Everyone regardless of your age, gender or lifestyle will benefit from strength training. Especially as you get older.
Strength training will help your body fight the loss of muscle and bone mass that comes with age and inactivity.
In my experience as a Sports Massage Therapist and Personal Trainer, strength training is an area we neglect. Because of this our muscles, bones and joints become weak and inefficient at performing everyday tasks, playing a sport or general exercise. Even basic movements become laboured and more difficult. Changing a light bulb, moving furniture and carrying suitcases for example.
A lack of strength training can leave us open to injury, muscle soreness and joint pain. So if you’re looking to run a marathon, lose some weight or just simply improve the quality of your life, strength training is an absolute must!
In short, we underestimate the need to be strong!
What is strength training?
Strength training is a type of physical exercise that incorporates resistance, whether that’s your body weight or an external weight such as a dumbbell or barbell to help improve your overall physical performance.
The basic principle is to take a muscle through its full range of motion against a force (such as a dumbbell) to overload the muscle so it needs to adapt and progress to get stronger. This progression promotes a stronger muscle that in turn provides your joints with more strength and stability.
Strength training can be done at the gym, outside or in the comfortable surroundings of your own home and is achievable with very little equipment. Seriously, you don’t need heaps of equipment to improve your strength!
Resistance bands, balls, dumbbells, kettle bells and your own body weight are enough to design any strength programme for any goal.
Depending on your goal, whether you’re training for a particular sport or activity, a regular gym goer or just looking to improve the quality of your everyday life, there is a strength programme to condition you to perform better for every discipline.
The Benefits of strength training for optimal health:
1. Increased muscle strength – Increasing muscle strength will make your joints stronger and more efficient at completing everyday tasks such as lifting, carrying and walking up stairs and help you to perform better in the gym or to run that marathon.
2. Decrease the risk of injury – Having stronger muscles, tendons and ligaments will mean you will be less susceptible to injury from everyday stresses through to running a marathon or training regularly in the gym.
3. Improve posture, balance & stability – The strength of your muscles will dictate how you stand, sit and move. Strength training improves the body structurally and provides a better overall position decreasing the risk of falls and accidents. You’ll begin to move with ease and find pain starts to disappear.
4. Increases daily calorie burn – The higher your lean mass the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day. So strength training is a must for any weight loss goal as well as increasing your overall strength.
5. Reduces the risk of osteoporosis – Strength training will increase bone density. Inactivity and aging can lead to brittle and weak bones, leaving us open to osteoporosis.
Strength training for Runners:
Running is a great from of exercise and has a huge variety of health benefits. However, around the start of each year especially, many of us take to pounding the streets for miles and miles, with either no or little running or exercise history. For some its to lose the excess Christmas pounds, for others it may be the to complete a first marathon.
Due to this, within the first few months of every year I see the same knee, ankle and lower back problems. And almost all of them are due to a lack of strength and conditioning to support the demand that running puts on our joints.
Incorporating a simple 30-minute strength and conditioning session 1-3 times a week will help to increase the strength and efficiency of your muscles, ligaments and tendons. This will keep your joints stronger and decrease the risk of injuries, helping you to perform better. We all want to look our best, so my final word is that strength training will help you look great too.
Matt Cumming – Sports Massage Therapist & Personal Trainer