What Type of Exercise Is the Best Way to Improve Muscle Strength?

Curling with dumbbells increases biceps strength.

Curling with dumbbells increases biceps strength.

Long for strong muscles? Resistance training is your answer. There are many types of resistance training, but all have one thing in common -- they build lean muscle mass. What's more, over time you will enjoy stronger bones, a higher metabolism and better glucose management. By strength training, you can even fend off some illnesses as you grow older. Using those muscles helps prevent arthritis, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. You may also ease depression and get a better night's sleep.

Body-Weight Exercises

You might associate weights with strength training, but you don't need any equipment to pump up those muscles. Body-weight exercises use your own weight as resistance. Try squats, lunges, crunches, situps, step-ups, supermans and pushups. If you can't do a traditional pushup, set your weight on your knees or use a desk instead of the floor. All of these exercises will not only strengthen muscles, but will also help with balance and movement. The best part? You can do them at home for free.

Added Resistance

For even more muscle-ripping action, add resistance. Weights are an excellent way to do this. Use dumbbells at home, holding one in each hand to perform squats, curls and presses. At the gym, use bar weights for deadlifts and weight machines for leg presses, lat pull-downs, seated oblique twists and more. If weights aren't your thing, try a resistance band. This lightweight device can help you work all muscle groups with moves like leg abductions, lateral raises and reverse crunches.

Aerobic Training

Aerobic exercise may not build brawn like resistance training, but it does make you stronger and increases endurance as well as cardiovascular health. Keeping with guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aim for a minimum of 2 1/2 hours per week of moderate cardio such as brisk walking or mowing the lawn. To save time, perform intense activities such as running or cycling uphill; you can get by with just an hour and 15 minutes a week of these activities.

Precautions

Keep your gorgeous posture by working all major muscle groups. Skipping areas leads to imbalance. Never work the same muscles two days in a row; they need at least 24 hours to recover. Start your routine slowly, beginning with low weights and just one set of 12 repetitions. Your muscles should feel worn out by the 12th rep; when it feels easy, bump up the weight slightly. Always follow the correct form for each exercise, and stop immediately at the first sign of pain.

 

About the Author

Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.

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