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Monday, April 16, 2007

Strength Training: What you need to know.


Most people who want to be fitter or look better start by “going on a diet”. Some might even begin to do some cardio occasionally, but most people don’t strength train. As a result, many people don’t get the benefits that strength training provides.

Injury prevention

A balanced, strength training program can strengthen weak muscles and result in a stronger, more fit, physique. Notice I said a BALANCED program. That means strengthening all major muscle groups not just the "beach" muscles. A ripped six-pack with bulging biceps is nice, but not if you’re so weak that your 5 year old has to open the jar of peanut butter for you. Strength training is more than crunches, bench press, and bicep curls. Focus on strengthening weaker muscle groups to minimize injury potential.

Increase lean muscle mass = Increased metabolism = Decreased body fat

Every pound of muscle in your body burns approximately 30-50 calories per day. By adding more muscle, your resting metabolism will get higher allowing you to burn more body fat, even while at rest. Most people beginning a strength training program will gain weight…this is a good thing. The weight is mostly muscle which will increase your metabolism and begin to burn fat. Don't be discouraged by a 3 - 5 pound weight gain. Muscle takes up a lot less room than fat so even this small gain won't make you much bigger...and it's only temporary. Strength training is the number one thing that you can do to start making positive changes in your body composition. Everyone says they could stand to lose a few pounds, but make sure those pounds are fat, not metabolically active muscle. Hit those weights!

Increased bone density

Older adults and women of all ages are at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Any weight-bearing exercise decreases this risk and strength training is no exception. By stressing your bones, strength training reduces the risk of getting osteoporosis and lessens the impact if you already have it.

Increased strength

Stronger muscles allow you to go through your day with less fatigue and just plain makes daily activities seem easier.

Prevents muscle loss that leads to creeping weight gain

As we get older, it seems that is becomes more and more difficult to maintain a reasonable weight. Losing weight seems impossible. The reason is that as we age, we begin to lose muscle tissue due to inactivity, and this causes a slow, steady drop in metabolism. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. You don’t have to lift enormous weights to maintain muscle mass. Even a simple, easy to perform, strength program will do the trick.

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