Fads are common in the fitness world, just think of Richard Simmons videos, Boflex infomercials and Shake Weights as examples. Some fitness fads, however, can stand the test of time.
Recently there has been increased popularity in strength training. This type of exercise, which is also referred to as resistance training, is designed to improve muscular fitness as the muscles generate force against external stimuli.1 Unlike other fitness fads, strength training is timeless because it helps to preserve and maintain healthy muscle.
Once thought to be an activity for athletes, strength training is now recommended as a safe and effective way to improve health. What’s more, anyone can benefit from this type of exercise regimen – be it male or female, novice or professional, young or old.2
Principles of Strength Training
Although it can seem overwhelming to set new health and wellness goals, this blog (and the two in this series to follow) aims to provide clarity and tips in strength training for a healthy year and a healthier you. Before getting started with a new strength training program, it is important to understand a few simple principles that lead to incredible health benefits.
- Progressive Overload – This principle refers to exercising the body to a level beyond which it is accustomed. Strength and growth occur when the muscles are progressively challenged to do more.3
- If someone can bicep curl a 10 pound dumbbell for 10 reps with ease, they can either increase the amount of weight or reps to add an overload in this activity. It is advised to increase weight or reps one at a time, rather than both simultaneously.
- Specificity – This principle implies that an exercise must be specific to the muscles involved to improve strength in those muscles. Adaptations will occur due to the specific nature of the exercise.3
- If someone wants to increase their upper body strength for pull-ups and push-ups they must do those exercises, or others that target the muscles involved. For instance, they will not improve upper body strength by running or cycling.
- Reversibility – This third principle states the improvements can be lost or reduced when the overload is removed or the specificity is changed.3
- If someone stops resistance training they will see a reduction in their strength abilities. What’s more, if this person changes their specific goals they will also see a change in adaptations as well.
Health Benefits of Strength Training
The three aforementioned principles represent the basis on which strength develops. Becoming a stronger and healthier version of yourself requires progression and specificity to avoid reversibility. Creating a strength goal with these concepts in mind is a great way to form a base in your training. Since growth extends beyond lifting heavier weights in a gym setting, your strength goals will lend themselves into everyday health benefits, such as:
- Combating muscle loss that occurs naturally with age
- Preventing osteoporosis through muscular development
- Reductions in body fat and increased lean muscle mass
- Improvements in metabolic functions
- Decreased risk of diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension
- Improved cholesterol
- Developing neurological functions
- Increased balance and coordination in movements
- Reductions in injuries
- Greater satisfaction and quality of life4
The body is meant to move and more effective movement comes from developing strength. That said, it is important to keep safety top of mind when exercising in order to prevent injuries. If you do feel unusual aches and pains after working out, make sure to schedule a complimentary injury screening at your nearest Athletico location.