7 Benefits of Strength Training Besides Building Muscle

Lifting weights is the natural choice if you want a broad back and bulging biceps. However, you might be surprised to learn that it’s also effective for a much wider range of fitness goals.

Less than 25% of American adults exercise regularly. Even fewer make strength training a central part of their routine. If that sounds like you, you’re missing out on more than bigger muscles.

Incorporating the power of resistance into your workouts can help you get more impressive results in less time.

Learn more about what strength training can do for you, and how to get started.

7 Lesser-Known Benefits of Strength Training:

1. Condition your heart.

Aerobics may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about exercises for your heart, but strength training works too. That’s because it helps reduce abdominal fat that causes inflammation and other health issues.

2. Lower your blood pressure.

Hypertension puts you at higher risk for stroke and heart disease, and there are often no symptoms to warn you. Along with taking any medication recommended by your doctor, physical activity can help you stay within a safer range.

3. Lose weight.

Muscle burns more calories than fat even when you’re sitting on the couch. As long as you avoid eating more, you may find it easier to shed excess pounds.

4. Prevent falls.

Enhancing your balance and posture makes you steadier on your feet. Weight-bearing exercises also thicken your bones, so your injuries may be less serious even if you do slip.

5. Increase flexibility.

Lowering weights affects your body in much the same way as static stretches. That extra flexibility reduces stress and gives you greater freedom of movement.

6. Increase your energy.

Daily tasks require less effort when you reduce your body fat and learn to use your body more efficiently. You may find it easier to keep up with your children and grandchildren.

7. Boost your overall wellbeing.

Research shows that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants for some patients. In addition to looking fit, you’re likely to feel happier and calmer and may even reverse cognitive decline associated with aging.

Tips for Getting Started with Strength Training:

1. Follow instructions.

Lifting weights can be safe as long as you take a few simple precautions. Work with a trainer or watch videos to study proper form and choose exercises that are less likely to cause injury.

2. Proceed gradually.

Start with light weights and work your way up as your body adapts. As a general rule, expect to increase your load by 10% or less at any one time.

3. Lift heavy.

At the same time, you’ll progress faster if you use the heaviest weights you can handle safely. That usually means you can just barely complete your last repetition.

4. Seek variety.

Work your muscles from different angles. Experiment with free weights and machines as well as body weight exercises, like pushups and dips.

5. Take days off.

Your muscles actually grow during the time you spend resting in between workouts. That might mean relaxing or doing other activities like hiking or swimming.

6. Adjust your lifestyle.

Adopt healthy habits to go along with your physical activities. Eat a balanced diet and aim for 8 hours of sleep each night. Manage stress and cultivate mutually supportive relationships.

A toned body looks great, but strength training offers so much more. Take care of your body and mind with a well-rounded fitness program that will help you enjoy a long and active life.

Learn more about your health online when you read the rest of our information here about: Lifetime Fitness Exercise guide and also download the free health report available there!

Warren Tattersall has been a full time nutritional consultant for over a decade and works with people all over the world to help them improve their health, increase their personal energy levels and to use supplements to assist with diet related health issues.

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The Gentle Path to Strengthening Your Core

Maybe you have friends who love exercise classes with tough ab work. They want to leave feeling nauseous and sore. On the other hand, you’d like an easier way to strengthen your core.

You can have a firm and flat midsection without feeling like you caught the flu. A gentler workout can even help protect you from injuries to your pelvis, back, and neck.

Find out how to stay comfortable while you work your core. Understand the principles behind choosing and modifying abdominal exercises and learn how to design a workout that matches your fitness level and goals.

General Principles for Strengthening Your Core Gently:

1. Seek balance.

Target your whole core, including your back and hips, as well as your abdominals. That way, you’ll avoid muscle strains caused by putting too much pressure on weaker areas.

2. Honor your limits.

Stop if you feel pain, especially in your lower back. The exercise may be beyond your fitness level. It could also be a sign that a specific movement isn’t well suited to your body type.

3. Shorten your sets.

Modifying an intense class can be as simple as doing fewer repetitions and resting longer between them. Set your own goals rather than trying to keep up with others.

4. Watch your breath.

Skillful breathing can make any exercise easier and more effective. Avoid holding your breath, which raises your blood pressure. Try exhaling during the most intense part of the exercise.

5. Support your weight.

Many core exercises use your body weight for resistance. You can lighten the load by sitting in a chair for twists or putting your knees down during planks.

6. Check your form.

Ask a trainer or watch a video to be sure you’re doing an exercise correctly. Working out when you’re fatigued can also cause improper alignment and injuries.

7. Play sports.

You may already participate in some activities that strengthen your core. That includes rowing and swimming, as well as climbing stairs.

8. See your doctor.

Many exercises can be safe for one individual, but risky for another. Talk with your doctor or a physical therapist about your individual concerns.

Sample Exercises for Strengthening Your Core Gently:

1. Do a dead bug.

Lie on your back with your arms raised up to the ceiling. Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle. Exhale as you extend your opposite arm and leg out. Repeat on both sides.

2. Lower one leg.

If double leg lifts strain your back, start with one side at a time. You can lower your leg down to the floor if that’s comfortable or stop when you feel any pressure on your lower back.

3. Raise your knees.

Lift both knees while sitting in a chair or using the hanging leg raise station at your gym. You can also try it with straight legs when your strength increases.

4. Make a bridge.

Any backbend including a gentle bridge helps to strengthen your abdominals. Lie on your back with your arms by your side and bend your knees with your feet kept on the floor. Raise your hips by pressing into your feet and upper arms. Work towards staying lifted for up to one minute.

5. Hold a plank.

This is a key exercise that works your entire core. It can also be modified in many ways for beginners or advanced athletes. For the easiest versions, do a plank with your forearms resting against a wall or keep your knees on the ground.

A strong and flexible core makes daily activities easier and gives you power and balance. Build up your abdominals, back, and hips with a workout routine that keeps you safe while you increase your fitness.

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