Similar to all topics surrounding health and fitness, confusion and miscommunication are extremely prevalent in regard to strength training. I have heard so many reasons why a client or member can’t or has never lifted weights: ‘I don’t want to bulk up’, ‘I am completely overwhelmed by the machines’, ‘I am going to get injured’, ‘I don’t want to be sore’, ‘I just do cardio – I don’t need to lift weights’, etc. Our muscles are incredible building blocks for our body and provide us with many appreciated life benefits. You wouldn’t be surprised if your car stopped working if you failed to put oil or gas in…right? So, why are we neglecting to specifically train our muscles to help support our bodies? Strength training is not a ‘one size fits all’ workout. Strength training can be tailored to fit any goal with beautiful variety and creativity. Below I’ve listed some of the benefits of adding strength training to your routine, so in the spirit of expanding our comfort zones please read on:
a. Strength training provides increased strength of bones, muscles, and connective tissues (ligaments & tendons). Strengthening these areas helps decrease the risk of random life injuries, in addition of giving us an enhanced quality of life. Being physically able to carry groceries, play with kids or pets, mow the lawn, hike, go on adventures, etc. all bring a joy to the possibility of life and the everyday.
b. Studies have shown that due to a decrease in activity, on average after the age of 30 we lose about one-half pound of muscle per year. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned while at rest BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). As muscle mass increases, our BMR increases making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
a. Strength training releases endorphins – the ‘feel good’ hormones! This aids in our ability to have a positive perspective and place anxiety and depression further back on the shelf.
b. Do you want more energy? Well more strength, endurance, and power will provide you with more energy during your day.
c. Having a positive self-image and esteem is truly important to feeling balance in your life. Seeing physical results in loss of weight and inches helps boost one’s self-image, in addition to the personal pride that comes from conquering goals through dedication.
3. WHAT NOW?
a. I completely agree…strength training can be overwhelming! You will have to put in some actual focused effort to learn how to properly incorporate strength training into your routine. Just like anything new or challenging, education and effort are critical toward progress and results! Some people love to study and figure things out on their own and that’s absolutely an option, just make sure you are learning from credible and legit sources. Some people want a little professional direction and that is where you would enlist the help of a certified personal trainer. Be very careful to recruit your buddy who lifts a lot and seems to know ‘tons’ on this topic. While working out with your friend may be a great base for accountability and inspiration, it may not be the best resource for initial strength training advice. There are some constants with the human body, but there are also numerous ways that every person is different and will respond differently to strength training. A certified trainer should listen to your goals, factor in any specific hurdles or injuries, and design a specialized plan for your individual needs. Lifting with your experienced bestie or bro is not always the safest or best route toward your goals.
b. Get over the myth hurdles! Ladies…if you incorporate strength training you will NOT bulk up!!! Paired with healthy nutrition, you will lean out and look more toned. I can’t even tell you the number of times I have heard someone ask how to get rid of ‘arm flab’ or ‘bat wings’. Sculpted muscles help your body look strong and vibrant, you will not look like a bodybuilding football player. Building muscle for competition is a completely different focus and intensity, which is one reason it’s considered a sport. The requirements to look like a body builder are no where close to this discussion.
c. Ummm…YES you might be sore sometimes! Any time you work muscles in a new way, you ‘wake up’ that area and you might experience a little tenderness. IT’S TEMPORARY…strength and progress are a process of growth and development…there might be some discomfort along the way. If you are being realistic and safe about your strength training plan, you will grow, develop and LOVE the results.