7 Reasons Everyone Needs Strength Training
Let’s face it, we’re all getting older. If you want to stay healthy and happy you’ll need to stay strong as it happens. Most people don’t necessarily want to look like Arnold but you don’t have to bulk up to reap the benefits of keeping your body strong.
It’s a normal part of life that the body loses muscle mass as we age, but it doesn’t have to. If you know what to do you can keep it from happening. In as little as 3 times a week you can stop muscle loss and even reverse it with strength training. By challenging your body with strength training you stretch your muscles and keep them strong. You won’t bulk up if you don’t want to either. Body builders know that the key to getting big is heavier weight and fewer repetitions. The flip side of the coin is if you want a lean and fit body without getting big then lighter weight and more repetitions is what you want.
People of any age might be surprised to learn how much weight they can lift after just a little time and practice. The goal is to try to shoot for a strength training session 3 times a week. This allows your muscles to rest and grow and prevents you from overdoing it. Start out slow with less weight than you think you can handle. Once I took a month off from lifting weights when school and work got to be too demanding. When I finally got back to the gym, I thought I could just pick up with where I left off. Big mistake. I was sore for a week and learned my lesson. The best way is to do less than you think you can, then see how you feel in a couple of days. If you feel a little sore that’s good, that’s the right place to start. If you don’t feel sore at all, next time you’ll add a little weight or more repetitions. Generally, try to do 3 sets of 10 with a weight that feels comfortable. If you belong to a gym that offers exercise consultations, by all means take advantage of it. They will judge your fitness levels and put together a program tailored for you. This will give you a big jump on your progress because you’ll be skipping the hit or miss phase.
By the way, strength training doesn’t necessarily mean lifting weights. Simply doing what they call “body weight” exercises like push ups and pull ups are an excellent way of getting in shape, can be done anywhere and don’t need any equipment. The legendary martial artist Bruce Lee only did body weight exercises and nobody doubts that he was in good shape!
What else can strength training do for you?
- Weight loss. It has been estimated that even if you stayed in bed all day, you would still burn 80% of your calories simply by maintaining your metabolism. Your body is burning fat, even while you’re asleep. Muscle burns more calories than other tissue so it makes sense that increasing you muscle mass will increase the rate that you burn fat, even when you’re not moving.
- Better balance. Strength training improves your balance as you get used to performing a variety of exercises in different positions. You won’t be so unsteady on your feet, or as you sit and stand up. You’ll feel more confident doing simple tasks like carrying a bag of groceries from your car to the house or more complicated efforts like riding a bike.
- Better flexibility. Strength training lengthens muscles as it builds them. Soon you’ll realize that you can reach farther with less effort.
- Better bone health. Strength training can help to slow and sometimes stop bone loss from occurring. When you put stress on your muscles you also put stress on what your muscles are attached to – your bones. Stronger bones means better resistance to fractures and breaks and, while there are many contributing factors to osteoporosis, a major one is a sedentary lifestyle.
- More energy. Sometimes getting out of my chair to go to the gym is the hardest part of my workout. Once I get there I’m glad I did because I feel the surge in energy because of the increase in oxygen getting to my brain and the increased blood flow.
- Mental health and happiness. When you exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released into your bloodstream. These chemicals give you a feeling of happiness and generally contribute to a positive mental attitude.
- Joint health. If you suffer from aches and pains in your joints strength training can reduce this pain. As you continue to exercise your bones become denser as your muscles grow.
Everyone values their independence. Teenagers can’t wait for the day they get their drivers license and the elderly dread the day that they may lose theirs. Independence means freedom and keeping your body healthy, fit and strong is a major factor in your ability take care of your own life and to live on your own. Ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.
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