To build strength, anaerobic endurance, and improve the size of your core, you can use resistance to contract your muscles. That includes weight lifting or the use of resistance bands. This type of training usually includes added muscle output via a progressive increase of weights. You can also target certain muscle groups, and if you add circuit training, it also provides you with the added benefits of aerobic exercise.
Why Strength Training
There are several reasons we perform strength training, and they include:
- Physical attraction – If you are a man, studies show that many women enjoy a smaller waist and broad shoulders. For women, a more toned look is more appealing to some men.
- Rehabilitation purposes, such as experiencing an accident or injury – Examples are post-stroke, or surgery, or to address a weak muscle or other disability. Or a particular health condition could lead to the recommendation of strength training with a physical therapist.
- Improved performance – Athletes use strength training to help them compete better in their chosen sport.
- Fun – It’s fun and mood elevating because the physical activity aids in the production of dopamine, which contributes to fighting feelings of depression.
Benefits of Strength Training
When you perform strength training, there are several overall benefits to your health and well-being.
- Increased bone strength and density – This inherently declines with age. We all know that milk helps with bone density; however, if you’re trying to avoid carbs, strength training is the answer. The practice can also help to slow or prevent the onset of osteoporosis.
- Improved muscle tone – Your arms won’t be waving a flappy goodbye, just your hand.
- Flexibility – Resistance training can help improve flexibility.
- Tougher tendons and ligaments – Toughened tendons and ligaments help hold bone to muscle and bone to bone, respectively. This helps to prevent injuries and tears that can come with everyday physical activity.
- Easier joint functions – helps to reduce your potential for damage or harm.
- Posture – Your posture improves, because your core is getting stronger.
- Better heart health – This comes with weight lifting, and it lifts your healthy cholesterol levels and lowers your bad cholesterol.
- Improved metabolism – Get your metabolism all riled up with a few dumbbells. Your resting metabolic rate improves and if weight loss is a goal, adding strength training to a healthy diet and cardio work, may lead you to lost pounds and inches.
- More power – If you need to run faster and have more height in your jumps, strength training aids in the building of fibers such as those that help us generate more power than just a cardio routine.
- Quicker results – Strength training gives you quick results. Within a month of two to three times of lifting per week, you can see and feel the difference.
Some folks worry about weight lifting for one reason or another. If you’re worried about:
- Bulking up – Too much bulk, or adding too much extra muscle, no need because you can use lighter weights and higher reps, the goal is to get the muscle tired.
- Expensive equipment and gym memberships. – You can strength train wherever you feel comfortable, using inexpensive resistance bands.
- Too skinny – Being seen in the gym with “Skinny Minnie” arms or “chicken legs,” and working out next to the Hulk, you can exercise at home. Read on for some tips!
Depending on your needs, there are diverse ways to use weights or resistance to get your body to its desired condition. By changing the reps, sets, tempo, force, or level of resistance, you can achieve your goal. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the standard recipe is: eight to 12 repetitions with a two to three-minute rest in between sets is considered the “norm,” with two to four sets in each muscle group.
It’s also important to use proper form when you are strength training to avoid potential strain or injury. You are going to want to allow each muscle group to get a decent challenge but not to the extent of overloading, which is what could lead to an injury. The goal is ensuring that all your muscles get a workout to avoid any particular weak link in the chain.
How to Meet Goals
If greater endurance is your goal, slowly add reps while reducing intensity. Most suggest 13 to 20 reps.
If you are a beginner, one set may be adequate for just starting out. If you are an experienced lifter, multiple sets are necessary to ensure progress. Specifically, for leg muscles, three sets are the most effective.
It was mentioned earlier that expensive dumbbells are not necessary, and there are even “free” ones, like these household items:
- One Pound Weights
- Sixteen-ounce cans of beans
- Salad dressing bottles
- Vinegar bottles
- Use a rubber band to join ten spoons, knives or forks
- Two Pound Weights
- Half gallons of milk (non-refrigerated is best)
- Two-pound bags of rice
- Three Pound Weights
- Bags of apples, oranges or onions
- Four Pound Weights
- 64-ounce ketchup bottles (be sure the top is secured)
- Four-pound bags of pet food
- Five Pound Weights
- Bags of potatoes, rice or flour
And you get the gist here; there are options for you if you’re not into the gym scene.
These are just a few terms you may hear as you venture into strength training. Here are some of them:
- Intensity – Intensity is the amount of effort it takes for you to do the lift. This is also known as “beasting it up.”
- Volume – Volume is the number of repetitions.
- Type of Lift – Type of lift is all about the muscle group you want to build. For legs, focus on quads and calves. Arms include biceps and triceps.
- Variety – Variety is changing the reps, sets, or order of your routine.
- Progressive Overload – Progressive overload is a gradual increase in weight sizes.
- Resting – Rest in between each set of reps.
- Recovery – Recovery is different from rest; the recommendation is to rest each muscle group for about 48 hours. You can do other muscle groups in the interim.
- Boulders – You may hear a built, hard set of shoulders as “boulders.”
- Cheap – If someone tells you to “stop the cheap reps,” they mean you’re not in the right posture for your weight or the weight is too much for you and you’re getting lazy with your form. When that happens, move on to another muscle group or head home.
To avoid injury to you or anyone nearby, be sure you have good control over the weights. They should not be thrown or swung through the motions. Always use well maintained and safe equipment. Be sure to cool down and warm up properly. A few slow, long stretches are
helpful. Synthetic clothing doesn’t breathe as well as natural fibers, and you may like multiple layers because your temperature may vary. Exhale when you are at the highest level of exertion and avoid the natural tendency to hold your breath. Working the muscle from full extension to full contraction helps ensure the muscle gets the best workout, and keeps the risk of injury to a minimum.
As you might expect, eating spinach wasn’t the only thing Popeye did to make those muscles and impress his gal; he also did regular strength training. With all the information supplied above, we know you want to get started today getting better rest, relieving stress and improving your energy. Not to mention the other amazing benefits we’ve covered for you above. Happy lifting!