The research & benefits all point to a resounding “yes”!
You might ask…even if I am a runner, or a cyclist?
Or maybe you think, “I just need to lose some weight. Isn’t cardio best for that?”
These are all totally legitimate questions, but the answer for all those scenarios is that you should still do strength training.
And here’s why. Strength training:
- Improves physical (and I’d argue mental) confidence
- Builds joint stability and health
- Minimizes pain and risk of injury by relieving muscular imbalances (as long as properly programmed)
- Prevents or minimizes the muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age
- Helps to strengthen bones & minimize bone density loss through aging
Let’s dig into each of these one-by-one:
- Improves physical (and mental) confidence. The ability to lift things around the house, pick up your kids without throwing out your back & running around with your dog without tweaking your knee are all great everyday examples of the benefits of strength training for your body & mind. Cardiovascular exercises strengthen your heart and lungs, but especially longer distance or timed cardio can actually decrease muscle mass (can be catabolic), so strength training is a must even if you do these activities.
- Builds joint stability & health. A properly designed strength training program will take you through multiple varieties of unilateral (one sided) exercises and forms that will engage typically underactive muscles to build up strength around the joints, specifically your knees, hips and shoulders, which is where most people end up having problems. In addition, a good program should include a variety of back strengthening exercises. Check out our app-based workout programs at https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
- Minimizes pain and risk of injury by relieving muscular imbalances. For example, there are several muscles that are around your knees. Imagine these all like rubber bands going around a central point. If one muscle or one side of the bands around that sphere is pulling on the central point to a greater degree, that central point will start to be off-center. Then when you bend your knee, that central point (or knee joint) will not track properly! This is why it’s actually even more important that people who run or cycle perform strength training to balance out their musculature as the repetitive motion of their sport can exacerbate the imbalance. But, even for the everyday person, an imbalance can lead to injury down the road. That’s how someone blows out his achilles just walking down a step. Excessive tightness & weakness around that area led to a weakened state & made them more prone to injury. Our Bulletproof Athlete 6 mo training program is great for this goal. Check it out here: https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/challenges/bullet-proof-athlete.
- Prevents or minimizes the muscle loss that naturally occurs as we age. After around 30 research shows that our muscle mass starts to decrease. This is because our body becomes less efficient at utilizing the protein that we eat to rebuild our muscles. Therefore, there is a loss over time. Strength training can absolutely minimize this or even reverse it depending on how much time & effort you put in. Plus, the earlier you start strength training the better!
- Helps to strengthen bones & minimize bone density loss through aging. Similar to muscle loss with age, bone loss occurs with age, and it’s more prevalent in women, so strength training for women is even more essential.
Now that we’ve established the benefits, ladies, you might be thinking…
“I don’t want to get all bulky! I see all these instagram fitness women who get all bulky and I don’t want to look like that.”
There’s a lot of science behind this, but to keep it simple & short. As a woman, you don’t have the proper hormone levels & balance to build that much muscle, unless you dedicate yourself to hours in the gym nearly every day. The times when I’ve put on the most muscle have been when I trained for 90 min 6 days/week. To get the benefits of strength training you only need to train for 180 min/week and can split that however you like.
So, get in the gym, stop worrying about getting bulky & start strength training!
Another common roadblock is staying consistent, as that’s what is going to reap the most benefits over time. Here are my favorite tips for creating a solid habit:
- Stack the new habit with an old. For example, if you wake up in the morning & have a routine to journal or read, or maybe you go on a short walk after lunch … add a 10 min strength routine to that. Over time you can lengthen the strength portion and once it’s an established habit moving it to a different time is easier. If you already go to a gym & do cardio, start adding a short strength routine to your existing habit. In the end, find a routine you already do without thinking and add the new habit to that!
- Start small. If you’ve never done strength training start off with a home bodyweight routine. If you’ve done some strength training, but not consistently, work on getting consistent first, not worrying about how much time you spend. Get to the gym or do a home routine 4 times a week and keep it short and fun so it’s not daunting.
Now that you have some tools to create the habit, it’s time to get started! It you’re a beginner & don’t know where to start, below are my tips for getting started off right.
- Work with a coach to make sure you understand where you have imbalances & weaknesses and to insure you’re doing the exercises with proper form.
- Have a plan that you follow. It helps to keep you on track, consistent & if it’s a good program will build in progressive overload so you can build a solid foundation & get results without risking injury.
If you’re already exercising, but just not doing strength training, or you’re doing strength training but struggling with pain, injury or lacking results…grab one of our training programs to fix imbalances & get you the results you want! Grab them at https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/programs.
Want to hire us as your coach? Check out your options here: https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/private-sessions
Thanks for reading! Stay strong, friends.
Amelia (& Alberto) @ Level Up Strength Society
For more information on our workout programs, coaching or to schedule a free Clarity Call with us, visit https://www.pdxstrengthsociety.com/.
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