Why should we strength train?
Generally, we have two types of training- strength training (or weight training or resistance training) and cardio training. The differences between those two types can be seen even from the name. Strength training helps to increase strength and muscle mass, whereas cardio training strengthens our cardiovascular system and activity.
Strength training is overlooked by many people. If the foal is to lose weight, it is much more probably the person will start doing more cardio because it “burns more calories”. That is actually true in the majority of cases, but strength training goes much beyond the number of calories burnt- it can help in so many other aspects of our lives. So why should we incorporate strength training into our weekly routine?
One of the biggest benefits of strength training is its ability to strengthen our bones. The stress and pressure put onto our skeletons increases the bone density and therefore their strength. Our bones are getting more fragile the older we get and with that, there is an increased chance of osteoporosis (which is quite a common issue that old people have to deal with). Strength training helps to prevent those complications which I will appreciate more, I guess, when I am 60 than now when I am in my 20s.
Strength training of course helps to muscle growth. It is because the muscle tissues are being torn up and they have to build themselves up during the time of resting. That is not important only if we want to be muscular, but it helps tremendously during weight loss as well. Muscle mass is much more metabolically active than for example fat tissue, and therefore the more muscle we have on our body, the more calories we are able to burn in a resting phase.
Even though it takes a lot of time to actually build the muscles, the results are worth it. Because as bones are getting weaker and more fragile, the muscles are also diminished when we get older. That is why strength training is important not only to actually build the muscle tissue but also to maintain it – especially further down the road of our life.
Improvement in posture and compensation of body imbalances. Correct posture is very important for any body movement. Nowadays, with hours and hours of sitting behind a computer, it is quite common that we create imbalances or abnormalities in our bodies – crouching, back pain, blocked neck, stiff muscles and tendons, weakened core, weakened glutes, back muscles, and more. Those can further lead to more serious health problems and pains. But we can actually improve those imbalances with correctly executed weight training exercises as we relearn to use them in a correct manner.
One of the more personal benefits for me is the general strengthening of my body which can lead to increased self-confidence. With strength training, it is fairly easy to follow how we are improving week to week and our body is getting stronger and stronger. To actually achieve your self-set goals is great but even the sense that I am able to take my heavy grocery bags by myself or I can jump over a high wall if I pull myself up is giving me a great boost of confidence. I know that I can do it by myself and no one has to help me.
What are the options?
Strength training doesn’t necessarily mean to bench press 400 pounds. Yes, we can strength train in a gym but we can do that also at home. We can use free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, bars, etc.), machines, but also exercising with our own body weight (squats, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, and millions of other options) or with resistance tools (for example resistance bands which will help to increase the overall resistance and hence it is more difficult). The most important thing is that the training is to be DIFFICULT for your body so that there would be the stimulus for your muscles and bones to adapt to a new challenge.
If you don’t know how to go on about it, I would strongly recommend working with a personal trainer. It will make everything so much easier and you won’t be on your own. When I look at my beginnings with exercising, I wish I would have invested some money into a time with a trainer. I would have spared myself of so many injuries and time that I had to devote to learn everything on my own. If you don’t have any extra money to hire a coach, you can always write to me! I will be happy to help to make your training as efficient as possible and prevent unnecessary injuries.