Why do Strength Training?

June 15, 2022

The importance of strength training

 

We are (thankfully) beginning to move away from the era where cardio is king and move towards a more holistic, strength-focussed emphasis in the health and fitness world. The evidence in favour of strength training is ever–mounting, particularly for certain sub sections of society; women, older adults, and runners to name a few. We know that lean muscle mass depletes with age and strength training can help to maintain and build muscle mass.

Strength training (also known as resistance exercise) increases muscle strength by making muscles work against a weight or force, so let’s take a closer look at all the good stuff strength training can help us with.

Bone density

A lot of the evidence available to us at the moment is indicating that strength training can play a role in slowing down the process of bone degeneration, which happens as a result of a combination of aging, amore sedentary lifestyle, hormone changes and sub-optimal nutrition, and can even help to build bone density. Maintaining and building bone density is important for reducing the risk of fractures.

The way this works is that during weight-bearing activity, the muscles and tendons apply tension to the bones, which stimulates the bones to produce more bone tissue. Similar effects have been noted in weight bearing aerobic exercises like walking and running but the additional benefits given by the functional exercises performed in resistance training is that they target the joints that are at higher risk of fractures such as hips, spine, and wrists.

Weight management

Now although we are moving away (as far away as possible please) from the idea that exercise is for weight loss and calorie burning, weight management is still an important part of our lifestyles and strength training can play a crucial role with this. Doing resistance exercise can help to build lean muscle mass which can help to improve the efficiency of your metabolism and whilst the same is true for certain aerobic exercises (running, swimming etc), strength training has the additional benefit of helping you maintain your muscle mass whilst in a calorie deficit (burning more calories than you consume). Experts are also starting to suggest that for those who are overweight, resistance training may be a kinder option for your joints than lots of high impact aerobic exercise.

Injury prevention

This one may seem fairly obvious, but it is often overlooked during rehab and prehab for various injuries. Your muscles and tendons are the structures that hold your joints in alignment as you go through movement, so it stands to reason that the stronger these are, the less likely you are to be injured. The caveat to this statement is that we must make sure that the resistance training we are doing is applicable to the activities we are asking our bodies to do. Strength training will help reduce the risk of injury for my Grandma as well as Cristiano Ronaldo but that doesn’t mean they should be doing the same exercises. If in doubt, ask a health or fitness professional.

Improve mental health

We have all heard a lot about how exercise can improve our mental wellbeing, and strength training is no different. A regular routine of resistance exercise can help to boost your mood and reduce depressive symptoms.

Strength training also requires a high level of mind -body connection to be aware of how your body is moving the weight and responding to the movement. There is research to show that mindful movement and being aware of how your body is feeling in different exercises can be beneficial for your mental health.  It has been indicated in certain studies that regular exercise can help protect memory and delay cognitive decline

A recent study suggested that strength training specifically can reduce anxiety by up to 20%. The researchers believed this could be due to the participants increasing belief in their capabilities, and coping skills. Strength training encourages us to thing about our bodies in terms of what they can do for us rather than what they look like and this can have a really positive effect on body confidence

Of course, this is just a snapshot into the many reasons why strength training can be beneficial to us and it is important to identify your own goals and see how this form of exercise can work for you and your goals. If you are unsure or would like further advice and information about resistance training, please get in touch with your health and fitness professionals.

At LEAR, the initial Health Assessment process is deigned to take into consideration your personal fitness goals and tailor a plan for you to achieve those. More often than not, this will include some form of resistance training. This could be Reformer Pilates, or our Hybrid classes. Hybrid is a gym-based small group class using body weight and gym equipment appropriate to the class level, but with a foundation in Pilates to ensure the movements are done correctly and safely. If you are a contract member (Clean Bill or Top Form), you also have access to Hybrid Pro. This is a small group class in the gym, where each person is following their own personalised programme alongside others following their own programmes. Your programme is written as a result of a test session, to establish your current

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