Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why Strength Training is Important

Ladies are often known to put down anything that has to do with building muscle because we think of staying skinny rather than staying fit. Ladies are usually concerned with cardio and aerobics, and not really with muscle mass. Same goes for the gentlemen who are thinking of losing weight. They tend to play sports or talk about cardio, but forget that building muscles is an important part of losing weight and staying fit. How?

Muscle vs. fat: Age kills muscles and promotes fat. Basically, we lose about 5% of our muscle mass every 10 years, which means as we get older, we are more and more prone to putting on fat. What does losing muscle mean to you? It means you’d have to eat less and less to maintain the same weight; anywhere from 100 to 500 calories less per day. That’s huge! So if you have more muscle, your body is set to automatically burn more calories throughout the day. And so if you keep strength training as you get older, you’ll be building more muscle. Simple.

Muscles burn fat: Okay, so muscles help you lose weight. But how exactly? Well, as you just go about your day, you are burning calories. As you digest your food, you are burning calories. This means that whether you have lots of fat or not, your body will still expend energy. However, muscles work to increase your metabolism and keep it increased longer, which helps you expend more energy doing the exact same things. A muscular person will burn more calories digesting food than a person with much more body fat.

Build strong bones: Building strong bones as we age is especially important for the ladies. I’m sure you’ve heard that women lose bone mass each year as we grow older. As we lose bones mass, we become at risk for a disease called osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis have bones that are weak and break easily. Don’t worry; I’m not here to scare you. I’m here to help you take action against it. Basically, if you’re losing bone mass, what do you need to do? Stop it from being lost, right? Strength training helps to slow down the process of bone loss.

Improve coordination: People who play sports, dance, do martial arts, or do yoga understand how important coordination, balance, and flexibility are. Well, unknown to a lot of people lifting weights and doing weights-focused exercises actually help to improve these functions. This is one of the reasons why athletes and dancers are always encouraged to hit the gym. I mean, in reality, what they do is exercise, but they supplement it with more exercise to make themselves even better. Does that make sense?

Better posture: Working on your muscles, especially your abdominal muscles, allows you to stand up straighter. And better posture means you do exercises better. So the cycle continues…

Now, one important thing to note is that there are different types of strength training. There is strength training focused at bulking muscles, which is what men usually go for. And there is strength training focused at building lean muscle mass. Everyone should aim for lean muscles. Low-rep, high-weighing weight lifting bulks muscles, especially when there is little or no cardio involved. But circuit training, resistance training, and things like cardio kickboxing build lean muscles. I’m not saying don’t lift heavy weights. I’m saying don’t JUST lift heavy weights. Get some cardio in as well.

One last thing I’d like to stress, and I usually stress this, is that testosterone is a very important factor in the bulking of muscles. Women have very low levels of testosterone, and so a little strength training will not make you Morris Chestnut.

Do you have any more questions about strength training? Curious about where to start? Ask!

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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