Strength Training Program Basics

Heart-healthy exercise is important for getting and staying fit. The other part of the equation is to add strength training to your routine. These elements work together to help you build lean muscle and burn fat.

Other Benefits of Strength Training

  • A strength training program will give your metabolism a boost and can help you lose weight. Pound for pound, muscle burns more calories than fat, even when you are at rest.
  • Lifting weights helps you to build stronger bones. This is an important benefit for women, who are at risk of developing osteoporosis as they age.
  • Increased muscle strength. Your body is meant to move, and performing exercises that challenge them help you get stronger.
  • Improved coordination and balance is another one of the benefits of strength training. A strength training program will also help you to feel more confident and will give your self-esteem a boost.

Your Strength Training Routine

Your strength training routine must challenge your muscles by making them work harder than they are used to. The weight level that you are working with should be high enough that you can finish the number of reps in your set but you should be feeling tired by the time you get to the end.

If the weight you are using is too light, your muscles are not being challenged when you work out. You will know you are at the right level if you find continuing the repetitions challenging once you get past the halfway mark and the last two or three are difficult.

Resist the urge to rush through the workout to get the reps in. Ideally, you should be spending twice as long lowering the weight as you did to raise it. This strategy will give a better, more effective strength training workout.

Rather than hit a plateau in your training routine, plan to increase the intensity on a regular basis. To do so, start working with a heavier weight once you start finding that your current level is getting easier. You can also do more sets or increase the number of reps in your set.

Rest is Important

While it may be tempting to plan to hit the gym every day to do strength training, this is not a good idea. Your muscles need time to recover and grow, so plan to give them at least 24 hours of rest in between sessions.

During this time, you can do a cardio workout for heart health to stay active. Combining different activities means you are less likely to get bored with your strength training routine – and much more likely to stick to it if you have made a New Year’s Resolution to improve your appearance and your level of fitness.

Getting Started with Strength Training

Strength training benefits for participants are numerous. It can help with losing weight and keeping the numbers on the scale from rising after you get to your target number. Strength training can also help to increase bone density and keep your joints healthy. To gain these benefits, plan to add strength training to your aerobic workout routine.

Strength Training Options

There are a number of strength training options you may wish to consider. If you want to get started quickly and simply, you don’t even need any special equipment to do so. Push-ups, crunches and leg squats are all examples of exercises that will help you build strength while targeting certain muscle groups.

Another option available to people who want to start strength training is to use exercise bands. These are flexible bands that provide resistance when they are stretched and they can be used for a number of exercises. Look for resistance tubing in department and sporting good stores.

Free weights, such as barbells, kettle bells and dumbbells are commonly used for strength training, and for good reason. They are available in a range of weight levels and are easy to store when not in use. Not everyone can or wants to join a gym to work out, and buying some free weights is a reasonable alternative to doing so.

Joining a gym offers the benefit of gaining access to weight machines of various kinds, as well as a selection of free weights. If you aren’t familiar with how to use the equipment or have questions about the weight level you should be using, don’t hesitate to ask the staff for help.

Related: Using an Exercise Ball

Your Strength Training Routine

Before you get started, do schedule an appointment with your doctor. Once he or she has given you the green light to go ahead, plan to start slowly. Your workout routine should include a warm-up phase. Take 5 or 10 minutes to stretch, ride a stationary bike or do some walking.

The weight level you choose should be one that will make your muscle feel tired after 10-12 repetitions. By the time you get to the end of your set, you should find it challenging to hang on long enough to do so.

Resist the urge to rush through the set to get it finished sooner and conserve muscle strength. Lowering the weight should take approximately twice as long as lifting it.

Give your muscles at least a full day to recover in between strength training workout sessions. While feeling a little sore is normal, you shouldn’t be experiencing significant pain or joint swelling. These symptoms indicate you have been overzealous in your workout and that you need to work with a smaller weight.

You can do aerobics to strengthen your heart on a daily basis if you wish, and alternating routines will help you avoid becoming bored with your exercise routine.