What Is Strength Training and Why Is It Important?
Whether you call it strength training, muscle training, or weight training, this kind of exercise builds strength, endurance, and ultimately, burns more calories. Combining strength training with aerobic exercise gives you a balanced fitness regimen that will help you look and feel your best. So, what exactly is strength training, and how can it boost your wellbeing? Here is what you need to know.
Strength Training 101
Strength training is a broad term that refers to any kind of activity that uses either equipment or your own body weight to increase your muscle mass as well as your strength and endurance. There are many kinds of strength training, including:
- Muscle endurance. This kind of strength training involves increasing the strength of your muscles and your ability to use your muscle strength for longer periods of time. It is usually done with lighter weights and high numbers of reps.
- Circuit training. With circuit training, you get a full body muscle workout. It involves performing strength-building activities one after another without rest or with very minimal rest between activities on the circuit.
- Muscular hypertrophy. If you are looking to build bigger muscles, then this is the kind of strength training for you. Heavier weights are used with this kind of training to boost muscle growth.
Two other kinds of strength training are most commonly performed by trained athletes and experienced weightlifters. Maximum muscular strength refers to a form of strength training that uses heavy weights to achieve fast muscle and strength building. It is important to ensure you have the right form before attempting maximum muscular strength training. Explosive training combines weight and speed and is intended to help athletes who need to make explosive movements while competing.
Muscles and Aging
Over time, you naturally lose lean muscle mass, which is replaced by fat. Strength training helps you fight back against this trend. In addition to helping you beat conditions that are associated with high levels of body fat, strength training has also been demonstrated to improve memory and brain function in older adults. The even better news is that it is never too late to start strength training, especially if you work with a trainer who can demonstrate safe, healthy techniques for different exercises.
Yet another benefit of strength training: Strong muscles help build strong bones. Strength training increases bone density, while strong muscles help to support bones and reduce the risk of injuries. Given the risk of falls facing older adults, strength training can play an important role of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding age-related injuries.
Burn More Calories
Did you know that the more muscle tissue you have, the more fat you burn, even at rest? There are many different factors that contribute to exactly how many more calories that muscles burn as compared to fat, including things like age, sex, and activity level, but an average calculation is that one pound of muscle burns an extra 50 calories of fat. You get an additional boost of calorie burning after a strength-training workout, which lasts for up to 72 hours—this is known as afterburn. If you train consistently, you will enjoy the benefits of afterburn on an ongoing basis.
Prevention and Management of Chronic Conditions
Strength training can help to keep chronic conditions at bay or help to keep them under control if you are already living with one or more of them. Strength training can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity, sleep apnea, and depression. These benefits are increased if strength training is combined with an overall fitness regimen that incorporates cardio workouts.
If you are already living with a chronic medical condition, strength training continues to have benefits. The physical activity and associated weight loss can improve blood sugar control, lower blood pressure, and boost your mood. As with any kind of workout plan, be sure to consult with your physician before adopting a weight training routine.
Getting Started on a Strength Training Regime
To begin strength training, start by getting the necessary equipment. You can strength train using your own body weight, but you may find it helpful to get a few pieces of equipment to help with some of your movements. Free weights, resistance bands, medicine balls, and kettlebells are all small pieces of equipment that don’t take up much space but are effective for upping the effectiveness of your workouts.
It is essential to have healthy form for strength training to avoid injuries. Working with a trainer is an important step to ensure you are getting the benefits of strength training without the risks. That is where Body Essentials can help. We offer on-demand fitness classes and group and private training sessions online, from the comfort of your home. We can also assist you with a comprehensive fitness and nutrition plan, so you can reach your goals faster. Are you interested in learning more about how we can support you as you get fit and healthy? Call us at 802-345-9644, or request a consultation on our website.