Do you even lift?

The question on every bodybuilder’s lips, but, you don’t have to be a bodybuilder to get into strength training, in fact, everyone could and should benefit from a strength training routine.

Strength Training

What is strength training?

Strength training is a form of exercise where muscular strength, size and endurance are increased by adding resistance against movement. This resistance can come in a variety of forms, from dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, sandbags, tyres, cables to heavyweight champs lifting cars like they are paper weights.

Why should I strength train?

Being strong is useful.

Being strong just makes life that bit easier. You don’t ask anyone to open jars, you can hook 6 shopping bags on one arm, easy. You can pick your kids up and swing them round without getting out of breathe. Lifting big things can make these little things happen.

Strength training causes you to burn more fat, even after the exercise in finished.

When we do cardio we burn a heck of a lot of calories, but not all of them are from fat, some could be muscle. Weight training burns more calories from fat, retaining that vital muscle.

Strength training builds muscles.

First off, muscles look nice, on a woman they build a firm bum, toned arms and boobs that don't sag, on a man you build bigger arms, the V taper and if you work hard enough, the elusive six pack. Muscles do more than just look good. As far as metabolism goes, muscle mass is the "engine" of the calorie-burning machine. As you strength train and increase your muscle mass, you build a bigger, more efficient engine that burns more calories and helps you lose weight. The more toned your muscles, the easier it is to maintain your weight. In fact, the higher your muscle mass, the more calories you'll burn when you rest. For every pound of muscle you gain, your body uses about 50 extra calories a day.

Strength training increases bone density.

The older we get the more fragile our bones become, more likely to break and develop osteoporosis. Strength training increases bone density as muscle pulls against the bone giving it strength. . As muscles are pulled directly against the bone, with gravity working against them, calcium is driven back into the bones. Strength training also stimulates the manufacture of new bone. This adds up to a decrease in the effects of osteoporosis by 50—80 percent.

Strength training increases your metabolism.

Lifting weights raises your metabolism long after you're finished—experts estimate that your metabolism stays elevated for up to 39 hours! Again, this is because lifting strains your body so much, that it needs extra time to recover.

Strength training has an EPOC effect.

EPOC stands for post exercise oxygen consumption and refers to the amount of extra oxygen uptaken by the body due to the intensity of exercise. This is what we call the ‘afterburn’ as calories continue to be torched once the exercise is finished.

Improves blood flow.

Resistance exercise (such as lifting weights) produces a different pattern of blood vessel responses than aerobic exercise, suggesting that it may have specific and important benefits for cardiovascular health, according to a study in the November issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, official research journal of the National Strength and Conditioning Association.

Builds a stronger heart.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that for healthy adults, a regular program of weight training not only increases muscle strength and endurance, it also improves heart and lung function, enhances glucose metabolism, reduces coronary disease risk factors, and boosts well-being. When our muscles are stronger, there is less demand placed on the heart. This allows the lungs to process more oxygen with less effort, the heart to pump more blood with fewer beats, and the blood supply directed to your muscles to increase.

Reduces blood pressure.

A study by Precision Training found that weight training decreased blood pressure. After 12 weeks of weight training, 3 times a week middle aged men had decreased blood pressure.The results found The research suggests since a 20 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure doubles the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke, then decreasing systolic blood pressure by almost 20 mm Hg (16 mm Hg) with weight training, you can decrease your risk by half.

Helps control blood sugar.

A study by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research tested the effects of resistance training in people with type 2 diabetes. The study found in subjects with type 2 diabetes, both the low and moderate intensity circuits reduced blood glucose concentrations. However, the low intensity circuit produced lower glucose levels with less metabolic stress. This finding is particularly relevant to overweight, often untrained individuals who are just beginning a diabetes management program. Even a single bout of low intensity resistance exercise offers clear benefits for blood sugar management. As the individual progresses, intensity can be increased.

Improves cholesterol

Weight training can help lower your bad cholesterol. According to a 1987 study conducted by I.H. Ullrich and colleagues published in the "Southern Medical Journal," HDL and LDL cholesterol levels can benefit from weight training. This study took 25 men who weight trained for eight weeks, three times per week. The weight-training program showed a decrease in blood LDL levels.

Encourages body confidence.

Weight training transforms the body and develops self-confidence.

Fights depression.

Strength training increases serotonin, your happy hormone. A Harvard study once found that ten weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than counselling. This is particularly important for women since they are more than twice as likely to experience depression and only one out of three actually seek care.Not feeling good? Then train. Not happy? Then train. Need an instant mental and mood boost? Then train!

Strength training myths: Debunked

I’m too old.

In fact, the older we get, the more important strength training becomes, as we lose muscle as we age. The University of British Columbia released a  study on linking strength training to better brain function in the elderly. Eighty-six older women, all already demonstrating early signs of dementia, were observed by researchers. Some took weight training courses, while others took aerobics and a third group did exercises for toning and balance. After six months the group that lifted weights showed the biggest improvement in memory, attention span, problem solving and decision-making.

Whilst as you get older what you’re capable of may start at less, the more you work at it, the stronger you become, irregardless of age. Elderly people can work with resistance machines to provide support (if they need it).

It will make me bulky.

This one’s getting old. Women do not have the hormones to end up looking like Arnie. Those who do, have probably been taking something illegal. Weight training won’t make women bulky, cupcakes will.

I’m too fat.

Thinking that you just need to do cardio first to burn the fat is a common myth. When you're overweight the best war on fat is to combine strength training and cardio with a balanced and healthy diet.With strength training, your overall weight loss may seem slower, but you will lose inches faster. Strength training increases your metabolism; as long as you’re still eating in a deficit, you’ll lose weight.

Is weight training aerobic or anaerobic?

Examples of anaerobic exercise include weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping; any exercise that consists of short exertion, high-intensity movement, is an anaerobic exercise. What this means is that we use alternative energy systems to find the energy, rather than oxygen.

How to start strength training

Ready to start, great! Firstly whilst there’s plenty of information and videos on the web, when you’re starting out, we recommend seeking professional help. This way you can perfect your form before going it alone. A video can’t coach you if you go wrong, a PT, will. Once you’ve got to grips with the basics you’ll be ready to go it alone, and get stronger and healthier!

Don’t fancy 1-1? Go for a gym induction, this will teach 5- 10 of you the basic resistance machines. Once you’ve developed some base strength, you’ll be able to move onto the more creative moves.

So, what are you waiting for?

It never gets easier, you just get stronger.

Strength training, What is strength training, Why should I strength train, strength training myths.