Want to get strong, but don’t have time for a gym? Strength training is key for increasing flexibility, reducing injury risk and maintaining an overall healthy body. The best part is that it doesn’t have to take long. Here we’ll teach you a simple nine-minute-long strength training program that you can complete in your own home. All you need is a set of dumbbells (or another type of weight), a clock and the goal of building a stronger body.
Spend 9 Minutes With Your Weights
How to Do It
The following nine moves are strength training exercises that you may have seen before. Alone, they each work a set group of muscles, but strung together in one-minute intervals, these nine exercises become a complete, whole-body workout.
We’ve broken down the nine exercises into three sets of three. Before you begin each set, set a timer (or workout near a watch with a second hand.) If you are just starting to work out, do each exercise as hard as you can for one minute, followed by the next, until you complete the first set. Then, take a one minute break before moving on to set two, in which the exercises should also be performed for one minute each.
Ultimately, you’ll complete the whole workout, having completed nine minutes of training with three minutes of break in between.
Do this workout two to three times a week for maximum benefits.
How Heavy Should My Weights Be?
Weighted workouts can be done with many types of weights, including medicine balls, sandbags and dumbbells. For the purposes of this workout, try to find dumbbells that have either a square or hexagonal end that is rubberized. This shape allows for maximum stability while performing the exercises we’ll be doing.
If you’re just starting out, a five-pound weight should do it. As you get stronger, increase the weight you use.
How do I know if my weights are heavy enough? Check your form. This workout involves many repetitions of the same exercise and you will know you are using the correct weight if your form stays consistent between the first part of a repetition set and the end. For example, a row from plank should look the same on repetition number 10 as it does in repetition number two, even if the effort is much greater. If your form is wobbly by the end, drop down the weight amount until you’re able to find consistency. Don’t forget that working with weights is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Your body also provides resistance. Try our 9-Minute Strength Workout for a weight-free option.
Ready to give it a try? Grab a set of dumbbells, lace up your sneakers and let’s do it.
Set 1: Rows From Plank, Dumbbell Step-up and Upright Dumbbell Row
For beginners: Do each of the exercises in this set for one minute each, not stopping between exercises.
Rows From Plank
Planks work your core and glutes, but by adding a simple row to a plank, you add toning for your arms and back.
Be careful: Plank pose can be hard on your wrists.
Modify it: Place your knees on the floor as you do plank to reduce the weight resting on your wrists.
How to Do Rows From Plank
The exercise turns a simple plank into an upper body workout as well.
Find a sturdy bench or step for this exercise, which will help tone your legs and lower back. It’s especially good for people with lower back problems.
Modify It: If you find this exercise too challenging, try it without the weights first.
Challenge Yourself: Challenge yourself by choosing a taller bench or step to do the exercise with.
How to Do a Dumbbell Step-Up
Tone your legs and lower back with this simple exercise.
Upright Dumbbell Row
This exercise works the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. Try it with dumbbells, kettlebells or even with two cans from your pantry.
Be careful: Don’t try to lift weights that are too heavy. Heavy weights increase your risk for shoulder and back injuries.
Modify it: If you are doing this exercise at the gym, try using a lightweight barbell.
How to Do an Upright Dumbbell Row
Work your upper back and shoulders with this simple exercise.
Set 2: Dumbbell Offset Reverse Lunge, Hammer Curl and Dumbbell Squat
Take a one minute break after the first set of exercises. Now you’re ready for set No. 2. Like in set No. 1, perform each exercise for one minute and then move onto the next for a total of three minutes of exercise.
Dumbbell Offset Reverse Lunge
This is a great exercise to work your legs and core. It also builds shoulder strength and improves balance.
Be careful: When doing the lunge, make sure your knee doesn’t bend and move past your toe.
How to Do a Dumbbell Offset Reverse Lunge
Improve your balance and build strength in your legs and core with this exercise.
Pushup-Position Hammer Curl
Looking for toned arms? Look no further. This exercise works your arms and core at the same time.
Be careful: As you progress, increase the amount of weight you hold in each hand, but don’t speed up your pace.
Modify it: If this is too challenging to do in a full push up position, try dropping your knees to the floor. That will reduce the weight resting on your upper body.
How to Do a Pushup-Position Hammer Curl
Work your core and arms in one exercise.
Dumbbell Squat to Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist
By twisting as you complete this exercise, your shoulder muscles can be targeted from various angles. This exercise also tones your triceps.
Be careful: Keep your core tight and back upright throughout this exercise.
How to Do a Dumbbell Squat to Alternating Shoulder Press and Twist
Build strong, toned shoulders with this exercise.
Set 3: Low Side-to-Side Lunge, Dumbbell Russian Twist and the Person Maker
Good news! You’re almost done. Take a one-minute break after the second set. Then start the third set, again performing each exercise for one minute each.
Low Side-To-Side Lunge
Build strength and flexibility in your hips and legs with this exercise. It can also improve balance.
Be careful: Be sure to push your hips back as you lower down and engage your core to keep your upper body vertical.
Modify it: Find this exercise too challenging with a weight? Leave it on the ground for this exercise.
How to Do a Low Side-to-Side Lunge
Improve your balance with this exercise.
Dumbbell Russian Twist
Much of your strength comes from your core. This exercise will strengthen all sides of it.
Modify it: Feel free to do this exercise without holding a weight if it’s too challenging.
Challenge yourself: Once your core is strong enough, try to complete this exercise by holding your legs higher off the floor.
How to Do a Dumbbell Russian Twist
Strengthen your abs and core in one smooth motion.
The Person Maker
You may know this exercise as the “man maker,” but both women and men can benefit from this all-in-one exercise. By combining a push up with a barbell press, you will work every major muscle group in your body and get your heart pumping.
Be careful: Move slowly at first through this exercise. It takes a bit of coordination. Speed up as you get comfortable with it.
How to Do the Person Maker
Sometimes known as the man maker, this exercise works every major muscle group in your body.
Want a Complete Workout With Cardio?
Add some cardiovascular exercise before your strength training for a complete exercise routine.
Add a Warm-Up
If you want to turn this strength training workout into a full-body workout, begin with three minutes each of the following exercises for an additional nine minutes of cardiovascular exercise. They will add a dose of heart-pumping cardio into your routine, and get your body ready for the weight-bearing exercises.
You are most likely already familiar with these foundational exercises, and for good reason: They are great for a boost of heart-pounding, lung-expanding cardiovascular exercise. Best of all, you can do them all in a pretty small space.
After you cycle through these three exercises, take a one-minute rest before moving on to the strength training workout.
Be careful: If you have knee or ankle pain, focus on your form, not your speed. Always try to land on the front of your foot, with your knees bent, to be sure that your muscles, and not your joints, are bearing the brunt of these exercises.
Modify it: Well-cushioned sneakers can also help alleviate the strain of jumping jacks on your joints.
How to Do a Jumping Jack
A basic, cardiovascular exercise that can be done in limited space.
How to Do Pogo Hops
A controlled, modified jump for cardiovascular health.
More On Strength Training
How to Progress
This workout can be adapted to your changing fitness level.
The best part of the 9-Minute Strength Training Workout is that as you improve, you don’t need to start a whole new exercise routine to keep challenging yourself. You will, however, have to add more time to your workout to keep building your strength and cardiovascular health.
The Intermediate and Advanced Workout
Once the 9-Minute Muscle-Building Workout starts to feel a little bit easy, start to increase the amount of time you do each exercise. Keep resting one minute between each set and you can tack on a 20- to 30-minute cardio warm up as well.
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Why This Workout Works
There’s a science behind this exercise routine.
This workout combines interval training, which has been scientifically proven to be most efficient in improving your health, with weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your muscles. The result? A full-body workout that will strengthen your heart, lungs and muscles without a trip to the gym or a single piece of equipment.
It’s based on the principles of high intensity interval training — known as H.I.I.T. — which uses short bursts of strenuous exercise to make a big impact on the body. If moderate exercise — like a 20-minute jog — is good for your heart, lungs and metabolism, H.I.I.T. packs the benefits of that workout and more into a few minutes. It may sound too good to be true, but learning this exercise technique and adapting it to your life can mean saving hours at the gym.
More on Interval Training
Even if your schedule is filled from sunrise to nightfall, there’s always time for strength training.
What You Need
You most likely already have all you need for this workout in your closet.
Shoes: A pair of comfortable sneakers will do. In a pinch, you can also do this workout barefoot on a non-slippery surface.
Timer: You can use a stopwatch, the timer on your phone, or a clock with a secondhand to time yourself.
Clothes: Keep your clothes loose and breathable.
Space: Any 6-foot by 3-foot area will do.
Weights: Two small barbells is probably the most useful thing to have. You can also use kettlebells for this workout. Or, go to your pantry and grab some easy-to-hold cans or bottles – they work in a pinch, too.
The Best Kettlebells
Metrixx Elite Precision E-Coat Cast Iron Bell
An ideal kettlebell
A slightly wider handle and super smooth finish make this an exceptionally comfortable bell to use.
Get a Boost From Music
Creating a workout playlist of high-energy tunes you love will not make your workout feel easier, but it may cause you to exercise harder without even realizing it.Best of all, you need only one or two great tunes to get you through this workout. If you are willing to try something a bit different, make your own music as you exercise. Sing, hum, clap your hands, whatever you can do to jam along to your playlist. It may give you an extra boost to finish strong.
Sound Like a Pro
Functional strength: Exercises designed to strengthen multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Instead of a single muscle exercise, such as as bicep curl, functional strength exercises, such as a push up, strengthen all of the muscles in the shoulder simultaneously. When you move normally, muscles work together, so it just makes more logical sense to exercise them together as well.
Isometric strengthening: Muscle strengthening exercises in which the muscle length does not change, such as a plank.
Isokinetic strengthening: Muscle strengthening exercises that involve muscle lengthening and shortening, such as lunges and squats.
Plyometric strengthening: This is the most effective means of muscle strengthening. It involves rapid muscle elongation and contraction cycles, such as adding a jump to a squat to make it into a plyometric jump squat.
High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T): An exercise method that includes a series of short bursts of intense exercise. Increasingly, the benefits of H.I.I.T. are being recognized as equal to or sometimes even more effective than longer bouts of exercise.
The article was published in nytimes.com.