Harvard Health Letter

Quick start strength training program

Quick-start strength-training program

Work out at home or in your office to improve muscle mass.

Muscle mass tends to diminish with age, so making strength training part of your overall exercise regimen is very important. And while many people assume that effective strength-training programs require joining expensive fitness clubs and lifting heavy weights, there are plenty of strength-building exercises you can do at home and at work with little or no special equipment. "You really can strength train without the big machines and get effective results, without spending a lot of money," says Elissa Huber-Anderson, a physical therapist at Harvard-a-ffiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Starting a program

Getting a green light from your doctor is the first step to starting a strength-training program. Next step: make an appointment with a physical therapist. "A physical therapist will tailor a strength-training program to your specific needs, whether you have new or old injuries or you have a chronic condition such as diabetes or osteoporosis," says Huber-Anderson. You'll be required to complete a course of two to 12 physical therapy sessions over weeks or months. During that time, the physical therapist will teach you about the principles of strength training and will show you how to step up the program on your own.

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