Do you ever feel that although you run, bike, swim and engage in hours of cardio, you still haven’t reached your weight-loss goals? Cardio is a great way to increase more blood flow and a large blood volume to the heart, making you less at risk for heart conditions. Though, the “more is better” approach is not always the best option. Excessive cardio exercise can produce stress and influence cortisol, a life sustaining adrenal hormone known to regulate stress. In fact, research states that regular marathon runners who run more than one marathon a year are at an increased risk of heart disease due to their failure to adequately recover.
Strength training reduces body fat, increases muscle mass and allows you to burn more calories even after you are finished with your workout. According to certified fitness trainer Mike Donavanik, for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day without moving a single muscle. More frequently we are seeing a growing number of people switch their gym memberships to boot camps and CrossFit programs. This is because strength training yields high results with weight management and building muscle, increased energy and better sleep.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is any exercise that involves weights – both body weight and weight from equipment. Building muscle will help you shed weight and tone your body, as well as protect your bone health.
One large misconception is that strength training will make you bulk or look like a bodybuilder. This is simply not the case. It is true that building muscle is easier to do than burning fat, but five pounds of muscle looks much leaner compared to five pounds of fat. Aerobic exercise like running is great for burning calories, but strength training exercises encourages caloric expenditure, allowing you to continue to burn calories after a workout is finished.
Benefits of Strength Training
As you get older, muscle and bone density will naturally decline. If you engage in a workout regimen that includes strength training you can help fight this process. Another benefit of strength training is that it jumpstarts your metabolism and builds stronger bones, which can prevent injuries and help your posture. Building muscle also does wonders for your endurance. By incorporating heavy weights and strength training into your workouts three or four times a week, you are working your fast twitch muscles, which are responsible for generating power in your muscle fibers.
Lastly, strength training offers speedy results! Whether you are lifting heavy or starting with lighter weights, it may only take two to three weekly session for you to see new muscle definition.
Examples of Strength Training
Other misconceptions about strength training are that you must have a gym membership or join a prestigious CrossFit program in order to participate. The truth is you don’t need any equipment to strength train. There are numerous bodyweight workouts and HITT (High Intensity Training) workouts that you can do right at home. Strength training can be any type of activity that contracts your muscles against a resisting force.
Examples of strength training exercises that don’t include equipment are: squats, push-ups, lunges, planks, sit-ups, and sprints, to name a few. Other strength training exercises that include weights are: squat press, chest fly, deadlift, overhead press, kettle-bell swings, and bicep curls. For extra muscle stimulation, it is recommended to try a mixture of compound exercises with isometric resistance, which involves contracting your muscles against an object like push-ups, together with isotonic strength training, which involves contracting your muscles through motion such as weight lifting.
Strength training goes beyond burning calories. It helps you lose weight (and keep the weight off), protects bone health and muscle mass, makes you stronger, fitter, prevents disease, and boost energy levels. Unlike cardio, strength training can actually help improve your body mechanics such as flexibility and balance. Strength training can benefit people of all sizes and ages, and can be done anywhere at little to no cost. If you are having a hard time achieving the results you want, have hit a plateau or are seeking a beneficial way to lose weight and get healthy, then strength training is just what you need to maintain a jumpstart your health journey.