What is Strength Training?
Strength training refers to a kind of exercise that is designed to increase the strength, size, mass, and endurance of muscles. Someone who is interested in this sort of activity will typically use one or more of the following techniques to stretch and contract their muscles:
- Exercise routines: These include pullups, pushups, leg squats, and abdominal crunches. The exercises can be easily done at home or in a gym with the help of a personal trainer;
- Using resistance tubes or bands: Resistance devices are inexpensive and come in a variety of levels depending on your physical fitness. You use these devices by pulling on them to exercise arm, leg, chest, and abdominal muscles.
- Free weights: Lifting dumb bells or barbells are what most people imagine when they think of weight training. These items come in a variety of sizes and weights. Typically, you will lift the dumb bell or barbell several times, holding them aloft, as a means to stress your muscles, gradually increasing the weights over time as you gain strength. Free weight lifting is an important Olympic sport.
- Weight machines: A large variety of weight machines are available at the gym or, if you want to splurge, for home use. These types of devices come in a variety of models, some designed to strengthen the arms, chest, and abdomen, some for strengthening the legs and abdomen. An exercise routine of a weight machine typically involves repetitive moves while gradually increasing the weights.
What are the Health Benefits of Weight Training?
Most people know that aerobic exercise, such as running and cycling, provides a host of health benefits, especially to the cardiovascular system. But strength training has some advantages as well. They include:
- Strengthening your bones: The continued and repetitive stress of strength training increases the density of your bones, an important consideration as you get older and are prone to diseases such as osteoporosis.
- Lose weight. Any form of strenuous exercise will help you burn calories, and strength training is no exception. The activities will also contribute to increasing your metabolism, which will further contribute to keeping the weight off.
- Increasing strength and balance: As we get older, we start to lose muscle mass and also our sense of balance, a reason why many people of a certain age are prone to falls. Strength training maintains and enhances muscle mass and your sense of balance.
- Treating a number of chronic diseases: Strength training is remarkably effective in managing conditions such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, arthritis, lower back pain, and even diabetes.
- Increasing intelligence and thinking skills: A body of research exists that suggests that both strength training and aerobic exercise help to keep your thinking sharp by increasing the blood flow to the brain.
Some safety precautions
As with any strenuous activity, strength training needs to be approached with safety in mind.
- Wear closed-toed shoes: Shoes will protect your feet if you accidentally drop a free weight and gloves to keep calluses from forming on your hands.
- Do a warm-up exercise: A 10 or 15-minute jog will help loosen the muscles and get the blood flowing to help make your strength training session more efficient.
- Always start your exercise session with smaller weights: The idea is to build up your muscles gradually and not overstress yourself by trying to lift weights that are too heavy too soon.
- Maintain good posture: What your mother demanded at the dinner table goes just as much while lifting weights. You want to build up your muscles and not cause problems.
- Have a friend serve as a spotter, especially if you are using free weights: A spotter will catch the weights just in case you suddenly get too tired while holding them aloft.
Strength training can provide a variety of benefits if done right, with safety in mind. You do not have to build yourself up to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger to derive health and well-being from the exercises.