When you read the words “strength training,” do you immediately picture big, sweaty, ripped athletes grunting as they lift 150-pound weights over their heads? You’re not alone. There are many misconceptions about lifting weights — they’ll make me look bulky; I’ll lose my flexibility; only men lift weights — which lead to people leaving it out of their fitness routine all together.
It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, fit or fat, brand new to exercise or a professional athlete — strength training has its place in your life.
Besides aerobic activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults should strengthen their muscles at least two days a week. These activities should work all the major muscle groups of your body, including the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders and arms. Think squats and lunges for your legs, crunches for your core (do them in a chair if you have back issues), push-ups for your arms and these chest workouts.
The older you get, the more important it is to strengthen up.
Julia Buckley, fitness writer, trainer and author of “The Fat Burn Revolution,” explains the top five benefits of strength training:
Adding muscle to your physique increases the metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is a measurement of the amount of fuel your body uses. By increasing muscle mass, you'll burn more fat while resting than those who only do cardio exercise.
Improving muscle mass does not lead to a bulky body, as many women believe. Rather, it will give you a lean, strong physique. And with an improved body image, you'll will feel a huge boost in self esteem.
Strength training requires goal setting, planning and prioritizing. Whether you want to lose fat, gain muscle or simply get stronger, the skills you'll take away from strength training are ones that can be applied to every aspect of life.
Pumping iron has a way of pumping up your immune system. Strength training and overall fitness have been shown to help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even some forms of cancer.
While dieting and some other types of exercise can leave women's bodies skinny and saggy, training with heavy weights creates a sexy, shapely physique — and who doesn't want sculpted abs and a firm butt?