The Benefits of Strength Training

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Hefting a big bag of potting soil to the backyard. Throwing your 30-pound child into the air and catching him easily. Helping your neighbor carry heavy boxes into the moving truck for an hour and still having energy to spare. All of these activities are things we come across daily– and they can and WILL become much easier with regular strength training.

Wait, strength training can help me do all that?

Most definitely! Have you ever thought about strength training in that way before?

Maybe when you read “strength training” at first, you thought, “Oh that’s just for body builders or people who want big muscles. It’s not for me.”

Think again! Actually unless you spend hours and hours at the gym, you won’t get the over-sized muscles you may be picturing. Just strength training for 20-30 minutes twice a week will sculpt lean muscles and help you feel great.

In fact, there are so many benefits to strength training, I’m betting you’ll be surprised what it can do for you. But first, let’s talk about exactly what strength training is and why it is important for your weight loss program.

Strength training is a way of exercise that improves muscular strength. This is accomplished by gradually increasing weight or resistance, which then stimulates further muscle development and strength to withstand the extra demand on those muscles.

You may be thinking, “Yeah I know, you just lift weights.” It’s true, lifting weights is a method of strength training. But it’s only one of the methods! There are many other ways to do strength training. You may have tried several of them like:

-Lifting free weights like 10-pound hand weights.
-Lifting weights via a weight machine at a gym.*Lifting weights using a barbell and plate
-Using your own body as weight during specific exercises like pull-ups, squats, lunges, push-ups, burpees, plank exercises, tricep dips, Yoga, Pilates, etc.
-Using resistance bands, balls etc.

Now you might be thinking, “It sounds good, but I don’t need to do strength training—I already do aerobic exercises like running or swimming.” Those are great exercises, but adding in strength training will greatly improve your running or swimming form, ability, and endurance.

Actually, strength training has been increasing in popularity across the country and across people of both genders and those of all ages, as people are realizing for themselves these benefits of strength training:

*Increased muscle strength (able to lift heavier things more easily).
*Increased endurance (able to do strenuous activities for longer periods of time).
*Helps you lose weight (it keeps your muscles working and burning calories for hours, thereby boosting your metabolism).
*It improves your bone density (very important to consider as you age especially in WOMEN!).
*It improves your coordination (which will help you when playing sports, exercising, etc.).
*Increases your confidence (you get better and better each time).
*Increases the strength of your connective tissue (which can help prevent injury).
*Relieves stress (by increasing production of endorphins, the “feel good” hormone in your body).
*Decreases your chances of developing certain diseases (such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.).

Besides the NUMEROUS health benefits with strength training, it will also change the way your body looks. I used to be a cardio queen myself– always choosing running, kickboxing, biking etc. over any sort of strength training because my heart rate would get higher and I thought I needed to do that in order to lose weight or keep it off. Cardiovascular exercise is also very important for various reasons — however- without strength training in the routine, your body can be weaker, unstable, less defined and “toned”. Muscle is small in density than fat as well; you might have heard the phrase “Muscle weighs more than fat”. .. this isn’t totally true– but when you have more muscle on your body and weight the same as someone who is more fat than muscle you will look MUCH different. This is why a female can weigh 150 pounds and be either a size 2 or size 12. This is also one of my biggest reasons why I have a problem with the Body Mass Index scale as a measurement tool for obesity. It does NOT account for body composition.

Below is one example of how body composition and weight can make a huge difference. I weighed exactly the same in both photos, they are 3 months part. Obviously, I am leaner on the right side after 3 months of heavy lifting (Body Beast).

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So whether you are young or old, male or female, wanting to relieve stress or just function better and longer, I challenge you to add strength training to your workout routine. I promise you will see and feel a difference in just a few weeks.

If you are new to strength training and would like some guidance on where to start based on your fitness levels and goals– contact me and I’m happy to help!

Be Fit. Be Happy.

Mandy