called "bracing." Once you start bracing these muscles frequently, you will notice them getting tight. If you can do only one of the exercises, choose the plank.
1. While lying on your side, brace your abdomen.
2. Bend your top knee, and place your top foot in front of your bottom knee.
3. Raise your lower leg off the floor (photo). Do not let your trunk bend backward.
4. Concentrate on keeping your core engaged, and feel this on the inside of your lower leg. Repeat 10 times, and switch to the other side.
1. Lie down on your stomach and brace the core muscles.
2. Raise your body up on your toes and elbows.
3. Lower your buttocks down until level with your shoulders. Squeeze your navel toward your spine. This is the key to this exercise and really works the core. Make sure your buttocks are not sticking up (photo).
4. Hold for 30 seconds, and increase the hold to two minutes as you improve. Alternatively, you can hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. (The plank can be modified from toes to knees.)