Strength training has become an integral part of training. Some people love it and others do it just because its recommended to incorporate strength training. Strength training provides great benefits but also can lead to injury if not done correctly. I am an avid believer in strength training whether you are a crossfitter, avid gym lover or just simply adding in some resistance training. Strength training has shown to add some great benefits when incorporated into the training plan.
So what are the benefits of Strength Training?
Strength training is not all about looking good and fit. Although believe me that is an added bonus. Strength training does so much more and provides so many health benefits.
1. Strength training helps in weight loss and can promote more calories burned.
Research studies have shown women who follow a weight training routine at least 2-3 times per week help increase the amount of calories burned. You burn calories during strength and continue to burn calories even after workout is complete. Strength training has been shown to increase metabolism by 15%. Increase metabolism aids in weight loss.
2. Strength training helps in protecting bone mass and lean muscle mass.
As you age each year you lose about 1 percent of your bone density and muscle strength. “One of the best ways to stop, prevent, and even reverse bone and muscle loss is to add strength training to your workouts” advised Troy Tuttle, MS an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. It is never too late to incorporate strength training but the earlier that you begin the greater amount of strength you can build both bone mass and lean muscle mass.
3. Strength training helps with developing better body mechanics which is essential when training for a race or event.
It is very important as runners, crossfitters, triathletes, cyclist and avid gym lovers that you incorporate strength training as it can aid in better body mechanics. You don’t even have to have a race coming soon it is simply an added benefit for everyday life. How many times have you pick up a box? or something off of the floor? If are muscles were not strong enough or if lacked the strength to perform certain body mechanics then it would be difficult for us to do our daily functions or jobs.
4. Strength training helps increase energy levels and improves mood.
Strength training helps in elevating your level of endorphins which in turn makes you feel better. Strength training is also essential and aids as antidepressant. Have you ever been stressed out? Typically when I would get stress I would resort to chocolate well now I channel all of that energy towards strength training. Not only does it make me feel better but I am also creating a benefit to my body.
5. Strength training also plays a role in disease prevention.
Specifically, strength training has shown tremendous benefits with arthritis and regulation of Type 2 Diabetes. Building the bone mass and lean muscle mass has shown to help decrease the likelihood of getting arthritis at an early age. It also has show to help with regulating diabetes.
So with all of these aided benefits of strength training; “How would something so good cause injuries?” Strength training if done incorrectly can cause injuries. For example, if I am performing a squat but putting pressure on my back and not using my legs properly then eventually my back will suffer from the excess amount of stress placed on it.
So how do you prevent injuries in Strength Training?
1. Correct Form
Make sure with whatever exercise you are doing that you are doing it correctly. Incorrect form can cause major injuries and can lessen the chance of you strengthening the correct muscle. If you are unsure that you are doing the form correctly then you should seek a professional.
Flexibility is important when performing strength training moves if your joint can not go through its full range of motion then you will not get benefits from a good strength training workout.
3. Make sure muscles are at the level to perform the exercise.
If you are performing a squat and one leg lacks flexibility and also stability then you will apply all the pressure on the other side to be able to perform the move correctly.
Here is a quick video of a state qualifier cross country runner who is working on building strength. In this video she will be performing a single leg squat and barbell squat, I want you to notice how her body shifts to one side while going into a barbell squat. Also notice the level of control she does or does not have when performing a single leg squat.
You can see some action shots of her upper body but she is performing a Barbell squat with weights. This is a great example of her inability to perform a squat properly with a barbell then instead of having her perform the exercise incorrectly and risking the chance of having an injury; I would work with her on doing a body weight squat correctly then as she progresses begin to add weight.
The key to a good strength training workout is to make sure that you are receiving the benefits of the workout not causing more harm to your body.
Keep lifting! Properly:)