Importance of strength training

Yes, cardio burns calories but so does strength training.  Actually, the calorie burn continues longer after strength training than it does after a cardio workout. The more lean muscle your body has the more calories it burns all day long!  One extra pound of muscle burns 30-50 calories per day and muscle also takes up less space than fat in your body so those clothes will get baggy!  Strength train 2 -3 times per week and change it up with a strength class or go through the weight equipment in a circuit style.

So, who doesn’t want to look better, feel better, and live a longer, healthier life? So what are you waiting for? Get started now with a complete workout program that includes strength training.

  • Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues (the tendons and ligaments)—Increased strength decreases the risk of injury.
  • Increased muscle mass— Since most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 30, it is just as important to do strength training earlier in life as it is to strength train later in life. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate, or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases, making it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Enhanced quality of life—Developing a habit for strength training will help with the performance of daily routines (carrying groceries/ working in the garden/spring cleaning) now and for years to come.

Many exercises can be combined into a program that works all the major muscle groups. Neglecting certain groups can lead to strength imbalances and postural difficulties. Typically, you do one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, working the muscles to the point of fatigue. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Lower the resistance with a slow, controlled cadence throughout the full range of motion. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is effective.

When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making safe progress. It’s only natural that, as your fitness level improves, improvements in strength and appearance will come at a slightly slower pace. To help keep your motivation up, find a partner to train with you.

Aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the minimal added benefit may not be worth the extra time and effort (not to mention the added risk of injury). Machines and free weights are effective tools for strength training, and a combination of the two is generally recommended. Utilizing both machines and free weights provides exercise variety, which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons.

You may not be there yet, but you are closer than you were yesterday.



Story by James Collins, Exercise Specialist at Cox North Fitness Center