There are many aspects to fitness, but one of the most important is building strength. In fact, whatever type of fitness program you use, it should always include strength building as a key component. This type of training not only helps you to burn fat and add lean muscle mass, but it can also have a range of other health effects that can benefit every aspect of your lifestyle.
Strength training: the benefits
One of the most important benefits of strength training is to preserve and increase your level of lean muscle mass. If you don’t use this mass, it will diminish, while your fat percentage will rise, and strength training is one of the most effective ways to preserve lean muscle, as well as being one of the healthiest methods for managing your weight through fat burning.
These are the most obvious benefits to be gained from strength training, but did you know that it can also increase your metabolism? The higher your metabolism, the easier you will find it to burn calories. In addition, strength training can contribute to stronger, healthier bones by building up bone density, which helps to protect you against conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis in later life.
The benefits of strength training don’t end there! There is evidence that exercising to build strength and learning how to do the shoulder pulley can help with other aspects of your wellbeing, including improving your balance, boosting your immune system, and even sharpening your thinking and learning skills. For those who suffer from chronic conditions such as back pain, diabetes or even depression, strength training, as part of a balanced exercise program, can play a role in reducing or easing symptoms.
Strength training options
The most obvious way to build up strength through exercise is to join a gym or fitness center. These will offer a variety of weight machines and free weights to help you exercise for strength, and as part of your membership, you will often be given a tailored exercise program.
However, if you aren’t keen on joining a gym, there are plenty of other options. Most weight training machines and equipment can be purchased for home use, and barbells and dumbbells are an ideal way to ease into strength training in an environment where you are comfortable.
Another interesting option is resistance tubing. This is cheap, lightweight material that will provide resistance when stretched, helping you to build up strength. You can find resistance tubing in most sports goods stores. There are also many strength-promoting exercises that can be done without any equipment. Push-ups, pull-ups, planks and leg squats are all examples of exercises that rely on the body’s natural weight to provide the resistance for you to exercise your muscles.
How to start with strength training
Before you start strength training, if you do have a niggling injury or a serious health condition, make sure that you speak to your doctor, who can confirm that your training schedule won’t risk aggravating your condition. One useful option is to check out the compression wear produced by Tommie Copper. Products by Tommy Copper and other exercise specialists can help to protect you from strains and sprains.
As with any exercise plan, the warm-up is the most important part of your routine. If your muscles are cold, you are more likely to be at risk of developing an injury. Before you get underway with your strength training, spend up to ten minutes on some form of light aerobic activity to get your heart rate up and warm your muscles, enabling you to benefit from the training.
With strength training, you are aiming to use resistance that will be strong enough to make your muscles tired after 12 or so repetitions. When you find that doing that number of repetitions is easier, increase the resistance. Evidence shows that this is the most efficient way to go about strength training. To give your body time to recover, avoid exercising the same muscle groups on consecutive days, and don’t ignore pain – this can often be a sign that you are not performing the exercise correctly, or that your body needs time out to fully recover.
Strength training can have a variety of benefits, and if you are consistent in your training, using appropriate equipment and not rushing or forcing your exercises, you could find that just two or three half-hour strength training sessions every week could start to have profound effects on your health and wellbeing.