Enjoy immediate gains by developing a well-rounded program, performing the exercises with good form, and being consistent.
Regular physical activity promotes general good health, prevents chronic disease, and helps you live a longer and healthier life. For many of us, the exercise prescription comes in the form of walking, jogging, treadmill work, or other “aerobic” activities that get your heart pumping.
But often overlooked is the value of strength-building exercise. Once we reach our 50s and beyond, strength-building exercise is critical to preserving the ability to perform the most ordinary activities of daily living and therefore maintain an active and independent lifestyle.
In short, strength training will help you feel better, move better, and even look better.
How much do you need?
Health experts suggest that adults should get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Strength training adds a couple of brief sessions to that weekly plan.
A beginner’s strength-building workout takes as little as 20 minutes, and you won’t need to grunt, strain, or sweat like a cartoon bodybuilder. The key is developing a well-rounded program, performing the exercises with good form, and being consistent. You will experience noticeable gains in strength within four to eight weeks.
What is strength training?
Strength increases with exercises that require you to resist an opposing force. This is why strength-building exercise is often called “resistance training.” Strength training encompasses any of the following:
- Free weights, such as barbells and dumbbells.
- Ankle cuffs and vests containing different increments of weight.
- Resistance (elastic) bands of varying length and tension that you flex using your arms and legs.
- Exercises that use your body weight to create resistance against gravity.
A well-rounded strength-training program works all major muscle groups, including the core muscles, although not necessarily all on the same day. The exercise needs to engage muscle groups in the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. It typically requires eight to 12 different exercises to work all of the body’s major muscle groups.
How you perform the exercises is important. Weight-training guidelines stress “good form,” which includes a few characteristics: Good form is key
- Perform the exercise through a full range of motion—for you. Stay within the boundaries of what you can do comfortably.
- The motion should be slow and steady.
- Breathe normally as you perform the exercise.
Do your strength training at least three to four days per week, and work different muscle groups in each of these sessions. Working the same muscle groups but using different techniques such as starting and finishing points can be done on consecutive days in accordance with Como Diagnostic individualised workouts.
The greatest change will be seen in the first four to eight weeks. After that, you can stay at a maintenance level to keep what you have or work harder to gain more strength.
Reps and sets
Resistance training requires at least two sets for each different exercise, with a brief rest between each set. The trick is choosing the amount of resistance for each type of exercise that allows you to perform at least two sets.
It takes some trial and error to find the right amount of weight for each exercise. The goal is to complete each set with effort, although not to the point that you are holding your breath and straining or grunting.
Eating for strength training
Strength (or resistance) training builds lean body mass—primarily muscle. Do you need extra protein in your diet to aid muscle building?
The CSIRO in their latest book Protein Plus suggest that a protein intake ranging between 1.2 grams and 1.6 grams per kilogram of body weight per day is an ideal target for achieving optimal health outcomes for most healthy adults. Note that this is an upwards revision from the Australian guidelines issued in 2006.
At Como Diagnostic we have put together a number of fitness programs that specifically concentrate on resistance & strength training to suit all levels,which you can carry out in the comfort of your own home or at a gym if you already belong to one. Good nutrition with adequate protein intake is fundamental to the success of any strength training program and forms part of our individually focused health solutions.
Buying your own equipment is is an option – weight dumbbells and resistance bands are not prohibitively expensive. Health clubs offer the most equipment choices, but of course monthly fees are involved.
Videos, books, and reliable online sources can help you learn some basic moves and start developing a routine – the medical team at Como Diagnostic can advise you on some trustworthy resources that you can tap into.
Key take away points for strength training are
Exercise is first & foremost about better health but it has the added advantage of keeping you biologically younger – the benefits are
- Muscles burn calories faster than fat, so as you gain muscle and lose fat, your metabolic rate will increase.
- Your muscle cells will become more responsive to insulin, so your blood sugar and insulin levels will decline, reducing your risk of diabetes. Your cholesterol profile may improve, and — contrary to earlier beliefs — your heart function and blood pressure also stand to gain.
- Strength training will help you look better and feel better. Your endurance and functional capacity will improve substantially
- Improvement in mobility & balance
- Raises confidence, brighten mood, and help fight mild to moderate depression
- Improves sleep quality and reduces the severity of sleep apnoea
Want to know more? We’d love to help you. Contact us at Como Diagnostic firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is general in nature only and should not be relied upon as medical advice. For further information please contact our clinic or your own medical practitioner before commencing any diet or exercise regime.