You want to do the bare minimum and get results. I get that. So how little strength training can you do, and still see results? Opinions vary, but most research points towards twice a week as a minimum. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a minimum of 10-12 exercises of various body parts, 8-10 repetitions, and 2-4 sets. So you would do 8-10 reps of biceps (for example), then 8-10 reps of pushups, etc. (for healthy adults). (1) Once you have completed a full set of 10-12 exercises, you would repeat once. (2)
That’s not so bad is it? And even better news is that the ACSM research indicates that while 2 sets (rounds) of each exercise is best, 1 is also very helpful. And the traditional 3 sets? There is only a modest amount of strength gains there, but it hits the point of diminishing returns. So 1 or 2 is optimal.
How much weight? It depends on your goals. But please, no Barbie weights. Drives me nuts when healthy people come into one of my classes with 3-pound weights for bicep curls, when I know that their groceries weigh at least 2-3 times that. If you can do 8-10 reps with no problem, bump it up a little bit. Women typically do not bulk at all, due to minimal testosterone.
The more weight you lift, the more muscle you are recruiting.
Here are some very simple ideas to help you get started:
- Dumbbells: Chest presses or flies, bicep curls, tricep extensions, reverse flies, overhead presses, weighted squats, weighted lunges.
- Body Weight: Squats, lunges, pushups, crunches, planks, side planks.
Just to name a few. Google any that you are not familiar with. Your choices are unlimited. Keep in mind how your bones, heart, and metabolism will thank you.