First of all …. what is strength training!?
Strength training is physical activity designed to improve strength by exercising a muscle or group of muscles against a form of resistance. Different examples of resistance would be your own body weight, weights (free weights or machines) or resistance bands.
If I strength train won’t I get big and bulky?
Not necessarily! Yes strength training builds muscle mass and strength but bulking up comes from intense lifting and diet alterations. It’s not something that can happen accidentally. Strength training is extremely beneficial to physical and mental health and shouldn’t be avoided just because you don’t want broad shoulders. If you want to avoid bulking you can tailor your workout to include less sets/more reps with a lighter weight instead of more sets/less reps with heavier weight which stimulates hypertrophy.
Why should I strength train?!
Here are 5 reasons why you should start strength training tomorrow!
1. Keeps off the extra weight
When people want to lose weight and burn calories they immediately think of aerobic exercises (running, biking etc). However, strength training actually help boosts your metabolism and helps you burn calories throughout the entire day (when you’re not even working out).
2. Good for your insides
From your bones to your heart, strength training can positively affect every system in your body.
·Protects muscle mass
Fun fact: You start losing muscle mass in late 20s/early 30s, approximately 3-8% of lean muscle per decade. Crazy right?! Counteracting this loss with strength training slows down the process. Also, once you lose muscle mass you’ll start to replace lean muscle with fat and who wants that??
·Increases bone density (incredibly important after age 40, especially for women)
Weight bearing excercises are essential for retaining bone density. When strength training, muscle contraction sends a signal to the attached bone to move minerals into the bone to maintain strength. Strong bones decreases the risk of osteoporosis, or weak bones which leads to a higher risk of fractures.
· Less work for your heart
Stronger muscles are able to perform better with less oxygen, meaning your heart does less work to deliver oxygen. Decreasing blood pressure (the amount of work your heart has to do to get blood to the rest of the body) also helps prevent heart disease in the long run.
·Controls blood sugar levels
For my diabetics, pre-diabetes or anyone with diabetes in their family strength training trains muscle cells to pick up glucose from the blood faster, reducing blood sugar levels.
· Less work for your joints
Strengthening muscles around a joint can maintain a healthy range of motion and reduces strain on the ligaments (like an ACL for example) protecting the joint. Keeping extra weight off also puts less pressure on your joints. However, you can poorly affect your joints if you consistently lift too heavy or have improper form.
3. Good for your outsides
Strength training is great for little things you don’t even think about like balance and posture. As we get older, these are harder to maintain but stronger muscles = more stability and less injury. Most importantly, after putting on some muscle and getting abdominal definition, you’ll walk with more confidence and what else could be better for your posture than holding your head a little higher.
4. The ultimate mood and energy booster
“Working out gives you endorphins, endorphins make people happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”-Elle Woods
Strength training does in fact give you endorphins which increase both energy and mood. Strength training also increases your oxygen demand and forces your heart to pump more blood to your muscles and brain increasing energy levels.
5. Natural sleep aid
Put the melatonin down and grab some weights. Strength training can completely turn your sleep habits around by improving sleep quality and amount. Studies have shown a direct correlation between strength training and time spent in deep sleep. It also increases energy expenditure making you more tired at the end of the day and making it easier to fall asleep faster.
So let’s start 2019 off with a bang and start strength training! For people who might not know where to begin, check out my blog post I’m New to the Gym and I Have No Idea Where to Start here. Also remember, the most important thing about strength training is using correct form to prevent injury. Check out my favorite trainers on instagram, Smalletics, Flask Strength & Conditioning, and Verb Fitness for exercise ideas and proper form techniques!