Strength training isn’t only for body builders and gym enthusiasts. Strength training has great benefits for all lifestyles and bodies.
What is strength training?
Strength training is any activity where you use your body to build muscle mass, strength, and endurance. It is also known as:
- Weight training
- Resistance training
- Muscular training
It can feel intimidating to add strength training to your exercise routine. But whatever your age or body type, strength training has big benefits.
It’s not becoming a bodybuilder
Strength training will make you stronger. That’s a given. But the results affect more than just your muscles. There are many benefits from strength training that will improve your overall health.
- You’ll burn calories. Strength training gives your metabolism a boost. That means you’ll even burn calories for hours (sometimes days) after training.
- You’ll tone your body and appear leaner. Muscle is denser than body fat and takes up less space on your body. You can lose inches even if you don’t see a change in the number on the scale.
- You’ll lower your risk of heart disease, liver problems, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. Strength training has been shown to reduce the fat linked with these chronic conditions.
- You’ll improve your balance and flexibility and lower your risk of injury. Strength training improves your ability to support your own body. It improves range of motion and the mobility of your muscles, ligaments and tendons. It lowers your risk of falls. It increases protection from injuries to major joints (knees, hips and ankles).
- You’ll strengthen your bones. Strength training puts temporary stress on your bones. This encourages bone-building cells to rebuild stronger. Having strong bones reduces the risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.
- You’ll boost your self-esteem. Strength training helps you better appreciate your body. It can increase your belief in your ability to succeed. That can lead to higher confidence and a positive body image.
- You’ll have a high quality of life as you age. Strength training can help protect against problems as you age. This includes keeping cognitive functions sharp. These include memory, executive function and processing speed.
Ease yourself into strength training
You don’t need to work out all day to see results. Strength training for 20 to 30 minutes, two to three times a week can make a big impact. But starting off with a smaller goal of once a week is great. Once you’re comfortable with the movements, you can work out more each week.
You can choose what level of strength training is best for you. Your personal goals will help you choose the best method for success. There are a few different types of strength training to choose from:
Muscular hypertrophy uses moderate –to heavy weights to stimulate muscle growth. Most use this training to increase the size of their muscles.
Muscular endurance focuses on increasing your muscles’ ability to sustain exercise for a period of time. This training involves high repetitions using light weights and/or body weight.
Circuit training is about full-body conditioning. That means cycling through various exercises with little to no rest in between.
Each of these types of strength training are built on reps and sets. A rep is a repetition of a single exercise or movement. A set is a group of reps. For example, you can break down 30 push-ups into three sets of 10 reps.
Equipment is optional
The goal of strength training is to stimulate growth, but you don’t need to buy expensive equipment.
Depending on your goals, you can use equipment or none at all. You’ll see results using body weight, free weights or resistance bands.
Using your body weight and the force of gravity, you can perform various movements like push-ups, squats, planks, lunges and more.
With resistance bands, you can do the same movements with even more force. You can also do other movements like curls, raises, presses, etc.
Using free weights (dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells or even objects around the house), you can challenge your muscles even more.
Starting is the first step of success
You can begin your strength training journey in different ways. Watch a beginner’s video online or use an exercise app. Head to your local gym for a consultation. Hire a personal trainer. No matter how you choose to get started, here are some helpful tips:
Begin with the basics
- Focus on getting comfortable with the repetitions of movement
- Don’t rush. Maintain proper form.
Choose an appropriate workout load
- Your personal goals will determine how much you challenge your muscles
- Generally, you want to perform eight to 15 reps for one to three sets for one movement
Don’t overdo it
- Soreness for one to two days after workouts is the norm, not the goal
- Listen to your body. Pain doesn’t equal success. Aim to end your workout before your muscles get too tired to finish your reps
Rest is essential for strength training
- Give yourself time to allow your muscles to heal and grow
- Most people benefit from two to three workouts per week with rest days in between
You will feel accomplished by starting your strength training. Results may not appear quickly. But stay consistent and the results will show in a few weeks to several months.