If you’re looking to reduce body fat, increase muscle mass, and burn calories more efficiently, it’s time to consider incorporating strength training into your workout routine.
Benefits: Bone Density Strong muscles lead to strong bones, and strong bones help reduce the amount of fracture due to osteoporosis. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a mix of age-related changes, inactivity, and inadequate nutrition gradually steal bone mass, at the rate of 1% per year after age 40. Studies show that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show it can even build bone.
Lean Muscle Mass – Did you know that muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue? Here’s the bad news, as we age we naturally lose lean muscle mass. That’s why strength training is key!
Metabolism – Yes, aerobic exercise is great for burning calories, but studies show strength training helps increase your resting metabolism. Yes, you keep burning calories even after your workout!
Do I Need to Use Weights? No! Dr. Edward Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and a professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, says the resistance training effect you get from using your body weight can be as effective as training with free weights or weight machines. Exercises like squats, lunges, crunches, planks, pushups, pull-ups, dips or step-ups are a great start.
How Often Should I Incorporate Strength Training Into My Workouts? The Department of Health and Human Services recommends incorporating strength training into a fitness routine at least twice a week, and at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
How Do I Get Started? Before you begin strength training, be sure to warm up your body with some type of aerobic activity for 5 or 10 minutes. If you’re using weights, strive for three sets, adding to your number of reps as you get stronger.
If you’re using your body weight, repeating a movement or holding a movement to fatigue is a great way to gain strength. Try a mix of isotonic (pushups, squats, crunches, tricep dips, pull-ups) and isometric exercises (plank, wall sit, warrior pose, glute bridge). If you have joint issues, focus on more isometric moves. Hold for 30 seconds to start and slowly work your way up.
Compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups and add a boost of cardio will help you get the most out of your workout. Think burpees and mountain climbers.
Most importantly, listen to your body. If your wrists begin to hurt, drop to your forearms. Start with pushups on your knees and slowly progress to regular pushups or use a bench to do them on an incline. If your form is suffering and you begin feeling discomfort, lower the amount of weight you are using.
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