Fitness

How to Get Stronger With 7 Simple Exercises

When you first start strength training, the exercises can feel hard—which might have you wondering how you can get stronger so your workouts can go more smoothly. After all, if every move is a struggle, it can be hard to motivate yourself to even start a workout routine, let alone give it a solid effort.

But as you get stronger and more familiar with the exercises, you’ll likely find it easier to execute each move. Once that happens, you can focus more on the workout in front of you. And that can help you get even stronger.

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering what you need to do to get stronger, we have you covered. Here’s everything you need to know to get started.

What are the benefits of getting stronger?

Building strength doesn’t just help you in your workouts—it has a huge carryover in everyday life too.

“Resistance training, whether it’s moving your own body weight or moving external weights, is a great way to help your body stay functional and healthy for the long run,” says Sivan Fagan, an ACE-certified personal trainer and owner of Strong With Sivan in Baltimore, Maryland.

Building strength now can help you perform everyday movements more easily, whether it’s picking up a heavy box and walking across the room with it, pushing a heavy object back on an overhead shelf, or even getting up off the floor quickly and easily. And building balanced strength—like making sure you are focusing on all muscle groups—is important because it can help prevent injury by making sure other muscles aren’t overcompensating.

As you get older, muscle strength becomes even more important. Resistance training helps older adults improve balance, build bone density, reduce the risk of falls, preserve independence, and even boost cognitive well-being, according to a 2019 position paper from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

The good news, too, is that once you gain strength and muscle, you don’t have to work out constantly to keep from losing it: The average person can maintain strength and muscle by strength training at least twice a week, the National Academy of Sports Medicine says.

How to train to get stronger

The key to how to get stronger is compound movements, which involve multiple joints of the body and, therefore, multiple muscles.

“Focusing on multi-joint, compound movements elicits the greatest muscle fiber recruitment,” says Jeffrey Yellin, D.P.T., C.S.C.S.

Examples of multi-joint exercises include squats, which bring into play the hip and knee joints, and push-ups, which employ the elbow, wrist, and shoulder joints.

Another key part of any quality weight-lifting workout is pushing and pulling exercises.

“Breaking up your exercise routine into pushing and pulling ensures that you maintain good muscular balance and hit all the important muscle groups,” Yellin adds.

For example, rows, a pulling motion, recruit your back and biceps muscles. A chest press hits the pectoral muscles (chest muscles) and triceps. If you were to skip the pulling motion and only do the chest presses, you’d be at greater risk for injury over time due to uneven pulling on the joints, Yellin says.

Some other examples of pushing exercises include squats, standing overhead presses, push-ups, dips, bench presses, barbell box step-ups, and glute bridges. Common pulling exercises include rows and pull-ups.

If your main fitness goal is to get strong, “you need to ensure you are utilizing high-intensity movements, but incorporating sufficient rest intervals between sets,” says Yellin. In general, you should use a weight you can lift for about six reps per set with high-intensity effort and proper form. (If you’re just getting started, you might want to stick to 6 to 12 reps at first, since lifting too heavy before you’re comfortable with the moves can increase your risk of injury, says Fagan.)

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