Although hitting the gym and pumping iron can build chiselled, sculpted muscle and power, but how to build strength along with a lean physique can also be done without the use of weights. A series of exercises using no, or very simple, equipment, can be undertaken in the home which can make a real difference when it comes to improving strength.
A very well-known way of building strength in the upper arms and shoulders is the push-up, also known as the press-up in the UK. This exercise, which works to develop the triceps in particular, is one which most people first undertook during school Physical Education lessons. It is still a great exercise which has the flexibility to be included in fitness regimes in a number of different ways.
The first step is to lie flat on the floor with the arms at the side of the body. Then move the arms so that the palms are resting on the floor and the body can be lifted. Using the toes to left the legs, keep the back in line with shoulders and tighten the torso to support the abdomen. Lift the body until the arms are full extended, steadily and slowly, then lower them again so that the chin is an inch or so from the ground. Repeat as many times as is necessary.
One exercise which works really well when it comes to building core stability and strength is ‘the plank’. A real tester, top rugby players can often hold the stance it entails for some six minutes.
Beginners should be looking to achieve a much lesser time than that to start with though. Begin the exercise by lying flat on the floor, on the front of the body. Then raise the body so that it is supported on the forearms and the toes. Hold this pose for as long as is possible, repeating as many times as is appropriate. The length of time for which the pose is held should start very low and be built up gradually, as this is a testing exercise for people who are out of shape.
One very simple piece of equipment which can be used at home to work on strength is the resistance band. This long band of rubber, which comes in a variety of thicknesses and levels of robustness, can be used in lieu of weights. Although expert advice should be obtained before using any kind of equipment, resistance bands are very simple to use and are available from sports and fitness retailers, where advice can also be obtained on how to use them.
For those fitness enthusiasts who have little space, or who do not want to use expensive equipment, knowing how to build strength with some simple exercises at home can provide a real bonus. Greater upper body strength almost always improves overall performance levels, at almost every level of sporting participation.