Trainer Tips

Take your home strength-building program from average to effective

MOST PEOPLE have heard about the benefits of strength-training such as stronger bones, improved body composition and increased energy levels. However, many people are intimidated by the idea of coming up with their own workouts. P.E. class favorites like squats and presses are a great start, however, there are other movements that help round out and complete a workout program. The four tips below will take an average routine to a truly effective strength training program.

  1. Build your backside.
    Everyone would like a more shapely derriere to fill out their jeans, but there are other reasons to train the muscles in this area. Glutes are major stabilizers and play a big role in preventing injuries of the lower back, hips, knees and even ankles. Strong glutes are also necessary for athletic performance related to running and jumping. Simple glute strengthening options include glute bridges and hip thrusts, both of which may be performed without any equipment.

  2. Move in different directions.
    If you look at the way our bodies are moving when exercising, we’re typically very focused on front to back and up and down patterns. Many people forget to move side to side. Lateral movement is extremely important. It increases overall stability, strengthens small stabilizing muscles and improves balance. So, if you’d like to protect your knees while playing tennis, add some lateral exercises to your routine. Simple options include lateral lunges, lateral box step-ups and lateral jumps.

  3. Lie down and get up.
    Movements like Turkish get-ups may look complicated, however, getting up and down on the floor is a basic life skill. Replicating the normal up and down movements of daily life with the added weight helps build a foundation of strength that is often lost in later life. Practice now and don’t lose the ability later.

  4. Pick up something and carry it.
    Another important activity of daily living is carrying heavy objects. In the gym, we may practice this skill by carrying one weight, two equal weights, or even two different weights. We may place the weights at our sides, in front of our shoulders, or even overhead. One of the biggest benefits of carrying is strengthening the core, which is essential for pain-free living. Another benefit is increased grip strength. Grip strength is incredibly important as we age.

Ask for help. Good trainers are good teachers. Most are happy to spend a few sessions teaching clients how to work out at home with simple pieces of equipment. Speak to a professional, clearly explain your goal of safe and effective at-home training and provide a photo of your home equipment. With minimal investment, you can build the skills and knowledge needed to safely train on your own for years to come.

Kary Kory Nichols is the General Manager of Smugs Fitness in Kirkwood. She was voted Best Personal Trainer in Atlanta by Creative Loafing and is currently focused on helping professional women fit exercise into their busy lives through custom virtual training. Connect with Kory at