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Simple exercises to improve strength

January 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Our bodies are packed with ligaments, joints, tendons and muscles. If we just focus on a few key areas, there's a lot we can do in terms of strength and endurance. Here are a few moves that all of us should do.

For your backside, along with your thighs, try squats. The idea is to pretend like you are sitting back into a chair, then getting back up again. Feel the weight of your body in your heels, not your knees. SQUATS: For thighs and glutes

Also for the buns and thighs, along with calves, try stepping up and down on a bench that is up to 2 feet high. This will also elevate heart rate and increase blood flow to the muscles. Step-ups are a good way to start your exercise. STEP-UPS: For thighs, glutes and calves

Known as an upright row, raising weight up and into the upper body will strengthen upper back muscles. When the arms are chest level, the elbows should be parallel to the floor, then slowly lower weights back down. UPRIGHT ROW: For upper back -- trapezius muscles

Arms and shoulders appreciate a lateral raise. Taking weights about shoulder height, then back down again slowly with elbows slightly bent. LATERAL RAISE: For arms and shoulders

Chest, arms, shoulders and upper back are all affected by pushups. Novices might try a let-down on hands and knees, slowly lowering the body to the floor. Work up to pushups on hands and toes at a later date. PUSHUPS: For chest, arms shoulders, and upper back

The upper back part of the arm known as the triceps can be worked by extending a weight behind your body then returning the weight to the shoulder while the elbow remains up and back behind you. KICKBACKS: For the upper back part of your arm

Opposing bicep muscles will get a workout by curling a weight up to the shoulder while elbows hug the body at the waistline. CURLS: For the upper front part of your arm

Stomach muscles will strengthen with curl-downs or popular crunches on the floor. CRUNCHES: abdominals

With eight major muscle groups, try one exercise for each area, performing at least eight repetitions. Work up to two sets of eight once you get comfortable doing them.

The rule is the muscles need about 48 hours of rest so you don't have to work out every day. Most experts say just two to three times a week; about 20 to 30 minutes can get you what you need.


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