Strength training is a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction which builds strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. That means overloading the muscle with more than it is used to in order to stimulate your body to develop more muscle fibers. This isn’t done on a treadmill, bike, running, or with other cardiovascular exercise. It requires a strength training regimen that is constantly varied, and is done consistently, every week.
When properly performed, strength training can provide significant functional benefits & improvement in overall health and well-being, including increased bone density, muscle & strength development, tendon and ligament strength & toughness, improved joint function, reduced potential for injury, increased metabolism, increased fitness, improved cardiac function, and much more.
The muscle and strength of your body requires regular maintenance, just like your car. You don’t wait until the check engine light comes on to get an oil change, in the same way that you don’t wait until you have osteoporosis, a sluggish metabolism, low energy levels, or develop hormonal problems, or even type 2 diabetes. Plain and simple, if you don’t use 'em, you lose 'em. Muscles naturally atrophy as we age.
Sarcopenia is age related muscle loss that begins around 30 years of age, and is more prevalent in women than in men. Women lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass every decade after age 30. But the kicker is, we don’t lose weight. We actually gain weight in the form of body fat, because of the loss of the muscle. Muscles are metabolically active tissues that burn calories even while we rest.
The good news is, building a regular strength training routine as early in life as possible, can and will offset almost all of these risks.
First and foremost, it’s NEVER TOO LATE TO START. In the short term, you can start with bodyweight exercises and increase to resistance bands if you’re totally new to it. As your body adapts, you will need to add in equipment, or increase your load, in order to continue to challenge your muscles and get results. After a couple months of bodyweight & resistance exercise, you will feel that it’s no longer a challenge, and your body likely caught on even before you did. More reps won’t make a difference for muscular and strength development, that’s when you need a plan for using weights and other strength training equipment.
My suggestion is to always consult with a certified fitness professional to learn safe technique before beginning a strength training program. Improper form can not only be dangerous and cause injury, it also makes the time and effort you put in far less effective.
If you want to start small on your own with some dumbbells or a kettlebell, doing two to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, working the muscles to the point of fatigue, is a good place to start. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Perform the movements through the full range of motion, slow and controlled, using the cadence count of two on the way up, and lowering the weight with a count of three or four on the way down. Core stability is the most important part of any strength training routine. Keeping your core tight and braced, with your rib cage tucked down and your lumbar curve tight, is critical to avoiding injury and stabilizing your body during movements. When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the weight by 5 to 10% to continue making safe progress.
The key to long term success and continued progress is constantly varying your routine. That is where a certified fitness professional is almost a necessity. Your body is very smart and quickly adapts to the exercises and routines, no matter how much you think you are varying them. Once that adaptation occurs, very little progress is made.
The most important thing is just start now. Everyday you are either moving towards or away from your goals. There is no such thing as standing still, and there is no “freeze” button. Even the smallest steps matter. Start by adding your workouts to your calendar, just like every other important appointment, and stick to your commitment. After all, your life really does depend on it.
Here is a link to a FREE DOWNLOAD of a simple at home 30-Day Workout Routine.
Cortney has been working in the health, fitness, and nutrition field for more than 27 years. She started her career in Management with Bally's Fitness Center, and went on to complete her Certification in Exercise Physiology, Behavior Modification, and Nutrition, through the Cleveland Clinic in 2012. After Bally's, Cortney opened a total of 5 of her own very successful Women’s Fitness locations, which she operated from January 2000 to May 2018. Cortney had a vision of doing big things in her future and designed and built out her 15,000 sq ft dream gym, CrossFit Stimulus, which opened in August of 2013.
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