Strength training is crucial for successfully losing weight and keeping it off!
A massive misconception that people believe is that if they do not want to look like a bodybuilder, they should not perform resistance training, so the only form of exercise they do is aerobic. But this just is not true, even if maxing out your muscle size is not your objective, strength training might still be the best way to hit your health goals.
I have found that it is very common especially for women, to not want to do weight training as they do not want to look bulky, but the amount of resistance training a normal every day person does, will not have you bulking up like a body builder.
Body builders dedicate many hours to the gym and have a very strict diet to look the way they do, so you cannot accidentally bulk up like that.
Strength training is important for people of all ages even as you get older, there are many benefits and reason why everyone should involve some type of weight training into their exercise routines.
What is strength training?
Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training, is any activity that increases muscle mass. This type of training can be done with body weight (no equipment), free weights (medicine balls, barbells, and dumbbells), weight machines, or even bands. Sports such a cycling and rowing also have resistance elements. Strength is the ability to produce force, such that the best way to produce force and get stronger is to move heavier weights overtime. When training for general fitness, strength training should take priority because it is the foundation by which all other training becomes productive to exercise well and get the full benefits from exercise, getting stronger is necessary.
Increases bone mineral density -
This is one of the biggest reasons everyone should be doing at least some strength training, especially as you get older. As we age, declining muscle mass is natural, after the age of 30 we can lose as much as 3-5% per decade. Less muscle mass means weakness and less mobility which increases your risk of falls and fractures. Every time a muscle contracts, it pulls on the bones it is attached to which stimulates the cells within the bone to produce and move necessary proteins and minerals. Regular strength training increases bone mineral density in both younger and older adults and can help to reduce the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Improve and maintain flexibility, balance and mobility -
Improving and maintaining flexibility and mobility can help enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age. Joint flexibility can also reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Reduce the risk of Injury -
As I have touched on in the above 2 points, strength training can reduce the risk of injury. Not only does strength training makes your muscles and bones stronger, it also strengthens your connective tissues. If a muscle is too weak, it puts more stress on its connecting tendon and can also lead to tendonitis. Increasing the strength of your ligaments and tendons lead to better motor performance and less strain on joints. These things start to be more important as we age to maintain independence, as strength training has been shown to reduce risk of falling by 40 per cent.
Increases Muscle mass -
As mentioned above, increasing muscle mass helps bone density and reducing injuries. It is also the most obvious benefit of weight training as it will make you stronger, increase your physical work capacity and impacts your body composition (the way we look). This can help you to train harder and for longer before your muscles start to get fatigued. Lifting weights will also help everyday activities become that bit easier too – carrying groceries in, gardening, even lifting your kids.
Weight Management -
Strength training can help to both manage and lose weight. As you gain muscle, it can increase your metabolism and your body begins to burn calories more easily, making it easier to control your weight.
Mental health -
Strength training can improve symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety. Strength training provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resiliency.
Studies have shown that both men and women feel better about themselves when they lift weights. Getting stronger, lifting more weight, and noticing changes to their bodies can build confidence, improve body image, and enhance their self-esteem.
Regular strength training and aerobic exercise can also help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.
- Men and women of all ages can benefit from strength training, but get a doctor’s OK before beginning, especially if you haven’t exercised in a while.
- Warm up properly before starting and exercise and cold muscles are more prone to injury.
- If an exercise causes pain, stop the exercise.
- Don’t do an exercise you don’t know how to do, always get a trainer to teach proper form and technique to avoid injuries.
- Give your body time to recover between sessions. A day or two rest between exercising specific muscle groups.
- Two or three 20- or 30-minute strength training sessions every week can result in significant health benefits.
If you are wanting to build muscle size then strength training is essential to making that happen, but even if building the biggest muscle size isn’t your goal, there are too many physical, mental and overall health benefits to leave resistance training out of your workout schedule. Results take time, so do not expect to see them straight away, but you will feel a difference in your strength over time.
So, no matter your gender or age, strength training is important to everyone! It is never to late to start, get your doctors OK, get yourself a trainer, and you will thank yourself later.