Resistance training, weight lifting, weight bearing exercises… whatever you call it there’s no doubt that it comes with a plethora of benefits. Strength training and conditioning exercises can be slightly intimating in the beginning, given the weightlifting myths we are so used to listening. If this sounds like you, take heart, because any problem related to strength training is often associated with not doing it correctly . Take note that strength training, if done incorrectly can make your workouts ineffective and in some cases, hurt you too. The same goes for beginners trying to lift weights heavier than what they can handle. Some examples of strengthening exercises with and without weights include, barbell curls, kettlebell swings, deadlifts, rope exercises, jump squats and weighted squats and lunges.
It’s important that you do a proper warm up before beginning your strength training programme and do each movement with correct form. Having someone to “spot check” or watch your form, can help.
Importance of strength and conditioning exercises
If you’re intrigued by resistance training but don’t know how it can benefit you, keep reading. Hint: It’s not always about more muscle.
We want to get this out of the way first. Strength training helps burn calories and there’s a bonus. Becoming leaner through strengthening workouts helps burn more calories even when you’re resting . This is because you have more muscle in your body. All this new muscle is going to require an additional amount of energy (aka calories). Therefore, by simply lifting some weights, you’re seriously boosting your metabolism, hence burning more fat. For best results, train with weights that actually feel heavy, instead of doing tens of reps with lighter weights.
2. You stress less
“Runner’s high” doesn’t only apply for running. Any form of vigorous exercise, such as strength training releases massive amounts of endorphins that make you feel amazing . Strength training is also directly linked to lower levels of anxiety, tension and stress, making it a powerful and natural stress-buster. Even if stress isn’t one of your main concerns, strength training can help develop your mind, boost positivity and strengthen your memory. It’s also a great energy booster.
3. You function better
Weight bearing exercises are often functional workouts that help you perform better in every aspect of your life. Lifting weights makes you stronger, more flexible and better coordinated. Therefore, activities like climbing stairs, moving furniture, picking up your kids or groceries, doing the laundry and cleaning the house become a breeze.
4. You reduce your risk of injury
Strength and conditioning exercises can reduce one’s risk of falling by 40%, regardless of his or her age group. You also beat achy joints and muscles during cardio workouts such as running because you develop more muscle around your joints and become more flexible, helping you maintain proper form and prevent pain and injuries .
5. Your bones become stronger
Lifting weights regularly helps develop bone density, especially among people at high risk of osteoporosis, such as post-menopausal women .
6. You look leaner
Strength training exercises can help build more definition compared to doing steady-state cardio every day. The key is to challenge yourself, lift heavier and perform high intensity workouts. This applies for women as well and no, it won’t make you bulky.
7. Your belly becomes flatter
You can’t spot reduce and each of us a predisposed to store more fat in certain areas than others. Some people gain most of their fat around their thighs, and others in their midsection . One study done by the University of Alabama showed that women who lifted weights lost more deep belly fat than those who stuck with cardio only.
In addition, your core is connected with other major muscle groups in your body. Sucking in your belly while doing weighted squats, for example, will not only amp your lower body but make your midsection more defined too.
Modern research shows that weight lifting not only helps you lose fat and battle obesity, it also helps reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and certain cancers.
9. Your heart becomes stronger
The American Heart Association recommends strength training as a major way to improve your heart health . Studies show that it can lower bad cholesterol levels, elevate good cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease, even among high risk groups. Research has also shown that strength training programmes can reduce blood pressure by up to 20% and can even help people who already have heart issues.
10. And finally, strength and conditioning exercises make you more confident
Imagine yourself crushing some heavy weights. You’ll feel like a warrior.
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