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What Is Strength Training?

What Is Strength Training?

We hear a lot of exercise terms thrown around – strength training, aerobics, weightlifting, etc. But do we really know what it all means?


Let’s break it down.


Definition

Strength training (or resistance training) works and builds muscle by using bodyweight, weight equipment, resistance bands, dumbbells, etc.


Importance of Strength Training For Women

  • Bone health

Strength training can increase bone density. This is important to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, and even reverse some bone weakness if osteoporosis does occur.


  • Muscle development

It’s natural for muscle to diminish as we age. In fact, muscle loss starts as early as our 30s. Building and maintaining muscle mass is important for joint health, mobility, weight management, and general strength.


  • Weight management

Hormonal changes, chronic conditions, and lifestyle factors lead to increases in body fat percentage over time. Strength training can help us reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass, and boost metabolism. Some studies have also shown the benefits of strength training for blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.


  • Mental health

Strength training (and really all exercise) can reduce stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Not only is exercise an opportunity to focus on the task at hand without paying attention to life’s stressors, but you also get an increase in energy levels and an endorphin boost which can last for hours.


  • Cognitive function

Strength training has been shown to enhance focus and learning in older adults.


  • Reduce fall risk

Strength training can improve balance, spatial awareness and perception, and enhance ability to comfortably complete activities of daily living. Strength training will also improve flexibility and range of motion, which further joint stability.


Our Needs Change Over Time

It’s no surprise that exercise in our 20s doesn’t quite feel the same as it does later in life. Let’s be real, just waking up doesn’t feel the same – so why should we expect our fitness routine to be the same?


This does not mean that the use of dumbbells and kettlebells don’t have a place in our exercise routine. It does mean that special considerations should be taken into account.


Osteoporosis. While strength training is an excellent tool for improving bone density, special considerations should be made when working out with osteoporosis. It can be intimidating but follow these simple guidelines to keep it safe:

(1) pay particular attention to posture, standing or sitting up tall and avoiding rounding of back or shoulders;

(2) avoid exercises which can compress the spine (e.g., sit ups, folding at torso reaching for toes, etc.);

(3) avoid exercises which can have you rotating quickly at the torso (i.e., Russian twists).


Joint replacement. While joint replacement can cause stiffness, tightness, and reduced range of motion in the affected joint(s), we always want to work to the fullest range of motion accessible to our bodies. Be intentional about incorporating a thorough warm up and cooldown into your exercise time.


Examples Of Strength Training Exercises

To get started, pick an assortment of moves: squat, hinge, push, pull, balance, core – and perform 12-15 repetitions of each movement. Feeling good? Try adding a second set!

  • Bodyweight: Push-ups, planks, squats, lunges

  • Resistance bands: Bicep curls, lateral raises, thrusters, overhead presses

  • Dumbbells: Classic tool! You can add weights to almost any exercise for an additional challenge

  • Weight machines: Gyms and fitness centers usually have weight machines. Using machines is a bit of a double edged sword: great way to reduce intimidation of using weights but does limit range of motion in movements

 

Remember, my number one rule of exercise is no pain during or after. Exercise should be challenging! Maybe your muscles will even be sore – but it shouldn’t cause pain.


Happy exercising!


Questions? Drop us a comment!

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