If you're planning to start a strength-training program, you're taking a positive step toward good health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends strength training at least twice a week for all adults, to help you maintain muscle tone and bone health. If you're just getting started, you'll want to ease into the routine by selecting a light weight -- such as a 1-pound dumbbell or strap-on ankle weight. With simple pieces of equipment, you'll have the opportunity to do a number of strength-training exercises, including bicep curls, tricep extensions, knee raises and leg lifts. After using 1-pound weights for a few weeks, you may be ready to move on to a heavier weight that will provide a more intense workout.
Perform bicep curls by grasping a 1-pound dumbbell in each hand, and allowing your arms to rest at your sides, with your palms facing forward. Inhale deeply, and then on the exhale, bend your elbows and raise the dumbbells so that your palms face inward and your dumbbells nearly touch your shoulders. Inhale again as you lower your arms back to the starting position. That is one repetition.
Perform tricep extensions by grasping a single 1-pound dumbbell behind your head, with one hand on each end of the dumbbell. In the starting position, your hands are slightly behind your ears and your elbows are pointed upward. Inhale deeply, and then on the exhale, straighten your arms to raise the dumbbell above your head. Then slowly and deliberately lower your arms back to the starting position.
Perform knee raises on a weight bench to work your abdominal muscles. Strap a 1-pound ankle weight around each ankle, and then lie on the weight bench, face-up. Grasp the top of the weight bench above your head, and straighten your legs so that your entire body is in one straight line. Inhale deeply, and then exhale as you bend your knees toward your chest. Inhale again as you straighten your legs back to the starting position.
Perform leg lifts to work your hip flexors. Strap a 1-pound ankle weight around each ankle, and then lie on one side with your lower arm bent, hand supporting your head. Inhale deeply, and then exhale as you lift the upper leg up to a 45-degree angle. Inhale as you lower your leg back down. When you've completed a set, lie on the opposite side to work the opposite leg.
- Do two sets of each exercise, two times a week. Give yourself at least a day of rest in between workouts of the same muscle group. Some people choose to alternate their workouts so that they're working legs one day, and then arms the next day. As you get comfortable with the weight, think about increasing the weight to a 3-pound or 5-pound weight after several weeks. You'll know you're at an appropriate amount of weight when the last repetition of each set is difficult to complete.
- You can also wear 1-pound weights during a walk or jog, to increase the intensity of your cardiovascular workout.