When people first hear the word strength training, it is a general tendency to look the other way, for this sort of exercise is broadly considered a thing of bodybuilders. Although, that is far from being true. As a matter of fact, whether you are a young adult or you are already around your 80s and 90s, strength training and power training will certainly help you manage your day-to-day tasks with ease.
The US Department of Health and Human Services have issued recommendations that urge all age groups to facilitate strength training in the pursuit of reaping its long-term health benefits. Several studies from the same source have shown that performing at least two strength training sessions combined with some form of cardio exercise of 150 minutes or more every week, you may manage and even prevent diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and other various forms of heart diseases .
As the years of our lives go by, so our muscle tissues, strength and bone density dwindles, and this is exactly why it is important to make the most of the health benefits of strength training. These benefits include but are not limited to:
• Protecting vitality
• Making everyday tasks even more manageable
• Preventing disability and fraud.
• Improving strength, mobility, agility and power (both mental and physical)
The basic idea behind strength training is to slowly and progressively challenge our muscles to break through newer and newer barriers. Strength training poses a challenge to your muscles in the form of counterforce that may include lifting dumbbells, pushing against the wall or pulling on a resistance band, for that matter. It is important to note that strength training will not only make you stronger, but your muscles will also be more toned and your bones more strengthened as a result.
Guidance from the Chief Medical Office (CMO) for Physical Activity (UK) and the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAG) recommend power training exercises for all major muscle groups. These include:
In the following, I am going to share 7 points that will help you make the most out of your chosen strength-training program:
1. Warm-up and stretching exercises for 5-10 minutes. The best way to go about this is by walking intensively for 5 minutes and then spend the other 5 minutes stretching the major muscle groups to avoid injuries.
2. Try focusing on your form and not on the weight. Most people tend to jump into the heavy weights especially in the initial stage of starting on a strength training program. This sort of enthusiasm is really admirable, but it may easily cause unnecessary injuries. Perform the exercises in proper form and always move with caution. Experts suggest going with no weight until the proper form has been achieved. Concentrating on slow and smooth lifts with equally controlled and disciplined descents will make sure that all muscle groups are properly isolated and worked upon for maximum growth.
3. Focus on slow tempo to stay in control rather than risk compromising strength gains through momentum. Count to three while you are lowering the weight; then hold it just a little and start counting to three again as you are slowly getting back to the starting position.
4. Breathe: Many people fail to realize the importance of breathing properly during workouts. Always exhale as you lift, push or pull, and inhale at the starting position
5. Keep increasing the weights as you develop. The greatest rules that exist in strength training are consistency and progressivity. Consistency in the way you perform the exercises and progressivity in the way you increase the weight resistance to facilitate further muscle growth. It is ideal to choose a weight that you can maintain your form with, and with which the last two repetitions can hardly be executed- the form should still remain impeccable though. Once it gets easier with one weight, try taking a heavier one to see if you can work the same way with a heavier fellow. This also gives you a chance to see for yourself how you are now able to do the same exercise with a heavier weight while you could barely lift it when you first started. Always work with 1 to 2 pounds extra every time when you are working on your arms, and 2 to 5 pounds when you are exercising your legs. If you feel tired by the time you get to the last two reps, then you are doing it right. If not, increase the weight. Easy as pie.
6. Stick to your routine. There are two ways you can go about strength training: either you do one full-body workout at least 2-3 times a week, or you break your workouts into even smaller portions by focusing on 1 or 2 muscle group at any given day. This would give you 4-5 workout days in total. Whatever you have the time to commit yourself that way is, of course, based on your personal preferences.
7. Give your muscles a break. The way strength training works is by causing tiny scars and tears in your muscle tissue that get repaired by our body growing layers and layers of muscle fibers to heal them. This is exactly why muscle regeneration is important. The best way you can make sure that this regenerative process is undisturbed is by giving at least 48 hours for your muscles to recover before your next tiring training session.
Although the aging process can not really be hindered as of yet, it is still important to counteract its toll on us. Strength training will surely get you in shape so you can enjoy your life to the fullest without remorse. The mere fact that you know you train your own body on a regular basis will give you a kind of optimist self-esteem and pride that no other sport or activity can give you. By reading this article, you have made your first step towards becoming healthier, stronger and happier.