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Spotlight on Strength Training: 3 Easy Moves to Try at Home

When it comes to exercise for weight loss, cardio training is the typical go-to activity—after all, it’s well known to raise the heart rate, improve circulation and stimulate calorie burn. Yet strength training is also key to building a healthier (and slimmer) body overall. Why? As an “active” tissue, muscle burns fat at a higher rate than the body’s other tissues, so building strength throughout your frame will help you to gradually build a more ”revved up” metabolism. In fact, strength training can boost your metabolic rate by up to 15%, which can be extremely helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.

And if that’s not enough to get you into the weight room, studies have also shown strength training to reduce arthritis pain, restore balance, reduce bone loss, and support a healthy heart. Not sure where to start? Strength training doesn’t have to involve a personal trainer—and you don’t have to use heavy weights, or even join a gym. Here are three beginner-level, strength-building exercises you can do without equipment, in the privacy of your own home… spandex not required.

1) Wall Push-Ups. Unlike traditional gym-class push-ups, in which you’re required to lift your entire body weight, wall push-ups distribute your weight between two opposing surfaces (the floor and the wall), reducing the strain on your upper body. Find a space in your home with three feet of clear space on the floor next to a wall. Stand about six inches longer than arm’s length away from the wall, and place your hands on the wall at chest height and shoulder width. Keep your feet planted and your spine straight as you bend your elbows, lowering your torso toward the wall, to a count of four. Push yourself back up to a count of two. Repeat 10 times and rest for one minutes before doing a second set of 10. To increase intensity, move farther back. If wall push-ups start to become too easy, move to knee push-ups on the floor—and keep up the great work!

2) Hip Abductors. This easy-yet-intense exercise targets the hips, thighs and glutes, which not only makes for a more toned lower body, it supports healthy hip joints, which are increasingly vulnerable as we age. Stand behind a sturdy chair, holding onto the seat back for balance. Point your toes forward and activate the legs—they should be firm, but not locked. Lift your right leg out to the side, hold for two seconds, and lower to a count of four. Do 10 reps on the right side, then 10 on the left; rest one minute, then repeat. Getting too easy? You can always add a light resistance band.

3) Reverse Lunges. By reversing your lunge, you can target your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and abs without putting extra strain on your knees. Start by standing with your feet together on a non-slip surface, with about four feet of space around you. With your hands on your hips, and your spine straight, step back 2–3 feet with your right leg. Lower down for a count of four until both legs are bent at about 45 to 90 degrees. Tighten your core as you step back in. Repeat with your left foot and do two sets of 10 reps. Got this one mastered? Keep your arms by your side and add five-pound hand weights to add extra resistance.