Benefits Of Strength Training
Strength training has a huge number of health benefits and involves far more than just getting firm and tight! Strength training can help you:
Reduce body fat
Increase lean muscle mass
Improve muscle tone
Speed up metabolism
Burns calories more effectively
Improve posture, flexibility and balance
Increase bone density
Decrease the risk of injury
Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Strength training can also reduce the risk of degenerative diseases and the overall quality of life. As we age, both our strength and metabolism decrease. That’s why it’s so important to stress your body through exercise so it can grow stronger. Plus, the more muscle you gain, the more calories you burn at rest! In addition, strength training builds bone mass as we age.
Unfortunately, there’s a common myth that strength training will make you “bulky.” The notion that strength training makes you big and bulky like a body builder is absolutely false. In order to get very large muscles you would need to combine hours of weight lifting with lots of extra calories and a high amount of testosterone. For the average women, lifting weights just helps to create stronger muscles and better body composition.
In fact, if you combine it with a healthy eating plan, lifting weights will do just the opposite. Consider the fact that a pound of muscle and a pound of fat might weight the same—one pound—but a pound of muscle takes up much less space.
How Does Strength Training Work?
When you stress your muscles during a strength training workout, your muscles micro-tear and therefore need to rebuild themselves. This process lasts for 72 hours following a challenging strength training session. This is why we don’t recommend strength training on back-to-back days unless you work different body parts on consecutive days of the week. It is during the rest time that your muscles repair themselves and grow stronger. A key part of this repair includes good nutrition. Make sure after you strength train that you take in the proper amount of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat so as not to starve your muscle.
Strength Training Vocabulary
Strength training doesn’t have to be complicated, but to get you started, here are a few common phrases you might hear around the gym to help you start strength training with confidence.
Repetitions: The number of a certain exercise you perform within a given set.
Set: The rounds you perform of those repetitions for each exercise. For example, 3 x 12 squats would mean you perform 3 sets of 12 squats.
Load: The amount of demand placed on the body during exercise, whether that be from externally added weight or bodyweight.
Rest Interval: The amount of rest taken place between each set. The heavier the load, the more rest is needed.
Intensity: The effort performed during each exercise. Intensity can be measured by increases in heart rate, a percentage based off a one repetition maximum, or the ability to talk during exercise. The greater the intensity, the less likely you are able to talk comfortably.
Safety Tips For Strength Training
• Always warm-up your body before any type of workout, especially strength training. Your body needs to get blood flowing to the working muscles gradually so that when you begin your actual workout, your body can produce the most force possible to complete each exercise. You may start a warm-up on a piece of cardio equipment for five minutes, then perform another 2-5 minutes of dynamic movement like walking lunges, bodyweight squats, high knees, butt kicks, and arm circles.
• Start with a weight a bodyweight movement in which you can perform 8-12 repetitions, making sure the last 1-2 reps are tough to complete but don’t compensate your form. Some examples of compensating form is over-arching of the low back, chin tucked in, and chest collapsing in instead of facing up right. Complete 2-4 sets x 8-12 repetitions of each exercise dependent upon your current fitness level.
• You will most likely need to either start with your bodyweight or light weight so you can master proper form before increasing weight. A general rule of thumb is to increase the weight by 5 percent once you find you can do 10-12 reps with little effort and maintaining proper form.
• Move through each movement with a controlled range of motion. Focus on the main muscles you are working rather than just mindlessly moving through the movement.
• Allow time for a cool down by gradually decreasing your heart rate and finish each strength session with appropriate stretching and or foam rolling.