10 Benefits of Strength Training
1. Lose Body Fat – Studies found that the average woman who strength trains two to three times a week for two months will gain nearly two pounds of muscle and will lose 3.5 pounds of fat. As your lean muscle increases so does your resting metabolism, and you burn more calories ALL DAY LONG. Generally speaking, for each pound of muscle you gain, you burn 35 to 50 more calories each day. That really adds up!
2. Tone Up – Lifting weights and resistance exercises develop muscle tone and definition. Compared to men, women have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause muscle hypertrophy (aka getting 'big'). Women don't gain size from strength training, but they can gain tone and definition.
3. Strong Bones – You Will decrease Your Risk Of Osteoporosis – Research has found that weight training can increase spinal bone mineral density (and enhance bone modeling) by 13 percent in six months. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be a women's best defense against osteoporosis.
4. Improve Your Athletic Performance - Over and over research concludes that strength training improves athletic ability in all but the very elite athletes. Runners and cyclists are able to continue for longer periods of time with less fatigue. Skiers improve technique and reduce injury. Whatever sport you play, strength training has been shown to improve overall performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
5. Be Physically Stronger – If your maximum strength is increased, daily tasks and routine exercise will be easier and far less likely to cause injury. Research studies conclude that even moderate weight training can increase a woman's strength by 30 to 50 percent. Research also shows that women can develop their strength at the same rate as men.
6. Reduce Your Risk Of Injury, Back Pain & Arthritis – Strength training not only builds stronger muscles, but also builds stronger connective tissues and increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. A recent 12-year study showed that strengthening the low-back muscles had an 80 percent success rate in eliminating or alleviating low-back pain. Other studies have indicated that weight training can ease the pain of osteoarthritis and strengthen joints.
7. You Will Improve Your Attitude And Fight Depression – A Harvard study found that 10 weeks of strength training reduced clinical depression symptoms more successfully than standard counseling did. Women who strength train commonly report feeling more confident and capable as a result of their program, all important factors in fighting depression.
8. Boost Your Stamina - As you get stronger, you won't fatigue as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
9. You'll Be More Flexible – Over time, your flexibility can decrease by up to 50 percent. This makes it harder to squat down, bend over, and reach behind you. A study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, found that three full-body workouts a week for 16 weeks increased flexibility of the hips and shoulders, while improving sit-and-reach test scores by 11 percent. Not convinced that weight training doesn't leave you "muscle-bound?" Research shows that Olympic weightlifters rate only second to gymnasts in overall flexibility.
10. IT’S FUN!!! Check out a Tailored F.I.T. Class. In addition to quick cardio intervals, we always include strength training, for all of the reasons above!
What costs about $20 and has the therapeutic benefits similar to a massage? A foam roller! Personal trainers and physical therapists use foam rollers to help their clients/patients break up fibrous tissue and alleviate soreness. But you don’t need a specialist to help you do the foam roller exercises below. Check them out and email me if you have any questions!
General Guidelines for foam rolling (SMR - Self-myofascial release)
Try these exercises to help prevent injury and improve performance:
Front thigh roll (Quadriceps)
Lie face down with the foam roller under your right thigh. Put your forearms on the ground. Keep your left foot off the ground by stacking your feet on top of each other (toe of left foot on heel of right foot). Supporting your body weight with your forearms, roll up and down from the bottom of the hip to the top of your knee. Repeat on the other side.
Stabilize your body on top of the roller, gently rolling up and down across the front of the lower leg. Particular helpful for those suffering from shin splints.
Lie on your right side with the foam roller under your right gluteal area and your right leg extended straight out. Bend your left knee and rest your left foot behind your right. Place both hands on the floor for support. Roll your right gluteal muscles. Repeat on the other side.
Sit with the roller under your right thigh. Place the palms of your hands on the ground (fingers pointing toward your body). Keep your left foot off the ground by stacking your feet on top of each other (heel of left foot on toe of right foot). Supporting your body weight with your hands, roll up and down from the bottom of your hip bone to the top of your knees. Repeat on the other side.
Prop your body up on your arms/hands, being sure to support yourself with a shoulder joint that is closed and packed. Roll the extent of the calf, performing plantar and dorsi flexion in order to capitalize on the gastrocnemius and the soleus. It is common to get fatigued, especially your wrists, in this posture, so take breaks when necessary.
Where to get a foam roll
When choosing a foam roll, product density is important. If the foam is too soft, less than adequate tissue massage is applied. Generally black foam rollers are higher density, and more durable. White or blue rollers slightly softer. If starting with a black foam roller, keep the pressure light until your body is accustomed to rolling. I prefer a 6”x36” round roller for versatility and balance, but you may get a 6”x18” if space is a concern. Foam rollers can be found in sporting goods stores and online.
I am a personal trainer, health coach and fitness instructor. I want to educate and empower you so that you will be able to challenge yourself, safely and effectively, even when we are not working together. Check out these workouts and articles.