Friday, June 17, 2011

10 Reasons Why Strength Training Is Important

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photo courtesy of microsoft.com

Do you strength train? Do you think lifting weights is only for body builders and people who want to bulk up? It’s not! Strength training has many benefits for those of us trying to lose weight, tone up and get more fit and healthy in general.

1. By improving joint function and strengthening the bones, muscles, and ligaments, strength training can help prevent injury.

2. Exercising with weights releases those “feel good” endorphins in the brain that improve mood and make you feel better.

3. Strength training has been shown to have incredible health benefits such as: lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol, reducing the risks of breast cancer.

4. Because it strengthens the bones and increases bone density, strength training helps to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

5. It reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

6. Strength training firms and tones the body by reducing fat and building lean muscle mass for firmer, more well-defined muscles and a leaner appearance. When strength training, you may notice that you’re losing inches even though your weight may not change over a period of time.

7. Improved balance and flexibility are two nice side effects of strength training. Balance is enhanced with stronger core muscles and flexibility is increased as range of motion improves.

8. Strength training has been shown to improve sleep by allowing you to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

9. If you do other forms of physical activity, such as running or cycling, stronger core and lower body muscles can improve your form and performance.

10. Perhaps the greatest benefit of strength training, however – at least for those losing weight – is the calorie-burning benefit. Calories are burned in muscle tissue. One pound of lean body mass burns anywhere from 15 to 50 calories daily and stores 788 calories of energy, while one pound of fat burns only approximately six calories daily, and stores a whopping 3500 calories of energy!

I think I’d rather have a pound of muscle, thank you very much!

So, now that you’ve seen the benefits of strength-training, where do you begin?

Fitblogger offers a nice 12-week weight training plan. While many of the exercises do require gym equipment, most can be modified to be used with dumbbells. One thing I love about the Fitblogger plan is that all the exercises are linked to videos where you can watch the moves performed correctly.

Fitness Magazine’s website also has a helpful article entitled, Strength Training for Beginners.

And, of course, there are a lot of great videos, such as Jillian Michael’s No More Trouble Zones, which focuses on toning up a woman’s trouble spots with weights and cardio circuit training. While it can be tough for someone just starting out, she does show modifications for beginners.

So, what are you waiting for? If you’ve never done strength training, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s actually fun and it’s great to see your body begin to tone up and start feeling your muscles getting stronger.

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday.

Do or do not. There is no try.

5 comments:

  1. Have you read the book "The New Rules of Lifting for Women"?  It completely changed the way I look at my exercise routine & my own fitness.  I LOVED it.  Within three weeks of reading that book (and working the program) I started seeing new muscles pop up all over the place.  I've been recommending it to everyone I know!  LOL!

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  2. No, I haven't. I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  3. Jessica,

    Are you still running? I've read The New Rules of Lifting and I'm ready to get started on it, but I'm also training for a half-marathon. As I'm sure you know, if you've read the book, the author isn't a big fan of endurance running, particularly endurance running while lifting. I'm wondering how well -- if at all -- the two are going to mesh.

    I was thinking of doing 3 days running/3 days lifting, alternating days. Now, I'm starting to think that maybe I should just do 3 running/2 lifting. Can't decide if I should start 3/3 and see how it goes. So, I was just wondering if you were still running, if you're doing any distance running, and how you worked the two successfully if you are.

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  4. Yes, it's true, he's not a fan of endurance training at all ~ running specifically!  I wasn't running when I first started the program, as I found the program while I was nursing an injury.  Life sort of got in the way, and I stalled out on the program, but I just started over again this week and I'm working running and other endurance cardio into it. 
    Right now, I'm doing my lifting (in the beginning it only takes about 30 minutes) and then I'm following it up with about an hour of cardio.  The next day I'm hitting the cardio hard. Then lifting/cardio/ then cardio hard, etc...So, I'm doing 3 days of lifting and light cardio and 2 days of hard cardio.  I intend to take two "rest" days on the weekends, but I'm sure I'll end up at the Y with the kids playing in the pool, or going for a walk, etc...so I'll get some activity.
    This schedule works for me as my priority right now is on strength and not on endurance (yet).  If I were training for a half right now, I'd try lifting 3x and doing my easy/short runs on lifting days and my long runs on the weekends.  If that doesn't work, you can always cut it down lifting 2x until after your race. 
    Also, there is a fitness message board that has an entire sub forum dedicated to the New Rules of Lifting series.  I've found it very supportive and helpful.  My screen name is "JamJam" ~ if you stop by be sure to say hello :)
    I've rambled enough....I hope I was able to help...a little, even?  LOL!

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  5. Yeah, I've posted on the forums. I've gotten a pretty even mix of "yeah, you
    should be able to do it" and "if you try running and lifting you'll look
    like a dough ball." I'm just going to start it and see how it goes. Right
    now I plan to do 3 days lifting/3 days running. I may drop the lifting back
    to 2 days as I get closer to the half marathon, if I see that I need to.
    Stage 1 doesn't really look overly challenging, so I think I'll be alright.
    I may have to throw in some light cardio on the lifting days. I'm really
    worried about not burning enough calories when I'm so close to my goal
    weight. Like I said, I finally decided I'm not going to know until I try it
    and see.

    Thanks for your input. It did help.

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