5 Reasons EVERYONE Should Do Strength Training
By Daryl Leong - Physiotherapist | Strength & Conditioning Coach
With the Rio Olympics just around the corner and one of my favourite events on the horizon (weightlifting), I knew I had to do a piece on an important but often misunderstood subject - strength training. When strength training is mentioned, the first thing that often comes to mind is a bodybuilder doing crazy amounts of exercises to prepare for a competition. With today’s widespread showcasing of strength activities through bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, powerlifting and even Crossfit, people are increasingly drawn towards giving these activities a go.
If you are wondering how all this will benefit you, here are 5 things getting stronger will do to make your life better:
1) Improve pain
In today’s modern age, aches and pains are far too common to be ignored. Knee, hip, back and shoulder pains are amongst the most common that unfortunately get worse over time. One of the biggest effects of a sedentary lifestyle is losing strength and the ability to move well. You might have been told it could degeneration, weakness or both. Regardless of the diagnosis, getting stronger locally and systemically WILL make a big difference in pain and function. The stronger the muscles are the better you will move, and the better you move the less pain you will be in.
2) Improve performance
Like a solid foundation in a building, strength is the base on which performance can be built. This applies to ALL kinds of sports (yes, even non-strength sport) as having a stable strength base allows you perform at a higher level. A long distance runner that avoids strength training would be missing out on potentially better times - weakness in the core and hip muscles means energy wasted to run. If you are not incorporating specific strength work into your training plan, you owe it to your times and joint health to consider adding some strength exercises.
3) Improve health
Chronic low-grade inflammation - a big combination of words with an even bigger impact on health and well-being. Not to be confused with a swollen ankle after injury, it affects the body systemically and is linked with chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Increasing evidence points towards strength training having a positive effect on reducing risk of developing these chronic diseases over the long-term. In today’s high stress, low physical activity lifestyles, strength training should not be ignored.
4) Burn fat
Everyone wants to get leaner if we were given the option, even bodybuilders. While very similar, weight and fat loss need to be addressed very specifically in order for you to achieve the goal you want. Simple biological mathematics state that calories coming in have to be lesser than calories going out, but how you achieve that could bring differing results. While the common method for calorie burning would be to slog it out on bikes, treadmills and cross trainers the better option would be through strength training. Lean muscle mass costs energy to maintain, so the more muscle you have the higher your metabolic rate. Simply put cardio burns calories only while you exercise, building muscle helps you burn calories throughout the day. Work smart, not just hard.
5) Stronger bones
This is beneficial for everyone, especially women. Bone mineral density decreases as you age, which can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis and broken bones. The most effective way to maintain healthy levels calcium in the bones is through adequate levels of impact and load through bones. Most land-exercises can help maintain a good level of bone density in the lower limb, but strength training should also be considered to help with loading the spine. This is achieved through proper exercise programming (either with barbells, dumbells, kettle bells, etc.) that safely challenges the spine vertically. Sounds dangerous, but is very safe given your physio/personal trainer/strength coach progresses you properly.
I could go on and on about the benefits of strength training but I believe these are the most important ones for you. I will be expanding on these points in the near future, so stay on the look out!