Abdominals workout posturePlankbasic plankLifting is an important component of any fitness programs. Benefits include improved bone density and body composition. Other reasons to weight train include improved insulin sensitivity, which means a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, increased strength and lean muscle mass. All these positive outcomes can lead to greater confidence and better overall mental and physical health. You can enjoy all the benefits of strength training without lifting heavy weights. Here are some tips to get started.

Add more reps

Strength training with heavy weights can fatigue muscles quickly. You can build strength with lighter weights using more reps. This strategy can be just as effective for increasing muscle strength and encouraging muscle growth. More reps help you build endurance and maximize metabolic stress, which encourages the very muscle growth you are after.

Try Plyometrics

Plyometric exercises train the body using resistance. You can build muscle power with these jump training moves. Results are achieved by forcing the muscles to contract quickly in what is called a stretch-shortening cycle. Benefits include improved strength, speed and muscle elasticity.  Runner’s World recommends that you have a good strength training regimen in place before beginning a plyometric plan to minimize risk of injury. They also offer the following sample exercise: Height Skips – skip along jumping as high as you can. Try to land on the ball of your feet as you skip. The emphasis in this exercise should be on how high you can jump. Aim for 15 reps per leg.

Build strength with planks

Planks area great go to exercise for strength building. This resistance exercise builds your core, shoulders, arms and glutes. A basic plank begins with a push up position and uses your body weight to strengthen and tone. Place your body stomach down on a mat or towel. Lift yourself up so that your body is resting on your toes and the forearms. Your spine should be straight so that from the side it looks like a plank. You should feel the work in your abs and arms. If you feel it in your back reposition your body. Start with two 20 second reps every other day.

Buy a resistance band

This go anywhere tool is a great way to build general muscle strength. Resistance bands are inexpensive and easy to use. When you get one try the lunge with bicep curl to build upper and lower body strength.  Start by putting the band on the floor and placing your right foot on it. Step back with your left foot and with an underhand grip on the handles pull the band toward your chest as you bend your right leg into the lunge position. Aim for 15-20 reps per leg.

Strength training is especially important as we age. Improved bone density and reduced likelihood of type 2 diabetes are two of the most important health benefits this health activity provides. Training without lifting heavy weights can help you build strength and stamina with less risk of injury. Try a few of the above exercises to get in good shape for life.