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Here's why strength training is crucial for you

why strength training is crucial

When most people think of strength training they think of bodybuilders and guys or girls trying to ‘pump’ their body to look all big and muscular. They think of ‘don’t skip leg day’ of lifting the heaviest weights possible and showing off muscles in the mirror. In this blog post I want to show you that strength training has more benefits than just giving you a bodybuilder appearance and that it is beneficial for not only men wanting to look like the muscles from Brussels, but also for women, elderly, sedentary people, inactive men and women, …
Muscular training is crucial in your physical activity routine because it has benefits on different aspects of life. It will improve your ability to do daily life activities, it will give you more strength and stamina, it has been proven to have mental and physical health benefits and can lead to a better quality of life1.

Read on to learn more about these different types of benefits, both physical and mental, and get help on how to get started yourself.

Strength training improves your physical health

Muscle loss can be the start of a series of events leading to different illnesses and injuries. Loss of muscle first leads to a decrease of your metabolic rate. This decrease then makes you more prone to gaining fat and becoming overweight or even obese. And it is obesity that is an important cause of many different cardiovascular and metabolic diseases2.

Muscle loss, when not doing any training, is inevitable as we age. After your 30th birthday you already start losing muscle mass. It will decline with 3-8% every decade (on average approximately 0,2kg of lean muscle you lose in one year!). After the age of 50 the muscle loss is even greater with 5-10% each decade2.

Body composition and weight

Luckily for us, it is possible to reverse this muscle loss by doing strength training2. Muscular or strength training will increase strength, give more muscle definition and in general increase your physical capacity (like a better movement control or increased walking speed)1,2,3,4. This is very helpful to help in daily life activities, especially for aging people.

Both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination will increase. Intramuscular means the muscle fibers and motor units within your muscle will work better together, intermuscular affects the muscles working together producing more force. This is trained through compound movements like a deadlift, squat-to-shoulder press or a chest press4. The stronger muscles you create will also prevent or reduce low back pain among other musculoskeletal conditions2,5.

Besides increasing your muscle mass, following a (long-term) resistance training program can also reduce your fat mass and can make you lose weight and reduce your BMI (especially when your already overweight or obese)2,3,6. If you don’t already have obesity, it can be prevented by strength training5. Another important factor is that combined with a dietary intervention the weight loss will be greater. To prevent weight regain after all your hard work, it is necessary to stay consistent with the training. Exercise of 250 or more minutes/week might be needed6.

Metabolic health

The reason you can lose weight/fat by doing muscular training is because of your metabolism. As we age our resting metabolic rate slows down. If you keep taking in the same amount of calories as before, the slower metabolism won’t need all those calories for (lost) muscles anymore. This means that more calories will be turned into fat and stored in your cells1. Strength training will increase your resting metabolic rate again so more calories are burned through increased muscle mass1,2. Secondly, strength training will improve insulin resistance and the use of glucose in the blood1,2,3. These improvements in your metabolic rate, insulin and glucose homeostasis can help prevent type 2 diabetes2,5.

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Cardiovascular health

Muscular training will have positive effects on your cardiovascular health. It improves your resting blood pressure, your blood lipid profiles and your general vascular condition1,2. These improvements (together with the improved body composition) will help prevent cardiovascular diseases1,5.

Bone health

You might not think of this immediately, but strength training has a great impact on your bone density (in people of all ages)2. Through stronger bones you prevent osteoporosis and related falls1,5.

Strength training improves your mental health

fear-avoidance

Often overlooked, but also your mental well-being can be positively affected by doing regular strength or resistance training2. This type of training can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem as your training improves1,4,7. Also the daily life activities will go smoother which increases your self-confidence1. Continuing with muscular training you’ll feel overall happier and less stressed. You will learn how to dedicate yourself to something important (which will shine through in other aspects of your life). It will also give you a sense of me-time to clear your mind7. Not to forget, muscular training will improve your quality of sleep and global cognitive function1,7. All these improvements through strength training decrease your risk of depression (especially in older men and women)1,5. Nice bonus right?

It’s well said like this: “a stronger core gives you a stronger balance both physically and emotionally”7.

Strength training improves your quality of life

With both the mental and physical benefits of strength training it is clear to say that strength training improves your (health related) quality of life. When meeting the physical activity guidelines (combined with lower sedentary time) it is scientifically proven that your quality of life will improve8. In daily life you see these improvements through a reduced risk of falls or injuries or even overcoming existing injuries. This is because strength and power will help you maintain balance when you have a misstep or bump into someone1. Besides the falls and injuries, resistance training is also necessary to improve your ADL (daily life activities). Improvements here, will of course give you a better quality of life9.

How to get started

Beginning is always hard, but take these tips into consideration when you’re ready to give it a try and get the best results:

  1. Progress slowly. If you are a non-active person, start with light intensity and work your way up in intensity and frequency. When possible, combine aerobic and strength training throughout the week to meet the Physical Activity Guidelines8
  2. Go for a full body resistance training 2-3 days per week, meaning you have to work on all major muscle groups every week1,3
    • a) Research showed that low volume and frequency of 2 sessions per week can obtain similar changes in the physical components (like body composition and metabolic conditions) as training 3 times per week. Good news for people who lack time10
  3. The focus of your training must be on using proper form, for older adults the emphasis will be on balance and strength1
  4. Remember that whatever strength you build up during strength training, will reduce once you stop training. Luckily, research found that the remaining strength will still be higher compared to when you didn’t train at all9
  5. Work with a personal trainer:
    • a) a personal trainer will help you progress safely through progressive overload, specificity, and variation3
    • b) a personal trainer will make the program less repetitive and more engaging, will keep you accountable for your journey and can even offer group training, all which can help maintain adherence5
    • c) a personal trainer know how to build a workout program targeting opposing muscle groups in a session and know to change the training routine after 12-14 weeks when the body has adapted to a certain exercise stimulus1,4

So strength training is crucial for you

I hope this blog post gave you some clarity on the many benefits strength or resistance training has on you. Both your physical and mental health and your quality of life will improve. With all these perks it would feel wrong not to start adding muscular training to your weekly routines. Talk to us now and see how you can start benefiting from strength training.

Book a free consultation or send me a message.

Note that all this info doesn’t replace professional medical advice or a personal consultation with RSPFIT.

why strength training is crucial

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Bibliography

  1. Green, D.J. The hidden benefits of muscular training. ACE Fitness 2020; https://www.acefitness.org/continuing-education/certified/september-2020/7625/the-hidden-benefits-of-muscular-training/
  2. Westcott, W.L. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. American College of Sports Medicine 2012; 11(4) 210-216.
  3. Campa, F.; Maietta Latessa, P.; Greco, G.; Mauro M.; Mazzuca, P.; Spiga, F.; Toselli, S. Effects of different resistance training frequencies on body composition, cardiometabolic risk factors, and handgrip strength in overweight and obese women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology 2020, 5, 51; doi:10.3390/jfmk5030051.
  4. American Council on Exercise. 7 benefits of heavy resistance training. ACE Fitness 2015; https://www.acefitness.org/resources/pros/expert-articles/5463/7-benefits-of-heavy-resistance-training/
  5. Vasudevan, A.; Ford, E. Motivational factors and barriers towards initiating and maintaining strength training in women: a systematic review and meta-synthesis. Prevention Science 2022, 23:774-695. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11121-021-01328-2.
  6. Bellicha, A.; van Baak, M.A.; Battista, F.; Beaulieu, K.; Blundell, J.E.; Busetto, L.; Carraça, E.V.; Dicker, D.; Encantado, J.; Ermolao, A.; Farpour-Lambert, N.; Pramono, A.; Woodward, E.; Oppert, J-M. Effects of exercise training on weight loss, body composition changes, and weight maintenance in adults with overweight or obesity: an overview of 12 systematic reviews and 149 studies. Obesity Reviews 2021; 22(S4); e13256. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13256.
  7. Hagendorf, A. Mental benefits of Strength Training. ACE Fitness 2014; https://www.acefitness.org/resources/pros/expert-articles/5103/mental-benefits-of-strength-training/
  8. Gómez-Redondo, P.; Marín, V.; Leal-Martín, J.; Ruiz-Moreno, C.; Giráldez-Costas, V.; Urdiola, P.; Ara, I.; Mañas, A. Association between Physical Activity Guidelines and Sedentary Time with Workers’ Health-Related Quality of Life in a Spanish Multinational Company. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 6592. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19116592.
  9. Mazini Filho, M.; RdO Venturini, G.; Moreira O.C.; Leitao, L.; Mira, P.A.C.; de Castro, J.B.P.; Aidar, F.J.; da Silva Novaes, J.; Vianna, J.M.; Caputo Ferreira, M.E.C. Effects of different types of resistance training and detraining on functional capacity, muscle strength, and power in older women: a randomized controlled study. Journal of strength and conditioning research 2022, 36(4), 984-990.
  10. Amarante do Nascimento, M.; Nunes, J.P.; Pina, F.L.C.; Ribeiro, A.S.; Carneiro, N.H.; Venturini, D.; Barbosa, D.S.; Mayhew, J.L.; Cyrino, E.S. Comparison of 2 weekly frequencies of resistance training on muscular strength, body composition, and metabolic biomarkers in resistance-trained older women: effects of detraining and retraining. The journal of strength and conditioning research 2020. 00(00): 1-8. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003799.

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