Strength, conditioning exercises to make your body stronger

Monday September 13 2021
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Lunges are a popular strength training exercise for those who want to tone their bodies. PHOTO/NET

By Joan Salmon

Regardless of whether you are an athlete or stay home mother, you need to have great or improved movement quality as well as prevent injuries as much as possible. That could be ease with which you get up or lift a grocery bag as well as walking without missing a step. 

That is why it is important to do strength and conditioning workouts. 

There are several exercises one can do in this combination and according to Walter Ocheng, an aerobics instructor these include flexibility, strength and resistance exercises

Flexibility exercises

They are exercises done to improve one’s flexibility and these include: 

Stretches

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These can be done while seated or while standing. Ocheng says these target all the body muscles. 

“They also do well to prepare the body to start vigorous activity. It is also great to do them after the workout,” he says. 

Planks

Brian Kasasa, a sports scientist says these are the best to stabilize a weak body because the core is where most strength is stored. “With a weak core, lifting yourself up, and carrying groceries or anything is impossible. As such, when doing these stability workouts tension throughout the body ought to be maintained hence the need to lift up the hips,” he advises.

When doing this exercise, Kasasa says, “Get into plank position (with your body supported by your forearms while the elbows are beneath the shoulders). While at it, keep the hips at the same level as the bums to maintain the tension within the body. Keep here for 30 seconds or more depending on your fitness levels. Thereafter get to your knees to ease the tension,” he explains. 

You can do this for 10 to 20 times depending on your fitness levels. 

The exercise will engage your core, glutes and entire upper body. If possible, he says try moving while maintaining the plank position or even and the trick of hoisting your body in that rather than be on your elbows, you are on straight arms. 

Other flexibility or stability workouts include sit–ups, and Russian twist

Strength exercises

This involves the use of weight which could be your own or that of dumbbells, and barbells.

Squats 

The move helps in strengthening one’s glute muscles and hips while developing the hamstrings and glutes. Kasasa says the work out is done as one stands with feet shoulder width apart, straight arms while the person looks forward. 

“Thereafter, bend your knees, pushing the hips and bottom back while the thighs are parallel to the ground to engage the core, quads and glute. The position is akin to one sitting. Keep that position for eight seconds then push back to the starting position (standing),” he explains. 

Do this for eight to 12 times.

Lunges

The workout is great for strengthening the lower body and will work your glutes, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings.

Ocheng says you will start standing tall with your arms at your waist. “Then with left foot, step forward until the knee bends to form a right angle while your right leg bends until it is parallel to the ground. While at it, the left knee should not go beyond your toes in order to avoid injury, Then lift your left leg and return to the position where your legs are apart (starting position),” he explains. 

Do this for eight to 12 times for each leg.

Other strength exercises are dead lifts, chin-ups, and push-ups

3. Resistance training

This involves the use weight machines with pilly system or working against a pulling force.

Leg press

Ocheng says the workout is when one uses the leg press machine. “You sit on the machine and place both legs on the board. Thereafter, adjust the weights to your ideal size then push the machine forward and back. Normally, three sets of ten are ideal,” he explains. 

The exercise will work all your legs muscles.

Using resistance bands

In instances where gym equipment is not available, one can work with resistance bands in strength training. 

“Step on the resistance band while holding the handles in both hands. With your elbows ‘glued’ to your body, lower your arms and then pull up the resistance band. Do this for as many times as possible to not only improve your grip but also improve your strength,” Kasasa shares.

Other resistance training exercises include leg extension, shoulder press, and leg extension.

Squat mistakes

Squats and lunges are at the heart of any full-body workout. These two exercises do quite a bit to activate your glutes and strengthen hips. In fact, squats and lunges can help eliminate knee pain when done properly. Here’s a look at how to properly do squats, split squats, and lunges.

Lunges, although a basic exercise, are often done incorrectly. Keep your lunge form in tip-top shape by avoiding these common mistakes.

Not stepping forward enough to create a true 90-degree bend

Don’t allow your back ankle to collapse and turn your toes out.

Don’t round your shoulders or lean forward

Keep your chin parallel to the floor, don’t let it jut out. If this happens, pretend there is a grapefruit under your chin for proper alignment.

Don’t bend your front knee without bending your back knee. Don’t let your front knee go past your front toes.

Keep your tailbone tucked under, don’t stick your butt out and avoid arching your lower back.

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