Muscular fitness is an essential part of overall fitness. As one who conditions high school soccer players, I can tell you that they are equally concerned with gaining strength for their sport as they are about looking good. Adults over 40 are often interested in gaining muscular strength in order to combat osteoporosis, to lose weight, or to make daily tasks easier to handle. There are basically two methods that you can use to perform strength training. You can use your body weight or you can use barbells and dumbbells or you can use a combination of the two methods.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Body Weight
Body weight training is ideal for people who are interested in a lean athletic body without adding too much bulk. This makes it very attractive to women. It is ideal for people who travel, have limited space, or do not have or want a gym membership. That’s because with bodyweight training the most equipment needed is a pull up bar or a step, if anything at all. A body weight workout can be performed all most anywhere at anytime because your body is the equipment that supplies the resistance. Exercises are challenging, have many variations and can be adjusted according to any fitness level.
However in body weight exercises, there are many people who are unable to lift their own body weight and even modified body weight exercises may be too difficult for them to perform. Still another disadvantage to body weight training is that the maximum amount of weight remains constant so that the person exercising is limited to a maximum of their own body weight.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Free Weights
While using free weights, strength control of stabilizing muscles is necessary in order to prevent injuries. Often, a spotter is necessary for the lifters safety. Several times in my life I have been trapped under a bar. Someone had to come to my rescue. If I had used a spotter, that would not have happened to me. Good form is also necessary to prevent injury and to reap the benefits of weight lifting.
There are several advantages in weight lifting. You can use a variety of angles as well as varied ranges of motion from full to partial repetitions. People using weights can select resistance according to their fitness level and goals whether it be simply toning with light weights or adding muscle mass with heavy weights.
Examples of Free Weight Exercises
To perform military presses, from a sitting or standing position, position dumbbells to each side of shoulders with elbows below wrists. Press dumbbells upward until arms are extended overhead. Lower to sides of shoulders and repeat.
Alternating curls are done standing with a pair of dumbbells. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand upright with the dumbbells hanging by your sides. Curl your arm and get them as close to your shoulder level while keeping the other arm at rest. Now while curling your right arm down, curl the left arm upwards alternating them in this fashion.
Examples of Body Weight Exercises
Next to squats, lunges are the next best thing for your butt and thighs. This is also a compound movement so, like squats, when you do them you get more bang for your buck. Stand in a split stance with one leg forward and one leg back. Slowly bend the knees, lowering into a lunge while keeping the front knee and back knee at 90 degree angles.
Push back up to starting position.
To perform pull ups, hang on a pull-up bar with straight arms & pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar. The difference between pull ups and chin ups is in the grip. With pull ups the palms are away. They are harder than chin ups where your palms face you.
Both body weight and free weight exercises are excellent ways to improve and maintain your overall fitness. Evaluate your goals and also evaluate your lifestyle. That will help you determine whether yu want to employ bodyweight resistance, free weight resistance, or a combination, in your circuit training, for optimum results.
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Clint Grimes, is a retired US Navy commander. He is certified by the California Interscholastic Federation and is currently the strength and conditioning coach for the boys soccer teams at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, CA.
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