Whether you’re an athlete or you’re just trying to get into shape, strength training should be a key part of your exercise program. Really, strength training is for everyone at every fitness level. Regardless of age or athletic ability, strength training improves your mobility, balance, and performance, while lowering your risk for injury.
So, what is strength training? Also called resistance training, this type of exercise makes your muscles work against a weight or force. A strength training program is not weightlifting alone. It can include body weight exercises like lunges and pushups, resistance movements, and even climbing or throwing. You can use a variety of equipment when strength training, including free weights, weight machines, balance balls, and resistance bands. Regardless if you’re doing a pull-up or lifting a kettlebell, the goal of these exercises is to build muscle and improve overall physical conditioning.
Strength training can be done at home or in the gym, making it a convenient addition to your exercise plan. No matter where you train, the principle behind it is the same - that your muscles will work to overcome that resistance and grow stronger in the process. However, it’s important that you have clear goals for your training and that you first consult with your doctor, trainer, or other health professional before you get started.
The Body’s Response to Strength Training
As you train with resistance, microscopic changes occur in your muscle fibers. The body responds by repairing those fibers, building muscle and increasing muscle mass. In addition to improved muscle tone and definition, your bone density also increases, which helps reduce the risk of fractures. Strength training enhances your tendon and ligament strength, as well as your joint function, resulting in better range of motion, and mobility.
Your metabolism is elevated, helping your body more efficiently burn calories. Your endurance increases, as well as your overall fitness, and your mood will even improve!
The Benefits of Strength Training
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says that strength training can be both time efficient and effective for health benefits. Here are more physical and mental health benefits that you can achieve through strength training:
- Chronic disease management
- Decreased blood pressure
- Decreased dad cholesterol levels
- Decreased risk of injury
- Enhanced speed, power, and agility
- Enhanced strength and endurance
- Improved aerobic capacity
- Improved balance, coordination, and posture
- Improved bone density
- Improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
- Improved overall body composition
- Improved quality of life
- Improved self-esteem
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Increased metabolism
- Increased muscle strength
- Sharpened thinking skills
How Much Strength Training Should You Do?
Your strength training program should follow a long-term plan to reach the specific goals that you want to achieve. That said, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) physical activity guidelines recommend that you incorporate strength training exercises into your fitness plan at least two times a week. Make sure to include for all major muscle groups in your body in the workout, including your legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms.
For each muscle group, the HHS says that eight to twelve repetitions of the same exercise (one set) per session is effective, although some evidence shows two to three sets to be even better. Strength training exercises are most effective when performed to the point where you find it difficult to do another repetition without help. It’s important that your workouts challenge your muscles to see the most benefit.
The right weight for you will depend on the specific exercise. When it feels easy lifting a certain weight, you can either increase the weight up to ten percent or add another set of repetitions (not to exceed three). Even after adding weight, you should still be able to work out with good form. Also, make sure to allow 48 hours between training sessions to allow for muscle recovery.
Your form and technique are essential during any strength training session. To avoid injury, focus on aligning your body and controlling your speed as you complete each exercise. Bad form not only leads to injuries, but it can slow gains. Working with a professional trainer can help to make sure that you are doing each exercise correctly. Make sure to warm up before you exercise to prepare your muscles and cool down after.
Wearing your CORESHORTS™ when you work out also helps you train better and may reduce the risk of injury. Lower back, pelvic and groin injuries primarily occur in activities that involve bending and twisting, a change in direction and speed, and repetitive motions, which includes reps during strength training. CORESHORTS™ unique patented design supports the core anatomy and enhances functional movements.
With the right form and the right gear, strength training workouts can actually help you reduce your chance of injury while playing sports or doing other activities. In fact, Danish researchers conducted an analysis of 25 different studies, which included 26,000 participants and almost 3,500 injuries, which showed that strength training can significantly reduce incidence of injury.
If you are looking to perform better and avoid injury, consider a strength training program and wear CORESHORTS™ as you exercise. Learn more: www.coreshorts.com
*Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in CORESHORTS™ blogs do not replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician/health professional before starting a new fitness program.