If you are hitting the gym regularly to run on the treadmill or get your cardio in, that’s fantastic. Aerobic exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and can help to keep your body weight in a healthy range. But are you getting enough strength training?
Every workout regimen should include a good balance of both cardio and strength training. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends adults include at least two non-consecutive days a week of strength training along with a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week.
How Does Strength Training Work?
Lifting heavy loads causes tiny tears (known as “micro-tears”) in the muscle fibers. While “causing tears” may sound counterintuitive to being fit, the body is designed to then repair and adapt the muscles to better handle the stimulus that caused the damage. This is the process by which muscles grow (scientifically termed hypertrophy).
Different Forms of Strength Training
There are several ways to strength train and lots of different types of equipment, so you can mix it up. Consider these different ways to train:
- Body Weight Training – This involves no equipment. You simply use your own weight and the force of gravity for resistance (think push-ups, squats, planks)
- Weight Machines – machines using hydraulics or attached adjustable weights that provide resistance.
- Free Weights – this is equipment not attached to a machine, such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells etc.
- Resistance Tubing – elastic stretchable tubing or bands that provide resistance. These are often used in physical therapy.
- Suspension training – this consists of straps or ropes that are anchored to a certain point and allow you to work against your own body weight.
The Benefits – Five Great Reasons to Strength Train
- Burn More Fat and Calories – Because strength training boosts excess post-exercise oxygen consumption more than aerobic exercise, it can also help you burn more calories even after the work is done. Also, lean tissue is more active, so if you have more muscle mass, you’ll burn more calories around the clock.
- Increase Bone Density – muscle-strengthening activities help preserve or increase muscle mass, strength, and power, which are essential for bone, joint, and muscle health as we age.
- Develop Better Body Mechanics – strength training benefits your balance, coordination, and posture to assist with overall function and performance.
- Boost Energy, Mood, and Sleep – all exercise helps to boost mood because it increases endorphins. But strength training offers neurochemical and neuromuscular responses that have a positive effect on the brain.
- Reduces Injury – along with improving strength and balance, strength training can help increase the stability and strength of the joints, which can help prevent injuries and improve overall function.
If you’re interested in strength training but don’t know where to start, a VIDA personal trainer can walk you through everything you need to know.