Strength training should be in everyone’s training plan. If you are young, old, male, female, big or small. There are so many benefits to strength training. Check out the list below for starters.
Benefits of strength training
- Taking the shopping in one trip – Now I’m not sure there is anything more satisfying than this. Even with the ends of my fingers turning white from the lack of blood supply and my arms ready to pop out of their sockets, I ALWAYS do it in one trip. I’m not saying this is the only reason I lift weights, but it definitely helps.
- Preventing injuries – Strength training is key to supporting the body with increased strength in muscles, tendons, ligaments and even bones.
- Looking good naked – Let’s face it, the biggest driving factor for most people is to look good naked (or with clothes on, it’s up to you). If your goal is to look lean and reduce body fat, then strength training is for you!
- Better sleep – Studies have shown that by including resistance training to your schedule can help improve sleep by up to 38%.By improving your sleep quality the chances of recovering and feeling fresh the next day are much greater.
- Prevents disease – The list of diseases strength training can help will is endless. Heart disease, blood pressure, diabetes. Do you want me to go on?
- Makes you look like a badass – Is there anything cooler than lifting lots of weight. I think someone deadlifting 300 kg is cooler than someone doing a wheelie on a motorbike whilst juggling chainsaws.
Objections and comebacks
I often get many objections to people training with weights (especially females). I have listed a few of the usual objections and the some comebacks for your reading leisure.
- “I don’t want to ‘bulk up’ “– I partly blame social media for this one. You only have to scroll through Instagram to see some huge men and women. Let me assure you these guys didn’t start lifting weights 2 weeks ago. They have dedicated their lives to be as big as physically possible. If you don’t want be a freak, I will be sure to leave out years of steroid abuse in your program. Training weights won’t make you look bulky, it will make you look lean.
- “I want to lose fat first “– Let me guess, you want to look leaner and more defined? Great! Then strength training is for you. You can burn an incredible amount of calories lifting weights and you don’t need to be strapped to a treadmill for hours. If you want to gain muscle and lose fat, why not do both at the same time.
- “I am too old” – The exact opposite is actually true. As we age we tend to lose a large amount of muscle mass and become frail and are unable to carry out everyday tasks. This can be reversed or at least minimised. By getting in the weights room you will be prolonging quality of life and becoming strong and healthy.
- “I am too weak to lift weights” – The world strongest man wasn’t born that strong. We have all got to start at some point, and there is no time like now. Don’t worry about what other people think, most people are too busy checking out their abs in the mirror to be worried about how much you are lifting.
Overview of muscles
Before we talk any more about working our muscles, let me explain what they are. If I mention the word muscles to most people it will cause them to strike a bicep pose. There are over 600 muscles not just the biceps; someone needs to tell ‘that guy’ in the gym.
Muscles are designed to create force and are needed to create motion, maintain posture as well as the functioning of certain organs (such as the heart). There are three different types of muscle:
- Skeletal muscle – This is responsible for the movement of our body
- Smooth Muscle – This muscle cannot be controlled consciously and is found within internal organs.
- Cardiac muscle – The rhythmic contractions of the heart causing blood to be pumped around the body.
I’m not too fussed about number 2 and 3 as we can’t consciously control these muscles; they work automatically without any thought.
How do they work?
Muscles work by being attached to different bones crossing a joint within the body. When the muscle contracts or tightens the length of the muscle reduces and causes the joint to move. When the muscle is contracted (shortened) this is called the concentric part of the lift. The lowering (lengthening) part of the lift is called the eccentric part.
What happens to muscles when we lift weights?
When the muscles within the body are placed under resistance it causes micro tears within the fibres. Don’t panic, this is supposed to happen. The greater the intensity of exercise the greater the tear. This is what causes the pain in our muscles a few days after. Without boring you with the science I will break it down like this:
Lift weights: magic happens: muscles repair and get bigger
This ‘magic’ is happening all the time within the body to help recover and repair any damage. You may be familiar with the aches and pains after a gym session. This usually occurs after a change in routine or a particularly tough workout. As with most things, this pain has a geeky science term and that is DOMS, or Delayed Onset Of Muscle Soreness.
I hope you now have a greater understand of muscles and why you should be training them. Now I am going to stop banging on about lifting weights and you should go down the gym! Enjoy.
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The brains, brawn and beauty of Dackattack (basically it’s just me). A personal trainer with a private gym in Norwich, dedicated to giving out simple, actionable advice that will give you outstanding results.