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Strength training to increase balance and reduce fall risks, according to a fitness expert

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What are the benefits of strength training?

The benefits of exercise range from strengthening your body to helping you live longer. While many of us slow down and gradually diminish our physical activity as we age, the older we get, the more important it is to stay active.

Strength training for seniors helps promote stronger bones and joints and can reduce the risk of injury, including hazardous falls. Strength training for weight loss is also possible; the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate is, and the more fat you burn. Additionally, strength training for runners, bodybuilders and other athletes increases endurance and overall performance. 

Judd NeSmith, founder of Serious Fitness and BestReviews fitness expert, likes all of his clients to engage in functional strength training exercises when they work out. With the right equipment, you can even do strength training at home.

Shop this article: NordicTrack Dumbbells, TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System and Cap Barbell Cast-Iron Kettlebell.

What is functional strength training?

Unless you're a hardcore fitness enthusiast, you probably never realized that there are two distinct types of fitness paths. One builds aesthetic muscle, while the other builds functional muscle.

Pursuing aesthetic fitness sculpts your body into an ideal, making you look well-proportioned with an impressive physique. However, this type of training is not beneficial for your range of motion, flexibility or speed. In short, you might look great, but you might not be able to perform simple tasks, such as scratching your own back.

"These exercises require you to engage your core muscles, which include your pelvic floor muscles," NeSmith said. "Your core muscles surround your spine, and they stabilize your spine during any daily movement pattern. When you strengthen your core muscles, you are going to increase your balance and reduce your fall risk."

Additionally, the Mayo Clinic states, "As you add more functional exercises to your workouts, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities."

Simple strength training for beginners to strengthen your core and increase balance

Functional fitness is not going to the gym and seeing how much you can bench press. These exercises have a different purpose.

"Maybe you have a 65-year-old man or woman and their balance is going downhill," NeSmith said. "You can have them just stand on their right foot, while their left foot is slightly off the ground, and do a simple exercise like dumbbell bicep curls. The dumbbell bicep curls work their upper body, but at the same time, they are improving their balance."

NeSmith listed a few other strength training workouts he uses for building muscle in your core and enhancing balance. You can do all of these beginner strength training exercises at home with the right gear. Whether you're working with a trainer on a personalized strength training program or developing one yourself, these are the exercises to focus on:

  • Front step-up: While holding dumbbells in your hands, keep one foot on a step platform and lift the other foot off the floor, raising the knee up to waist height before setting it back down.
  • TRX single-leg squat: With one foot behind you  in a suspended total resistance exercise loop for support, perform single-leg body-weight squats.
  • Single-leg squat with step platform: With one foot supported on a step platform and dumbbells in hand, perform single-leg squats.
  • Lateral step overs: Using a step platform, move from left to right and back again, stepping side to side on and over the platform.
  • Single-arm dumbbell chest press on a balance ball: Lying with your shoulders on a balance ball and your feet out in front of you so you create an elevated bridge position, use a dumbbell to execute single-arm chest presses.
  • Single-leg Romanian deadlift: Holding a kettlebell in one hand, lower it to just above the floor while raising the same leg straight back until it is horizontal to the floor. Slowly move back to the starting position.
  • Medicine ball walking lunge: Perform a walking lunge while holding a medicine ball with two hands. Start with the medicine ball at your chest. Lower it so when your back knee is down, the medicine ball is in front of your forward shin. As your feet come together, raise the medicine ball directly overhead.
  • Balance ball stirring the pot: Assume an inclined prone position with your elbows on a stability ball and feet spread to about shoulder width. First, rotate your elbows in a clockwise position for six circles. Then, rotate them counterclockwise for six circles.

Best strength training equipment 

NordicTrack Dumbbells

This set of select-a-weight dumbbells can replace 15 pairs of regular dumbbells for your strength training routine. Each dumbbell has a range of 10 to 55 pounds and is made of steel and hardened plastic. The storage trays are clearly marked with easy-to-read weight identifications.  

The Step Original Aerobic Platform

Step up your workout with this high-density polyethylene aerobic platform. It has a slip-proof mat on top and non-marking rubber floor pads on the bottom. The platform is a spacious 14 by 40 inches and the step is 8 inches high.

TRX All-in-One Suspension Training System

This all-in-one suspension training system comes with everything you need to get a full-body workout. It has locking loops that prevent slipping and adjusters so you can easily change the length depending on your exercise needs. The integrated foam handles and foot cradles offer comfort and versatility.

Stamina X Plyo Step-Up Box

The Stamina X Plyo Step-Up Box can be adjusted from 12 to 24 inches in 4-inch increments. The heavy-textured nonslip surface makes it suitable for step-ups, box jumps and more. Best of all, there is no assembly required — it's ready to use straight out of the box.

UrbnFit Balance Ball

This rugged balance ball is made with anti-burst polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and has a 600-pound weight capacity. The surface of this balance ball has a nonslip coating to provide a confident grip. The included dual-action pump lets you quickly inflate the ball by hand. 

Cap Barbell Cast-Iron Kettlebell

Cap Barbell is a trusted name in workout equipment. This seamless cast-iron kettlebell features a powder-coated finish for durability, while the wide handle ensures a comfortable and secure grip, whether you're using one hand or two.



Champion Sports Exercise Medicine Ball

This medicine ball has a synthetic leather exterior that makes it easy to hold, even when your hands get sweaty. The reinforced stitching ensures it's as tough as you are. Each weight is a different color, so you can easily identify the right ball to use.

Other exercise equipment worth checking out 

  • If you prefer to have a set of weights, this CAP dumbbell set comes with a rack for easy storage.
  • Bored with black kettlebells? Sunny Health and Fitness has a brightly colored vinyl-coated kettlebell that has a wide handle and a flat bottom.
  • A top-quality exercise mat is always a wise choice.
  • This burst-resistant balance ball is an excellent tool for people wanting to enhance core strength.

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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