We do not need To remind you that exercise is important for good health. Absolutely How However, your exercise is also important. It’s worth reminding that strength training should have a place in your exercise routine.
Strength training is no longer just for experienced and professional athletes. Step into a gym, and you’ll likely see a wide range of people on the weight room floor. Look on YouTube or Instagram and you’ll find videos of 70-year-olds repeating heavy barbell deadlifts or of elementary school kids practicing their front squats with PVC pipe during gym class.
This is the new normal for people of all ages and fitness levels and it’s more than just a trend. The health and wellness benefits of strength training go beyond getting stronger.
What is strength training?
Simply put, strength training, also known as resistance training, is a type of exercise that requires your muscles to contract under the load of external resistance. That external resistance can be applied through your body weight, as in push ups or pull ups, or with equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, resistance bands or cable machines.
Strength training improves the strength of your muscles, the amount of force they are able to produce. There are many benefits of strengthening your muscles. Here are some, with the guidance of Eric Sung, CSCS, an instructor and member men’s HealthStrengths in diversity initiatives.
Top Benefits of Strength Training
Increases muscle strength and size
The goal of many gym goers is to transform their body by building muscle. Strength training is the means to make this a reality. While cardiovascular exercise helps work your heart muscle, to build skeletal muscle strength and size, you will need to consistently incorporate resistance training.
The stability of your joints depends on the strength of your muscles. Muscles absorb some of the impact you exert on joints through activities such as walking, running and jumping. They also help protect against directional forces that can push our joints in directions they are not designed to go.
“Muscles help hold the joints in place,” says Sung. “Think of it like a building. The strong muscles around the joints are like the spine of the building.”
It’s clear that building stronger muscles can help prevent injury to our joints. Strength training also limits the risk of bone injuries. When there is stress on the bone, the density of the bone increases in the same way as it increases when lifting heavy weight. Increasing bone density may reduce the risk of fractures and breaks. It may also help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis or deterioration of bone tissue later in life.
“This is a pro that resonates particularly with the elderly population, [by] reducing the risk of falls, and increasing the likelihood [being able to] Get up after you fall,” says Sung.
Help burn more calories
Consistent strength training will increase muscle mass in the body. One pound of muscle burns about 13 calories a day, while one pound of fat tissue only burns about 4 calories. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a ton of calories, but if you’re training enough to gain muscle, chances are you’ll be burning even more calories by working out and moving around. If you’re expelling more calories than you’re taking in, thereby improving your body composition, that calorie burn can translate into fat loss.
Enhances quality of life
Building muscle strength through strength training makes everyday life activities easier, which promotes a better quality of life, says Sung. “Whether it’s running, walking, pulling or pushing doors, it makes daily activities easier to do.”
If you ever heard your mother yelling at you to “stand up straight” as a child, you may benefit from strength training. A means to train your back muscles is to include an all-round strength program. Sung says strong back muscles help improve your posture.
Good posture spreads the pressure of gravity evenly through the skeleton, so no part of our body is overly stressed. It keeps our spine healthy, promotes better digestion, improves lung capacity and keeps us balanced.
Better joint stability means better balance, which can improve agility and direction changes.
Also, incorporating more explosive moments like hang cleans and push presses into your strength training can improve our power output. This may translate into better performance in an activity you enjoy participating in. If you’re a fan of hitting the pickleball court with your friends on Saturday mornings, strength training can help you add more power to your serve. If you’re a runner, strengthening your muscles can improve the pushing portion of your running, making your gait more efficient.
Improves heart health
Building muscle not only burns more calories, but it can also help lower your LDL (the bad kind of cholesterol) and raise your HDL (the good kind of cholesterol). It may also help lower blood pressure and control blood sugar levels, which will improve your heart health.
improve mental health
It’s clear that exercise has a big impact on mental health. Several studies have concluded that resistance training can be particularly helpful in increasing cognition levels and self-confidence, and reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.
How often should you strength train?
Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Recommend strength training your major muscle groups at least twice a week to improve strength and maintain functionality.
However, with that being said, how many times per week you will want to train depends largely on what you want to get out of strength training. If you want to build muscle to increase size, you’ll want to be in the gym a little more than two days per week. If you don’t train frequently enough, you can’t generate stimulation again and again. You don’t reap the benefits of increases in strength and size, says Shawn Arent, PhD, CSCS, chair of the exercise science department at the University of South Carolina. men’s Health,
If you want to improve your general health and fitness, aim for three days per week. men’s Health Fitness Director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS. If you’re aiming for weight loss, try to be as active as possible with at least three strength training sessions a week. If you want to build muscle, you’ll want to increase your frequency to three to five times a week.
What are the risks of strength training?
There is a risk of injury with any physical activity. But, strength training is relatively safe as long as you approach it correctly.
Injuries in strength training typically occur when exercises are performed incorrectly, or the load is increased too quickly. Performing technical exercises like back squats or barbell deadlifts requires months of practice to teach the body proper mechanics. If you’re stacking plates before your muscles are ready, they may not be able to stabilize and control movement under such load. This can cause anything from minor muscle strains to muscle tears, joint dislocations and bone fractures.
Make sure you don’t attempt any exercise without first knowing the basics behind proper form. Connecting with a certified personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach will be the best way to ensure you are learning appropriately and progressing safely.
Who should avoid strength training?
The only people who should not incorporate strength training into their routine are medically minded people. Sung says that if you’ve just recovered from an injury, are recovering from surgery, or have any type of muscular disorder, your doctor may suggest you stay away from strength training. Always get approval from your doctor before starting any new exercise program, including a new strength training program.
Corey Ritchie, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work at HealthCentral, LiveStrong, Self, and more.
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