The research and benefits all point to a resounding “yes”!
You might ask, “What if I am a runner?” “Or a cyclist?”
Or you may think, “I just need to lose some weight. Isn’t cardio best for that?”
These are all totally legitimate questions, but the answer for all those scenarios is that you should still do strength training.
And here’s why.
- Improves physical (and I’d argue mental) confidence
- Builds joint stability and health
- Minimizes pain and risk of injury by relieving muscular imbalances (as long as properly programmed)
- Prevents or minimizes the muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age
- Helps to strengthen bones & minimize bone density loss through aging
Let’s dig into each of these one-by-one:
- Improves physical (and mental) confidence. The ability to lift things around the house, pick up your kids without throwing out your back, or running around with your dog without tweaking your knee are all great everyday examples of the benefits of strength training. Cardiovascular exercises strengthen your heart and lungs, but timed cardio, and especially longer distance cardio can actually decrease muscle mass (can be catabolic). Strength training is just as vital as cardio exercise.
- Builds joint stability and health. A properly designed strength training program will take you through multiple varieties of unilateral (one sided) exercises and forms that will typically engage underactive muscles to build up strength around the joints, your knees (specifically) and hips and shoulders, both of which where most people end up having problems. In addition, a good program should include a variety of back strengthening exercises to prevent back pain and improve posture. Check out our app-based workout programs at https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
- Minimizes pain and risk of injury by relieving muscular imbalances. There are several muscles, for example, that are around your knees. Imagine these all like rubber bands going around a central point. If one muscle or one side of the bands around that sphere is pulling on the central point to a greater degree, that central point will start to be off-center. Then when you bend your knee, that central point (or knee joint) will not track properly! This is why it’s especially important for endurance athletes such as runners or cyclists perform strength training to balance out their musculature as the repetitive motion of their sport can exacerbate the imbalance. But even for the everyday person, an imbalance can lead to injury down the road. That’s how someone blows out his achilles tendon just walking down a step. Excessive tightness and weakness around that area led to a weakened state and made them more prone to injury. Our Bulletproof Athlete 6-month training program is great for this goal. Check it out here: https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/challenges/bullet-proof-athlete.
- Prevents or minimizes muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age. After around age 30, research shows that our muscle mass starts to decrease. This is because our body becomes less efficient at utilizing the protein that we eat to rebuild our muscles. Thus, muscle mass decreases over time. Strength training can absolutely minimize this or even reverse it depending on how much time and effort you put in. Plus, the earlier you start strength training the better!
- Helps to strengthen bones and minimize bone density loss through aging. Similar to muscle loss with age, bone loss occurs with age, especially in women. This makes strength training for women crucial.
Now that we’ve established the benefits, ladies, you might be thinking…
“I don’t want to get all bulky! I see all these instagram fitness women who get all bulky and I don’t want to look like that.”
There’s a lot of science behind this, but to simplify, as a woman, you don’t have the proper hormone levels and balance to build that much muscle, unless you dedicate yourself to hours in the gym nearly every day. The times when I’ve put on the most muscle have been when I trained for 90 min 6 days/week. To get the benefits of strength training you only need to train for 180 min/week and can split that however you like.
So, get in the gym, stop worrying about getting bulky and start strength training!
Another common roadblock is staying consistent, as that’s what is going to reap the most benefits over time. Here are my favorite tips for creating a solid habit:
- Stack the new habit with an old. For example, if you wake up in the morning & have a routine to journal or read, or maybe you go on a short walk after lunch, add a 10 min strength routine to that. Over time you can lengthen the strength portion and once it’s an established habit moving it to a different time is easier. If you already go to a gym and do cardio, start adding a short strength routine to your existing habit. In the end, find a routine you already do without thinking and add the new habit to that!
- Start small. If you’ve never done strength training, start off with a home bodyweight routine. If you’ve done some strength training, but not consistently, work on consistency first, not worrying about how much time you spend. Get to the gym or do a home routine 4 times a week and keep it short and fun so it’s not daunting.
Now that you have some tools to create the habit, it’s time to get started! If you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start, here are some tips:
- Work with a coach to make sure you understand where you have imbalances and weaknesses, and to insure you’re doing the exercises with proper form.
- Have a plan that you follow. It helps to keep you on track, consistent, and (if it’s a good program) will build in progressive overload so you can build a solid foundation and get results without risking injury.
If you’re already exercising, but just not doing strength training, or you’re doing strength training but struggling with pain, injury or lacking results…grab one of our training programs to fix imbalances and get you the results you want! Grab them at https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
Want to hire us as your coach? Check out your options here: https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/private-sessions
Thanks for reading! Stay strong, friends.
Amelia (& Alberto) @ Level Up Strength Society
For more information on our workout programs, coaching or to schedule a free Clarity Call with us, visit https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/.
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