Exercising using weights can be a fun and time-saving way to get an effective full-body workout, especially when your routine targets all your muscles.
Ideally, your weight-training program should involve at least one exercise for each of the four major muscle areas:
- Mid-body (abdominals and low back).
Working out Your Back Muscles
The muscles of the back and the biceps (front of the upper arms) are pulling muscles. You will also be using the rear and sides of your shoulder muscles, and in some exercises you will also use your low-back muscles.
Common exercises for the muscles of the back are lat pulldowns or any rowing exercise.
Working out Your Chest Muscles
The chest muscles and triceps (back of the upper arms) are pushing muscles. When you exercise the chest you are also working the front and sides of your shoulders.
Typical exercises for the chest area are the bench press or the push up.
Working out Your Leg Muscles
The legs (your entire hip and thigh area, including your buttocks and hamstrings) are stressed by doing leg presses, squats, lunges or bench stepping. To a minor extent, you will also be working your calves and lower back.
Working out the Mid-body
The mid-body or "core" is affected by doing abdominal (ab) exercises like crunches (you will also be strengthening the abs in stabilizing yourself during any of the aforementioned exercises). Lower back muscles are strengthened with prone leg/arm lifts or the "bridge."
Round out Your Workout
Do an aerobic activity (like using the treadmill) for at least 15 minutes before or after you hit the weights. If you’re new to weight training, be sure to consult a qualified personal trainer for advice on how to fit these components into your workout and how to do the exercises correctly. Your entire workout should take 30 to 45 minutes. Try following it at least two to three times a week. You’ll be amazed by the results.
Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.