Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Benefits of Strength Training + a workout!

When someone asks me what the best thing they can do for their overall health and appearance my answer is always the same…start strength training regularly.  Why you may ask?  There are so many benefits to strength training, I hope that I can inspire you to pick up some dumbbells and get some reps in!

Here are the top 5 benefits to get you pumped up, pun intended, for strength training:
  1. Lose or maintain weight: Wherever you are in your fitness journey, strength training can help you lose body fat or maintain the weight you worked hard to get to.  When you add lean muscle your metabolism is revved up and helps to burn more body fat even when you are not working out.
  2. You will look lean even if the scale doesn’t change.  Muscle weights more than fat, but takes up less space.  For example a woman who works out with weights may weight 150, and her friend who doesn’t also weighs 150, the woman who strength trains will look leaner and fit.  A better measure is your body fat percentage, which you can get checked at your gym by a certified personal trainer. 
  1. It maintains or improves your bone density and muscle mass.  Studies have shown that weight bearing exercise is the best way to increase or maintain your bone density and muscle mass as you age.  Both of these tend to decrease with age, the best way to slow this loss, you guessed it strength training!  This will improve your quality of life as you age.
  2. It is important for your mental and emotional well being.  When you workout you are releasing endorphins which improve your mood.  The more consistent you are with your workouts the more benefits you will see.  Exercise is also a great anti-depressant and helps to improve your quality of sleep.  Have you ever finished a workout and felt like you can take on the world?
  3. It reduces your risk of injury and illness.  Strength training helps to increase the strength of your connective tissue, muscle and tendons which improves your range of motion in every day life, thus leading to less injury.  Regular strength training also helps to strengthen your immune system.  Who doesn’t want fewer sick days?

Here is a quick total body strength training workout:
Bench chest press- 15 reps
Standing hammer curl- 20 reps
Dumbbell triceps kickback- 20 reps
Squat to shoulder press- 15 reps
Good mornings- 20 reps
Bent over dumbbell row- 15 reps
Plank hold- 30 seconds (no weight)
*Complete one round of all exercises, rest 2-3 minutes and repeat 2-3 times.  Choose a weight that is challenging but allows you to complete all reps.

*As with any new exercise program be sure to check with your doctor to get the green light!

This post also appeared at FitFul Focus as a guest post.