When people think of strength training, they often associate it with body builders and other extreme body types. In reality, though, anyone can participate in strength training and find it beneficial when done right. In fact, strength training is quite important for athletes who specialize in seemingly unrelated sports, like running, and can also be a great workout for anyone looking to get fit.
Strength Training: Fact Vs. Fiction
In order to understand why strength training is such a beneficial and flexible workout, it’s important to reframe the activity. While strength training is a popular term, ultimately, this is really just another term for resistance training. This is an important clarification, since it makes “strength training” more accessible and clarifies that it isn’t all about lifting huge weights. You can actually strength train with little or no equipment, using techniques like bodyweight training.
If you are going to be lifting weights as part of your strength training, it’s very important that you do so carefully and with proper support and oversight, as it’s easy to injure yourself. With this in mind, people who are new to strength training should consider participating in a strength coaching program – and if your local gym doesn’t offer one, there are even online coaches who can develop a targeted and individualized plan that will help you meet your goals.
Check Your Form
Form is one of the most important elements of strength training, whether or not you’re actually working with weights. That’s because if you are lifting larger weights, improper form can quickly lead to injuries. The same goes for bodyweight training, with the added twist that improper form can also nullify the benefits by reducing or eliminating major elements of the resistance in some exercises. It’s our natural impulse to adjust our bodies to minimize effort, but that’s not the goal when engaging in resistance training.
Strength training takes a lot of energy, and if you want to see benefits – whether that’s bulking up, toning, or even weight loss – you need a diet plan that will support those aims.
Traditionally, strength training is associated with increased protein intake, and this is a good choice if you’re hoping to increase your muscle mass. Your body can only use so much protein at one time, though, so be sure to spread your intake out across the day. You can give low protein foods a boost using whey powder and work some added protein in by snacking on nuts and seeds.
If you’re training in the morning, it’s also important that you eat something before you start your workout. Aim for more quickly available carbohydrates in this meal, as this will give you the energy you need to complete your exercises, and then eat again a little while after your workout.
Strength training is a great workout on its own or can be a tool for supporting your other fitness activities, so there’s no wrong reason to try it out. If nothing else, you’ll discover just how powerful your body is and expand your repertoire of possible activities, all of which are tools that will support your health for years to come.