Feeling old? Gradually getting fatter? Feeling more aches and pains? Aware that your balance is not what it used to be? Then include some strength training in your weekly fitness routine.
Strength training should be an essential part of any fitness programme. By incorporating weight and resistance exercises you can reduce body fat, build lean muscle, increase your metabolism and help your body to fight off old age.
It is natural for your muscles and for your bones to diminish as you get older and strength training is an easy way to act before it gets too late. As muscle mass decreases it is also natural that your body fat percentage increases and people are always looking for the best way to stay trim and look toned. We encourage you to incorporate some weight into your workout.
WHAT WEIGHT BEARING EXERCISE CAN DO FOR 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 signs and 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 for older adults.
CONSIDER THE OPTIONS
Strength training can be done at home or in the gym. Common choices include:
Body weight. You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. Try pushups, pullups, abdominal crunches and leg squats. The TRX is a great way to diversify your body weight exercises too.
Resistance bands. Resistance bands are inexpensive, lightweight bands that provide resistance when stretched. You can choose from many types of resistance bands in almost any sports shop.
Free weights. Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools and they are not just for men. Kettlebells are now a popular choice too.
Weight machines. Most gyms offer various resistance machines. You can also invest in weight machines for use at home but don’t use them to hang your clothes on 😉
HOW TO GET STARTED
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. On the 12th repetition, you should feel like you cannot lift it another time. It should be very difficult to complete that 12th rep.
Muscle groups should be rested for one full day between exercising to allow for recovery and growth.
Listen to your body. It is normal to experience some soreness after strength training but if you feel any sharp pain or experience sore or swollen joints then that is a sign that you’ve overdone it.
You don’t need to spend hours a day lifting weights to benefit from strength training. Two or three sessions a week of around 20-30 minutes is sufficient for most people.
If you work at the right intensity you should expect to see noticeable improvements in your strength and stamina in just a few weeks. If you stick with it, you’ll continue to increase your strength, even if you’re not in shape when you begin.