Anyone who is trying to achieve optimal fitness should be incorporating strength training into their workout training, but even if your goal is just to have a slimmer waistline, it’s really a must. Strength training also helps to improve joint function, increase bone density and muscle as well as to improve tendon and ligament strength.
Why strength training is so important for weight loss
If your goal is to reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass as well as to burn more calories, strength training must be a key component of your overall plan. As muscle mass naturally diminishes with age, if you don’t do anything your body’s fat percentage will increase. The body also starts to lose muscle around the age of 35, which will slow your metabolism in addition to making you increasingly weaker as you age.
No matter how old you are, strength training can help you preserve and even increase muscle mass in addition to raising HDL (the “good cholesterol) levels, which supports good heart health. Increasing muscle mass also means that you’re decreasing body fat and enhancing the metabolic rate, boosting your ability to lose or maintain weight.
Types of Strength Training
Weight lifting is not the only form of strength training, although it is highly effective. It includes any type of activity that requires short bursts of effort rather than effort that is sustained over a period of time. Yoga and calisthenics, like push ups, squats, and crunches, as well as martial arts training and Pilates are all forms of strength training. You can also use resistance or stretch bands and medicine balls.
How much and how often
The general rule when it comes to performing squats, using resistance bands or lifting weights is to do three sets of 10 to 12 reps. If you’re not able to get through 10 reps when using weights, the weight is too heavy. If you can easily do another 15 at the end of a second set, it’s too light.
Recovery time is also essential for strengthening muscles, which means that resting for a day between exercising each muscle group is a must. During strength training the muscle cells break down, and in the process they grow stronger when given time to rest. If you don’t allow for recovery time, the benefits of strength training are reduced as muscles become fatigued and they also don’t have the chance to grow. If you find that you’re not making any progress, instead of training harder you may want to allow for longer rest periods in between workout sessions.
If you aren’t incorporating strength training into your workout routine, there is no time like the present to begin. In just a few weeks, you may notice a significant difference in how you feel as well as that number on the scale.