Strength training, also called resistance training or weight training, is an excellent way to build your muscles, increase endurance, and burn calories.Muscles are forced to work against a resistance, and repetitions of this resistance builds up the muscles.
Strength training can do many wonderful things for you….improve bone density, protecting bones from the slow brittleness that can make people prone to osteoporosis and other bone weakening diseases.It also boosts the metabolism, helping in better calorie burn and enhances joint, ligament and tendon strength.
A Harvard medical school study in 2016 tracked nearly 36,000 women and found out that the ones who did some kind of strength training had a 30% lesser chance of type 2 diabetes and 17% lesser chance of cardiovascular diseases.Those who did both resistance training and aerobic exercise had 65% lesser chance of type 2 diabetes.
The most common method of strength training is the use of weights like dumbbells, barbells and kettle bells. Weight training machines, available in every gym,help to target specific muscle groups. The other popular type is the use of free body weight. This includes exercises like squats, lunges, planks and push-ups. Yoga also has several asanas which use the body weight to build strength smoothly. The ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi also helps in strengthening the back, abs and the overall body. Weight training can also be done using Resistance Bands – these come with varying tension levels and are safe and effective.
Your strength training regimen should include all muscle groups in the body: legs, hips, back, chest, core, shoulders, and arms. Any imbalance in the strength training program can cause injuries or flexibility challenges.
Here are some must dos when starting Strength Training:
- Ensure you have a regimen that addresses all key muscle groups.
- Start small. In the beginning, do 8 repetitions of any exercise and gradually build it up. Typically, 12 repetitions of a weight are considered good.
- Complete a set (a particular number of repetitions) and then take rest. Your muscles need that rest.
- Start with weights you can easily manage and then slowly increase. Once you are comfortable with a weight level, add up-to 2 to 10 percent and so on.
- Follow a schedule that includes days off. Your muscles need time to repair and recover, and recovery is as important to the improvement of strength as exercising.
- Always remember to warm up and do some stretching exercises before strength training. Running, cycling or walking are good warm up exercises.
- It is important to train under the guidance of a trainer or with a full understanding of the technique. You can use sources like the web or a book. Wrong techniques can lead to injury.
- A good practice is to work on each muscle group twice a week with adequate recovery time in between.
Every mode of exercise helps in building fitness. But over a period of time, the same exercise tends to build only a particular set of muscles and jointsand can become monotonous. Being joyful and eager is important for exercising and cross-training helps keeping that joy alive by breaking the monotony of a regular workout.Cross-training is any exercise that uses a different set of muscles from the ones you are engaging in your regular mode of exercise.
Running, cycling, swimming and walking form one type of aerobic exercise and each of them is a cross-training option for others. Yoga builds flexibility and is a cross-training option for both cardio and strength exercises. Similarly, pull-ups, push-ups, crunches can be good cross–training choices for strength training or cardio. And any cardio exercise is a good cross-training option for strength conditioning.
Last, but certainly not the least, are core exercisesYour core includes all the muscles in your torso, from your shoulders down to your hips. A strong core is important for runners and swimmers, to keep the torso stable as the body moves with every step or stroke. Even while in the gym or when doing free hand exercises, a strong core helps to maintain proper posture – ensuring your deadlifts or pushups are in correct form. This increases the effectiveness of the exercise and reduces chances of injury. Popular core exercises are shoulder planks, side planks,Russian twist,and glute bridges.
So, what are you waiting for? Create a strength training plan, build intensity over time, give yourself adequate rest, add variety to your regimen…and above all, Have Fun!!!