Getting Stronger by Adding Strength Training to Your Physical Activity

Woman strength training with resistance bands outside

Do you want to increase your strength and build muscle? Many people have this goal, but it can also be hard to execute. There are so many recommendations and suggestions out there for exercise and fitness goals. Rather than giving up, find a plan that works for you.

Just the Basics

Strength training or resistance training involves exercises used to build strength. There is no one right way to do this. You can try a combination of lifting weights with dumbbells, using machines at the gym, using resistance bands or even just using your own body weight.

Benefits of Strength Training

One of the biggest benefits of strength training is maintaining and improving your muscle mass. Did you know that as you age, your muscle mass decreases a little more each year? Muscles and bones work together, so losing muscle also affects your bone mass. When your bone and muscle mass is reduced, you are more at risk for pain, fractures and even osteoporosis.

Strength training helps with weight maintenance. As you gain muscle, your calorie needs change. Muscle requires more calories to maintain every day than fat. So, as you strength train, not only do you burn calories, but the muscle you gain helps improve your overall metabolism.

Your overall health can also improve. Increased muscle mass has been linked to reducing insulin resistance and cholesterol levels. Additionally, many find improvements with sleep and stress reduction as you will find with almost any exercise.

Getting Started with Strength Training

Finding time to strength train is important, but fortunately it takes minimal time. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least two sessions per week working all major muscle groups. Mark your calendar for two days during the week to strength train. You can increase this over time if you leave time for active recovery.

One easy way to start is by using your own body weight. Exercises like squats, push-ups and planks can be a great way to begin to build strength. Another option is yoga. Even though yoga is often considered more for flexibility, is also builds strength.

Consider using dumbbells or kettlebells. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at minimum of 8-12 reps for adults or 10-12 reps for older adults. Increasing to two to three sets can be one of your goals as you improve. Also, pay attention to your form to avoid injury.

Click here for more tips on getting started with strength training.

What Else Do You Need?

As you strength train, it’s important to ensure you have time for active recovery. Take a day off before training each muscle group. It’s easy to increase your risk for injury and overuse your muscles without rest and recovery.

Nutrition is key. Adequate protein is important. Protein helps your body maintain the muscle mass it is gaining but doesn’t increase your muscle mass on its own. Typically, it’s recommended to eat around 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. As you train, you may need to increase this amount (ex: go up to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight). But it’s not just about protein—you need a healthy mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

Get ready for a stronger you. Start today!

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