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MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,443
3/17/14 8:33 P

Just to reconcile some of the conflicting advice on this thread. Generally speaking, the more challenging strength training is, the better, and Coach Jen's advice to aim at something challenging enough to fatigue your muscles in 8-12 reps is sound.

However, when starting out, going a little easier and 15-20 reps is a good idea, as it allows you to concentrate on mastering the correct form.

The first way to increase the challenge is to ensure you do each rep in a slow and controlled manner (this is part of good form anyway) - typically 3 seconds for the 'up' movement, and another 3 seconds for the 'down'. This ensures that it is your muscles doing all the work, not just 'bounce' and momentum, and is more challenging than doing each rep quickly. Holding the 'up' position in a crunch for an additional 3 seconds makes things VERY challenging.

You can increase the challenge of squats by going deeper - aim to get your thighs at least parallel to the floor.

Doing something like rows with a band will work a different set of upper body muscles than triceps extensions, which are really just a repeat of pushups anyway.


LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
3/17/14 3:15 P

A book you might want to check out is "Body by You" by Mark Lauren. It's all about body weight strength training so you don't need any equipment other than your skin suit! He progresses from beginner to uber-advanced in a very user friendly way.

ROSEBOMB Posts: 345
3/17/14 2:39 P

Thanks Coach Jen!

CJGODESS101 SparkPoints: (30,781)
Fitness Minutes: (9,224)
Posts: 611
3/17/14 1:12 P

For strength training you will typically want to start with 3 sets of 15-20 reps. If you are on your 3rd set and have easily done 20 reps, then its time to move up. Your 3rd set at 15 reps should be the hardest you work. Remember to keep good form, its better to do less reps with good form than tons of reps with bad form. As the bands and ball get easier, you may want to look into getting adjustable dumbbells or signing up for a gym membership that has a good weight section.

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (194,323)
Fitness Minutes: (189,537)
Posts: 15,820
3/17/14 1:12 P

you already are ready to move to more difficult versions of the exercises, since you can do 15-20 reps. Different rep ranges have different purposes but generally anything more than 15 reps increases muscle endurance but not much more of anything else.

fortunately, most of the exercises (with the exception of the crunches and tricep extensions, which are unnecessary, since you already hit your triceps doing pushups) can be progressed to almost infinite levels of difficulty.

If you can do full pushups on the floor, you can do decline pushups, 1 arm pushups, plyo pushups or handstand pushups.

Squats - move to more difficult prisoner squats, or use the band for resistance. a really advanced bodyweight version would be pistol squats.

Do planks instead of crunches.

Use your band to do some rows for your back.

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 65,573
3/17/14 1:08 P

The general recommendation is 1-3 sets of each exercise, with 8-12 repetitions per set. The last rep you do in the set should be the last one you can do with proper form. If you can easily keep going, the weight is too light. If you can only do a few reps before you start sacrificing form, the weight is too heavy.

If you're looking for workout ideas, check out the Workout Generator, which will create a program based on your needs and equipment available:

Hope that helps,

Coach Jen

ROSEBOMB Posts: 345
3/17/14 1:01 P

I've been doing cardio for several weeks now (between Sparkpeople videos and Fitness Blender) and I decided to add in some strength exercises. I have bands and a ball but no other equipment, so what I've started doing is alternating days: one day I do pushups and tricep extensions with the band and the other day I do wall squats and crunches (both with the ball). I do 1 set of 15-20 reps and I do these first thing in the morning. What I'm wondering is: at when do you know you're ready to move on to more challenging strength training? I realize these exercises are very very beginner-level and at some point I'll need to move on to doing more reps or getting stronger bands ... just not sure how to tell when my body is ready to do that.

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