Strength Training Beginners Guide: How to Make the Workout a Habit


“Our culture really pushes this narrative of ‘you can do it if you really want to,’” she said. “This is very oversimplifying.” Life happens. Research suggests the true path to longevity and consistency in any activity are “enjoying it and feeling accomplished,” she added. This becomes easier when we celebrate our progress, no matter how incremental, and find our way back when we stray off course.

If the desire to spend time on your couch feels overpowering, make your couch work for you: Use it as a piece of equipment to facilitate your workout.

With a couch, you can do sit-to-stand exercises, said Dr. Brady. You can turn around and do push-ups or planks.

And if you want to watch TV during your couch work, choose programs with commercials and try the “commercial challenge,” Ms. Winfrey-Kovell suggests. During these breaks, do leg marches or leg lifts, or keep hand weights next to you and lift until the program returns. Just make sure you can maintain good posture and form.

“We don’t want to exercise with our back in a shrimp position,” she said. But “if the hips are in the proper position, the spine is in alignment, the shoulders are back, and your feet can touch the ground,” there’s a lot you can do on a couch.

Ready to get started? Dr. Brady recommends beginning with this basic strength-building routine. The only equipment you’ll need is your own body and a set of resistance bands, which you can purchase for under $20 online. (See Wirecutter’s list of the best options.)

Complete each exercise, in order, 10 to 15 times, then go back and do it again for a second set. The exercises alternate muscle groups, and should be performed with a moderate level of intensity — whatever that feels like for you.

1. Push-ups (or modified push-ups)

2. Squats

3. Seated rows with resistance band

4. Glute bridges

5. Overhead presses with resistance band

6. Bird dogs

7. Pulldowns with resistance band

Danielle Friedman is a journalist in New York City and author of “Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World.”

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