Understanding Strength Training
Strength training is an activity that builds up your muscles. It is also called resistance training. It can be done with weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight.
Benefits of strength training
Any type of exercise—strength training included—can help you feel better and live longer. It can help protect you against many conditions, including cancer, depression, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. It can help you stay at a healthy weight or lose weight. It can also ease the symptoms of health problems like arthritis.
Strength training also builds muscle. That’s vital as you grow older because you slowly lose muscle mass. As a result, daily activities like carrying a bag of groceries can become hard to do. Strength training can make such tasks easier. It can also keep your bones strong, preventing osteoporosis. Plus, it can boost your balance.
Tips for strength training
Talk with your healthcare provider first before starting any new physical activity. That’s especially true if you have a chronic health problem like heart disease or if you haven’t exercised for a long time. He or she can help you pick activities that are best for you.
Do strength training 2 to 3 times a week. Skip a day between sessions to give your muscles time to recover. Or change the major muscle groups on back-to-back days. Those are your legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms.
Build up your strength over time. That will help you avoid an injury. Start with a weight that challenges you but that isn’t too heavy for you to lift 8 times—or repetitions—in a row. Do 1 to 3 sets of a certain exercise, such as a bicep curl, 8 to 15 times.
Control your movements. Lift and lower weights slowly. Don’t jerk.
Remember to breathe. Breathe in as you lift and breathe out as you relax.
Stop if you feel any pain. It’s normal to feel some soreness a day or two after exercising.
See a personal trainer if you haven’t exercised before, or have been inactive for a long period of time. A trainer can teach you correct form, keep you motivated, and help you prevent injury.