Strength Training Benefits – Why It’s Essential to Your Health
It still surprises me that today in 2010 there are still so few people who are actively working on building their strength through weight training and other activities. The fact is that strength training is very essential to your health and in preventing diseases and joint/bone problems later in life so the point of this article is to bring light to all the benefits. Perhaps we first need to define strength training though…
What Defines Strength Training?
Well strength training is simply training your muscles to be able to lift/pull with greater force and efficiency. So this doesn’t just mean lifting or pulling heavier weights, but being able to do the movements with greater control of your body in space and time.
But how do we get stronger? In my humble point of view, training with weights is the best way to get stronger quickly and safely. When focusing on strength building we want to aim for lifting as heavy a weight as possible approximately 6-8 repetitions in a set for 2-3 sets. This can contrast to an endurance periodization plan where we focus on toning our muscles by doing 12-14 repetitions in a set.
What about women compared to men?
Although women may not want to get the bulky muscle appearance, a strength training period of 4 weeks should be included into their exercise plan at least 3-4 times a year.
Women and men who want to pack on more muscle can split up their strength training and endurance/toning period a little differently though. For instance, most fitness competitors take the fall and winter months to build strength and muscle size and then take the spring and summer to focus on toning and definition with higher repetitions.
So hopefully now the definition and technique is more clear to you but what about the promised benefits?
Strength Training Benefits
Ok this list can be very long, the benefits of strength training have been shown in almost all physiology and sports research! But some of the more interesting benefits range from reducing the risk to age related diseases like Alzheimers, Parkinson’s Disease to arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis and even depression.
Let’s take a quick look at the fundamental biology of how this is happening and how it is benefiting you…
Metabolism and Strength Training
It’s no secret that the more muscle we have the more energy we use up especially since muscle uses up energy and fat does not. Therefore a 150 lb fitness trainer will burn more calories than a 150lb couch potato, so strength training also helps control our weight by continually burning sugar and fat. The cool thing is that this is happening even when we’re sleeping!
As a result a positive biochemical reaction that happens in our body with strength training is improved glucose control meaning a significant reduced risk of type II diabetes (diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in older adults!).
Cardiovascular Health and Strength Training
Stronger muscles also means stronger heart muscles especially if this leads to a leaner body as well. In fact, the American Heart Association is recommending a 3-day-a-week strength training program for adults to reduce risk of heart disease and as a therapy for patients in cardiac rehab programs.
A side effect with stronger heart muscles is also increased aerobic capacity which means that your heart will be able to pump blood more efficiently to all your muscles and organs when you are exercising. The result? Run longer & faster, play sports without getting tired, and have more energy throughout your day.
Arthritis/Bones and Strength Training
Numerous studies have proven that strength training reduces pain associated with arthritis in joints like knees, hands, and shoulders. The improved muscle strength with this kind of training protects the joints and bones and means less pain as you get older. Bones also become stronger and less prone to osteoporosis since their density is kept higher than individuals who don’t train with weights.
An added bonus is that stability is increased substantially when core strength training is practiced and this means a reduced chance of broken bones and sprained tendons especially as we get older.
Strength Training Routines
This is probably the question you all have, where can I get more of these routines. Well pay close attention to the workouts and training section of this site as I will continue to add the best most effective and efficient programs I have experienced personally and with my clients. You can make adjustments by simply reducing reps to 6-8 when you want to focus on strength if that routine is not specifically written out that way.
P.S. I am developing a coaching section to this site for those of you who want a little more one-on-one guidance and I’ll definitely keep the fee minimal so everyone can afford it.
The benefits of strength training are simply far too great to ignore regardless of your age and sex. The more consistent you are with your training, the more you will benefit especially as you age. If you’re too intimidated or not sure about your training regimen then check out the numerous workout routines in the workouts and training section of the site and stay tuned for the coaching section coming very shortly.
Have any questions about strength training benefits your routine or want to suggest ideas for the coaching program? Please leave a comment below…