Why Is Strength Training Important?

I have been a cardio girl for over 20 years- biking, running, swimming, playing tennis, using the stair master and elliptical machine. Why should I incorporate strength training into my fitness routine at this point in my life?  Why should anyone add strength training to their workouts? Well, I did some research and I found that for men and women, strength training is an important component to overall fitness. It helps to reduce body fat while increasing lean muscle mass and helps to burn calories more efficiently.

Studies have shown that muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. According to Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn. and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center, “[i]f you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body.” He further adds, “[b]ut strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass- at any age.” Strength training also helps to develop strong bones, boost stamina, control weight, improve attention and sharpen your focus.

The good news is that you do not need to belong to a gym to enjoy the benefits of strength training. Exercises that you can do without any equipment include: pushups, sit-ups, abdominal crunches, air squats and lunges. Exercises with free weights that can be used at the gym or purchased for home use include: dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. At the gym (or you can invest in weight machines for home use), various resistance machines are effective for strength training.

According to Dr.Laskowski, “[t]wo to three training sessions a week lasting just 20 to 30 minutes are sufficient for most people.”

It is important to consult with your doctor before beginning any strength training program. The following is an example of an at home strength training workout:

Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can:

5 push-ups
10 sit-ups
15 air squats

If you have access to a kettlebell or a dumbbell, below is a tough strength training workout:

Perform 7 burpees before and after each set:
Do reps of 50-40-30-20-10 of: kettlebell swings and sit ups. So your workout should look like this:

7 burpees, 50 kettlebell swings, 50 sit-ups, 7 burpees, 40 kettlebell swings, 40 sit-ups, 7 burpees, 30 kettlebell swings, 30 sit-ups, 7 burpees, 20 kettlebell swings, 20 sit-ups, 7 burpees, 10 kettlebell swings, 10 sit-ups, 7 burpees.

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A Boston University School of Medicine study concluded that weightlifting helps to”regress obesity and resolve metabolic disorders.  “Weightlifting also increases an athlete’s power by improving the coordination of muscles working together. Working out has been scientifically proven to decrease stress. Researchers found that for a period of six months, people who performed three weight workouts a week, significantly increased their anger level and overall mood.

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