In simple terms, Strength Training is a type of training done with the aim of increasing your physical strength. It includes Weight Training, Bodyweight Exercises and Plyometrics (jump training). It is varied, fun and has purpose!
Strength training is the single most important element you can add to your exercise programme, for men and WOMEN!! Let me tell you why….
Where to start with this powerful training tool? Well I guess I may as well state the obvious – it makes youstronger, therefore making everyday tasks easier. No, we don’t all need to lift Atlas stones to our chest or pull trucks with our bare hands, but we do need to walk, run, lift groceries, carry children, move furniture, stay fit and healthy …. for around 75-80 years + for those us lucky enough to make it that far. That is a lot to ask of our bodies, over a bloody long time!!
On average, we start to lose 3-5% of muscle mass every decade after the age of 30. It may seem low but it soon adds up and it speeds up as we get older. Muscle loss is most evident after 60, when changes in hormone levels in both men and women change and as a result, muscle fibres start to convert to fat. By the time we are 70 we have lost 20-40% of our overall strength! Sounds a bit a depressing doesn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be. Strength training will helpprevent muscle loss and re-build what you have already lost, so the excuse “I’m too old for that” just does not wash. It is even more reason to do it.
It helps prevent and reduce high blood pressure by making your heart stronger and able to work more efficiently.
Prevents bone loss and increases bone density already lost - As we age, our bone density naturally decreases, making us more prone to injury and in later life, brittle bones. This is increased for women (I know, us poor girls again!), this is due to the effects of things like pregnancy and menopause on the body. Strength training is a great way to protect yourself against this and also build new bone.
Burns more calories - Strength training is a great way to burn fat as it continues to burn calories for 12-48 hours after your workout! Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it requires a lot of energy for our bodies to maintain and is full of fat burning enzymes - so when you have more of this tissue you burn more calories at rest and when you train it, you burn even more! ….. There is a reason why weight lifters are always hungry!
Improves balance and stability – The stronger our muscles are, the easier we can hold our bodies in various positions, hold our posture, stand for long periods of time and keep our balance. Lets face it, this makes life much easier! It will also help prevent injury and falls.
A Note For The Ladies
Ladies are particularly resistant to strength training due to the worry of ‘getting bulky’. There are a few different schools of thought over this, one being that women can’t build muscle like men – that is indeed true. The reason that men build muscle more easily than women is because they have higher testosterone levels, muscle fibers need testosterone to bind to them and grow. However, women CAN get bulky if that is what they want to do, but you generally have to train specifically for that. Even men have to be committed to build greatly in muscle size.
The fact is that we are all different; our ability to build muscle is defined by our DNA. Some of us (sadly not me) are naturally long and lean, some of us are naturally more rounded and shapely, and some of us are naturally more muscular. We can train our bodies to be the best they can be, but the end result will always be different from the person standing next to you. I personally think it is attractive for a woman to have a toned physique and visible muscles, without being big. We all have a different idea of what is attractive, but the most important thing is totrain to be healthy, accept who we are and embrace our natural shape.