The Importance of Strength Training

Over the years much has been documented about the importance of cardiovascular fitness. Until recently, however, little attention has been given to strength training, which is a very important component to a balanced fitness program. The misconception is that strength training will “bulk” you up and lead to decreased flexibility, this is simply not true. Yes, one can train for muscle hypertrophy, or increased muscle mass, however that is only if you train that way. Given the correct program designed to reach your personal goals, strength training has many benefits to your overall physical and mental health such as:

  • Increased strength of bones, muscles, and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments), which can decrease risk for injury, decrease risk for developing certain diseases (osteoporosis), and improve overall function.
  • Increased muscle mass, again not necessarily bulking up. Most adults lose approximately ½ pound of muscle per year after the age of 20. This is largely due to decreased activity levels. Lean muscle mass is a big component of metabolism, the more lean muscle we have the higher our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) that directly correlates with number of calories burned throughout the day regardless of activity levels. As muscle mass increases, RMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Enhanced quality of life. As strength increases, the effort required to perform daily tasks will be less taxing on your body. Additionally, strength training can improve sleep quality, decrease stress levels, and improve body image.

These are just a few of the benefits of strength training and why it is important that you add resistance training to your exercise routine. Some good basic starting exercises can be found in the box below. Aim for 8-12 repetitions per set, with 2-3 sets as a starting goal per exercise. The 12th repetition should be difficult, but without compensating. Try to add strength training 2-3x a week, allow for at least one rest day in between especially if you are inexperienced or getting back into it. Alternate muscle groups, legs one day and upper body the next time. Remember to breathe and have fun.

Exercise Muscle Group
Leg Press Quadriceps, Gluteals
Leg Curl Hamstrings
Chest Press Pectorals
Pull Down Latissimus Dorsi
Lateral Raise Deltoid
Triceps Press Triceps
Biceps Curl Biceps
Sit up Abdominals
Heel Raise Gastrocnemius/Soleus