Strength training offers you the following benefits, among others:
- Reduces the risk of injury: With strong muscles that support bones and connective tissue, your body can withstand stress, and you’re less likely to suffer injury when you exert yourself.
- Burns more fat: Lean muscle is metabolically more active than fat. This means you burn more calories, even when not moving. This enables you to maintain your desired weight over time.
- Increases bone density: This decreases your risk of osteoporosis.
- Enhances heart and bone health: Strength training can enhance heart and bone health, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Reduces stress: Strength training can fight depression and decrease anxiety.
- Enhances balance: Strength training improves coordination and balance.
- Makes you strong: You can lift heavy loads comfortably.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a minimum of two weight-training activities a week. In 2018, the CDC reported that 50% of American adults engage in sufficient cardio exercise. However, less than 30% engage in the recommended minimum for strength-building exercises.
What is weight training?
Weight training is resistance exercise that challenges all muscle groups. As David Reagan, Atlanta trainer, describes, when your muscles encounter resistance, they become stronger and build lean muscle tissue alongside your bones and connective tissue.
Strength training is especially crucial as you grow older. This is because, after age 30, you lose 3-5% lean muscle mass every decade. Weight training can prevent this muscle loss.
You can do your strength training at a gym or at home.
At the gym:
A great advantage of training at a gym is that you get access to equipment that you could not afford at home. You also get the guidance of professional personal trainers. In addition, you become motivated when you work with others.
You might be on a budget or prefer to exercise at home. Moreover, it’s not always easy to find a gym that’s suitable and convenient for your needs.
Depending on your lifestyle and preference, you could hire a physical trainer or an online one. You could also opt to work with online exercise videos or a fitness application (app). You’re bound to find a method that suits you.
Starting your weight training program at home
As a beginner, you may decide to start simple, with no equipment. You can use your body weight for resistance. However, as you progress, you will need some weights. A good place to start is with three sets of dumbbells:
- A light set weighing three to five pounds for women and five to eight pounds for men.
- A set of medium weights, comprising five to 10 pounds for women and 10 to 15 pounds for men.
- A heavy set made up of 10 to 20 pounds for women and 15 to 30 pounds for men.
If you have any medical concerns, check with your doctor before you start your weight training.
For best results, observe the following:
- Warm-up: Do light cardio to warm up your muscles before engaging in any weight lifting. Warming up protects against injury.
- Do it slowly: Raise and lower the weights slowly. Use weights that you can lift without swinging. If you have to swing, then the weight is too heavy for your level.
- Breathe normally: Don’t hold your breath while lifting and lowering weights. Try and move with your breath.
- Stand up straight: Don’t slouch. Use your abdominal muscles to keep balance and shield your spine.
Take your time
As a beginner, start small and increase your weight as you go along. It may take a few workouts to figure out your correct weight level. Be prepared for some soreness after lifting weights, but it should not be severe. If it is, ease up a bit. Allow for some 48 hours of rest between sessions. As with everything, you’ll get the hang of it as you progress.
In addition to cardio exercises, you need weight training for health and weight loss. Find your starting level and engage in at least the recommended minimum of two weight training activities a week.
About The Author
David Reagan is a NASM Certified personal trainer from Atlanta, GA, who specializes in weight loss, personalized workout plans, bodybuilding, and nutrition. He caters to high-end clients and executives, helping them achieve their fitness goals by accommodating their busy schedules. The client’s needs come first, and David’s fitness plan will set you up on the path to success.