This article originally appeared in Tips on Life & Love from Simon & Schuster.
Strength Training Guidelines
Do each move for about eight to twelve repetitions. Do not lock your arms or legs, and make sure to keep your abdominals sucked in tight. Don’t forget to breathe: exhale when you’re exerting the most force (either pushing or pulling); inhale when gravity is doing the work to return to starting position. Especially at the beginning, choose a weight that’s light enough, and use that until you can do twelve repetitions with no problem.
How do you know when you’re ready to add weight? If you can do an exercise more than twelve times without feeling fatigued in the muscle area you’re working, it’s time to graduate to a higher weight. But go slowly and use perfect form. If you can’t perform that move at least eight times, you need lighter weight.
The Do-Over Weights Workout 1
(from YOU: The Owner’s Manual)
I do this routine once a week.
(Strengthens legs and butt)
Stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart and with your hands by your side. Without curling your back, squat down to the point where your thighs are approximately parallel to the floor (or before that—higher up—if you have knee or lower-back pain). Pause, and then rise up to the original standing position. Look straight ahead with your body facing forward throughout the movement. When you get strong enough, you can hold weights or soup cans in your hands.
(Strengthens legs and butt)
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and with your hands on your hips (or holding dumbbells). Take a long step forward with your left foot. Bend your left knee so that your thigh is parallel to the floor (or before parallel—higher up—if you have knee or lower-back pain). Make sure your knee does not extend past your toes. Pause, and then step back to the original standing position. Repeat by stepping forward with your right foot. Keep alternating until you reach eight to twelve repetitions on each side. When you get strong enough, you can hold weights or soup cans in your hands.
BENT-OVER BACK ROWS
Stand next to a weight bench or a sturdy chair or some kind of park bench—almost anything works. Put your right knee on the bench and hold a dumbbell or a can of soup in the left hand. With your right hand resting on the bench, bend over so that your back is about parallel to the ground. Keep your left arm straight down so the dumbbell dangles toward the floor. Using your back muscles, pull the dumbbell up while slightly skimming your elbow against your side and lifting your weight to your chest. Pause, and then lower it, and repeat eight to twelve times. Then switch sides. Do equal number of repetitions on each side.
ONE-LEG CALF LIFT
Stand with the ball of your left foot near the edge of a stair. Hold a weight in your left hand and use your right hand to balance yourself against a wall or stable chair. Lift your right foot so that it hangs relaxed near your left ankle. Lower your left heel as far off the stair as you can comfortably. Keeping your knee straight, use your calf muscle to press yourself up on your toes as high as you can. Repeat eight to twelve times. Do an equal number of repetitions on both sides.
(Strengthens upper body)
Get in classic push-up position, with your hands and toes on the floor and your back straight. (Get on your knees if you can’t do traditional push-ups.) Lower your body so that your chest just grazes the floor, and then push your body back up, keeping your back straight. Repeat eight to twelve times.
Lie on your back, with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Crunch your upper body up toward your knees, but no higher than about 45 degrees. Clasp your hands behind your head to support your neck. You can do many variations of the classic crunch, including holding a small weight at your chest or lifting your feet off the ground.
ARM AND LEG LIFTS
Place both hands and knees on the floor so that your arms and thighs are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor. Your knees should be directly under your hips, and your hands should be under your shoulders. Look to the floor, keeping your head in line with your spine. Lift your left arm and left leg slowly off the floor and extend them straight out so your arm, leg, and back are roughly in one line. Return slowly to the starting position. Then switch by raising your right arm and leg. Repeat on each side eight to twelve times.