Want to feel strong, burn energy more efficiently, and enhance bone and heart health all while boosting your mood?
If you are looking to burn energy more efficiently, enhance bone and heart health, boost your mood, and feel strong and confident, then add strength training to your weekly routine.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, weight training, and muscular training, is any physical movement in which you use resistance (whether that be your body weight, resistance bands, hand weights, or machines) to train your muscles for strength, and endurance and/or size.
There is a common misconception that strength training leads to the development of large muscles and a bulky-looking physique; but as with most things, one size does not fit all.
There are many ways to strength train, with varying goals and outcomes. Indeed, you could train to increase muscle size, but you can also train to increase power, enhance endurance or tone muscle and support good health.
Importantly, the benefits of strength training extend beyond just the muscles and are experienced throughout the entire body.
So why should I strength train?
As we age, lean muscle mass naturally diminishes. Strength training preserves and enhances muscle mass helping you to become stronger. Gaining strength promotes physical capability, which helps make everyday tasks easier, like carrying heavy groceries or laundry baskets, walking upstairs, opening food jars, working around the house or garden, or playing with the kids.
Muscles are more metabolically efficient than fat; meaning they burn more calories than fat tissue, even at rest. What’s more, your metabolic rate is increased up to 72 hours after a strength training session, so you continue to burn more energy hours, and even days, after your workout. Consistent strength training helps transform your body and supports weight loss or weight maintenance.
Our bones are in a constant state of turnover. Strength training is crucial for bone development helping to slow the rate of bone loss as we age. Building strong bones reduces your risk of osteoporosis and fractures, especially as you age.
Regular strength training increases the range of motion around your joints, facilitating mobility and flexibility and offering protection from injury. Further, strength gains can enhance balance, which may reduce the risk of falls helping you maintain independence as you age.
By strengthening the heart and blood vessels, regular strength training helps lower blood pressure, and total and LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, and improves blood circulation. All of which support a healthy heart.
Muscles help reduce blood sugar levels by drawing glucose from the blood into their cells to be used as an energy source. In this way, greater muscle mass can help improve blood sugar management, which may lower your risk of developing diabetes. What’s more, strength training can help those with the condition manage it better.
Studies have shown an association between strength training and positive body image. Regular weight training may reduce feelings of anxiety, boost your mood and enhance your mental health. Feeling strong can help you feel good!
You can reap the benefits of strength training at any age – it’s never too late to begin. What’s more, strength training can be done anywhere – in the comfort of your own home, at the park when playing with the kids – and requires little to no equipment.
National Physical Activity Guidelines encourage Australians to enjoy muscle-strengthening activities at least 2-days each week. If you have a chronic condition or it has been a while since you’ve been active, check with your GP or health professional before beginning a program.
If you’re new to strength training, start slow and focus on learning good form. It can be useful to learn functional, compound movements like push-ups, squats, and lunges. Once you feel comfortable performing these movements with your body weight, you can incorporate the use of resistance bands, hand weights, or even items around your house. It can be beneficial to enlist the support of a professional to ensure you’re performing the moves safely and effectively.
It is important to keep in mind that any strength training regimen is best supported by enjoying a diet that incorporates a diverse and colourful variety of whole foods as suggested in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. With our range of dietitian-designed meals and meal plans, this is something Lite n' Easy can help you achieve!