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The link between muscular endurance and strength and quality of life is strong. A resistance training program should be tailored to a person’s specific goals, preferences, time constraints, and level of muscular fitness at the outset. Resistance exercisers seeking health benefits have a wide range of exercises and training programs to choose from.

Proper Resistance Training Preparation

The following are some guidelines to follow for safe and effective strength training success:

  1. When starting a resistance training program, perform all exercises at a low intensity so that the emphasis is on learning the proper technique for each exercise.
  2. Doing 1 set of each exercise for the major muscles of the body is sufficient at first. This will ensure that the entire body develops.
  3. Gradually increase the intensity of your exercise program. Muscles adapt quickly to a mild overload and can then be stretched to adapt to a new load. Progression can be accomplished by adding weight to the exercise or by performing a few more repetitions.
  4. Complete a 5- to 10-minute warm-up of easy walking, cycling, or other aerobic training mode before each workout session for an overall warm-up of the body. Then, to help prepare the body for the workout, perform some dynamic range-of-motion movements of the major joints and muscles. Stretching exercises after a workout help to relax the muscles and may aid in the prevention of post-workout soreness.
  5. For the body to reap the most benefits, complete all exercise movements with a “normal range of motion.”
  6. Avoid allowing the back to sway by contracting the muscles of the midsection during each exercise to stabilize the torso and protect the spine.
  7. All exercises should be done in a moderately slow, continuous, and controlled motion.
  8. During all exercises, breathe normally. Breath holding can cause an increase in chest pressure, putting undue strain on the heart and blood circulation in the trunk.

Recommendations for Resistance Exercises

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends resistance training 2 to 3 times per week, with 1 set of 8 to 10 exercises from each of the body’s major muscle groups. For healthy adults, the number of repetitions per exercise can range from 3 to 20. Adults over the age of 50 should do one set of 10 to 15 repetitions. The exercises should be “somewhat difficult” to “hard,” and the exerciser should not strain to complete them.

Exercises

DUMBBELL SQUAT

Begin by standing with your legs shoulder width apart and your hands holding dumbbells with your palms facing the body. Slowly bend the knees, keeping the back rigid and the midsection contracted, until the buttocks are slightly higher than the knees. Allow the knees to follow the path of the ankles. Return to your starting point.

DUMBBELL CHEST PRESS

Lie flat on a bench (or floor mat) with your feet on the floor. Begin with your elbows bent and each dumbbell held to one side of your chest and shoulders. Slowly raise the weight above your shoulders. Return the weight to its starting position.

STATIONARY LUNGE WITH DUMBBELLS

Begin with one leg about 2.5 to 3 ft in front of the other, dumbbells in each hand alongside the body. Lower your body straight down until your back knee is about 4 to 6 inches from the floor. Maintain the front knee over the ankle. Return to the starting position by pushing up. Repeat the exercise with the other leg in front of you.

DUMBBELL CALF RAISE WITH CHAIR

Begin by standing with one leg bent and one hand on the chair for support. Hold 1 dumbbell in each hand on the side of the leg that is not being supported. Raise up to your toes by extending the ankle of the supporting leg. Lower back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.

SHOULDER PRESS

Begin in a seated position with the dumbbells just above the shoulders and palms facing forward. To stabilize the spine, contract the abdominal muscles. Extend your arms slowly over your head, keeping the movement in line with your body. Return to the starting position by lowering your body.

HAMMER CURLS

Hold the dumbbells to the side, palms toward the body, in a standing position with the knees slightly bent. Bend your elbows and raise the weights with your elbows fixed at your sides. Lower the weights slowly back to the starting position.

REVERSE FLIES

Place your feet flat on the floor and sit on the edge of a chair (or bench). Lower your chest over your thighs. Begin by holding the dumbbells with your elbows slightly bent, your hands toward the floor, and your palms facing the chair. Raise the arms out to the side to shoulder height, keeping the arms slightly bent and palms facing the bench. Lower yourself slowly back to the starting position.

FOREARM PLANK

Begin with your forearms on the chair and your knees on the floor. Lift your knees off the floor and contract all of your abdominal muscles to keep your body firm. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then 3 to 6 times more.

Assessing Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance is measured using a variety of tests. However, many of these tests necessitate the use of specialized equipment and skilled technicians to administer and interpret. If someone is looking for a more sophisticated muscular endurance assessment, he or she should contact a certified fitness professional in his or her area. However, keeping training records of the sets, resistance, and repetitions of exercises for each workout is one of the best muscular endurance assessment methods that each person can do for himself or herself. Most people find tracking their personal progress and independently assessing how these variables improve with consistent training over time very motivating.

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