There is a common misconception that strength training makes us bulky.
In fact, strength training goes hand in hand with our overall health and fitness training. Strength training helps us burn body fat, increase our lean muscle mass, and burn calories more efficiently. It helps improve our sleep, and even avoid depression.
As we get older, our muscle mass and strength starts to diminish. This is a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia can be a result, or exacerbated by a certain chronic condition.
Another point to keep in mind is that if we don’t do anything about replacing the lean muscles, we may start to gain a higher percentage of fat instead. Yikes!
Some of the benefits of weight training
Current research has shown us that by engaging in strength training 2-3 times per week, we enhance our muscle mass at any age.
Not only do we enhance our muscle mass, but strength training also helps:
Develop strong bones – by building muscles, we help improve our bone density, giving it a layer of protection. It also has to ability to help osteoporosis.
Manage chronic conditions – back pain, diabetes, depression, arthritis, and obesity are all common conditions and can all be avoided or show signs of improvement through a good strength training regime.
Enhance the general quality of life – having a strong body does us well long term, as it improves the quality of our everyday activities. As we get older our balance isn’t as good, our reflexes a little delayed. Building muscle can help us avoid injuries and help maintain balance.
Weight training options
The options for weight training are endless, and can be performed at the gym or at home.
The good news is it doesn’t always require having equipment as lifting our own body weight can be heavy duty enough.
Of course having a few toys to play with is always fun.
Here are a few options:
Free weights – kettle bells, dumbbells, and barbells are classic weight training equipment.
Body weight – push ups, burpee’s, leg squats, pull ups, and crunches are great exercise which requires no equipment and can be done just about anywhere.
Weight machines – you can invest weight machines for home use, but if space is an issue, most gyms will have the perfect set up for resistance machines.
Getting started and being patient to see the results
Getting started takes a bit of work and planning. And of course tons of dedication! We always want to see quick results…it’s just human nature!
The good news is we don’t need to spend hours a day strength training in order to see results. Even as little as 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week will give us significant results.
There are a few important things to keep in mind though, and safety is one of them. A trainer or fitness specialist can be a huge help when we’re just starting out as they teach us proper technique which will help us avoid injury.
If we’re experiencing a chronic condition, we’re older than 40, or have suffered from an injury leaving us recently inactive – we need to remember to always check with our doctor first before beginning any training program.
Giving our muscles time to recover in between training will help avoid injury and give the muscles time to repair. A full day of rest in between will usually do the trick.
Most importantly, listening to our body can be crucial in our success from weight training!