Why is strength training important or even relevant for you? What is all the fuss about hashtag stronger everyday? Why is it important to build muscle strength and endurance? Read on to know the research-backed benefits of incorporating strength training in your life, and how to get started.
ABOUT MUSCULAR STRENGTH & ENDURANCE
Lean muscle mass diminishes with age, and one’s body fat percentage will go up if he or she doesn’t do anything to replace the muscle mass they lose. Muscular strength and endurance are two very important parameters that determine your body mechanics like the ability to move, lift objects, and even ensuring that you can go about your daily activity with ease and without getting tired easily.
STRENGTH TRAINING IS THE ANSWER
If you had realized that engaging in a certain kind of exercise could aid your heart health, strengthen your bones, improve your lean muscle mass, enhance your posture and the way you carry yourself, help reduce your body fat percentage AND make you feel like a million bucks, would you not want to get going? Yes, I’m talking about Strength Training here. But don’t just listen to me – look at the unbelievable amount of research that concludes that Strength Training renders all these benefits, and then some, and take a call accordingly.
If you hit the gym weekly thrice, does it automatically mean that you engage in weight training? Not necessarily.
Strength training (also known as weight training/ resistance training) comprises of set of activities that aim to improve muscular fitness. It targets a muscle or muscle groups – by using one’s own body weight, free weights, external resistance or machines. Do you just jog on the treadmill/ bike for an hour? You are engaged in just aerobic exercise. Do you lift weights at least few times a week, do planks or push-ups? Congratulations – you do indulge in weight training moderately.
Benefits of Strength Training
There’s a lot more to strength training than just the weight-loss benefits. Here’s a look at some of the benefits of weight training:
A study conducted on centenarians pointed out that genetic predisposition and lifestyle choices determine an individual’s levels of healthy aging and longevity. Additionally, individuals who make healthier and nutritionally sound food choices and engage in at least moderate physical activity on a regular basis have greater resistance to oxidative stress and lifestyle diseases, and remain ‘biologically younger’.
Lower risk of chronic diseases
Improved quality of life
Research suggests that strength training can result in improved mood and sleep patterns. Also, our brain produces natural opiates or “well-being” chemical called endorphins post exercise, that also keep depression, anxiety and stress at bay.
Keep the unwanted weight off, for good
There, I dropped the word ‘weight’, not ‘fat %’. Agreed, while weight is NOT the only marker to gauge your fitness levels, it is an important factor nevertheless, alongside other important factors like body fat%, inch measurements, health etc.
Indeed, aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, cycling etc will also help you lose the unwanted weight or keep it at bay. However, research concludes that strength training is a more effective way to do so. What’s more, your body gets into burning more calories even while you’re not working out and just going about with your day. Why? All hail higher Resting Metabolism! Strength training serves to increase your resting metabolism or the rate at which your body burns calories. As a result, the muscle you build from the exercise requires more energy for maintenance.
Develop better body mechanics
This one rings a bell for me, on a personal level. As a child I shied away from sports activities. Hence it was undiscovered for a long time that I have balance issues. This reflects on even relatively easy hikes (although that doesn’t stop me from treks any longer), climbing steep inclines, swimming etc. Ever since I actively took up strength training regime about 6 years ago, this issue has been resolved to a great extent . As a matter of fact, studies show that your sense of balance, posture, coordination and physical functioning improves significantly with strength training.
Stay strong and fit even you’re not actively working out
However, this tip needs to be taken in a practical sense and with a pinch of salt. Of course you will not be able to stay fit forever if you workout for a month and then leave your fitness schedule and intend to lead a life of a couch potato. However, you don’t have to worry about fitness during a short vacation or a break period as long as you’re staying in your intended macro limit and keeping active. These nutrition tips for eating healthy while traveling should help!
Compelling enough to get you to off the couch and look into ways to include strength training in your daily life?
How to Get Started
Although I’m an unwavering advocate of enrolling at a gym for obvious reasons that there are fewer distractions and one can take advantage of the different equipment (which is expensive and space-consuming, too, to maintain at home) to strengthen various muscle groups, it is not the only way.
If joining a gym isn’t an option for you, there are other ways to incorporate strength training into your daily life. You can use your body weight as the resistance and integrate squats using a chair at your own home. Mountain climbers, planks, push-ups etc are also ideal choices for home workouts. Browse through YouTube for reliable coaches who specialize in home workouts to add some variety to your regime. Likewise, modifying your favorite exercise form like Yoga, Zumba or Pilates to include weight training is a good way to get started. Resistance bands, med ball, kettle bells are the basic equipment to help you take up resistance training too.
Additionally, you may already have a gym membership but have zero clue on how to get started. In such a scenario, taking the help of a fitness coach or a personal trainer would be advisable.
Weight Training 101: Getting the Technique Right
Repeat after me – “Form comes first”! First and foremost, getting your form right is paramount to any exercise. This holds true even for something as basic as a plank or a squat, since you could risk injury by repetitive incorrect technique. Consulting a fitness expert can be very useful indeed. The right person can undoubtedly help you determine and align your fitness goals and the means to achieve them. Consequently they can also formulate the right regime and help you with form and posture correction.
Also, fitness coaches can understand your shortcomings and medical conditions much better. What is more, they can also keep you motivated and inspired towards achieving your fitness goals.