Resistance Training Exercises: Beginner-Intermediate Level

I recently completed a Continuing Education Course (CEC) for my Spin Instructor Certification.  You might expect this course to be about cardiovascular fitness, however this course focused on resistance training.  

The course examined how to apply resistance training to the Spinning program.  This type of training is a critical component to an exercise program in order to improve muscular endurancestrength, and power while on the bike.

Resistance Training Exercises with Light Equipment

Single-Leg Step-Up

  • Target Muscles:  Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals
  • Equipment Needed:  Dumbbells (2), Step
  • Choose appropriately weighted dumbbells to overload the targeted muscles.  Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing body.
  • Stand facing the step and place one foot on the top center of the step.
  • Align hips directly under your shoulders, keeping your chest lifted and engaging your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • Lift up to stand on your front leg while focusing on an intense gluteal (buttocks) contraction.
  • As you extend at your hip and knee joints, you will feel a peak bilateral (both sides) gluteal contraction.
  • Lower your foot back to the floor using a slow, controlled movement, maintaining gluteal contraction and keeping your chest lifted and engaging your core muscles.
  • Repeat exercise on the other side.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Front Lunge

  • Target Muscles:  Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals
  • Equipment Needed:  Dumbbells (2) or Weighted Bar (Body Bar or Barbell)
  • Choose appropriately weighted dumbbells or bar to overload the targeted muscles.  If is is comfortable, try holding a weight bar, resting it in the Upper Trapezius area (between the lower region of your neck and the upper region of your back).  Your wrists, shoulders, and spine in neutral alignment, and minimizing or avoiding low back extension.
  • Stand with your feet hip distance apart or slightly wider.
  • Align your hips directly under your shoulders, keeping your chest lifted and engaging your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • Step forward with one leg.  Your heel touches the floor first and your knee is directly over the ankle.
  • Flex your knee to no more than a 90 degree angle.  Slowly and with control, lower your hips.
  • For deeper hip and knee flexion of your front leg, flex your back knee and release the heel from the floor.
  • After you reach full range of motion (ROM), contract your gluteals, push off the floor with your front foot, extend your at your hip and knee joints, and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat exercise on the other side.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Front Lunge with Lift Progression

  • Targeted Muscles:  Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals, Triceps
  • Equipment Needed:  Medicine Ball
  • Hold the medicine ball behind your head with elbows flexed at a 90 degree angle.
  • Stand with one foot forward, in a wide stance, ready for a lunge movement.
  • Keep you chest lifted and engage your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • Flex your front knee to no more than a 90 degree angle; slowly and with control, lowering your hips.
  • For deeper hip and knee flexion of front leg, flex your back knee and release the heel from the floor.
  • After you reach full ROM, contract your gluteals, push off of the floor with your front foot, and extend your hips and knees.  With intense gluteal contraction, lift your back foot off of floor as high as possible while maintaining proper alignment.  At the same time, extend your elbows to lift the medicine ball overhead.
  • Slowly and with control, return to the starting position.
  • Repeat exercise on other side.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Reverse Lunge

  • Targeted Muscles:  Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals
  • Needed Equipment:  Dumbbells (2), Step (optional)
  • Choose appropriately weight dumbbells to overload the targeted muscles.  Hold a dumbbell in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing inward.
  • Stand on top of the step with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart.
  • Shift weight to one leg and lower the other leg to the floor.
  • Slowly lower into a lunge position with your front knee over the ankle.  *Note:  The step creates additional height, which allows for deeper knee flexion.  To use the step, you must be able to perform this movement pattern with increased ROM without contraindication, or overcompensating other muscle groups.
  • Your heel of the front stationary foot must be firmly planted on the step.
  • Lift back to the starting position by engaging your hamstrings and gluteals of your front leg.
  • Repeat exercise on the other side.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Side Lunge

  • Targeted Muscles:  Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals, Hip Abductors, Hip Adductors
  • Equipment Needed: Dumbbells (2) (Optional)
  • Stand with your feet hip distance apart or slightly wider.
  • Align your hips directly under your shoulders, keeping your chest lifted and engaging your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • Step laterally, or out to the side, into a side lunge position.  Stay within the frontal plane (your line of motion is parallel to the front and back walls).
  • Your heel hits the floor first and your knee remains over the ankle as your hips move back.  This movement pattern will create some forward flexion of your hips for balance.
  • After you reach full ROM, powerfully push off using your quadriceps and gluteal muscles in the active leg and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat exercise on the other side, alternating sides.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
  • Progression:  Hold a dumbbell in each hand and add a bicep curl at center position.

Plie Squat

  • Targeted Muscles:  Quadriceps, Gluteals, Hip Adductors, Calf Muscles
  • Equipment Needed:  One heavy dumbbell or kettlebell (Optional)
  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width.
  • Turn out your feet from your hip joints, but only as far as comfortable, avoiding torque on your knee joints.
  • Keep your chest lifted and engage your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • Lower into a plie position (wide stance squat) with your hips no lower than knee level and knees aligned over ankles.
  • Return to the starting position by engaging your hip adductors and quadriceps.  Do not lock your knees in the standing position.
  • Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.
  • Progression:  With both hands, hold one end of dumbbell or kettlebell handle at center of your body.

Single-Leg Calf Raise

  • Targeted Muscles:  Gastrocnemius, Soleus
  • Equipment Needed:  Step
  • Stand on one foot on top of the step with only the ball of the foot making contact with the surface.  The arch of your foot will be on the edge of the step.
  • Align your hips directly under the shoulders, keeping your chest lifted and engaging your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • To add stability, hold on lightly to a partner, wall, or ballet barre (if needed).
  • Raise your heel as high as possible until your calf muscles are full contracted.
  • Lower back to the starting position slowly and with control.
  • Repeat exercise on other side.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
  • Regression:  Perform calf raise on both feet (instead of single-leg).

Superman

  • Targeted Muscles:  Mid and Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids, Posterior Deltoids, Gluteals, Hamstrings
  • Equipment:  Floor Mat
  • Lie in a prone position (on your stomach) with your arms extended overhead.
  • Lift your upper torso, arms, and legs off of the floor while keeping your hips in contact with the mat.
  • Depress your shoulders and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Intensely contract your gluteals.
  • Hold for for 3 to 5 seconds, and return to the starting position.
  • Perform 8 to 10 repetitions.
  • Regression:  Perform exercise in a quadruped position (on all fours) and alternate arm and leg lift (right arm, left leg and left arm, right leg).

Push-Up

  • Targeted Muscles:  Pectoralis Major, Biceps, Triceps
  • Equipment Needed:  Floor mat
  • Lie in a prone position (on your stomach) with your hands directly under the shoulders.
  • Push up to the starting position with arms extended and knees and shins on the mat.
  • Keep your spine in a neutral alignment from the tailbone to the top of the head.  Engage your abdominals and gluteals.
  • Slowly and with control, lower your chest to the floor and then raise back to the starting position.
  • Perform 8 to 12 repetitions without sacrificing proper form and technique.
  • Progression: Extend knees off of the floor into a full-body push-up position. Do not advance to this position if you are not able to keep your spine in neutral alignment.

Push-Up to Downward Facing Dog Progression

  • Targeted Muscles:  Pectoralis Major, Biceps, Triceps, Latissimus Dorsi, Hamstrings, Calf Muscles
  • Equipment Needed:  Floor mat
  • Lie in a prone position (on your stomach) with your hands directly under the shoulders.
  • Push up to the starting position with arms and legs extended (knees off of floor).
  • Slowly and with control, lower your chest to the floor and then raise back to the starting position.
  • From the starting position, stretch back into a downward facing dog and hold stretch for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Return to full-body push-up position.
  • Perform 10 repetitions of each movement pattern (push-up and downward facing dog).
  • Regression:  Perform push-with knees and shins on the mat and stretch back into child’s pose position.

Front Raise

  • Targeted Muscles:  Anterior Deltoids
  • Equipment Needed:  Dumbbells (2)
  • Stand in neutral alignment with your feet shoulder width apart, knees soft, and core engaged.
  • Hold one light dumbbell in each hand slightly in front of your thighs palms facing body.
  • Slowly and with control, raise one arm up and away from your body until the dumbbell is level with your shoulder (or just below).  Maintain a slight bend to your elbow.  As you lift the dumbbell, think about simultaneously depressing your shoulder (avoid raising your shoulder).
  • Hold for 1 to 2 seconds, and lower your arm to the starting position.
  • Repeat exercise on other side.
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Lateral Raise

  • Targeted Muscles:  Medial Deltoids, Supraspinatus, Core Muscles
  • Equipment Needed:  Dumbbells (2) or Resistance Tubing/Bands
  • Hold a light dumbbell in each hand at your sides palms facing body.
  • Slowly and with control, raise both arms to the sides.
  • Maintain a slight bend to your elbows, soften your knees, and engage your core muscles.
  • When dumbbells reach shoulder height (or just below), hold for 1 to 2 seconds.
  • Rotate dumbbells so your pinky fingers are facing the floor, which will externally rotate your shoulder (a beneficial movement pattern for posture, especially if you spend countless hours in front of a computer).
  • Slowly and with control, lower arms back to the starting position.
  • Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.

Reverse Fly

  • Targeted Muscles:  Rhomboids, Rear Deltoids, Upper Trapezius
  • Equipment Needed:  Dumbbells (2)
  • Hold a light to moderate dumbbell in each hand at your sides palms facing body.
  • Depress your shoulders and squeeze shoulder blades together, and  bend forward at your hips to a 45 degree angle.
  • Raise your arms out to the sides, maintaining a slight bend at your elbows, straight spine, and neutral neck.
  • Slowly and with control, lower your arms to the starting position.
  • Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.

Overhead Press with (Optional) Squat

  • Targeted Muscles:  Medial Deltoids, Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Gluteals, Core Muscles
  • Equipment Needed:  Dumbbells (2)
  • Hold a light to moderate dumbbell in each hand and stand with feet hip distance apart or slightly wider.
  • Align hips directly under shoulders, and keep your chest lifted and engage your core muscles for stabilization and balance.
  • Raise the dumbbells to shoulder height.
  • Optional:  Lower into a squat position with hips no lower than knees and make sure that your knees do not extend farther than the toes.  Keep your chest lifted and core engaged. Engage your gluteals and hamstrings as your return to a standing position, simultaneously pressing the dumbbells overhead. This should be one, fluid movement.
  • If you choose not to perform the squat motion, only press dumbbells overhead and avoid locking out your knees.
  • Slowly and with control, lower the dumbbells back to shoulder height.
  • Perform 10 to 20 repetitions.

CORE

Spinal Rotation

  • Targeted Muscles:  Core Muscles, Obliques
  • Equipment Needed:  Body Bar or Barbell
  • Place Body Bar on top of shoulders with your arms extended wide (parallel to bar) and wrists resting on the ends of the Body Bar.
  • Feet hip distance apart, and depress your shoulders.
  • Maintaining a stable hip position, rotate to the left.  As you rotate, think about pushing your left hip forward and only rotating your rib cage.
  • Slowly and with control, return to center and rotate to the right (thinking about pushing your right hip forward and only rotating your rib cage).
  • Perform 10 repetitions on each side.

Single-Leg Lower

  • Targeted Muscles:  Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Hip Flexors
  • Equipment Needed:  Floor mat
  • Lie on the floor mat in a supine position (on your back) with one foot flat on the mat and the other leg lifted and aligned over your hips. Arms at your sides.
  • Lift your head, shoulder blades, and arms slightly off the mat. *If you experience any tension in your neck, place you head, neck, and shoulders on the mat for this exercise.
  • Slowly and with control, lower the lifted leg towards the floor (only lower your leg as far as your body will allow) and return to the starting position.
  • Keep you low back pressed into the mat and draw in your naval towards your spine (avoid arching your low back) throughout the duration of the exercise.
  • Perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.
  • Progression:  Lower both legs at the same time.

3-Count Obliques

  • Targeted Muscles:  Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Obliques
  • Equipment Needed:  Floor mat
  • Lie on the floor mat in a supine position (on your back) with your hips flexed and your knees at a 90 degree angle, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  • Cross your left ankle onto your right knee and place your hands at your temples with your elbows stretching out to each side.  Your vision is focused on the ceiling.
  • As you exhale, lift your head and shoulders off of the mat in three (3) gradual increments (or lifts).  Twist in the direction of your left knee, reaching for that knee with your right elbow (opposite elbow to opposite knee).  The right elbow moves away from the right knee.  Each lift will bring you a little higher off of the mat, exhaling each time for a deeper abdominal contraction.
  • As you inhale, slowly and with control, lower your shoulders (first) and head (last) to the center position.  Avoid lowering all the way down to the mat until the final repetition is completed on that side.
  • Repeat exercise on other side, with your right ankle on your left knee.
  • Perform 10 to 20 repetitions on each side.

Side Plank

  • Targeted Muscles:  Obliques
  • Equipment Needed:  Floor mat
  • In a side-lying position, stack your shoulders and align shoulders with bottom elbow.
  • Feet stacked.  *For increased stability, stagger your feet or place bottom knee on mat.
  • Extend top arm, aligning it with your shoulders.  Your vision focused on top hand.
  • Squeeze obliques, and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Repeat exercise on other side.

Standard Plank

  • Targeted Muscles:  Rectus Abdominis, Transverse Abdominis, Obliques, Erector Spinae, Gluteals – In a nutshell, all core muscles!
  • Equipment Needed:  Floor mat
  • In a prone position (on your stomach), place your elbows directly under shoulders and lift up onto your forearms and toes.
  • Keep your spine in neutral alignment from your tailbone to your head, and draw in your naval towards spine.
  • Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Reference:

Mad Dogg Athletics (2014).  “Resistance Training for Spinning” online course. doi://www.spinning.com.

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About rrluthi

Certified fitness expert with a passion for educating and empowering "chronologically-enriched" clients about the benefits of adopting and maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle and preventing injury. Proven strengths applying cutting-edge fitness/wellness concepts and research through roles as a health coach, fitness trainer, and group exercise instructor—in addition to promoting these concepts in a more systematic way through blogging and social media, community outreach, public speaking, and corporate wellness program facilitation.
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