Health and Fitness Anytime – March 16

A New Column – With Jolene de Vries


Question:  Every once in a while my knees ache and I need to take a break from performing exercises like squats and lunges.  Are there any other good leg exercises I can do to strengthen my legs without putting stress on my knees?

Answer:  The hip bridge is a great body-weight exercise that you can do to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings all while working your core and stretching your hip flexors.  An excellent swap or addition to your workout, this exercise can be done anywhere and with no equipment necessary.  Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor hip-width apart, arms relaxed at your sides.  Squeeze and lift your glutes off the floor, pushing with your heels.  Your body should be in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.  Hold this position for two seconds then lower back down to the floor.  The hip bridge can also be performed with one leg by keeping one foot on the floor, lifting and holding the opposite knee towards the chest, and raising your glutes off the ground.

Question:  I’ve read about “ladder” style workouts and would like to incorporate these into my weekly strength training routine.  Can you provide an explanation and some examples to help me get started?

Answer:  A ladder workout is a method of training where you perform one or more exercises with an ascending and descending repetition pattern.  Beginner ladder workouts typically include only one exercise, while advanced ladder workouts include two or three exercise linked together (one after another with little rest in between).  A sample beginner ladder workout would be performing one push up, then taking a 15 second rest and repeating this sequence adding one rep all the way to five and then descending back down for a total or 25 push-ups.  A more advanced example of a ladder workout could include 3 exercises such as pull-ups, squats and abdominal crunches.  You would perform one pull-up, two squats, and three crunches followed by a 30-second rest.  Moving up the ladder, you would then perform two pull-ups, four squats, and six crunches before resting another 30 seconds.  Repeat the sequence 4-6 times increasing reps with each ladder and then work your way back down the ladder by decreasing the number of reps for each exercise. Ladder workouts can build strength and endurance, as well as provide variety in your workouts.

Question:    How do I determine how much weight I should be lifting?

Answer:  Finding the correct weight for any exercise can take a bit of trial and error.  The general rule of thumb is to choose a weight that is challenging, but a weight that allows you to lift with good form for the suggested number of reps. Your exercise goal will also help determine how much weight you should be lifting.  If you wish to build strength and gain mass, choose a heavy load that you can lift for 8 reps or fewer.  Moderate weight that you can lift for 8-12 repetitions is the most common recommendation for building strength and increasing lean muscle mass.   To help you build endurance, choose lighter weights where you can perform 15 or more reps.

About the author: Jolene de Vries is the Club Owner at Anytime Fitness coming to Esterhazy, Saskatchewan in summer of 2016.  To submit a question for future articles, please contact the author at

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