It’s Not A Weighty Decision: Getting Stronger

It’s Not A Weighty Decision: Getting Stronger

It’s Not A Weighty Decision: Getting Stronger

You may be thinking of getting fit, getting stronger through exercise. Do you think of running, swimming, or walking and….not much else?

Those activities that get the heart pumping and oxygen flowing are certainly great, but there’s another aspect of exercise that is also important, but not as understood: Strength training.

Building muscle isn’t just about t looking good and being powerful, or being “buff” as the gym-rats call it. Strength training is important for day-to-day life, picking up the groceries, moving things around the house. It’s also to improve quality of life.

There are many reasons to build your muscles. It slows bone loss. It helps you control back pain. It can improve balance and reduces the risk of falls as you get older. It helps fight heart disease and other ailments. It helps you control weight and helps lift your spirits overall because it raises levels of endorphins, the natural opiates.

When people have weight control issues, arthritis or heart conditions that may be among the last things you think about. But it should be something you consider.

The National Institute on Aging says you should do four types of exercise for full health benefits and that includes  ” endurance or aerobics, strength training or weight lifting, balance and stretching or flexibility.”

Strength training or weight lifting should be performed two to three days per week, with a rest between sessions. Strength training should include exercises for all major muscle groups, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, hips and legs.

And remember this: you don’t need to be a body-builder in the gym.

Also, it helps you feel better, releasing those great endorphins.

So what is strength training?

There is weight or resistance training. Weight training involves, well, lifting weights, which could be free weights, like barbells. Then there is resistance training, which involves using your own body weight, such as with push-ups from a floor, or a weight machine.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults train two to three times per week. If you older or have been sedentary, start with a lesser amount, such as two times per week, and less intensity.

Whatever you do, don’t be reckless. If you are in pain or overly tired, stop. Your body is telling you something. If strength-training exercises causes any pain, stop them. Consider trying a lower weight, or rest and try a few days later.

If you are new to weight training, work with a trainer or other fitness specialist to learn correct form and technique.

Choose a weight or resistance level that is heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions. When you can do more, gradually increase the weight or resistance. Research shows that a single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle effectively in most people, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Give your muscles time to recover, with rest a full day between exercising each specific muscle group.

Equipment or Not….

You can do many exercises with little or no equipment. You can start doing pushups, pull-ups or just stretch from a chair. Resistance tubing provides resistance when stretched.

Weights that you can use include barbells, in which you need to lift with both hands, dumbbells, in which you work each limb individually, and medicine balls, which are weighted balls, from one pound or 20 pounds.  There are also weight machines that you see at gyms or can purchase.

You may begin to see improved strength after just two or three 20 to 30- minute weight training sessions a few times a week.

As you include strength training exercises into your fitness routine, you may notice you are getting stronger in the weeks ahead! As your muscle mass increases, you’ll likely be able to lift more easily and longer over time.

Bone Density

Strength training helps increase bone density, and that’s important as you age. It can fight aching joints and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Interestingly, as we get older, we have reduced muscle mass. And that begins pretty early: At age 30, we start losing as much as three to five percent of lean muscle mass each year.


Weight training can help you manage or lose weight and increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.  While aerobic exercise such as walking, running or cycling can help increase the number of calories you burn, strength training bolsters your resting metabolism.  And you can burn calories before, during and after a workout.

You will likely increase the percentage of fat in your body if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time. What age can you do that? Any age.

Chronic Disease

Strength training can help people with some chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes.  It can also ease the pain of osteoarthritis.


Chris LLiades, MD.7 Ways Strength Training Boosts Your Health and Fitness. Retrieved from Everyday Health.

Paige Waehner. Retrieved from VeryWell fit. Weight Training Equipment.

Jim Wendler, Retrieved from 10 Strength-building Strategies That Will Never Die. Men’s Journal.

Mayo Clinic Staff. Retrieved From Healthy Lifestyle Fitness. Strength training: Get stronger, leaner, healthier..

Bret Contreras. Retrieved from TNational. 8 Laws of Strength Training. Bret Contreras. 2016.

Jessica Migala. Retrieved from Reader’s Digest. 30 Simple Things You Can Do Daily to Boost Your Bones.

Lisa Lavalle Overmyer. Greatist. How to Build Healthy Bones (And Keep Them Strong). 2012.

Stacy Aronson. NerdFitness. Strength Training 101..


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