Cardio and aerobic activity are the more common buzz words when it comes to any weight loss plan. With the primary goal of burning as many calories as possible, it’s no wonder that strength training often gets overlooked. On the other hand, getting those endorphins going might provide just enough motivation to incorporate a routine that is just right for you. Looking at the big picture of options and benefits of strength training can help you make a more informed decision as to how you wish to approach this type of workout.
Strength training is any form of movement where resistance is involved and most or all muscle groups are worked in order to increase stamina, balance, and of course, strength. This type of training can benefit anyone at any age—not just youthful body builders and athletes. There are many reasons why you should build in strength training into your routine:
- Helps to improve mental clarity: Numerous studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is not good for the brain. Therefore, the endorphins that are released along with the increase in serotonin can ward off mental fogginess.
- Assists in weight management: Although, you should be careful about embarking on a strenuous weight-lifting session while on any weight loss campaign, you can still take advantage of this low impact/metabolic boosting form of exercise. The calories that you burn will pay off in the long term.
- Facilitates muscle and bone development: This type of exercise increases bone density and thus, wards off osteoporosis. Also, the strengthening of muscle in all extremities and the core and back can help immensely in preventing falls and injuries. Your balance will be greatly improved which translates into more independence as you get older.
- Alleviates symptoms from chronic conditions: Moving around, in general, keeps symptoms of various conditions, like arthritis, diabetes, depression, heart disease and many more. Also, when recovering from illness or injury, at some point, a caregiver will incorporate some sort of physical therapy under doctor’s supervision.
All in all, muscle development and strengthening has more advantages that outweigh any risks or excuses.
Furthermore, there are varieties of options for strength training. Basically, strength training can be done just about anywhere other than the gym. The following are a just a few ideas:
- Swimming or Water Aerobics: This is probably one of the best methods of building muscle and burning calories. The water provides the resistance, and you can go at your own pace. Furthermore, this type of exercise works all muscles in the body, including the back and core.
- Free Weights: These include dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, and ankle weights. (Just remember; ankle weights are not to be used when walking or jogging, as this might cause an injury.) The trick is to start light in the beginning, and if you’re trying to tone muscles, then you gradually increase the number of repetitions but not the size of the weight. When trying to build muscle mass, then you increase the amount of weight without increasing the number of reps.
- Rubber Tubing Resistance: You can find these at any department or sporting goods store, and they are fairly inexpensive. Some bands or tubes have a stronger resistance than others. You would choose which type depending on the exercises that you would be doing and how much resistance you’re able to handle. Just like with free weights, increasing the repetitions will help to tone muscles.
- Your Own Body Weight: Picture pull-ups, crunches, leg lifts (add ankle weights for added resistance), and squats. Basically, you’re using your own body weight for resistance, and depending on the exercise, contracting the muscles in one particular area, like crunches for example.
- Weight machines: The weight or resistance can be adjusted on this type of equipment, which can be found at any fitness center or incorporated into your home gym. This method is similar to those previously mentioned in that you would increase reps for toning or increase the resistance for building up muscle mass.
In order to stay engaged in the practice of strength training and for more effective weight maintenance, you might consider changing up these method periodically to avoid boredom or worse, overusing a particular muscle group, which can lead to injury.
As mentioned, starting slow is the best idea, especially if you have not ever done this type of exercise before or if you have taken quite an extended break. If so, then you should check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program. To start off, you would need to warm up by walking or some other low impact aerobic activity for about ten minutes because the colder muscles are, the more likely they’ll be injured. After the warm-up, you should also stretch extremities, core, and back. This is also to protect yourself from pulling a muscle. Additionally, here are some examples of strength training exercises that can be done at home.
Squats—core and legs
Hold a dumbbell with both hands just below your chest. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes points outwards just slightly. Slowly descend while pushing buttocks back like you are going to sit in a chair until your elbows reach the insides of your knees. Remember to keep the knees from going over your toes and heels flat on the floor. From this position slowly raise yourself up until you get back into starting position. Ten to twelve reps are enough to “feel the burn” in the core and thighs.
Plank Push-ups—core, arms (triceps), back
Lay flat on your stomach with forearms and elbows directly beneath you. Your feet are facing down but perched on your toes. From that position, slowly raise yourself into a plank position, keeping your back straight and stomach from “pooching out” and hold for five seconds. Slowly lower yourself back to starting position while keeping elbows in and at a ninety degree angle. Repeat five to seven times.
Dumbbell Row (Single leg)—core, back, arms, glutes
You will need to stand behind a chair, which you will hold onto for balance with your right hand for balance. Position yourself to where you are bent at the waist facing the floor at a ninety degree angle with your left leg sticking straight out behind you. You will be keeping your stomach tight (navel to spine). You will have a dumbbell in your left hand and will extend your left arm straight toward the floor while keeping your upper body almost parallel to the floor and left leg still extended out. Slow bend left arm back up into a ninety degree angle. Your tricep should be almost parallel to your back. Repeat this movement ten to fifteen times and switch sides when the first set is completed.
As you can see strength training is not meant to be overly difficult. You will just need to pay close attention to what your body is telling you, and be sure to take the routine slowly. Form is more important than reps during the early phase of strength training. You will also need to stretch after you have worked your muscles and of course, stay hydrated.
Gracy Liura, a dedicated and qualified nutritionist with over six years of experience in the Indian food industry, currently blogging at Besthcgdropswebsite.com. She has done MSc Degree in Human Nutrition at Chinmaya degree College(BHEL) in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. You can reach her anytime if you have any questions regarding this guest post.