Strength training, otherwise known as resistance training or weight training is when we add resistance to muscular contraction, be it concentric, eccentric or isometric. The resistance can be in many forms and ways such as free weights like barbells and dumbbells, weight machines, medicine balls, resistance bands and even one’s own body weight. Regular strength training is important not just for young people who want to look good or for those practicing a sport so they can perform better.
Strength training is also very important for older people, people with a sedentary lifestyle, women going through menopause and many more. Below we’ll discuss what the benefits of strength training are, how often should we be using resistance training and why we should be doing it if following a structed strength training programme.
We can split the benefits of resistance training into 3 main categories; physical, mental and health related.
1. Physical Benefits
Primarily, as the name suggests, strength training improves our muscle strength while also improves our muscle flexibility, joint mobility and balance as well as coordination. A combination of the above benefits make normal daily activities easier to carry out, decreases the chances of injuries and/or falls, improves posture and also aids in burning fat.
Furthermore, strength training also improves our stamina and cardiovascular fitness. As our muscles work, they need an increased supply of oxygen to be able to keep on working. Oxygen is delivered to the muscles by the blood which is pumped around by our heart, hence, the more oxygen we need the harder our heart will need to work.
This makes our heart contract or pump harder and quicker which will in turn make it stronger since our heart is a muscle itself. Lastly, strength training is crucial for sports performance as it will increase our force output which can translate into specific movements and which will make us more efficient.
2. Mental Benefits
More often than not, strength training makes you look better and therefore feel better about yourself too. This will in turn increase your confidence and self-esteem reducing anxiety mainly around other people or in public places.
Weight training is also known to boost your energy levels due to the increase of endorphins in your blood stream which will make you more productive but also improve your sleep. Moreover, weight training enhances thinking and learning which will prevent premature ageing.
3. Health/Disease Related Benefits
One of the main benefits of strength training is increased bone mineral density and reduced chance of osteoporosis. As we grow older, at around 30 years of age, bone loss is greater than bone formation. This bone loss can be delayed if we partake in impact or resistance training a few times a week.
This is extremely important for postmenopausal women with increased risk of falls and fractures as well as people with a sedentary lifestyle. Other diseases that we can fight with strength training include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
We would all agree that the above points give us enough reasons why we should all include some form of strength training in our lives or training routines. It has been shown that as little as 30 minutes of twice a week of resistance training can help us have an improved and longer life. This applies for both men and women of different ages and with different abilities.
Would you like to find out more about strength training or how we can help you with your fitness goals? Feel free to get in touch!