No matter your age or athletic ability, strength training is the key to flexibility, mobility, improved performance and lower injury risk. Anyone, at any fitness level, can and should strength train. And it doesn’t have to take hours at the gym to see results. We’ll teach you the basics of strength training in the comfort of your own home. It’ll take only nine minutes of exertion to complete a full-body strength-building workout. Grab a towel and get ready to feel strong.
9 Minutes for Strength Training
The following nine moves are strength training exercises that you may have seen before. Alone, they 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 work out 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 onto set 2, 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 two minutes of breaks in between.
Do this workout two to three times a week for maximum benefits.
Ready to give it a try? Lace up your sneakers and let’s do it.
Set 1: Bodyweight Squat, Push-Ups and Mountain Climbers
Do each of the exercises in this set for one minute each, not stopping between exercises.
You squat every time you sit or stand, but don’t take this exercise for granted. It works your legs and your glutes, the most powerful muscle group in the body.
Be careful: Done incorrectly, squats can be hard on your knees. As you squat, keep your butt pushed out, like you are about to sit on a chair. Use the muscles in your hips and thighs to push yourself up; don’t press your knees forward as you move. If you’re doing it correctly, your knees will move only during the first half of the squat; your hips will finish the movement.
Challenge yourself: You can add some plyometric motion to a squat by jumping from the lowest position back into your starting stance.
There’s a reason push-ups are a go-to exercise for body builders. They effectively work the muscles in your shoulders and chest.
Modify it: If standard push-ups are too challenging, try them with your knees on the floor. That will reduce the amount of weight you need to lift.
Challenge yourself: If basic push-ups are too easy, place your feet on a step or block to increase the intensity.
This exercise mimics the motion climbers make as they climb steep peaks, except it’s done on the soft, flat surface of your floor. Mountain climbers are total body workouts, building strength in your core, back, arms and legs — not to mention your heart.
Modify it: If this exercise puts too much strain on your wrists, try elevating your upper body by placing your hands on a step to reduce the weight being placed on your arms.
Set 2: Plank, Bodyweight Split Squat and Single-Leg Hip Raise
Take a one-minute break after the first set of exercises. Now you’re ready for set two.
A commonly seen exercise, plank helps build strength in the core, shoulders, arms and legs. Plank tones your abs and builds strength in your upper body. Additionally, planks strengthen both the abdominal and low back muscles simultaneously and can have a beneficial effect for people with low back pain.
Be careful: Plank pose can be hard on your wrists, which is why we suggest doing a plank on your forearm.
Modify it: Place your knees on the floor as you do plank to reduce the weight resting on your forearms.
Bodyweight Split Squat
This variation on a squat really targets (the quadricep and hamstring muscles in your legs as well as the glutes. Jumping into your starting position from the lowest point in your squat also adds a plyometric boost.
Be careful: If balance is an issue, you can do this exercise close to a wall, resting your hand on it for support.
Modify it: Omit the plyometric jump if you find this exercise too hard on your knees.
Challenge yourself: Jump higher to really get your heart pumping and build more strength.
Single-Leg Hip Raise
This exercise is adapted from yoga and targets the muscles in your glutes and abs.
Be careful: Keep your foot firmly planted on the floor as you do this exercise.
Challenge yourself: Place your stable foot on a step or bench as you do this exercise to allow you to raise your hips even higher..
Set 3: Burpee With Push-Up, Single-Leg Toe Touches and Leg Raises
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.
Burpee With Push-Up
Fun to say, but also great for your body, this total body exercise will get your heart pumping fast, but don’t sacrifice form for speed. Keep your body in control as you move through the exercise.
Be careful: If you do burpees too quickly, you will soon be gasping for breath. Try to pace yourself and your breathing. Take an in breath before you squat and breathe out during the push-up.
Modify it: Add leg modifications to make this more difficult. Leg modifications can include putting the right leg into a 3 o’clock position and then bringing it back to center, then bringing the left leg to a 9 o’clock position and then bringing it back to center, and then doing a push-up. We call this the 3 o’clock 9 o’clock burpee.
Challenge yourself: To move faster through your burpees, start stretching your legs back before your hands hit the ground. Also don’t arch your back as you move, to allow your legs full range of motion.
Single-Leg Toe Touches
This exercise is a great way to tone your lower body. It helps to improve balance, while also targeting your hamstrings.
Be careful: If you have balance issues, do this exercise near a wall that you can hang onto for support if you need to.
Challenge Yourself: To make this more difficult, put a little hop in your planted leg when you stand up. This turns this exercise from isokinetic to plyometric and increases the degree of difficulty.
Build your core strength without getting off the floor. The legs down exercise is great for lower back pain, but be sure move your legs in a controlled manner throughout the exercise.
Be careful: As you raise your legs, press your lower back into the floor and engage your ab muscles. This will ensure that your core is doing most of the work, not your hips.