Don't wait any longer, it's time to get stronger!
Welcome to the summer of strength! It's July and summer is in full swing. This month the Be Well blog focuses on all things strength training. Why? Because strength training is one of the best things you can do to improve your health.
For those of you who have never done any strength training before, now is the perfect time to get started! If you typically engage in strength training, great! Maybe use this month as an opportunity to take your training to the next level or try something new. Let’s dive in!
What is strength training?
Strength training, also known as weightlifting or resistance training, is defined as any physical movement in which your body weight or equipment (such as dumbbells, free weights, or resistance bands) is used to build muscle mass, endurance, and strength.
The primary types of strength training include:
Muscle building or muscular hypertrophy where moderate-to-heavy weights are used to increase muscle size.
Muscular endurance or the ability for muscles to sustain activity for a time period. This type of training usually involves light weights and high repetitions.
Maximum muscular strength where improved overall strength is achieved through low repetitions and heavy weights.
Circuit training for full body strengthening. In this form of strength training you cycle through various exercises or stations with little to no rest in between.
Power training which combines speed and power to improve an athlete’s ability to perform explosive movement and increase output.
In general, most people focus on muscle endurance, circuit training for overall body conditioning, and muscle building, while power training and maximum muscular strength are usually more common with athletes.
What equipment is needed for strength training?
If you are new to strength training, I recommend starting with body weight. Think push-ups, squats, planks, etc. Bodyweight training uses your own body weight plus the force of gravity to perform exercises. As a progression, resistance bands can be used to add additional resistance when stretched. I like these resistance loops for their compact size and versatility. Suspension equipment, like a TRX suspension trainer (my favorite piece of gym equipment), is another great option and typically consists of straps that are anchored to a sturdy object allowing a person to use their body weight (and gravity) to perform a wide variety of exercises. Finally, there are weights. The two most common options are free weights and weight machines. I personally prefer free weights, but weight machines can be beneficial when you are just starting out as they can help provide more controlled movement. Free weights include equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and medicine balls and due to their more compact size are a good option for a home gym. Weight machines typically use adjustable weights or another form of resistance and given their larger size are more commonly found in a gym or fitness center.
What are the benefits of strength training?
There are so many benefits to strength training it’s hard to even list them all here! Here are some of the big ones:
Strength training makes you stronger. This may seem obvious, but it doesn’t just mean you will be able to lift heavier weights. Becoming stronger allows you to perform every day tasks like carrying your children or completing house projects much easier.
Strength training boosts your metabolism. Not only does increasing lean muscle mass increase your resting metabolic rate in the long run because muscle burns more calories than fat, but your metabolic rate can be increased for up to 72 hours after a strength training workout. This means your body will burn more calories at rest for up to three days after your strength training session. To maximize this benefit, consider strength training every two to three days to experience a more consistent elevated resting metabolic rate.
Strength training can improve your body composition by increasing muscle while losing fat. Not only will this help you appear leaner, it also has great health benefits. Especially when an individual has visceral fat stored around the abdomen. This type of fat is specifically linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Strength training can make you more resistant against falls and injuries. As you become stronger, you are better able to support your body. Strength training also helps improve range of motion, increase mobility, and correct muscle imbalances all of which can help protect against injury.
Strength training can strengthen bones reducing the risk of osteoporosis or injuries as you age. Weight-bearing exercises can help slow bone loss and increase bone strength by putting stress on the bones signaling the body to deposit calcium and send bone-building cells into action.
Strength training improves confidence and self-esteem. Becoming stronger increases your self-efficacy and confidence that you can perform certain tasks. It can also improve body satisfaction and promote a healthy positive body image.
Strength training, and exercise in general, can boost your mood. Exercise helps reduce anxiety, relieve stress, and promote the release of endorphins which are associated with a positive mood.
How should you get started with strength training?
Start small and build. Body weight is a good place to start as you learn how to properly perform exercises. From there add in resistance bands, suspension, and weights. Choose the appropriate amount of weight and number of repetitions based on your goals. If you are looking for muscle endurance select lighter weights and higher repetitions. If your goal is building larger muscles, then lower repetitions and higher weights is the way to go. If you are looking for overall body toning, consider circuit training with a mix of body weight, suspension training, and weights. Most importantly avoid overdoing it. The last thing you want to do is get injured, so don’t jump in too quickly with too heavy weights or too many exercises. It’s always better to start small and slow and build from there. Your fitness journey, just like your overall wellness journey, is a marathon not a sprint. It’s all about the long-term benefits and results.
Are you ready to get started? Looking for someone to help guide you? Look no further! As a certified personal trainer I’d love to help you. Be Well Health Coaching is launching a 3-month Be Fit with Be Well Personal Training Program! Check it out here! Book a complimentary initial consultation today to get started.
Until next time....Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.