We all know how important physical activity is for our overall health and well-being. But when it comes to exercise, many of us focus on cardio, such as running, walking, playing sports, or swimming. And while cardio is great for our bodies, it’s important to remember the benefits of strength training, too. Whether leveraging your body weight or pumping iron, strength training should be a key part of your workout routine.
If you’re asking yourself why strength training is so important, keep reading as we explore its benefits and a few easy tips for incorporating it into your wellness routine.
5 Key Advantages of Strength Training
- Increased muscle strength and endurance: Strength training targets specific muscle groups, leading to improved strength and endurance. This not only enhances physical performance but also aids in performing everyday activities – such as hauling in those heavy grocery bags – with ease. Research also indicates that strength training can improve your performance in sports that require speed, power, and strength, and it could even support endurance athletes by preserving lean muscle mass.
- Enhanced bone density: Weight-bearing exercises put temporary stress on your bones, signaling your cells to rebuild bones stronger. This can lead to increased bone density, which is particularly important for preventing osteoporosis and reducing the risk of fractures as you age. And don’t worry, you can incorporate strength training into your routine no matter your age.
- Weight management: If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, cardio isn’t the only way to get there. Strength training increases muscle mass, which can raise your metabolism and help you burn more calories throughout the day. This can assist with weight management and promote fat loss. Additionally, research shows that your metabolic rate is increased up to 72 hours after strength training, which means you’re burning more calories for hours and days after your workout!
- Enhanced joint health and flexibility: Strengthening the muscles around your joints can help you better support your body, reducing the risk of falls and injuries. Strength training exercises involving a full range of motion can improve flexibility and joint mobility. In fact, one study that included 23,407 adults over 60 showed a 34% reduction in falls among those who participated in an exercise program that included balance exercises and resistance and functional training.
- Increased functional strength: Strength training movements typically focus on actions that mimic everyday activities, such as lifting, pushing, and pulling. These movements can improve your overall strength, and you’ll find it easier to perform these tasks in your daily life.
Tips for Incorporating Strength Training into Your Routine
It may seem overwhelming to figure out how to add a new component to your exercise routine, but here are a few simple steps that can help.
- Set clear goals. Determine what you want to achieve through strength training. Whether it’s increasing overall strength, building muscle mass, or improving body composition, having specific goals will help guide your training program.
- Start with a warm-up. Before each strength training session, warm up your muscles with light cardiovascular activity, such as jogging or cycling, and perform dynamic stretches to prepare your body for the workout. This will also help prevent pain or injury, which could derail your progress.
- Choose the right exercises. Select exercises targeting different muscle groups, including compound exercises (e.g., squats, deadlifts, bench press) that engage multiple muscles simultaneously, and isolation exercises (e.g., bicep curls, tricep extensions) focusing on specific muscles.
- Gradually increase intensity. Don’t go for the heaviest weights in the gym when just starting out. Instead, start with lighter weights or resistance bands and focus on proper form and technique. As you progress, gradually increase the weight or resistance to continue challenging your muscles.
- Develop a routine. Aim for at least two to three strength training sessions per week, allowing for recovery days in between. You can divide your routine by muscle groups or follow full-body workouts, depending on your preference and goals.
- Monitor progress and adjust. Keep track of your workouts, noting the exercises, weights, and repetitions performed. Regularly assess your progress and gradually increase the intensity or modify the exercises to avoid plateaus and continue challenging your muscles.
- Incorporate rest and recovery. It can be tempting to hit the weights every day in an attempt to reach your goals faster. However, adequate rest is essential for muscle recovery and growth, so ensure you have rest days between strength training sessions and prioritize proper sleep and nutrition to support your training efforts.
- Consider seeking professional guidance. If you’re new to strength training or want to optimize your routine, consulting with a certified personal trainer (like our crew at Forge) can provide valuable guidance and help you design a program tailored to your needs.
Strength Training is Doable and Important
While building muscle may seem like the domain of bodybuilders, incorporating any level of strength training – from body weight to resistance bands – can take your exercise routine to the next level. And you’ll reap multiple health benefits. If you’re ready for a personalized exercise program that includes strength training, reach out to Forge today. Our team of certified trainers is ready to support you!