Whether your goals are weight loss, pain relief, muscle tone, strength, stability, or general health- strength training is the first and most important kind of fitness training to consider. Strength training is possible for almost any level or age, too. I love taking classes with an extremely advanced weight trainer on my right and a 80+ year old doing her best with small weights on my left. It’s all good!
My favorite types of strength training include pilates and guided weight lifting classes. I take a couple classes every week and also try to do various strength building exercises at home on days I don’t take classes.
Top Benefits of Strength Training
- Permanent Weight Lost & Metabolism
Strength training not only builds muscle but burns a ton of calories (if you’re challenging yourself). Building muscle through strength training will not only have the short-term result of weight loss by burning calories, but help keep the weight off because of the permanent muscle mass you build up. Special diets and high-intensity cardio workouts are a fantastic way to get some weight off, but when you quit those special diets and cardio workouts your extra weight will likely return quickly. However, by building and increasing your body’s muscle mass, your metabolic rate will improve for the long-term. Muscle mass will help improve the efficiency of your metabolism, meaning your body will make better use of the calories you consume. It’s very difficult to lose muscle you’ve built, even after you stop training and working out. Of course you can lose the muscle mass and strength over time, but it takes a long time, so stopping for a couple days or weeks won’t set you back.
- Strengthening and supporting joints (PAIN management!)
As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that building muscle isn’t just for weight management and physical appearance. Strength and muscle building is helping me overcome many of the aches and pains that come with getting older, as well as the leftover aches and pains from my early years of working my body too hard. Building muscles supports bones, ligaments and joints. Strength training that emphasizes totally body development and balance, such as Pilates, helps support proper alignment and avoid injuries- both acute and chronic. I consider my strength training to be like physical therapy and the ultimate preventive care for pain and injury.
- Body Mechanics (coordination, balance, posture)
I mentioned alignment in the last point, but coordination, balance and posture are all improved when muscles are strengthened evenly throughout the body on a regular and ongoing basis. Because of handheld mobile devices, hours spent on computers daily and other modern posture-destroying things we do, people are suffering from “body mechanics” issues earlier in life than ever before. I’ve seen young children who are raised on video games and mobile devices with no muscle mass due to lack of physical strengthening activities, who are already suffering from spinal deformities and posture issues that should only be seen in elderly adults!
The challenge of strength training should be a health priority- for adults and children alike!
It is important that you are trained how to do strength building exercises properly so that you support alignment. Otherwise you may cause a chronic injury from doing it wrong. If you’re weight training in a gym or taking a group class, consider scheduling a private class with an expert instructor to go over the correct posture and execution of the moves with you to make sure everything is being done safely and in alignment.
I hope you are motivated to add strength training to your life! If you already do strength training, always work on improving and increasing your difficulty. The change happens when you’re out of your comfort zone.