Why You Need Strength Training

art1When it comes to exercise, it's not uncommon to focus on cardiovascular exercise as the best means of losing weight and changing your body composition. But, it's a mistake to overlook strength training as an important piece of the weight management puzzle for several reasons

Some people fear that if they weight train they will get "bulky," oversized and unattractive muscles. This perception that people bulk up when they begin a strength training program comes from pictures of bodybuilding people seen on the covers of bodybuilding magazines. These people are most likely taking steroids and/or testosterone hormones. Testosterone is the hormone that men naturally have that is needed to build big muscles. Women don't produce enough testosterone so they are not capable of building huge muscles. So some women who body build take supplemental testosterone that will allow their muscles to get bigger than they naturally would.

People who are into serious bodybuilding also do a specialized weight training program that results in big muscles. Most recreational strength trainers whose goal is health, fitness and toning don't do the same type of program that builds bodybuilding-sized muscles. Muscle bulk comes from performing lots and lots of heavy weightlifting. Instead of the typical 4 sets per muscle group a recreational exerciser would do, bodybuilders do up to 20 sets. This super high volume causes substantial muscle size.

The true problem most people run into isn't building too much muscle, but not building enough. Strength training and gaining muscle is so beneficial that everyone should include it in their exercise program.

Doing a strength training program for health and fitness will increase how much muscle you have. The muscles get stronger but won't gain a large amount of size. This gives a sculpted, toned appearance without bulk. Since muscle takes up less room than fat, people tend to lose inches when they strength train if they are also eating a healthy diet and doing cardio.

Gaining some muscle can help with your weight maintenance. With age, people lose 2-5% of their muscle mass per year. This results obviously in a loss of strength and a decrease in how many calories your body needs every day as you age.  In addition, if you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of unhealthy fat in your body. Strength training increases muscle mass; in fact research shows that you can add up to 30% lean muscle. When you add muscle, this boosts your metabolism which means you burn calories more efficiently. This helps you lose fat, which means you'll be leaner and more defined.

In addition to the age related decline in muscle mass, bone mass decreases with age. This leads to an increased risk of osteoporosis later in life. Strength training increases bone mineral density and mass which can help prevent osteoporosis.

Strength training not only gives the  benefit of increased bone density, more strength, increase in metabolism, and a great looking body, building muscle helps protect your body from injury. It also increases your energy, endurance, balance, coordination and it can even improve your mood and how you feel! So don't fear big bulky muscles. Lift weights two or three times a week for 30-60 minutes.

Strength training helps you retain lean body mass and keep your metabolism revved up. As we age, there is a gradual reduction in basal metabolic rate (BMR) due to declining muscle mass (lean body mass). After the age of 30, muscle mass decreases, and later, muscle strength decreases. This leads to changes in body composition and typically, as age increases, so does the percentage of body-fat.

Muscle is metabolically very active.  Each pound of muscle on your body will burn 50 extra calories per day, at rest. Compare that with fat which only burns 2 calories per day, at rest.

Muscle mass is dense. A pound of muscle takes up about one-quarter the space of fat. When you begin adding muscle, you can actually lose inches. This is why you may not see the number on the scale move downward when you begin strength training, but your clothes will begin to feel roomier.

Strength training will create body balance and symmetry.  This is what not only helps you avoid or resolve some orthopedic problems such as low back pain, but it's also what gives you fit muscle definition and attractive body proportions.

Strength training improves bone density which helps to prevent osteoporosis and it improves the strength of connective tissue with helps prevent injuries.

A well designed strength training program will provide you with improved posture.  You will breathe better, stand taller, and look better.

Injury Prevention - A wide variety of sports-related or life-related injuries can be prevented by strengthening muscles and joints.

Improved Balance, Flexibility, Mobility and Stability - Stronger and more resilient muscles improves our balance, which means more comfortable living & fewer falls or accidents.

Decreased Risk of Coronary Disease - Participation in a consistent strength-training program has a wide variety of affiliated health benefits including decreasing cholesterol and lowering your blood pressure.

Enhanced Rehabilitation and Recovery - One of the best ways to heal many types of injuries is to strengthen muscles surrounding the injured area. The stronger your muscles, the quicker the healing process.

Enhanced Performance in Sports or Exercise - No matter what your favorite sport or physical activity, with the proper strength training program, your performance can unquestionably be improved, and in some cases dramatically so.

Aging Gracefully - There is no more important reason to making a strength training a consistent part of your life, than to ensure you age gracefully. Physical activity keeps us alive and vibrant. Resistance training ensures we are strong enough to participate in aerobic activities, outdoor recreation, and sports. Strong seniors fall down less. If they do fall down, their stronger bodies are more resilient, are injured less by the fall, and are able to heal more quickly after an injury.

Feeling Better and Looking Better - As painful as resistance training can sometimes feel, there is nothing more satisfying than the feeling after a good solid work-out. Stronger muscles and joints can have a dramatic impact on posture and leaner toned muscles tend to make everyone feel better about their appearance. This all leads to improved