I love strength training, but I know not everyone does. However it’s SO important for so many reasons and I am hoping I can change your mind as to why adding it into your weekly schedule is very beneficial to you.
I am not going to poo-poo cardiovascular exercise, this is good for your overall health, but it’s not the only mode of exercise you should be using in your pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle needs to include: strength training, aerobic training, good nutrition, flexibility training, getting enough sleep (7-9 hours) and relaxation techniques. All of these components together create a balanced approach to your health. And while I could go into detail about all these components, today I will focus on strength training.
Here are a few of the Benefits
- Preserves muscle mass. Until age 30, humans build muscles strength and size naturally, but then sometime after our 30th birthdays we start losing muscle mass, even if we are active. If we are inactive we lose 3%-8% of muscle mass with every decade (yikes!). This is due to many different factors, some of which are natural decreases in certain hormones and protein synthesis.
- Stronger connective tissue and greater joint stability. This is due to the increased strength of the muscles themselves. Since connective tissue–tendons and fascia–are inter-connected with your muscles, their strength increases. With improved connective tissue strength, you get greater stability around the joints, as many muscles cross over joints to initiate movement.
- Decreases risk of osteoporosis. This is because adding additional weight or forces to our bones, as is done in strength training, we help build and strengthen our bones and can increase your bone density-especially around the hips and spine .
- Decreases risk of diabetes. The more muscle mass an individual has the greater the body’s ability to regulate it’s insulin response. Studies have shown that for females who strength trained, there was a 30% reduction in risk of Type 2 diabetes in comparison to females who did not engage in strength training.
- Decreases risk of cardiovascular disease. We need oxygenated blood to be pumping through our body to perform the movements of strength training-meaning our lungs and heart have to be working together. Whether we are lifting weights that are on the heavy side (higher intensity), or whether we are lifting weights that are more moderate (moderate intensity); either of these methods is still being performed aerobically and improve your cardiovascular fitness and helps stave off cardiovascular disease.
- Decreases perimenopausal symptoms in females. This is due to the fact that strength training stimulates the production of the hormone testosterone. Symptoms of weight gain, anxiety, depression and mood swings as well as fatigue and brain fog can be alleviated due to the increase in testosterone.
People who are pre-menopausal, menopausal and post-menopausal research ([3) suggests that if you enter into menopause with more lean muscle mass that you are less likely to have the same amount of weight gain as those who do no activity or only engage in cardio-style exercises.)
- Increases in muscular strength. This seems pretty self-explanatory. However one thing I want to mention is that in a strength training program, you need to make sure it’s progressive–that on a regular basis, it continues to challenge you so that you get stronger.
- Accomplishing other training goals. If you are engaged in other movement-based classes or activities, like circus activities, climbing, a hip-hop class, martial arts or yoga, then being stronger is only going to help you accomplish those training goals you have for those modalities. And most likely faster than if you only did that one activity. This is called cross-training and it it super helpful in the process of gaining strength to do the challenging things in the other activity.
Strength in our muscles is how we move throughout our day. This is more than just walking to the kitchen to make the coffee or run to the bus because you’re late. This is also how you get up and out of your chair or off the floor or squat down to pick up items and move them from one place to another. As stated above, since we lose muscles mass are we age and if we are not challenging them with enough activity and movement, they become weaker. This weakness also becomes mobility restrictions–so now you are less strong and less mobile and flexible and suddenly you do less and less activity and movements and this cycle keeps going ’round without improvement without intervention.
Talking about strength training resistance
I know not everyone is excited about strength training like I am. I know there are are a lot of reasons why females (or anyone really) can feel like it’s not for them. Some folx fear about bulking up, or injuring themselves, intimidated due to lack of knowledge or just don’t feel comfortable in that area of the gym.
We all have different goals, maybe yours includes muscular arms, or maybe just a bit more shapely, but increasing your strength is still important for all the health and mobility benefits it provides, especially as one ages.
Everyone’s body responds differently to strength training and to different training programs and styles of resistance training. Finding what what works best for you and what you find fun is important in adding strength training to your life. If you are not sure where to begin, I highly recommend meeting with a personal trainer who will work with you to find movements you enjoy and help you towards your goals. Working with a trainer even just for a few sessions can help you feel confident that you are performing the movements properly and give you the confidence you need to know you are working towards your goals.
If you can’t find a trainer in your area we work with people online and would be more than happy to discuss your goals and how to get started. Learn more and contact us here.
Happy strength training journey! ~Theresa