As you know I am a big fan of the aerobic workout. I like cycling, running, swimming, kickbiking, paddling, surfing and walking. These are all great things to do and I say keep doing them. But if you are not strength training regularly you are losing muscle mass by the year and the end result of that is not being able to get out of your chair with out grabbing on to something. This day is coming even for those dedicated triathletes and runners. So, if you haven’t got yourself in to a routine with strength training yet, the time is now! Science has shown that we lose 3-5kg of muscle mass per decade so just do the sums if you are 40 or 50. The picture is not going to look so good even if your actually weight is still the same as when you were 20. So be careful how much patting yourself on the back you do unless there is a resistance as you do it!
Here are the big 5 scientifically proven benefits of strength training. If you are free thinking person this stuff just makes sense. You just have to learn how to get yourself in to the habit of doing it. If you need help with learning safe technique, being held accountable so you make to the hallowed ground of habit and understanding what a good strength session looks like, we are here as Brisbane based personal trainers and online fitness coaching experts to help.
Number 1 big benefit: HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT!
Muscles that get worked maintain integrity. If you don’t believe this look at what happens when someone is bed ridden for whatever reason or have a limb immobilised. I am sure you have seen the muscle wastage. You got move it to keep it. So now you are wondering what kind of movement? I made the statement that even triathletes and runners are headed for problems if they don’t strength train. When you work a muscle to fatigue with in a short time frame you are working a different energy system. When you do repetitions of anything with low resistance for longer than 10-30s you are progressively working the aerobic system. In effective strength training you need to be fatiguing the muscle fibres relatively quickly, the shorter the time frame, the bigger the muscle fibres you are targeting. Generally speaking, Bigger muscle fibres equals bigger muscle growth. I don’t want to get too technical here but suffice is to say that doing a squat for example with a load that you start to struggle with around 10-15 reps is a good example of strength training. If you can do that squat easily for 20-50 reps you are not stressing the muscle enough to adapt to get stronger, you are making it efficient to do repetitions which is great. It just won’t change the muscle’s structure to become stronger or stay strong and this is what you want. A lot of women worry and even men who come to see me say that they don’t want to be “Arnie”. The thing is, being even in the faint direct of Arnie takes an enormous amount of dedication. So let’s not worry about overdoing the muscle building thing, let’s just get really excited about firstly holding on to the muscle you have!
Number 2 big benefit: A LIFE FREE OF OR MANAGING BACK PAIN
It would be nice to think that because you are active you will never have back pain. Unfortunately that is not the case. It certainly isn’t the case for me. It has been for some time more about managing back pain for me. If you are part of the lucky 20% who have never had back pain then to remain in that 20% you are going to need to think about how to maintain membership of that exclusive club with strength training sooner rather than later. We all know how things change as we age. It is a recognized fact that with out dedicated work, you WILL experience back problems at some point as you age.
Number 3 big benefit: LOOKING GOOD
You may say, hey I look good I do triathlons. Well you probably do look pretty good but the cold hard facts are that proper resistance/strength training is the only way to give muscle a good looking shape. If you do lots of hill work on your bike you have more chance of holding on to your muscle for sure but the excessive cardio thing can actually eat up you muscle. We have all seen the runner is no more than skin and bones, great runner but looking good? Not usually. Compare athletes, sprinters and marathon runners. Who looks better? I think you have your answer when you know that the sprinter’s predominant form of training is weight training along with sprinting of course.
Number 4 big benefit: FUNCTIONALLY CAPABLE
A weak muscle is no good to us. It is not going to help you move things or do things and the weaker you are the less capable you are. Let’s strip this right back. If you don’t have strong legs you will not be able to pick something up and move it in your house or, back to the early example, get out of the chair. When you are old the biggest thing that will handicap you in your day to day existence is your strength. Think about opening a jar so you can eat, consider having to bring your shopping in from the car or picking up your grand child? It is funny, a lot of people equate weight training with gyms and muscles and vanity. The more important thing to think about is what muscle can help you do in your life, both now and in the future. When you think of it in those terms I am sure you will be wanting to ask me how you do this safely and often enough to get the benefit of a better life.
Number 5 big benefit: STAYING LEAN
The biggest searched term on the internet is “Weight Loss”. This is not what people are really looking for though. They are thinking more in terms of “fat loss”, but then bigger than that they are looking for what fat loss can mean to them. You just have to look at a couple of the benefits above to know what they are. So how does lifting weights help with fat loss? Most people know that muscle weights heavier than fat but the big news is that muscle requires metabolism where as fat is basically inert. If you want to know what I mean just feel some fat on your body versus muscle and notice the temperature difference. Muscle is warm because there is lots of cellular activity happening and the really cool part is that it needs energy mostly derived from fat to keep it alive. So the bottom line is that having muscle or more muscle in the body, you have more chance for it to eat in to your fat stores. That is pretty cool I think you will agree.
So now I ask you, if you want to keep hold of the muscle you have, be back pain free, be more attractive and have muscle that looks “toned”, be functionally capable and stay lean, then lifting weights regularly is a non-negotiable new habit you need to develop.