You may have been hearing more and more about strength training recently as it grows in popularity amongst active gym-goers. While some people swear you can’t make any physiological progress without incorporating strength training into your workouts, others insist this is a misconception and that it can cause serious damage to muscles and joints. So, do these ideas hold true?
The easy answer is, as always, it depends. Any activity done incorrectly is liable to cause injury, from running to swimming and everything in between, including body building. There’s no evidence to suggest strength training would pose more of a risk than any other physical activity done wrong.
It is equally untrue that strength training alone can change your body. However, more and more studies and extracts from personal experience are showing that by incorporating strength training into your workouts, you’re more likely to achieve your fitness goals.
So, it’s definitely worth a try!
For those who are new to strength training, it can be a bit daunting to go up to the local bodybuilder and ask them to teach you about it. Luckily, this blog should give you a brief introduction to what strength training is and how you can get started with it!
And as always, if you have any questions or would like to see any of the exercises mentioned here done in person, please don’t hesitate to ask our staff for their help!
First of all: what is strength training?
Strength training is also known as weight or resistance training. It is a form of fitness training designed to improve muscular fitness by focusing the physical activity on a specific muscle group by exercising it against external resistance. This could, for example, include free weights, weight machines, or your own body weight.
Most people unfamiliar with strength training associate it with the well-known image of Arnold Schwarzenegger-type bodybuilders in the gym. If you’re thinking of starting out with strength training, banish this image from your mind! While it is a perfectly valid form of strength training, it’s one that is worked up towards over a long time as part of a fitness process. If you rush into the heavy weights without appropriately training and growing your muscles beforehand, you may cause yourself injury.
Many people already incorporate exercises into their workouts that are considered strength-training exercises, without them even realizing that is what they are doing! For example, planks and push-ups are considered strength training exercises as you’re using your body weight to create resistance for your muscles.
Who can do strength training?
Strength training is for everyone! While it may seem intimidating to start something new, strength training exercises are actually really easy for anyone to incorporate into their workouts as you can easily tailor the exercises to your limits, and gradually increase the difficulty of the workouts as you feel yourself strengthening.
For example, jumping straight in with pull-ups might be difficult if you’ve only been focusing on cardio. Why not start by building up some core strength with planks and push-ups first? These are good ones as, for instance, you could go from a 20-second to a 60-second plank in a matter of days.
Am I more likely to injure myself in strength training?
No! This is a large misconception built around strength training. Again, as I mentioned above, it’s all about ensuring you’re not over-estimating your capabilities (lifting too much weight when your muscles aren’t trained to do so can cause joint or muscular pain) and that you’re doing the exercises with the correct form.
While you can watch video tutorials to figure out the correct form, the best way to make sure you aren’t going to cause damage when doing these workouts is by asking a member of our excellent staff to show you the best way to go about each one.
How do I get started?
It’s easy, and best of all, you’ve got plenty of options! You can take a class with us at Beckwith Health Club, where you’ll be able to see the instructors illustrating each exercise, and where you’ll be able to ask them about adjusting exercises based on any injuries you may have or based on your level.
Otherwise, if you’ve already got your own routine, our staff can suggest some strength training exercises you can gradually incorporate into it.
These could include easy-to-do and adaptable exercises based on the level of difficulty you can handle, such as: planks, push-ups, pull-ups, squats (and variants, such as jumping squats), walking lunges, dumbbell rows, and more.
It’s best to start off with weight-free exercises (such as the above) if you’re new to the strength training game. This will allow you to gauge your muscular fitness levels and to train your body so as to avoid injury when you do switch to weights.
Once you feel ready to switch to weights, take one of our classes to start learning the basics. Why not try a kettlebells class? Or, join the circuits class to see the full-body benefits of strength training!
What are the benefits of strength training?
One of the main benefits of incorporating strength training into your regular workouts is how quickly you’ll notice the changes! Within a matter of a couple of weeks, you’ll begin feeling stronger and more toned.
What’s more, the more you incorporate it, the better results you’ll see from your other activities! As your body strengthens, you’ll be getting more out of your cardio activities, such as running and cycling.
Strength training is also excellent for building lean muscle, which is better for burning calories when your body is at rest (this is significant when one of your fitness goals is weight loss or weight maintenance).
Finally, as strength training focuses on a gradual build-up of your muscular capabilities through resistance, it also acts to strengthen your joints and bones (which helps you to avoid injury) and to improve your endurance. In this sense, it has all-round benefits to your body and to your fitness goals.
Let us know if you’re ready to start strength training and we’ll help you get there by finding the right workouts and exercises for your level and fitness needs.
We’d love to hear about how you incorporated strength training into your fitness regime and how it helped you, as well as any recommendations you have for those who are starting out now. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and let us know!