Do you want to reduce the amount of fat on your body, compete in a bodybuilding show, or just strengthen your total body for everyday tasks? Well, then you need to be incorporating some sort of strength training into your weekly routine! Bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, free weights, and weight machines are all useful tools to incorporate into your strength training routine. Merriam-Webster defines strength training as “activities that make muscles stronger” (Merriam-Webster). Strength training has a multitude of benefits and is very important because of its ability to develop strong bones, manage your weight, and enhance your quality of living. These are all important aspects of everybody’s life because these are all components that will prolong our lives and lead to a higher quality of life!
1. Developing Strong Bones
One reason strength training is so beneficial is that it can help you develop strong bones. Many people believe that strength training only translates to weight management and building muscle, but it builds more than just muscle like bone density and this can help minimize the risk of a fracture due to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone, or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps (Learn What Osteoporosis). Strength training helps build bone density because during each training session a client is putting stress on their bones causing them to build density over time as greater forces are being put on them. An important tool that can help lead to this is something called progressive overload and this is defined by adding weight over time to your exercises, adding more reps than you usually do to each exercise, or increasing the amount of time your muscles and bones are under stress during each workout session. Progressive overload is supposed to be a progressive approach to strengthening your muscles and bones. If too much stress is put on the muscle or bones too quickly then this can lead to injuries and put more harm on your body that is not needed.
So how can incorporate progressive overload into your workout routine? Well, it's simple! For example, let’s say you are doing a barbell squat and you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps. For the first week focus on doing 3 sets of 10 reps at the same weight of 135 lbs. Then the next week when you do the barbell squat again try adding 5lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps. Then for the third week, try adding 5 more lbs. for 3 sets of 10 reps. So, by week 3 you are performing 3 sets of 10 reps with 145 lbs. Now, this is just one way to incorporate progressive overload so try increasing the amount of time your muscles are under tension by holding an isometric position or decreasing your rest time.
2. Managing Your Weight
Strength training can help you manage your weight because of its ability to increase your lean body mass which will lead to a higher metabolism and help your burn more calories. If you compare a pound of muscle to a pound of fat, you’ll see that muscle takes up less space than fat. Take a look at this picture of 5 lbs. of fat vs 5 lbs. of muscle:
With this in mind, you can see that although the number on the scale might not change you will appear thinner and smaller and this is because muscle takes up less space than fat does so it is important that you do not worry about the number on your scale because your scale does not take into account the amount of muscle that is on your body, the scale just measures total body weight.
Strength training can increase body mass because strength training can increase your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories the body burns per day to sustain physiologic functions (11 Benefits of Strength Training). Your muscles require more nutrients and more blood to go to the muscle and provide for everyday functions thus increasing the rate at which your body burns calories. Your body burns calories if you are sitting down watching tv because your organs need things on a daily basis and this helps your body burns calories so increasing your BMR by adding more muscle to your frame and losing fat will overall increase your daily burn of calories leading to increasing your lean body mass by burning of calories and fat.
3. Enhance Your Quality of Life
Lastly, incorporating strength training into your weekly schedule and your lifestyle will lead to enhance the quality of life. I am a Certified Personal Trainer and my main focus with clients is strength training and I have helped enhance the quality of their life by incorporating strength training into our workouts and their everyday lives. As I said previously, strength training can help increase your bone density which will benefit you as you become older and endure the wear and tear of life and older age. Strength training can improve your everyday life because it will strengthen your muscles, bones, joints, and stabilizing muscles for everyday life. For example, let’s take the squat, lunge, and deadlift into consideration for everyday movement.
1. Squat- gaining strength in the squat movement translate to your ability to get up off the couch, getting in and out of your car, and on and off the toilet.
2. Lunges- gaining strength on the lunge will translate to walking up and down stairs without pain
3. Deadlift- gaining strength on this movement will translate to picking anything up from the ground whether it be a box, your shoes, or the 2-year-old that needs you.
There is a great amount of overlap between strength movements and everyday life!
Posture is another important feature of your life and it is especially important in today’s world with a lot of work being done in front of a screen and sitting at a desk in your typical 9-5 job. Strength training can help strengthen your core muscles, lower back, as well as your upper back which are all important when having good posture.
So, you might be asking, how do I get started with strength training? Should I start with bodyweight exercises or should I go try and bench press 135lbs tomorrow at the gym? Well, my recommendation is that you start off with bodyweight exercises at home or outside first. Having a solid foundation in bodyweight movements will allow you to progress into weightlifting very easily because you are doing movements that are manipulated in the weight room to add resistance.
It is important that you do not do exactly what someone else is doing. Just because your favorite actor/actress or athlete shares their workout program does not mean that if you do it then you will look like them. Find exercises that you like to do and that you can commit to.
Resources to consider:
- Butler University Health and Recreation Complex offers fitness classes, personal training, and a 3-level workout facility free for all students.
o Personalized personal training tailored to your body and your lifestyle
o Group Fitness classes that are perfect for beginners, intermediate, and advanced athletes
o This link will take you to American Council on Exercise homepage and they have tons of resources like an exercise library, healthy recipes, tools & calculators
o This link will take you to my brother and I’s website where we have a blog, one-on-one personal training, small group training, and online personal training
- Follow these accounts on social media that are affiliated with Butler University
o This link will take you to a website that has tons of resources like exercises, sample workout plans, informational videos, and articles about different topics regarding strength training
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Strength training. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strength%20training
Learn What Osteoporosis Is and What It's Caused by. (2020, September 25). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/
11 Benefits of Strength Training. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2018-03-23/11-benefits-of-strength-training-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-muscle-size
Clinic, M. (2019, February 23). Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier. Retrieved October 20, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670