The videos on this page explore the science behind what makes strength training an essential part of any fitness routine and how to use proper form and technique in a range of exercises to grow stronger and get healthier.
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“Most exercise programs and activities do not create the kinds of muscular demands needed to stimulate muscular strength adaptations, which is incredibly important as we age and lose muscle mass and bone density,” says Dr. Kevin McQuade, associate professor in UW’s Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and director of the Human Motion Analysis Research Lab.
“To see impactful results, one needs to stress muscles very close to their limits—about 75-85% of their maximum capacity—in order to create physiological stimuli for muscle adaptation.”
Dr. McQuade recommends two days a week of actual muscular strength training (weight lifting) at effort levels where there is a real challenge: “For example, in order to strength train muscles, try lifting a weight heavy enough that you can barely complete 8-10 reps of a complete movement.”
In the following video of The Whole U Speaker Series lecture, “Aging into Strength,” Dr. McQuade defines the requirements for “real” strengthening and outlines why deliberate muscular strength training is an important part of an overall fitness program. Read more from Kevin about strength training in this followup article on how to build a balanced workout.
In the following series of videos, UW Athletics assistant strength and conditioning coach Chris Dresher shares tips and techniques for incorporating more strength training into your fitness regimen. Chris joined the UW Olympic Strength & Conditioning staff in October 2017 and is responsible for the Women’s Basketball and Gymnastics strength and conditioning programs.
Chris is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) through the Collegiate Strength & Conditioning Coaches Association, and is CPR/AED certified.
“The big thing with the deadlift is you want whole-foot contact, nice tight back, nice straight arms,” Dresher says. “You’re going to stand straight up, trying to break your knees and hips at the same time; breaking the knees and the hips at the same time on the way down as well.”
“With this, you’re going to take a big step forward (for back lunge, take a step backward), trying to get a 90-degree angle in your hips and 90-degree angles in your knees—allowing your knee to move forward as well (but not over the toe), bending at the ankle.”
“With the bench press: take a seat. Find contact points—feet down, shoulders down. Back flat on the bench, feet on the floor, back nice and tight to the bench. Hands just about shoulder-width apart. Bring the bar down to mid-chest, elbows in. Drive straight back overhead.”
“Seated, start with dumbbells right next to your ears, arms back. Drive straight up overhead all the way extended. Biceps should be close to your ears. On the way down go down as low as you are comfortable, just about chin level. Abs nice and tight. Try not to lean back too much.”
“Starting straight down, chest is up, back is tight. Bring your elbows toward the ceiling as high as you can comfortably go and back to the starting position. Everything else stays nice and still. Abs are tight. You are trying to keep your shoulders nice and relaxed.”
“Hands just outside your hips. Knees about 90-degrees, hips at 90-degrees. Pressing down so your shoulders aren’t up to your ears; keep those shoulders pushed in to the bench. Just break at the elbow, go down as low as you can comfortably go, and drive back to that starting position.”
“Go about shoulder-width apart, just like with the bench press. Feet out nice and straight for the higher intensity version. Pull your chest to the bar. Return back to starting position. For lower intensity, bring your feet back, flat, hips up. Elbows stay in tight to your body.”
“Hands about shoulder-width apart. Back nice and tight when you approach the bar. Find the meaty part of your traps when you lift the bar up. Take two steps back. Feet about shoulder-width apart. Break at the knees and the hips. Squat as low as you can comfortably go. Drive to the top.”
If you don’t have access to free weights at the gym or at home, don’t sweat it. Here are some more tutorials for strength training at home and on-the-go. Grab an elastic fitness band and check in with The Whole U’s own
Lauren Updyke who demonstrates techniques for fitness band exercises that work many of the same muscles as in the demos above. Register for an exercise band handout for workouts you can do almost anywhere, then view our series of exercise band workouts!
“Grab midway on each end. Take a deep breath in and raise [the band] over your head. Take two steps back. Feet about shoulder-width apart. Break at the knees and the hips. Squat as low as you can comfortably go. Drive to the top.”
“Grab the band a quarter of the way or even half of the way if you’re feeling strong. You’re going to put it just below your hip, bend your knees slightly, point your toes out. Attach your other hand on top and bend down into a squat and reach over your shoulder. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.”
“Have a seat and put the exercise band at the balls of your feet. Keep your back straight and you’re going to squeeze your shoulder blades together as you row back. Make sure you squeeze your shoulder blades and keep your elbows in line with your body. Do 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps.”
“Put the band behind you so it sits nice and tight in your armpits and grab ahold, always with feet a little bit wider than shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and you’re going to extend your arm and come back. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps. You can also do this sitting in a chair.”
“Knees slightly bent, your feet shoulder-width apart, your non-working hand to keep balanced should be rested on your hip. Grab ahold of your band (one end held underfoot) and lift up so that your wrist is parallel to your shoulder and come back down. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps.”
“Put your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Drop the band behind you and keep your elbow right up against your head/ear. Then grab the other end of the band with your other hand. Farther down will be easier. Farther up, harder. Extend your arm up. Do 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps.”
“Place band on the ground and step on it. Feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Other hand on hip. Your working arm grabs the band, palm facing away from your body. Elbow will go right into your waistline and curl up. As you curl up, take a breath out. Do 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps.”
“Step on the band, grab pretty far down on it to get pretty good resistance. Do a bicep curl up, then pull it over your head, then finish with a bicep curl down. Put your other hand on your waist so you’re nice and balanced, feet shoulder-width apart. Do 2 sets of 10-15 reps each arm.”
Workouts to try:
- Download this strength handout for exercises you can do at your desk at work during any 10-minute break. You don’t even need access to weights.
- Relive UW’s 2014 Guinness World Record-breaking kettle bell workout by grabbing a kettle bell and downloading our kettle bell handbook to learn proper form and techniques.
- Check out these stretching & strengthening exercises specific for bike riders by Sarah Hannah, PT, and Brenda McKenzie, MPT, from Hall Health.
- Register for this exercise ball handout to try a fun strengthening workout while putting your 2016 Guinness World Record exercise ball to use.
Ian Weinberg of IanFitness shared his four favorite strength training exercises that can be done anywhere as part of our 2017 Dare to Do New Year’s Challenge. Combine these with Ian’s circuit workout and high-intensity interval training workout videos for a great workout wherever you are. Start with Ian’s video on finding the right mindset for sticking to a routine and you’ll be smashing your goals before you know it!