Strength training is my thing. I’ve been addicted to it for years in different ways. And though I have liked the results I’ve gotten with my previous HIIT workouts, I just enjoy strength training much more. That means I’ve had better results for longer. Now, how to: strength training? Let’s start with what it is and the health benefits of weight lifting. There are so many ways to do strength training, otherwise known as weight lifting, otherwise known as resistance training. It is one of the most flexible training methods I’ve experienced, and from what I can tell from my research, it is healthy in some way for almost everyone.
What Is It Strength Training?
Strength training is any type of exercise in which you use some kind of weight to add resistance to a move. Hence, the many names for it. Many of my mentors claim it is the most effective way to burn fat and build muscle. It is also effective in helping you to maintain muscle when you are eating fewer calories than you are burning.
Like HIIT exercises it is great at boosting metabolism for up to 72 hours after your workout! What better way to operate your body like residual income from a commercial? Passive income is awesome and so is burning more calories for longer than you have to workout! And the more muscle you gain, the more calories your body burns when not working out!
I think the reason I have loved it for so long, is because of how versatile it is. You can work out 20 to 30 minutes or you can work out for 2 hours. If done right, you will reap benefits from it. And if that’s not your only game, it helps to improve other areas of activity, because it improves the endurance of your muscles. There are so many methods of using strength training, some of which I’ve never heard of until now. For example, one I’m interested in trying is super slow weight training, which apparently gives you the high intensity benefits of HIIT!
Sign me up!….. Again!
The Health Benefits to Weight Lifting- There Are So Many!
Wow, there are so many health benefits to strength training, I think I’d have to write a book to cover them all! So many I will hit will be ones that pertain to my experience past, present, and what I hope to accomplish in the future. OK, where to start? As a woman I love that it increases bone density, and that when I start to really be at risk of losing bone density as I get older, it will prevent that loss.
Another of my favorite benefits is that I’m stronger, I am in better shape and thus I have more confidence. It halts muscle loss, most importantly striated muscle loss. Your striated muscles are those that connect to your skeleton. Which is super useful and important for someone like me who has had meniscus and ACL surgery. It helps with balance and coordination, improves posture and gives you more energy. It improves memory, and helps you learn better. As an off shoot of that it helps to prevent Alzheimer and dementia.
I often get complements that I never age. Now while that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it also may give credence to the research that shows strength training not only slows the aging process, but has been proven to reverse it to the tune of 10 years! I’ll take that, because I have a whole lot of things left to do in my life!
Those are my favorite advantages, but there are many more:
- prevents cardiovascular disease
- prevents diabetes
- controls blood sugar
- strengthens your heart
- improves blood circulation
- reduces blood pressure
- …and more
I could keep going, but like I said before, I could write a book about the health benefits of weight lifting! So Let’s find out who can do this type of workout.
Who Should Do It And How? – The Importance Of Form And Weight
From what I found there are not many cases of people that should Not do strength training. From the young to the very old, the physically impaired to those recovering from disease. Strength training has been proven to improve quality of life for those suffering from: arthritis, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia… It has helped with those who’ve had strokes, spinal cord injuries, and cancer survivors.
I recovered from my knee surgery almost 100% because of my talented physical therapy team having me do strength training, and because I continued to strength train diligently after PT was over. And because I had to be off my leg for a month after surgery, I lost most of the muscles in both quads and calves. And with strength training, I almost have all of it back a year later.
For those who want to lose weight, it may appear to be a slower method according to the scale. But let’s look at that. Muscle is heavier than fat. So if you’re adding muscle and losing fat, you get on the scale and that number will seem to go down slow. I hardly ever weigh myself. If I want to see if my work is having results, I measure inches. This is where you will see the faster results with weight lifting. If you even have to do that! Because you’ll notice your clothes fitting looser first!
There are so many ways to strength train! Another of my favorite things about this workout! I love dumbbells, but there are so many other things you can use to get stronger, even nothing if you do the right body weight moves!
- moving in water
- using jugs of water!
- flip some tires
- shake ropes
- cables and bands…and more!
You want to do is break your workouts into muscle groups. The major ones are: chest shoulders, triceps, back, biceps, core, legs including quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. I used to work out at home. I didn’t want the trouble of going to the gym. But after my knee surgery I needed a bicycle to not only warm up my knee but to further strengthen it. And now I most always go to the gym because there are so many ways I can do my strengthening.
Right now I’m working my chest, shoulders and triceps in a group, my back and biceps, and my legs and core in another. I use a combination of machines, dumbbells and bench work, with a couple of body weight moves. And the biggest thing I want to stress with strength training is that form is The Most Important Thing. You should not be using your back to get one more rep of a bicep curl. You should not be bouncing the weight or the move to get that exercise completed. It should be a controlled move by the muscles you are working.
And the best way to keep your form correct is to choose right weight. You will have a goal, and from that goal you will choose how many reps and sets you need, which we’ll get into next. The correct weight to keep your form perfect is the weight that allows you to reach your rep goal…but just barely.
A Day In A Workout – Reps, Sets, and Recovery
This section could get crazy confusing. So I’m not going to go into all of the methods of deciding reps and sets, and what type of recovery goes with what. What I will do is break down why you may choose the reps you do. And what I’m doing right now.
The reps and sets you choose will be based on what your goal is for your workout, and whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced athlete. And one trainer I follow put it pretty simply, are you training for size, strength, or endurance? Generally doing 3 sets of 8-12 reps is the norm to build up to for beginners. After you reach that there are so many things you can do, depending on what you want to accomplish!
I do 4 sets of 15 reps for most of my exercises. A couple are ascending/descending, a couple are 12 reps, and a couple are 5 sets. First I’ll define the ascending/descending rep I threw at you. A couple of my exercises I increase the weight with each rep, while decreasing the reps. So with 12 reps I’ll have 20 pounds, 10 reps/25 pounds, 8 reps/30 pounds..you get the idea. The reason I do 4 to 5 sets instead of 3 is because at my level of training, my body acclimates to the 3 sets much quicker and 4 to 5 sets allows me to experience hypertrophy better…..What???
Simply put, hypertrophy is muscle growth. Many don’t realize you don’t grow muscle by lifting weights. You break the muscle by resistance training, and the muscle grows when it repairs that growth. With 3 sets my muscles don’t break enough, so I do 4 to 5 sets. Thanks, Mr. Trainer!
Which finally brings me to recovery. There are two different ways to help your muscles recover. The first is by taking breaks between sets. I take 20 to 60 seconds. But I found in doing research for this article, that 1 to 2 minutes is best, depending on the size of the muscles being fatigued. So I am learning with you! This recovery is needed to clear out lactic acid build up and allow the target a short rest to be ready to do another set full blast. You decide the length of time as well by how you feel.
The second type of recovery is between working out different muscle groups. Each muscle group needs at least 48 hours to repair before being torn down again. So you want to time the muscle groups so if one is slightly working another they all have their 48 hours of rest. For example, I do pull ups for my back work. But pull ups also work the triceps, which I have paired with a different muscle group. So I need adequate rest between the two to allow my triceps to fully repair before being torn down again.
How To: Strength Training – Is It Simple? No. Is It Effective? Yes!
One statistic that blew up my brain, was the fact that only 25% of people over 45 in the U.S. strength train. It is such a useful tool in staying healthy and living a longer, higher quality life that just blew my mind! If I can do anything with this article I hope to influence more people to get moving, even if it is to jump in a pool and walk around.
I can not stress enough that I am living proof of how real the health benefits of weight lifting are! And I’m not talking get the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger, though you can shoot for that if you want to men. Women, sorry, we can’t grow muscle like that, at least not naturally. But just to feel strong and stay feeling young and to have confidence in how you move and look. It is a wonderful way of life! But as I always say, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you can make changes to your fitness regimen, and I highly recommend using a trainer, at least in the beginning to make sure you are learning the correct forms. And that’s all I have to say, because this article is fast becoming a book.