The Best Time Of Day To Strength Train Is…
Best way to not feel the least bit guilty about binge-watching Orange Is the New Black tonight? Bring a set of hand weights with you to the couch. A new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that strength training after dinner is more effective at protecting your heart than if you’d done it earlier in the day.
When researchers tested the effects of strength training on men and women with type 2 diabetes before and after they ate, they found something surprising: Those who did resistance exercises 45 minutes after dinner—including the calf raise, chest fly, leg curls, shoulder raises, and crunches—had glucose levels 12% lower and triglyceride (or blood fat) levels that were 92% lower than when they exercised 75 minutes before dinner.
“High-circulating levels of both glucose and triglycerides are associated with vascular disease and poorer vascular function,” says study co-author Nathan Winn, a graduate student at the University of Missouri. Strength training post-meal will reduce the spike and, when done consistently, lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, says Timothy Heden, PhD, lead author and postdoctoral research associate at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
Of course, you don’t have to have type 2 diabetes to reap the heart-healthy benefits of an after-dinner strength session. Anyone, especially if they have some weight to lose or are struggling with metabolic syndrome, can benefit.
Lie on mat with knees bent, heels on the floor, and arms by your sides, palms up
(A). Lift hips off the ground until thighs, lower back, and upper back are in a straight line (B). Hold for 5 seconds. Return to start.
Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell vertically against your chest
(A). Squat down, bringing your elbows to your knees
(B). Keep elbows pointed down and the weight touching your chest for the entire movement.
Great for toning your chest, shoulders, triceps, back, hips, and abs
Start in a basic push-up position with hands directly beneath shoulders and body in a straight line. Bend elbows out to sides and lower body almost to floor (or as far as you can). Keep abs tight and body in a line. Hold for 1 second, then push back up. Repeat.
Make it easier: If you’re a beginner, do push-ups on your knees. Keep the movement shallow and controlled. Still too challenging? Start with a push-up on the wall, progressing to the floor as you become stronger.
Add a challenge: If you’re advanced, try lifting one leg off the floor as you do each push-up.
Great for toning your abs, back, chest, forearms and shoulders
To come into plank pose, hold a push-up position, weight on balls of feet and hands, wrists directly below shoulders, arms straight, and body in line from head to heels. Hold for as long as you can, working up to 1 minute. That’s 1 rep.
Make it easier: Instead of being on hands, lower yourself to your forearms.
Add a challenge: Raise 1 leg off the floor and hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and hold for another 30 seconds to complete 1 rep. To add variety, try side plank: Lie on your right side with your legs straight, and feet stacked, right hand directly under right shoulder. Lift hips off floor and raise left arm to sky, keeping left hand directly over left shoulder. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat to complete 1 rep.