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    Adding Variety to Home Strength Training Workouts

    By Cinder Ernst–

    In the last two columns we have looked at basic and advanced strength training principles and strategies. The implementation focus was on a gym workout. Today I will give you some examples of how to add variety to your home strengthening workouts.

    I teach my clients how to add focused strength training into small pieces of their day. Not everyone is cut out for going to the gym or doing a big or long workout. I believe strength is the key to living gracefully for a long time. Strength also helps to manage pain and to improve mobility. I have a bone on bone hip, and as I put off hip replacement, I keep myself as strong as possible.

    If you are doing a home strengthening program, a great way to add variety and intensity is to cut down on the amount of rest between exercises or sets. (A set is a group of repetitions of an exercise.) Let’s say that you are doing two or three sets of pushups with a 30 second rest. Instead of the rest, you could do a hands and knees balance pose in between. (You can Google “hands and knees balance pose” if you are unfamiliar with that exercise.)

    If a pushup on the floor is too much for you, try a modified version using the kitchen counter as a support. Put your hands shoulder width apart on the counter. Put your feet shoulder width apart also. Squeeze your butt and engage your abs by moving your navel toward your spine, then lower yourself toward the counter while squeezing your shoulder blades. Then push yourself back to the starting position. This is called a counter pushup! The holding of your core (butt and abs) we call the “surfboard.” If you want to do a combo with a counter pushup, you can march for 30 seconds in between. You might do 10 counter pushups followed by 30 seconds of marching, then repeat.

    Another good home strengthening combo is Get Ups and Swimmers. If getting up and down from a chair is pretty easy for you, try doing that 5 or 15 times (or more) until you feel a little warmth or out of breath. Then stay standing and do a set of Swimmers.

    Set up the Swimmer by standing with your feet shoulder width apart, lock your knees gently or squeeze your quads, squeeze your butt, and with navel toward your spine (like the surfboard), lift your rib cage. Standing like this is an exercise in itself. Next, bring your right arm up in the air as if you were raising your hand in class and really wanted the teacher to pick you. Then, as you lower your straight right arm back down to your side, lift the left in the same way at the same time. Your arms cross each other in front of your chest as they go to their next position. Keep your surfboard throughout. Repeat 10 or 15 times and then go right back to Get Ups. This combo will really get your blood flowing and will help to strengthen your legs, core and posture muscles.

    Cinder Ernst, Medical Exercise Specialist and Life Coach Extraordinaire, helps reluctant exercisers get moving with safe, effective and fun programs. Her book, “Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser” (, is available in paperback and E-book. She specializes in fitness and rehab for plus-size clients, but her stress-free approach is suitable for all. Find out more at