What if I told you there was a type of exercise that can help reduce your body fat, increase your muscle mass and help you burn more calories efficiently? Meet strength training. This is a form of exercise that uses resistance to contract your muscles.
Strength training is a type of exercise that uses resistance to work your muscles harder, which in turn increases muscles mass.
Strength training can be performed using your body weight, resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, or weight training machines.
When you are beginning, start slow, know your goals and gradually increase the resistance.
This resistance can be in the form of body weight, free weights or resistance bands to name a few. Let’s explore strength training and its benefits, options for resistance, tips for beginners, and exercises to try.
What is strength training?
Strength training is a type of exercise that uses resistance, causing your muscles to contract. This resistance can be in the form of dumbbells, kettlebells, and even your own body weight.
There are quite a few benefits of strength training. This form of exercise can increase your muscle mass which leads to improving your strength and overall general function. Your muscle mass plays a part in controlling your weight. By increasing the size of your muscles, you can reduce your body fat and burn calories even more efficiently.
Your bones will become stronger and this can reduce the risk of bone fractures. Your joints will become more flexible and your sleep will improve.
Overall, strength training can enhance the overall quality of your life. You’ll have better balance, reducing the risk of falls, and can improve your mobility for your everyday activities.
Speaking of your everyday activities, some can be classified as resistance training. A few examples are gardening, lifting boxes or children, and even carrying groceries. These types of activities are referred to as incidental exercise.
There are quite a few options you can use for your resistance training.
- Body weight. This means using your body and gravity to create the resistance. This is a great option if you’re traveling or just starting out on your fitness journey.
- Resistance bands. These are colored elastic bands that come in many different sizes and resistance levels. They can be looped around your arms and legs to provide resistance your movements.
- Kettlebells and dumbbells. A kettlebell is a cast iron ball with a single hand on the top. Dumbbells, also known as free weights, are two equal weights attached by a handle. These are often used as substitutes for each other.
- Weight machines. Benches and weighted machines can typically be found in your local gym.
Weight training tips for beginners
Here are some tips that even beginners can incorporate in their training programs:
- Start slow. As with any form of exercise, your form is imperative. Focus on mastering the proper form first before adding additional weight. If at any point, you feel your form starting to slip, immediately stop and adjust or rest. Gradually increase your weight or resistance. This will help avoid injury as your strength increases.
- Have a plan. This means identifying your goals and using specific strength training exercises that will help you get there.
- Warm-up and cool-down. Always start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down. Rest days are also imperative to give your muscles time to heal.
Training exercises for beginners
Let’s explore examples of strength training exercises to consider.
- For bodyweight exercises. Think about pull-ups, pushups, squats, or lunges. Master these first before moving on to adding more weight.
- Resistance bands. They are a great addition to the exercises listed above. Try adding a band around your legs to amp up your lunges and squats. By standing on a resistance band with handles, you can target your arms with bicep curls and lateral raises.
- Kettlebells are versatile. Some popular kettlebell exercises include kettlebell swings, the goblet squat, and the kettlebell deadlift. All of the kettlebell exercises above can also be performed with dumbbells.
- Dumbbells. They are equally as versatile. Some examples of arm exercises are bicep curls, hammer curls, and rows. You can even add them to your squats or deadlifts when you are working on your lower body.
- Weight machines at the gym. These can be understandably daunting. Thankfully, these machines do feature instructions on proper use, and when in doubt, always ask.
Before starting any new exercise program, consult with a medical professional. If you are unsure or would like more guidance such as personalized instruction, consider hiring a certified personal trainer. Strength training is an excellent way to improve the quality of your life. By utilizing resistance to build your muscle mass, you'll also be burning fat, increasing mobility, and building bone density.
- Sports Medicine. The benefits of strength training on musculoskeletal system health.
- Osteoporosis International. Effects of dynamic resistance exercise on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
- Penn State College of Medicine. Introduction to strength training.