I love cardio workouts and get bored really quickly with strength work. BUT, I know from years of research for my freelance clients that strength workouts are an important balance to any exercise routine.
There are phenomenal benefits to strength training – including a well-toned body.
While it is true you can’t spot reduce, you can improve muscle strength and mass in specific locations, which has led to the misconception about spot reducing. There’s actually two factors at work – muscle strength and fat layer.
You can have the most incredible six pack abs, but if you’re carrying around a bit too much “fluff,” as my 25 year old calls it, then no one will see those abs.
The interesting thing about women’s bodies is that they naturally have an extra layer of fat to support childbirth and breastfeeding. However, that little bit of fat also makes it more difficult to “see” the added muscle definition.
BUT, the muscle is still there, functional and adds greater benefits to your health than being ready for the beach.
I’ve had strength training on my mind lately since the New Year is just around the corner and I’ve started thinking about what I want to change in my life this next year. I’m pretty sure strength training will be on the list . . . again.
According to Forbes Magazine, only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year resolutions each year. I have trouble with that statistic since I think it would depend on how many resolutions you write and how many achievements constitute success.
For instance, if I write 10 goals and achieve 5 – is that successful or failure? Does it mean I just wrote too many or that I didn’t spend enough time working toward my goals during the year?
If my goal this year is to incorporate strength training into my already established exercise routine, and at year end I’m consistently doing body weight exercises have I accomplished my goal – even though I’m not using weights or bands?
I’m still contemplating what I’ll do for strength training in this year’s resolutions, but I’m sure some version of the workout will be on the list.
Strength training is an important piece of being fit for any person at any age and at any fitness level. Whether you’ve never worked out, are overweight or in a wheelchair, strength training is important and possible.
Don’t believe the myth that it will grow huge muscles and you’ll look like Mr. Universe. That won’t happen unless you’re taking steroids. Women don’t produce enough male hormones to grow large muscles.
Don’t believe the myth that it takes hours and you’ll have to work out at the gym to attain your goals. There are many strength training routines that incorporate body weight exercises and cardio in the same time frame, getting everything you need in 30 minutes.
Don’t believe the myth you’ll have to do dead lifts and overhead presses to be successful. Again, your body weight may be all you need.
Do believe that strength training will improve your balance and coordination so your everyday routine suddenly becomes easier. Strength training also reduces your risk of injury, either during cardio or during everyday activities.
Do believe that an increase in muscle mass reduces your risk of premature death. According to research in 2014 from UCLA, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death.
Do believe that it will reduce your risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) as you age.
Do believe muscle burns more calories than fat, which means you’ll burn slightly more calories even while you’re sleeping. It increases lean muscle mass in as short as 2 weeks, although it may be a couple of months before you’ll visibly notice a difference.
Do believe that strength training reduces the amount of muscle you lose each year you age. Inactive adults will lose between 3 and 8 percent of muscle mass every 10 years. It’s easier to keep muscle than it is to recover it.
Do believe that, like cardiovascular workouts, strength training improves your mood, releases feel good hormones and increases the amount of growth hormone your body produces, which in turn slows the aging process.
Do believe that strength training improves your body mechanics (the way you use your body) and reduces lower back pain. Your core muscles are necessary for holding your back stable and reducing stress to the muscles and tendons that support your back.
Do believe that strength training reduces visceral fat, or the fat located inside your abdominal cavity – not the fat over the muscle – which in turn, reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Do believe strength training improves your mood and reduces your risk of depression and anxiety.
Do believe it will improve your cardiovascular performance. If you want run faster, row harder, bike longer or swim stronger, then strength training is the secret sauce to your training routine.
Do believe that resistance and strength training can help reduce your blood pressure and prevent high blood pressure as you grow older.
Weight training is especially important for women who don’t naturally maintain muscle mass as easily as men and who often bear the brunt of childcare and housework – all of which needs strong muscles, great balance and a healthy body.
Now that you know WHY, it’s time to talk about HOW. There are different ways of accomplishing the goal of strength training AND how to get and stay motivated. At the beginning of next year, let’s talk about those challenges.