It can be difficult to notice your fitness progress by going off of what you see in the mirror. It can take months to notice a considerable change, which is why strength is a much better way to measure your progress.
Strength is the one area that has shown to be beneficial in pursuing nearly all health and fitness goals. Increases in strength lead to improvements in muscle mass, bone density, ligament strength, injury prevention, fat-burning, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and athleticism. Here are five of the best strength building movements you can perform.
The deadlift is a full body movement that utilizes nearly every muscle in your body. Done properly, deadlifts strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. They strengthen your upper back and posture, your abs, core, even your hands and forearm strength. It is vital that you prioritize form and gradual progression instead of weight. The trap bar deadlift and the rack pull are solid variations if you are a beginner or have mobility limitations.
Squats, like deadlifts, are a full body exercise, and because they use so many muscles they lead to the increased release of muscle-building hormones and faster fat loss. The squat works the entirety of your legs, as well as the strength and stability of your core and back. Box squats, low and high bar back squats, front squats, and wide-stance squats are all fantastic variations. Again, make sure to prioritize form.
Horizontal and Vertical Rows
The bent over row is a classic horizontal barbell row that vigorously trains all of the muscles of your upper back, your biceps, and your forearms. It is important to do upper body pulling exercises as much, if not more than you do upper body pushing exercises. This keeps your posture balanced and stable. There are also countless other rowing variations that exist such as the vertical lat pulldown, pull-ups single-arm dumbbell rows, seated cable rows, and many others.
The standing overhead press is the traditional form of vertical pressing and it trains the shoulders and triceps, as well the upper back and core in stabilization. It is important that the standing variations are done with the abs and glutes flexed. The bar should begin just underneath your chin and then travel to the center of your head with your arms extended. Overhead presses can also be done seated, as well as with dumbbells.
Typically the bench press is what comes to mind, but there are many ways of doing a bench press. They can be done with dumbbells or barbells. Dumbbells place less stress on the shoulders and wrists. They can also be done at different angles such as decline, incline, and flat. Horizontal presses predominantly train your pectoral muscles and triceps, but also your shoulders.