Happy #FitnessFriday everyone! If you want to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently, then you should consider strength training. Despite its reputation as a “guy” thing, strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.
We’re not talking about lifting tons of weight and getting bulky. We’re talking strong and sexy. Tight and toned. And strength training has other benefits besides what you see in the mirror. You’ve got to use it or lose it ladies, because muscle mass naturally diminishes with age.
Strength training helps you:
- Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Control your weight. As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more efficiently. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to control your weight.
- Boost your stamina. As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
- Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the symptoms of many chronic conditions, including back pain, arthritis, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
- Sharpen your focus. Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention in older adults.
Strength training can be done at home or in the gym. You can use:
- Your own body weight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try pushups, pullups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.
- Resistance tubing. Resistance tubing is inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched. You can choose from many levels of resistance tubes at most sporting goods stores.
- Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
- Weight machines. Most fitness centers offer a variety of weight machines. You can also invest in weight machines for use at home.
When you have your doctor’s OK to begin a strength training program, choose a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 repetitions. When you can easily do more repetitions of a certain exercise, gradually increase the weight or resistance.
To give your muscles time to recover, rest one full day between exercising each specific muscle group. And listen to your body. Although mild muscle soreness is normal, sharp pain and sore or swollen joints are signs that you’ve overdone it.
You don’t need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. Two or three solid strength training sessions a week lasting just 20 to 30 minutes is all you need. And if you’re dedicated, the results can be quick! Expect to enjoy noticeable improvements in your strength and stamina in just a few weeks. Your clothes will fit better, your skin will glow and you’ll sleep better.