You've probably heard it before. As we get older, our body begins to lose muscle mass every year. To combat this, we need to incorporate resistance or strength training into our fitness routine, but is it really that important?
The truth is that most women are afraid of lifting heavy weights. The number one concern is that they will bulk up and not have a lean, slim physique.
This couldn't be farther from the truth. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss. Sarcopenia (the official term for muscle loss) is the number one symptom of aging. Sarcopenia leads to a reduction in mobility and strength. The good news is that muscle loss is completely reversible.
To stay ahead of the natural aging process, we need to incorporate resistance/ strength training into our fitness routine. As for the fear of bulking up, it takes an insane amount of testosterone to create a bulky muscular look and most people who achieve that look are doing so with the help of steroids.
Here are my top 10 reasons to include a strength training routine in your life ASAP. Don't miss out on some of the greatest benefits of strength training
Aesthetics: This is what we all want; a toned and lean body. The more muscle (and less fat) we have in our body, the more lean and toned we look. So instead of worrying about the number on the scale, let’s focus on the percentage of fat vs muscle in your body.
Functionality: When you focus on building functional strength, you work on strengthening your major muscle groups and building a strong core. This helps train your body to function better on a day-day level. You will also avoid the risk of breaking bones and falls as you improve your strength and coordination.
High energy: While looking toned and defined is awesome, we need to focus on having the energy and strength to get through our day without fatigue and weakness. As you strengthen your muscles, your energy levels rise too.
Anti-aging: The number one sign of aging is loss of muscle mass- it leads to weakness and fatigue in the body. Strength training fights the natural process of aging and improves blood flow to different organs in the body.
Fat burning: The more lean muscle mass we have on our body, the more energy we require to maintain it. When you focus on strength training, you continue to burn calories 24-48 hours after your workout. More calories burnt equates to less fat storage.
Sugar-monsters: Muscle requires glycogen (aka sugar) for fuel, making it easy for us to enjoy more carbs. Think Michael Phelps and his 7000-calorie diet. He gets away with it because of all the lean muscle mass on his body.
Ripple effects: If you have strong muscles, chances are your balance and coordination are better as well. This helps you see a significant improvement in any sport that you take on in your life. You will perform better in most other physical activities if your body is backed by strong muscles. For ex., runners who strength train see a lower level of injuries and have better stamina to run longer.
Lowers health risks: Strength training has been linked to reducing the risk of diabetes, cholesterol, and heart disease. It is known to help manage blood sugar levels and promote a speedier metabolism.
Improves mental clarity: Strength training forces you to build focus and improves blood flow to your brain, muscles, and organs., thereby reducing mental fog and increasing clarity.
Empowerment: There is no better feeling than watching your body do things it couldn’t do 2 weeks ago. Strength training shifts our focus on what’s important; being strong and healthy and having a positive self/ body image.
If you're still not convinced that you need to incorporate strength training into your routine, let's look at what that looks like in a typical workout. There are some myths on what constitutes as resistance training. Lifting heavy barbells and dropping them down is not the only way to build muscle. You can also do:
Yoga: Certain yoga poses use your own body weight to help you strengthen your muscles. Think planks, boat pose, down dog, they're all great ways to strengthen the upper body and core.
Floor exercises: Certain simple body weight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, pull ups, don't require the use of weights but provide enough body weight resistance to help you build strength.
Sports: Think swimming, rock-climbing, cycling with high resistance or uphill cycling, etc. These are all ways to use friction and your body weight to build strength.
Weight lifting: Of course the traditional way to build strength is to start working with small weights, using proper form and breathing techniques to build strength and make the weights heavier as you get stronger.
Hopefully, this had inspired you to give strength training a go! But before you sign up for the next body building trend, I urge you to find a qualified trainer who focuses on helping you connect with the muscle you are working on but helping you engage your core and using proper breathing techniques. This will ensure that you don't risk injury and get the most results out of your workouts. Happy strengthening! 👍💪😊
Blogger bio: Chitra Rochlani is a NASM certified personal trainer (CPT) and corrective exercise specialist (CES). She focuses on teaching her clients to move their body efficiently so they get lean, strong and feel good about taking care of their body. Chitra works with clients over zoom and in person (in her home gym studio)
Chitra empowers her clients to break free of the diet mentality and develop a speedy metabolism using fitness, nutrition and mindset tools. She uses her "Fit Warrior" method to combine nutrition, fitness and mindset to help her clients look, feel and perform at their best.