Let’s step up the gains we’re getting from our workouts! If you want to lose more weight, build healthy bone density and muscle mass, look better in your clothes, and boost your confidence, strength training will make all the difference.
For those who don’t have much training or knowledge of strength training, going into a gym and seeing all of the different weights and equipment can be a little intimidating or even scary. Let’s take away some of the mystery in strength training and see how it can make a huge positive impact in your life.
Benefits of strength training
In a lot of the fitness material I’ve gone over, I’ve focused mostly and getting your blood pumping and fat burning with cardio. Cardio exercises are definitely key, and should be a part of everyone’s exercise routine.
Strength training however, has a different set of benefits that complement your cardio efforts and can really help deliver the results you’re looking for with your body. Let’s explore those benefits:
Healthy bones and muscles – doing strength training helps build bone density. It improves the health and strength of your tendons and joints, and it will increase your muscle mass.
More sustainable fat loss – Building increased muscle mass has a major advantage. Your muscles work to burn fat all day, even when you’re not exercising. So improving your muscularity will also work to improve your fat loss efforts.
Stamina and performance in everyday tasks – Ever feel like your back is weak? Ever struggle to lift something heavy or get tired doing household chores? Doing strength training will make sure you’re always fit to do these things and more!
Increased confidence – Feeling that post-workout pump will have you feeling like a new person. You can look at yourself in the mirror and see real positive change. You’ll better fill out your clothes and create a form that is strong and healthy.
Click here for more on the benefits of strength training
Incorporating into your routine
So we know that strength training is important, but how should we incorporate it into our routines? The truth is, it depends on what your goals are. If you’re focused on bodybuilding and gaining muscle mass, you’ll want to make strength training the focal point of your exercise regimen and do it nearly every day.
For most of us however, we just want to get the benefits of strength training to improve our lives in the ways mentioned above. To get these benefits, we need not make strength training the center of our lives, but just make an effort to do it several times a week. For most people, 2-4 times a week will do just fine. Mix it in with your cardio efforts and healthy lifestyle choices.
Going to a gym will offer the best variety of equipment to use and provide the most options to you to be successful. It’s not for everyone however. Doing pushups, sit ups, pull ups, and other body weight exercises can be a great start for those who don’t want to commit to a gym or invest in equipment.
Click here for a nice guide on bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere
For those that are ready to embrace using some weights to improve your body, there are two main types of exercises that are fundamental: compound exercises and isolation exercises.
These are exercises that work more than just one muscle. The best ones work nearly all of your body. These are exercises that build true strength, not just appealing-looking muscles. Anyone who wants to do strength training will focus on incorporating compound exercises every time they do a strength workout.
You’re definitely familiar with some of these. The classic bench press and squat are two of the most famous weight exercises for a reason, they build real strength.
Check out this article to learn the best compound exercises and how to do them.
We all want to get muscles that are strong and also look good. Doing isolation exercises will help give you that pumped feeling that makes hitting the weights so worth it. These types of exercises focus on one particular muscle or muscle group at a time, targeting it for gains in that particular area.
There are great isolation exercises for all parts of your body: Arms, chest, back, shoulders, legs, and abs. It’s important to do them all on different days.
Click here for some great isolation exercise for each part of your body.
Taking steps to prevent injury will help you get the most out of your strength training. Here are some key tips:
Warm up: run around or on the treadmill for 5 or 10 minutes before you do any other exercises. Do some jumping-jacks or anything that gets your blood flowing all around your body. You want to be well warmed up before doing any strength training.
Light stretching before and after: This is very important. Stretching our will help your muscles be ready for action, and help reduce soreness, and furthermore improve your gains by helping you heal faster and stronger.
Don’t push it too hard: It can be tempting to quickly increase the amount of weight you’re using or the volume of repetitions. Resist the temptation until you are 100% ready, and go up in small increments. You can easily hurt yourself if you do too much, too fast. Make sure you have at least one rest day a week where you don’t do any exercise at all. This will help you recover and see the gains from your hard work come to life. Finally, don’t work the same muscle group two days in a row. Not giving your body time to recover will result in injury and prevent you from healing, which is necessary for strength and muscle gains.
Choosing a Program that works for you
There are countless programs out there, it’s hard to narrow down what you want and what will work best. I highly recommend the tool below from Bodybuilding.com. It assesses what your body is like and what your goals are with a few questions, and will recommend several programs that will work for you.
You can click on each program and it will show you how to do exercises, give you a plan to follow, and even give dietary tips that will help you get the best from your efforts.
*Note: Bodybuilding.com makes their money through supplement sales, you don’t necessarily need to follow their supplement suggestions. Click here to see my advice on supplments.
If you build it
So now you have a great wealth of information to help build the body you’re looking for. Don’t get intimidated, go get strong and healthy with each day of strength training. Feel free to reach out to me here on my website, on Facebook or Twitter, even pick up the phone. I’d love to help you achieve your health goals, and we can all do it, one day at a time.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy, August,