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The benefits of strength training have been widely reported for years, but apparently few of us are listening.
Most Americans are not meeting the minimum recommended amount of muscle strengthening exercises, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Yet, the people who do meet those requirements are reaping the benefits: They report fewer chronic diseases, like diabetes, obesity and cancer, and are probably more physically fit, too.
So what is the bare minimum we can do to get a little stronger? According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, adults should do muscle-strengthening activities — like lifting weights — that are moderate or high intensity and involve major muscle groups at least two days a week.
The study explained that when performed regularly, strength-training exercises can help to increase skeletal muscle strength, power and endurance, which in turn can help to improve your blood pressure, metabolism, physical abilities, self-esteem and more.
Strength training doesn't have to be intimidating. Personal trainer Don Saladino, owner of Drive Health Clubs in New York City, shared three exercises to help you get started.
Perform 5-10 repetitions of each exercise and complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes.
1. Body-weight squat
This lower-body exercise focuses on the quads, hamstrings and glutes, but also promotes proper hinge mechanics.
"Considering we stand up and sit down all day long, this is a very important pattern to ensure the overall health of the lower body," explained Saladino.
Take a slightly wider than shoulder-width stance. While keeping your weight in the center of your feet, hinge and sit back until your hamstrings are parallel to the floor. If this depth is too much then shorten your range of motion.
"Most people think this is primarily an upper-body exercise, but because it creates tension throughout the entire body, it becomes much more," Saladino noted.
This move targets your chest, shoulders, triceps, lats, core and glutes. While tensing the entire the body, lower to the floor while maintaining a plank position. Press back up to the starting position.
3. Prone cobra
This exercise works the muscles in the backside of the body. While lying face down, start to pull your upper body and legs off the floor.
"The key is to squeeze the glutes and retract the shoulders and lats," Saladino stressed.
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