The Importance of Strength Training
There is no greater feeling of accomplishment and empowerment than to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself! For some this may be to run a faster mile or to complete their first half marathon, for others it may be to drink more water in a day, for me it is lifting heavy! I realize that this is not necessarily an appropriate goal for all of our members, but strength training is not just about bench pressing your body weight or deadlifting double that, it is about increasing and maintaining optimal health.
Strength training is also referred to as resistance training; it is defined as the body utilizing force to move against a resistance. The resistance can come from a variety of equipment such as dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, cable machines and body weight. Strength training programs can be extremely varied depending on the athletes’ goals and abilities. This is key when developing a strength training program as not everyone is comfortable with lifting weights. It is my job as a trainer to educate clients on the importance and benefits of strength training as well as the variety to program designs in order to meet their personal goals. Not everyone is interested in increasing power through explosive Olympic lifts performed with minimal repetitions, and not everyone is interested in increasing muscle endurance through high volume sets. Listening to the needs and goals of the client is how we are able to design the most effective, well-rounded program for optimal health.
So what are the benefits to strength training?
Osteoporosis runs in my family and as a woman I am concerned about this. Women tend to lose muscle mass and bone density at a higher rate than men do as we age, due in part to hormonal changes and increased inactivity. Strength training is the most effective way to increase both bone density and muscle mass. The denser your bones are, the less incidence of developing osteoporosis later in life.
Strength training also decreases the incident of muscle and joint injury and pain, helps to promote healthy body composition, increase self-esteem and confidence in athletic ability and activities of daily life, increase the energy stores used for activity, and increases metabolic health.
Strength training for optimal health
Strength training is the basis for quality of life. I have said so many times to clients that aerobic activity provides you with longevity of life through increased cardiovascular health, but strength training will maintain your quality of life as you age.
Challenging your muscles to resist force will increase strength in those muscles allowing you to maintain your independence while continuing to live an active, healthy life as you age. I realize that for some of us we may not be thinking of the implications our fitness has on our aging process, but trust me, the work you put in now will pay off in the future! Having a strong core and lower body will help you to maintain an upright posture and be mobile without assistance from a walker, having a strong upper body will mean that you will be able to carry your groceries into your home and pick up your grandchildren. Strength training allows us to participate in our lives as we age and not simply observe from the sidelines, which to me, is the definition of optimal health.