There are many different types of fitness exercises, strength training being one of them. Strength training is often hailed as the ultimate type of fitness training. All that gym equipment is there to help us build up strength and muscle mass.
Muscular strength is what lets our bodies function. We all need it. It allows us to do every single movement that we make. Developing it and getting stronger brings a whole range of general health benefits that make it worth investing time in.
Improving posture, reducing risk of injury, improving bone density, improving energy levels, improving mental health. The list really does go on.
Strength plays a role for everybody. Not just the most elite weightlifters. CrossFit lovers need it to complete the circuit. Swimmers need it to propel themselves through the water.
Runners need it so that their leg muscle can support the impact on their joints. Desk workers need it to maintain good posture. Shop workers need it to stay on their feet all day.
A little bit of muscle goes a long way. So, for those getting started with strength training, if they’re a few things to know, these are them.
1. Strength training changes your body’s composition
Probably one of the biggest reasons it’s so popular. Training and increasing your strength leads to an increase of a certain type of muscle fiber. This type of fiber can increase in size and mass significantly and will therefore lead to more visual changes in the mirror.
One of the most frequently asked questions is about women who worry about becoming big and bulky. Don’t! You’re not going to wake up one day bigger than you bargained for. Women lack the same amounts of testosterone as men that are needed to develop significant increases in muscle mass. Instead, women often see a firmer and more toned physique and a loss of fat from an increased metabolism.
For men, strength training consistently is likely to increase muscle mass. To see large increase in muscle size, you’ll need to purposefully take on more calories than you’re burning each day. This surplus helps to develop and fuel larger muscles.
In a nutshell, strength training, over any other type of training, will help you achieve a firm and toned physique for all sexes. If your goal is to do with appearance, your efforts are best applied here.
2. Recovery is key
One of the main ways the body builds skeletal muscle is through a process of damage and repair. When you train your muscles, they are actually damaged during the process. Afterwards, the muscle fibers will repair themselves, increasing in thickness and number as they do so.
This process happens when you’re at rest, not during the training itself. For this reason, it’s important to let your muscles recover and do their repairing.
Training the same muscle group day after day is not the right approach and will likely lead to injury. Make rest days an important part of your strength training routine to ensure you progress properly.
3. Building muscle boosts metabolism
This statement is thrown around a lot, so it’s important to understand what it actually means and therefore how it helps. Muscle burns more energy at rest than fat does.
Muscle needs more calories to just do its thing during the day. We need to feed muscles more. If you have a higher percentage of muscle, you’re going to need more calories just to do all your normal activities.
Strength training, and therefore building muscle, is a way to boost your metabolism. You’ll be able to take on more calories and maintain your weight when strength training than someone who just does cardiovascular exercise.
4. Protein is important
It’s a word regularly associated with strength training and muscle growth. Shakes, balls, bars, and everything in between. Protein is what helps your body repair and grow.
In order to build muscle mass, your net protein balance needs to be positive. This means you’re synthesizing more than you’re breaking down. Simpler still, this means that you have the protein readily available to repair and build muscle.
Protein is a macronutrient available in many of the foods that we eat. Some foods are denser in protein than others. For example meat, beans, pulses, yogurt, milk, cheese and nuts are denser in protein than fruits, vegetables, bread, and pasta.
You should get the majority of your protein from the natural foods you eat. Supplementing your diet with essential amino acids is also ideal if you’re not eating adequately.
5. Staying injury free should by a priority
As stressed in a previous post, ‘focus on health’, unless one is powerlifting competitively, or olympic weightlifting, it makes no sense getting injured trying to determine what one’s one rep max is or trying to imitate the many reckless ‘Youtube stars’ who use terrible form when demonstrating weight training exercises.
When doing any exercise, the most fundamental thing to get right is your form. This means adopting the correct position, posture, and movement to do the exercise effectively and stay injury free.
Before increasing the weight that you’re lifting, it’s crucial to make sure you perfect the exercise with the current weight in the right form first.
Increasing the load when your form is poor means you’re not working the right muscles efficiently and you’re risking injury and imbalances. Armed with your new knowledge of strength training, it’s time to put it into practice.
Some of this content was published here.