Many individuals who exercise or are new to the fitness world feel strength training is only associated with more experienced athletes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are too many physical, health, and mental benefits to leave strength training out of your workout schedule. Here is why and how you should include this important piece into any training program:
- Not only does strength training increase your physical work capacity, it also improves your ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL’s). You will be able to work harder and longer with the proper weight training activities.
- It improves bone density. One of the best ways you can control bone loss as you age is to add strength training into your workout plan.
- It promotes fat-free body mass with decreasing sarcopenia. The lean muscle mass that we all work so hard for decreases with age. If we don’t add strength training to our routine then it will turn into fat.
- It Increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles, and tendons. This leads to improved motor performance and decreased injury risk.
- It improves your quality of life as you gaining body confidence. Strength training will not only make you strong, but will also help with managing your weight.
The Basics of Setting up a Program
Making an appointment with a personal trainer or fitness specialist is a great first step when starting weight training. These professionals will be able to show you proper form, explain the basics, and set up a weekly program. For experienced athletes, these professionals can explain how to overload the body so you keep achieving strength and endurance gains.
- Start slowly. This will decrease your chance of injury and soreness.
- Start with single sets and work your way up to multiple sets.
- Use the correct weight amount. Using too much weight will increase your chance of injury because your form will suffer. Vice versa, by not using enough weight your muscles will not be challenged and you won’t experience the desired benefits of weight training. How do you know you are lifting the correct amount of weight? It should be hard to perform the last few repetitions without comprising your form.
- Give your muscles time to rest and recovery. You should wait at least 48 hours before you train the same muscle group once again.
- Burning more calories throughout the day. Your body works harder to maintain muscle over fat. Strength training can boost your metabolism so you burn more calories throughout the day.
- Weight training doesn’t have to be boring. Switching up your routine to keep your body guessing is the perfect way to receive strength gains and to decrease boredom. Switch up your routine by using the machines, free weights, bars, bands, and even your own body weight.
Also, change your routine as much as possible. You can do this by switching up the number of sets or reps, time between sets, choosing different exercises, and varying your speed are just a few suggestions.
It is important to understand the basics of strength training and why you should incorporate this activity into your training program. Once you know all of the benefits you will receive from these exercises, you will want to start right away so you can improve your quality of life and burn those extra calories.
Kristin Gustafson is an Allied Health degree instructor at Rasmussen College in Minnesota. She has an M.A. in Exercise Science, Exercise Physiology, and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation. She has worked in the fitness field for over 10 years. Her experience includes teaching, working in wellness centers and cardiac rehabilitation facilities, teaching group fitness classes, being a personal trainer, and running coach.