3 Biggest Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training is exercise that uses resistance to strengthen and condition the muscular-skeletal system, improving muscle tone and endurance. “Strength training” is used as a general term synonymous with other common terms: “weightlifting” and “resistance training.”

Physiologically, the benefits of consistent strength training include an increase in muscle size and tone, increased muscular strength, and increases in tendon, bone, and ligament strength. Lifting weights has also been shown to improve psychological health as well, by increasing self-esteem, confidence and self-worth.

strength training

Improved Physical Appearance and Performance

One important result of strength training is increased physical performance. Muscles quite literally utilize energy to produce movement, functioning as the engine or powerhouse of the body. Strength training increases the muscles’ size, strength, and endurance, which contribute to improvements in our work, favorite sports hobbies, and our general day-to-day activities.
Another benefit of a good strength-training program is its effect on our overall appearance and body composition. Which can directly influence self-esteem, self-worth, and level of confidence. Take, for example, a 170-pound man who has 20 percent body fat; 34 pounds of fat weight and 136 pounds of lean body weight (muscle, bones, organs, water, etc). By beginning an effective strength training program, he replaces five pounds of fat with five pounds of muscle. He still weighs 170 pounds, but he is now 17 percent fat with 29 pounds of fat weight and 141 pounds of lean body weight. Although his body weight remains the same, his strength, muscle tone, and metabolism have improved, giving him a fit appearance.

Both our physical appearance and our physical performance can be improved by muscle gain or hampered by muscle loss. Research indicates that unless we strength train regularly; we lose about one-half pound of muscle every year of our lives after age 30. Unless we implement a safe and effective weight lifting program, our muscles gradually decrease in size and strength in the process called “atrophy.”

Lifting weights is therefore important for preventing the muscle loss that normally accompanies the aging process. A common misconception is that as we reach the age of senior citizens, it is normal to stop being active and to start using ambulatory aides like canes and wheelchairs. Many people think we have no choice; they think this is normal.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is absolutely no reason why all of us can’t be physically, mentally, socially, and sexually active, living a healthy vibrant life until our last day on Earth! The reason many elderly people rely on ambulatory aides and become slower and fatter is simply that over the years their muscles have been wasting away, so their physical performance and metabolism also decrease, becoming less efficient.

Increased Metabolic Efficiency (your ability to burn excess calories)

That one-half pound of muscle loss every year after age 30 produces a one-half percent reduction in basal metabolic rate (BMR) every year. A reduction in BMR means that our bodies are less able to use the food we consume as energy, thus more gets stored as body fat. “Basal metabolic rate” refers to the energy used by our body at rest to maintain normal body functions.

Our muscles have high-energy requirements. Even when we are sleeping, our muscles use more than 25% of our energy (calories). When you implement the principles of effective strength training and you are consistent in your program, you will achieve an increase in lean muscle mass throughout your body and increase your BMR. In other words, you can actually condition your metabolism to work better and more efficiently even when you are at rest.

An increase in muscle tissue causes an increase in metabolic rate, and a decrease in muscle tissue causes a decrease in metabolic rate. You can see that anyone interested in decreasing body fat percentage and their risk of disease as well as in increasing physical performance and appearance, should be strength training to help condition their metabolism (BMR).

One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a weight-management program is not including a strength training routine with their cardiovascular exercise and low-fat eating regimen. This is unfortunate because when we cut calories without exercise, we can lose muscle as well as fat.

Decreased Risk of Sustaining an Injury

Our muscles also function as shock absorbers and serve as important balancing agents throughout our body. Well-conditioned muscles help to lessen the repetitive landing forces in weight-bearing activities such as jogging or playing basketball. Well-balanced muscles reduce the risk of injuries that result when a muscle is weaker than its opposing muscle group.

To reduce the risk of unbalanced muscle development, you should make sure that when you are training a specific muscle group, the opposing muscle groups are being trained as well (though not necessarily on the same day). For example, if you are doing bench-pressing exercises for your chest, you should include some rowing exercises for your back muscles as well.

By now you have probably realized that weightlifting should be an important part of your exercise routine. Weightlifting provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity. When you begin achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change well worth the effort. Good luck; I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective strength training program.

 

Strength training
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Success with Strength Training

Strength training is the most effective way to turn your body into a fat burning machine and stay in great shape! It is the most productive form of exercise there is! In order to be successful with strength training there are some basic principles that must be followed if you want to receive the many benefits which strength training has to offer! The three most critical factors are progressive overload, intensity, and recovery.

Progressive overload simply means that you must force your muscles to work harder each time. That means you can’t use the same weight every workout, regardless of how many sets or reps you do. The best way to do this is by attempting to increase the resistance / weight used and, or increase the number of repetitions performed at each workout.

strength training
Intensity is also very important. You must force your body to increase its strength. For example, if you typically do 3 sets of 10 reps on the leg press at 115 pounds, and your legs are capable of doing 16 reps, why is your body going to make any improvements? Your body will only add muscle if you force it to work at a higher level than it is used to. The most effective way to overload your muscles is to perform one or two sets per exercise, and continue each set to muscular failure. That means continuing each set until no more repetitions are possible. Challenge yourself!

Once you have overloaded the target muscle group you must then allow for proper recovery and over compensation. This means you must rest long enough to allow for recovery of the targeted muscle group, the nervous system, refill glycogen stores (Energy stored within your muscles), and also allow enough time for the muscles to make improvements or increases. This process takes time. Generally, it takes between 2-7 days to recover from a strength workout! The harder you work the longer it takes your body to repair. Don’t short-circuit your progress by strength training too often!

Basic Guidelines for Successful Strength Training

Strength train no more than three times per week!

Perform 1-2 sets per exercise!
Choose 1-2 exercises for small muscle groups and 2-3 for large muscle groups. (ex. 2-3 exercises for legs, back, chest, and 1-2 for arms, shoulders, etc.)
Choose no more than 8-10 exercises and work hard on them! . Always keep a record of all workouts! . Take each set to failure or fatigue!
Perform each exercise SLOWL V! Force the muscle to do the work — NOT momentum!
As soon as you see a slow down in progress it’s time to make a change to your program!

Below are some sample workouts and frequently asked questions regarding strength training.
Full-body Workout 1-2 x per week (approx. 30-40 mins.)
Lat pull-down 2 sets Chest press 2 sets Leg press 2 sets
Lateral raise 1 set Bicep curl 1 set
Triceps pushdown 1 set Leg curl 1 set
Leg extension 1 set

Upper / Lower Split
2-3 x per week (approx. 25-40 mins)

A. Upper
Seated row 2 sets
Shoulder press 2 sets
Lat pull-down 1 set
Pectoral fly 1 set
Lateral raise 1 set
Bicep curl 1 set
Triceps pushdown 1 set

B. Lower
Leg curl 2 sets
Glute machine 1 set
Leg press 2 sets
Leg extension 1 set

 

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