The importance of strength training in everyone’s lives is paramount! Many people associate strength training with an “Arnold Swartzenegger” style of exercise, although that route is an option many people take, it in no way sums up what strength training is all about. Strength training can involve exercises from the bench press, the many different variations of squat/leg exercise, to even running stairs. Any exercise that builds strength!
There are many reasons why strength training is so important. As we age and the body naturally starts to shed muscle and practicing some kind of exercise routine to build strength becomes more and more important. As we age and muscle mass begins to deteriorate, forming improper movement patterns becomes more prevalent. Keeping proper form and activating the correct muscles in the right order through our everyday movements is vital in keeping the joints in our body healthy and functioning properly. As a personal trainer, I see clients all the time dealing with aching joints and muscles. Often building back lost strength and correcting musculature imbalances can fix the problem.
There are many other reasons why strength training is so important.
The more muscle you have the more calories your body burns- It has been proven that muscle burns calories. For each pound of muscle,7-10 calories are burnt compared to a pound of fat only burns 2, even when the body is resting. This may not sound like a huge difference off the bat, but over time it can make a major difference.
Strength training increases bone density- As we age having dense bones can equal being independent. Hip fractures are the number reason for elders being admitted to a nursing home. Falling becomes more and more dangerous and having the bone strength to endure a fall can mean having your independence or not.
Building strength to improve your mood- Exercise, in general, is an amazing tool to help build confidence and boost mood. For people who struggle with depression, exercise and healthy eating have been proven to drastically help. More so than many of the anti-depression medications out there, which may have little proof of even working.
If you are asking yourself, “what are some good strength training exercises I should be doing?”. I would first ask, “what are your goals”. Depending on what your goals are different exercises might be in your best interest, but here is the core list of strength training exercises that can benefit everyone.
Squats- Squatting is the main exercise in building leg and glute strength. There are many different variations of the squat but the most common are the body weight squat. It is pretty simple. Imagine your going to sit down in a chair and instead of actually sitting down, you just stand back up! Proper form involves, keeping your back straight, core tight, weight toward the middle of your feet and not on your toes, and keeping your knees centered over your heals.
Push up- Push-ups are a great way to build chest, shoulder and tricep strength. Push-ups can be done on either your feet or modified on your knees to make it easier. Keeping your back straight, having your hands centered over the bottom of your chest and your elbow tucked closer tot he body rather than flared out is a good starting point for proper form.
Rowing- Building adequate back strength is key in having good posture. A lack of strength in the back muscles compared to the chest and shoulders is a huge cause of having a rounded back and shoulders. Applying exercises like the seated row or pull up’s in your weight training routine can make a big difference.
Strength training has played a very important role in my own life. It has helped me become the person I am today and work through many problems that life has thrown my way. I believe as we grow stronger in the gym, we grow stronger in life. Optimizing how well your body works means a happier person.