By: Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA, Vice President, Worldwide Sports Performance and Fitness, Herbalife Nutrition
Whether you’re a gung-ho grandparent, a millennial or just finding your footing as an adult, you can benefit from regular strength training.
Unfortunately, most people only focus on cardio, also known as aerobic exercise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 53.1 percent of American adults met the physical activity guidelines for aerobic physical activity in 2017. That is, they walked or ran for at least 30 minutes each day.
However, only 23.5 percent met the guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity. This means they lifted weights or did push-ups at least two days each week.
Why Strength Training Matters to Everyday Health
Strength training isn’t only about looking good or improving your athletic performance. As we age, we naturally start to lose muscle mass, and our bone density starts to decrease. Strength training creates micro-tears in your muscles, which repair and come back stronger. It’s a similar process in your bones, which are fortified with calcium as they rebuild after being tested with resistance.
Three benefits of strength training include:
- Improved ability to do everyday activities. The stronger your muscles, the easier it is to get groceries out of the car, pick up your children, or get a package off of the top cabinet shelf.
- Improved balance and stability. When your muscles are strong and resilient, it becomes easier for you to stay balanced when in motion. The more stable you are, the safer you will be navigating your day or playing sports.
- Increased calorie burn. Strength training increases the body’s metabolic rate, causing you to burn more calories throughout the day. This aids significantly with long-term weight loss and maintaining optimum body composition.
Your exercise routine should include strength training, using props such as weights, resistance bands, or kettlebells, or your body’s own weight to work muscle groups (as with push-ups or sit-ups).
The Secrets of Successful Strength Training
Starting a new regimen can be daunting, especially if you’re not a particularly athletic person, but don’t despair! Your body will quickly become attuned to training, and you’ll create a habit you can keep for the rest of your life.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you embark on your strength-training routine:
- Continually challenge yourself: progressive training is important if you want your muscle-building routine to be productive. Don’t just do the same thing over and over, because you won’t get results. If you lift the same amount of resistance, for the same number of repetitions during each workout session, nothing will change. At some point, you must attempt to either perform more reps or use more resistance.
- Work hard: use your body weight as resistance or lift weights on a regular basis, three to four times per week.
- Balance it out: do exercises for the upper and lower body to ensure you maintain a good muscular balance.
- Rest days: take at least one or two rest days a week, because when you over-train, your compromise your recovery ability and will start to regress.
- Motivation: consider enlisting a friend or family member to get fit with you so you’re accountable, and decide what your reward system will be.
- Patience: allow time for the results to appear. It takes time to see muscle growth and gain strength.
An Easy Program to Get Started
The great news is that incorporating weights into your exercise program does not have to be complicated to get results. Consistency is the key the long-term success. Here’s a video with some helpful tips to get started: