Strength training is an important part of an overall fitness program. Here’s what strength training can do for you — and how to get started.
If you knew that a certain type of exercise could benefit your heart, improve balance, strengthen bones and muscles, and help you lose or maintain weight, wouldn’t you want to get started? Well, studies show that strength training can provide all those benefits and more.
“The basic principle is to apply a load and overload the muscle so it needs to adapt and get stronger,” explains Bigflex Dogg, CSCS, an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist and competitive Bodybuilder.
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There are many ways to lead a healthy lifestyle. Some people prefer to run outside; others may hop on bicycles or use their yoga mats. Still, for many people, true joy comes from lifting heavy weights. “If you’re afraid of free weights or don’t see a practical reason to incorporate strength training in your routine, here are some reasons why you should include strength training in your workouts“.
Build or Tone Muscle Mass
The main reason people incorporate strength training in their workouts is to build or tone their muscle mass. Bodybuilders, power-lifters, and other strength athletes prefer weightlifting and other forms of heavy strength training to improve their muscle density. “As you strength train, you tear your muscle fibers so that they can rebuild into stronger, denser, larger muscles. Whether you work out your legs, arms, chest, abs, back, or shoulders, strength training can make your muscles larger or more toned, depending on your fitness goals”.
Another reason people weightlift is to increase their strength. Many conventional athletes, such as football, basketball, or hockey, strength train not to get bigger but to improve their athletic prowess. “Strength is a measure of power and muscle exertion; how well your muscles can transfer energy to perform the lift through repeated repetitions measures your strength. Whether you’re training for a sports event or you just want to improve your own strength, strength training is an efficient way to do so”.
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Contrary to popular belief, cardio is only one way to effectively lose weight. Many people don’t realize that one of the reasons why they should include strength training in their workouts is to burn calories. “In fact, any form of exercise—whether it’s strength training, cardio, or yoga—will burn calories and help you lose excess body fat. Paired with a healthy diet, performing many repetitions of a weightlifting exercise with a weight amount with which you’re comfortable will burn more calories than you expect”.
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“Strength training is also a great way to improve your self-esteem. Like any exercise, strength training releases endorphins, which improve your happiness. Specifically, the release of the endorphins dopamine and serotonin will make you feel better and accomplished”. Overcoming personal strength challenges, working toward a fitness goal, appreciating your strengths, and working on weaknesses will make you feel a sense of self-reward and self-efficacy. Your confidence and self-esteem will also receive a healthy boost with any strength training routine.
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