Our bodies function at their best when we optimize our lean muscle mass. How do we increase our lean muscle mass? Strength training! A lot of people who have been to traditional gyms have preconceived notions of what strength training is. Many people picture muscle shirts, clanging weights, and lots of grunting. Don’t worry, strength training is for everybody, and there are many ways to accomplish this goal.
The foundation of strength training is that we challenge our bodies using resistance. This resistance can come in a lot of different forms: weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, and barbells), resistance bands and TRX, and even your own body-weight. The important thing is that you challenge your muscles adequately.
In traditional strength training, we map our workouts using sets and reps. Each move is a rep, and the moves completed in succession without a break are a set. A well designed strength workout challenges you to the point that the last several reps of a set are difficult to complete. It is very important to use a heavy enough weight to reach this point of muscle fatigue. Don’t worry- lifting heavy weights does not make you bigger! It makes you stronger, speeds up your metabolism, and gives you countless health benefits. Many studies have demonstrated concrete benefits of adding strength training to your program. Benefits include: increased bone density, injury prevention, decreased cholesterol, and better weight management than cardio alone.
Currently, American College of Sports Medicine recommends a minimum of 2-3 non-consecutive days of strength training per week. The rest day in between these sessions is important for muscle recovery. How do you get started? As discussed above, to see the benefits of strength training you have to challenge your body. To do this in a safe and effective way, I recommend personal training or Targeted Strength and Conditioning as a starting place. Targeted Strength and Conditioning is a focused program that will progress you in a safe and effective manner. It is appropriate for all levels and is conducted in a small group environment. Time to get strong!