The average adult should aim for AT LEAST two sessions a week. Let’s take a look at the benefits of introducing strength training into your life…

We all know that exercise has huge benefits on our health and lifestyle. When many of us think of exercise, we are automatically drawn to activities such as;
– Walking
– Cycling
– Swimming
– Running

Whilst all of these are great forms of exercise, they fall into the category of ‘cardiovascular’ exercise. This means there is little focus on specifically trying to increase growth of our muscles and building strength. It is important that our muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are exposed to this type of training to ensure they can adequately manage the loads we place on them daily. 

The world health organisation (WHO) recommend that the average adults completes a MINIMUM of two sessions of strength training per week. This is a statistic that not many are reaching.
It is important to know that strength training does not always require a gym and a ‘heavy weights’ section – something a lot of people may find a little intimidating. You can use your body weight for resistance or a few simple bits of kit at home…

The benefits (to name a few!) are:

– Hypertrophy. This is the increase in cross sectional area of muscle. This means the muscles can get bigger, stronger, more toned and therefore tire less easily.

– Reducing the risk of injury and everyday ‘aches and pains’. Many of the patients I see daily have general niggles in their shoulders, knees, back and neck. More often than not, I detect weakness on muscle testing and once we begin working on a strengthening program, their pain can reduce very quickly. 

– It can prevent falls and improve quality of life in the elderly population, where loss of muscle mass is a part of the ageing process. We still have the capacity to grow muscle in our 70’s and 80’s!!!

– Weight management: Strength training helps to improve our muscle to fat ratio. As you gain and grow muscle, your body will burn more kilojoules of energy at rest and fat stores will be used for energy. This also needs to be part of a balanced diet. Just because you are not sweating it out for hours on a treadmill does not mean you will not burn calories. It is in fact quite the opposite!

– It increases protein synthesis. This is a fundamental process of our bodies cells to produce their specific proteins and is a crucial part of our body’s general function. 

– It reduces myostatin levels. Myostatin is a naturally present, negative regular of muscle mass. It is thought to be over exposed in those with illnesses or diseases and also in the elderly. This reduction can be effective after just one session of resistance training. 

– It can help to improve mobility, flexibility and balance as you are often challenging your body in different positions and using different equipment. This variation can really help to keep the body mobile and this can transfer well into everyday life. 

– It can help to increase or maintain bone density. Our bones require a constant and specific level of load going through them to stimulate growth and the constant production of new bone. In those with Osteoporosis, this process is affected. Regular strength training can help to reduce the risk if it runs in your family or maintain your current levels if you have already been diagnosed. 

– It improves the neural activation and synchronisation of the motor units in our muscles. This means our muscles respond better to the loads we place on them daily. They respond quicker, stronger and more efficiently. 

Examples of strength training can include;
– Exercise classes e.g. body pump
– Using weights: dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands
– Body weight workouts e.g. press ups, planks, squats

It is usually split into a specific number of sets and repetitions.

If you are keen to introduce this into your exercise program, it is important you speak with a Physiotherapist, an experienced personal trainer or a strength and  conditioning coach. We can help guide you through a personalised program. 

If you have a recent injury or a pre-existing injury, it is important you seek advice from a medical professional prior to beginning a program. This will not only reduce the risk of injury but also ensure you get the most out of it and enjoy yourself!

Thank you for reading. 

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