For general health, training for strength is one of the easiest ways to reach activity goals, improve your overall quality of life by your becoming able to do more in and out of the gym. The best way to get stronger, is to progressively load your movements with higher loads. In this post, I'll cover some of the basics for the main exercises that should make up your training.
Strength is the ability to produce force. Looking at our body, it's largely our muscles (in cahoots with our skeletal, neural systems to name a few) that are producing this force from our body. Now, with an understanding of anatomy and physiology to know how muscles work and how the rest of our body has to move and work together to do anything, we can see we also need to add some additional constraints to our process of pursuing these gains:
1) Use the Most Muscle Mass
2) with the Greatest Effective Range of Motion
3) to Lift the Most Weight Possible with Good Form
Starting with these 3 criteria for what our exercises should do, we can determine that just a few exercises easily top the list by this criteria:
This lift is performed best with a rack of some sort to hold the barbell. Face the barbell and place both hands atop the bar just outside of the width of your shoulders. Duck your head under the bar and come up the other side, placing the bar just below the spine of your scapula. Take a deep breath and stretch your chest wide and proud and unrack the bar and step back from the rack.
Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and 45° and you should stand as straight (no bent knees or hips) with the bar balanced on your back. Keep a deep breath into your belly, tighten your abs, and keep your back extended as your bend your knees and hips. Your knees should follow in line with your toes, your butt should be back and your back should still be straight. When you hit the bottom, your hamstrings should still be tight as the crease of your hip reaches below the height of your knees. The weight of the bar should be balanced over the middle of your feet that are fully planted on the ground. Stand back up, focusing on the vertical ascent of your hips and buttocks before making your back fully vertical again.
The Bench Press
These lifts all incorporate the full body when trained optimally and the movements are all based around the largest and most used joints in the body: Shoulders, Hips, and Knees. Being that these lifts are loaded versions of normal movement, they also have unloaded variants that work as great stretches and progression to build yourself up to heavier loads.
Them's the basics. I recommend that you attend the Weekly Intro to Barbell Training Class held at Anytime Fitness Cordova every Monday at 6:15pm for your best results.