One of the facts I learned early on in my sports medicine education was that women lose muscle mass after the age of 30. I found that hard to believe and also, so scary. I always relied on having the strength to run forever, and to do whatever I needed without any help. Strength training is the key to increasing muscle strength and endurance in order to counteract age-related muscle loss.
Having strong muscles also helps with groceries, carrying kids, moving, carrying laundry — all those day-to-day chores that are required for daily living. Stronger muscles also help us run faster, climb farther, lift ourselves up better; and come on girls, great sex! There is something about having a strong body that enables us to tackle life’s challenging moments with some spice and confidence.
Strength training is like our 401K to vitality. If you are looking to lose weight, strength training is a must. You can work out all you want, but you won’t get the weight-loss pay off without good old strength training. Adding strength training twice a week is the recommended dose to reduce bone loss and prevent osteoporosis and muscular deterioration. We may not all be thinking about aging, but it will happen whether we think about it or not. Strength training will make the process of aging healthier and more enjoyable.
These three exercises outline work the chest, back, and hips/legs. They are part two in a series of ball exercises — the first part is focused on core training. All the exercises are ‘bodyweight’ exercises which means you don’t need any additional weight or equipment. The ball is there to challenge your balance and put a twist on exercises you may already be doing.
Push-ups work your chest, triceps, shoulders and core. Push-ups not only build your upper body but also strengthen your abs. Lunges work your legs and hips — the quadriceps and your gluteus maximus. Superman works all the muscles on the back side of the body including the glutes and the spinal erecta. If you do them all back to back, you will also get a cardiovascular workout, which is an added bonus.
Do each exercise ten times unless otherwise noted. Do one series of ten repetitions each, or for an even bigger challenge, try to cycle through the series two to three times.
- Push-ups with ball
Come on to your hands and knees with the ball under one hand. You can do this exercise on your knees or toes. The focus is to maintain a straight back as you would in a plank position — strong core, glutes engaged and strong legs. Hold the ball under one hand and move into a push-up position. Straighten your arms and then roll the ball to the opposite arm. Repeat. Do a total of ten push-ups.
- Lunges with reach
Stand tall with the ball between both hands. Step forward with your right foot about 3-4 feet and drop your back knee with control. Reach forward with the ball as if to place it on top of your right foot, maintain a strong back and engage the core. The weight should fall into your front hip and leg. Press your right heel down and push from your foot into your hip to straighten yourself back up. Repeat with the left leg. Do ten on EACH leg.
- Superman with the ball
Lie on your belly as if someone was going to measure you from fingertip to toe, with your arms above your head. Grab the ball between your arms. Keeping your feet on the ground, lift your arms and chest of the ground. Do a total of ten supermans. You can lift your legs as well if your back is good and your attention is in your core.