Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strength training, and why every girl, and guy, should do it

For years I was a runner, I would spend hours on every workout. I was in good shape, but not great shape, and the most frustrating part was that I was actually gaining weight! What is a girl to do?!
The simple answer is resistance, or strength training.

Strength training is using muscular force against resistance

The resistance can be a heavy object, one’s own body weight, elastic resistance from bands, or other types of machine resistance from pulleys or hydraulics. The heavy object could be a kettlebell, free weight, log, rock, another person — anything that has mass.



What makes strength training so amazing, you ask?

For starters.... it helps with

  • building muscle tissue 
  • improving inter- and intra-muscular coordination — in other words, the ability to coordinate your moving parts 
  • improving rate of force production — how quickly you can generate force to move against the resistance 
  • strengthening connective tissues such as tendons 

Not to mention...
Strength training also:

  • Preserves and enhances metabolic rate 
  • Improves bone density 
  • Improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity 
  • Lowers risk of injury 
  • Improves ability to engage in daily activities 
  • Improves balance 
  • Improves self-esteem 
  • Enhances strength and endurance 
  • Enhances speed, power, and agility 
  • Improves overall body composition 
  • Decreases bad cholesterol levels 
  • Decreases blood pressure 
  • Improves aerobic capacity 

Along with all these amazing benifits it helps get rid of excess fat! 

There are several methods of strength training, including, but not limited to:

  • Body weight, such as squats and push ups
  • Static, such as wall sits, plank, and yoga
  • Free weight and weight machine, such as bench press and weighted squats
  • Other forms of resistance, foam rollers, resistance bands,TRXs, etc
  • Plyometrics, explosive exercises such as jumps and clapping push ups
Is one form better than the other? Honestly no, your program should be based on your goals, and your current health.

What about reps?

  • Your reps (number of times a repetition is performed) should be proportional to the weight, or amount of resistance you are using. The heavier, or higher the resistance the lower the weight should be, and the lower the weight or resistance, the higher number of reps. 
How often should I strength train?

  • Again, this will vary based on goals, generally though, you should strength train between 2.5-3 hours distributed evenly through out the week. 
                   For example:
                       Monday/Wednesday/Friday for 60 minutes
                       Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday for 45 minutes

However, with sufficient variation in intensity, volume, and exercise choice, along with proper rest and recovery, more experienced trainees can do up to 5-7 hours/week.

A couple of tips (especially for the ladies)

  • Do NOT be afraid to work your upper body! I am sure you have heard rumors that if you do push ups your upper body will look like a man. It's not true!  Working your upper body is going to give you toned arms and a beautiful back... not to mention it will help things stay in their proper place as you age, if you know what I mean..

  • Lift heavy! I'm not saying to start off bench pressing 300lbs or anything crazy like that. Start off light and as you build your strength gradually go heavier. This will help keep you from hitting a plateau while you continue to gain tone and strength. Please notice I did not say bulk!  If you are concerned that you  are going to start looking like one of those huge muscle women fear not. Without the use of steroids, diet manipulation, and intense weight training most women will remain relatively small while still developing strength and beautiful sleek body lines. If you do happen to start getting bigger than you want to be, lift a little bit lighter and do more reps.  

If you have any questions feel free to post them as a response to this post or message me on my Facebook page!

For a more in depth article about weight training follow this link.

Please remember you should consult your doctor before starting any exercise program. 

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