Regardless of whether you call it strength, resistance, or weight training, anybody can benefit from gaining muscle. A strong core and limbs can help you avoid falling or make lugging groceries up the stairs easier. Then there’s the added bonus of a leaner composition and weight loss if that’s your goal. Not sure how to go about gaining lean muscle? Here are 4 approaches to strength training that will help you build the muscle you desire.
Pumping iron isn’t the only way to get buff: A recent study shows that training with lighter loads and more repetitions is just as effective at building muscle as training with heavy weights and fewer reps. Just do the exercise until your muscles demand a break. That means you can squat with no added weights and get a similar result as doing weighted squats — simply go until you couldn’t possibly do one more.
Toss out rules about reps: If you prefer holding lunges in a yoga class rather than doing walking lunges around your apartment, you’ll still reap the strength benefits. Repeating a movement to fatigue is a great way to gain strength, but muscle contraction of any kind will produce powerful results, says one small study. Aim for a mix of isotonic and isometric exercises in your fitness regimen. If you’ve got achy joints, aim for more isometric exercises. Hold for 30 seconds to start with and work your way up to more time.
Bust the moves that give you the most bang: Whether doing reps or holding a static pose, compound exercises, which target multiple muscles or muscle groups, will make your efforts the most efficient. Think burpees, side-plank rotations, and mountain climbers. These exercises often get your heart rate going and give a dose of cardio, especially if you do them as part of a HIIT circuit.
Modify movements to suit your needs: Altering an exercise is all about meeting your body where it’s at right now. If your wrists aren’t pleased, drop to your forearms. Or if you aren’t ready for standard pushups, use a wall or a bench so you can do them at an incline. Over time, you may be able to work your way to the floor.