Everyday tasks become possible only when you have enough physical strength—and the stronger you are, the easier it becomes to perform them.
Regular muscular strength exercises, when done correctly, can enhance your physical strength and improve the quality of your life. Routine activities become faster and even more enjoyable, and you become more able to perform other kinds of activities for work or recreation.
The Importance of Muscular Strength
Muscular strength is the capacity of your muscles to move or exert force on yourself or other objects. It is generally measured by the weight you are able to lift.
Because muscular strength encompasses your ability to carry yourself, having stronger muscles means having better posture, balance and overall physical performance—you’ll be able to walk and move around with greater ease.
And because your capacity for movement becomes greater with muscular strength exercises, you’ll have more energy for taking on other, more challenging activities.
Muscular Strength Makes Every Day Easier
Building up your muscular strength over time allows you to become more efficient in going about your daily tasks. You’ll be able to carry more groceries and lift heavier objects, for instance, or find yourself finishing your household cleaning in less time with energy to spare.
Where muscular strength refers to how much you can carry, muscular endurance refers to how long or often you can carry it. Muscular strength exercises can also enhance your endurance, making it possible for you to work in the garden, for instance, or play football for longer periods of time.
Stronger muscles likewise make it easier for you to sit and stand up straighter, which reduces back pain and helps you avoid neck strain and joint stiffening or injuries.
Muscular strength exercises can also help you develop a strong core, which includes your stomach or abs, pelvis, hips and lower back. These exercises train the muscles in these areas to work together, resulting in better balance and stability.
With greater muscular strength comes several psychological as well as physical benefits. As your ability to move and lift objects grows, you’ll feel more confident and have a positive outlook on what you are able to accomplish.
You will also be able to enjoy the following benefits of regular muscular strength exercises:
Better mood and emotional well-being
Improved stress management
Reduced symptoms of depression
Sense of accomplishment
Key Muscular Strength Exercises
It’s essential to perform muscular strength exercises with the proper form, as doing them incorrectly could lead to injury and significantly reduce the effectiveness of each exercise.
The best way to check your form is to have your instructor or a friend spot you and correct you as you exercise. You may also check your form by looking into a mirror as you exercise, or recording your exercise session and watching the playback.
Here are five key muscular strength exercises with proper form guidelines:
This is an upper body exercise that requires dumbbells. You may also use a barbell for a more intense workout.
• First, stand with your feet apart to align with your shoulders and bend your knees slightly.
• Next, hold the dumbbells with your palms facing up with your arms on either side of your body.
• Lift the dumbbells slowly while keeping your elbows facing your body.
• Hold that position for a second before slowly lowering the dumbbells into your starting position.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions for 2 or 3 sets. To make sure you have the proper form while doing bicep curls:
• Don’t swing the dumbbells upward and depend on momentum to lift them.
• Don’t arch your back or your chest, nor allow your shoulders to roll forward.
• Tilt your pelvis forward slightly to protect your lower back and strengthen your core.
• Lock your elbows to your sides.
• Make sure your body stays straight.
• Focus on using your biceps to lift rather than your whole body.
Also called sit-ups, crunches build your back and core muscles for better posture and stability. Some variations have the arms crossed in front of your chest, while others have the hands on either side of the head with the elbows bending outward.
If you choose the latter arm position, don’t interlace your fingers behind your head. Instead, keep your hands open, palm up, at the same level as your ears, with your fingertips gently touching the back of your head.
• First, lie on your back with your knees drawn up.
• Next, raise your head and shoulders off the floor.
• Hold that position for 1 to 2 seconds before lying back down.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions for 2 or 3 sets. To make sure you have the proper form while doing crunches:
• Don’t use your arms to pull your head up toward your knees.
• Don’t curl your head forward to let your chin touch your chest.
• Don’t let your back arch.
• Tilt your pelvis slightly forward to keep your lower back on the floor.
• Instead of curling inward, focus on a spot on the ceiling and reach upward.
• Focus on using your abs to lift yourself up and not your arms.
• Exhale strongly as you crunch.
These are muscular strength exercises focusing on the core and lower back, as well as the starting position for push ups. There are variations that rest on the forearms rather than the hands for people who need to take extra care of their wrists.
• First, lie on your stomach and put your hands (or forearms) on the floor in front of you while keeping your shoulders and elbows in line.
• Next, push your body up and off the floor by using your stomach muscles, and lifting your legs up and off the floor with your toes.
• Hold that position for 1 minute or for as long as you can before lying back down.
Do 2 to 3 repetitions. To make sure you have the proper form while planking:
• Make sure your wrists (or elbows) are directly below your shoulders.
• Make sure your spine stays straight or in a neutral position and that your back doesn’t arch.
• Focus on using your breath to draw and hold your navel in as you exhale.
• Keep your chin off your chest.
• Make sure your entire body forms a straight line and that your hips are not too high or too low.
• Make sure your knees stay straight while focusing on your quads and on pressing your heels inward.
Building on the plank exercise, push ups develop the muscles in your shoulders, arms and chest. There are variations for doing push-ups on your forearms and against a wall which may be more suitable if you are a beginner in muscular strength exercises.
You can also build your chest muscles further if you do pushups with your arms farther apart. If your hands are closer together, you can focus on developing your triceps.
• First, lie facedown with your elbows drawn up and your hands (or forearms) against the floor.
• Next, lift yourself off the floor slowly while keeping your back, neck and head in a straight line.
• Lower yourself back down into your starting position.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions for 2 or 3 sets. To make sure you have the proper form while doing pushups:
• Make sure your spine doesn’t curve and keep your core tight.
• Don’t let your head drop forward and keep your gaze neutral
• Make sure your elbows don’t point outward or to the side.
• Keep your elbows pointing back and close to your body.
• Whether you do pushups with your arms farther apart or closer together, make sure your wrists and shoulders are aligned.
This popular exercise builds strength in the lower body and is relatively easy to do. An even easier variation of this move is to sit into a chair. For a more challenging exercise, holding a bar or dumbbells at chest level as you squat.
• First, stand with your feet apart, just a bit wider than your hips and hold your hands together in front of you at mouth level.
• Next, bend your knees slowly into a squatting position.
• Hold that position for 1 to 2 seconds before standing back up.
Do 8 to 12 repetitions for 2 or 3 sets. To make sure you have the proper form while doing squats:
• Don’t let your weight rest on the inside edges of your feet, nor let your knees bend inward.
• Don’t shift your weight forward into your toes and let your heels lift off the floor.
• Don’t let your knees pass over your toes.
• Lift your chest, press your knees outward and shift your weight back into your heels.
• When squatting, make sure your knees end up over your ankles instead of your toes.
• When standing up from the squat position, press down on your heels to build up your hamstrings and glutes.
While the movements involved in muscular strength exercises may seem unrelated to those you do in everyday life, consider how the exercises develop the muscles you do use for daily activities.
You will find it easier to climb stairs, for instance, or in and out of vehicles after regular squats, planks and pushups. Lifting a small child or a pet, or wiping tabletops or windows becomes easier after weeks doing bicep curls. You’ll also be able to sit comfortably at a desk or while driving without back pain thanks to regular crunches.
Making Time for Muscular Strength Exercises
Consistency is key to enjoying the benefits of muscular strength exercises, as is exercising at an intensity appropriate to your circumstances. Beginners or older adults, for instance, shouldn’t be exercising the same way as athletes or martial artists. Beginners can, however, be encouraged to progress at their own pace to more intense exercises to improve their strength.
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise in a week, which comes to only 22 minutes a day. While it can be challenging to find time for them, there are ways to incorporate muscular strength exercises in a busy schedule:
Schedule your sessions in advance. Make time on your calendar for your muscular strength exercises and make it a recurring event.
Sign up for a set of sessions. A set of regularly scheduled sessions can help ensure consistency.
Arrange to exercise with a friend. Not only will you enjoy your exercises more, but you can hold each other accountable.
Set muscular strength improvement goals. Rather than specifying a certain weight in kilos, keep your goals simple, such as being able to carry two bags of groceries at the end of a number of weeks.
Make efficient use of your time. If you only have half an hour to spare, try to get the most out of those minutes. EMS training for just 20 minutes provides the equivalent of 4 hours of traditional exercise.
Volt Fitness is a luxury EMS studio in Melbourne that offers short, intensive training sessions with maximum efficiency and sustainable results in a feel-good atmosphere. 20 minutes at Volt Fitness are as good as 4 hours of sweating it out at a traditional gym.