What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions strength training? Do you think of gaining body weight to bulk up your muscles? Or do you picture a man with giant muscles who can’t move naturally? This is possible to achieve with strength training, but so are a variety of different goals.
If you want to tone your body up and lose body weight, you can also use strength training to accomplish these outcomes. Depending on the end result you are looking for, you will use strength training to develop one of two types of strength:
- Relative Strength: building maximal strength while controlling calorie intake and/or adding cardio so you do NOT increase your body weight.
- Absolute Strength: becoming the strongest person regardless of body weight. More weight means bigger muscles and thus more strength.
Strength training is for women as well as men, and it can be used to bulk up or slim down. With basic knowledge and a good training program, you can start your journey among the weights.
What is strength training?
Let’s start from the beginning. Simply saying, strength training is a type of physical activity specialising in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction. The resistance can be weight machines, resistance bands, weighted clothing, or even your own body weight.
Why do we need strength training?
The human body has more than 650 muscles, and they are responsible for various functions in our body. We have to keep them in good form to provide us with better, easier motion and health during our everyday life.
In part, our muscles produce force so we can move the body. They also impact our shape and form. So, if you do strength training properly, you will keep your muscles in better condition and receive functional benefits as well as improved overall health and well-being.
More specifically, proper strength training can provide:
- Increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength and toughness
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced potential for injury
- Improved cardiac function
- Increased bony density
What does a strength training programme look like?
In your strength program, you will always find the following: definition of the number of sets, the number of repetitions, and a break. Always remember that the number of sets, repetitions and load define your workout, and every small change can provide new results.
Whether you are building power or endurance will determine your weight load, number of sets and repetitions, and the length of your break. It is advisable to consult with a qualified instructor who will create your custom strength programme.
So, how strong are you?
Check yourself! The following is based on the average number of pushups for males and females within a specific age bracket:
Males - full pushups on toes:
- 36 pushups for 20-29 year olds
- 30 pushups for 30-39 year olds
- 25 pushups for 40-49 year olds
- 21 pushups for 50-59 year olds
- 18 pushups for 60-69 year olds
Females - modified pushups on knees:
- 17 to 33 reps for 20-29 year olds
- 12 to 24 reps for 30-39 year olds
- 8 to 19 reps for 40-49 year olds
- 6 to 14 reps for 50-59 year olds
Below average? It’s never too late to start leading a fitter life!
Depending on your goals, you may want to consider adding strength training to your exercise routine. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional athlete or every man, whether you are young or older, fit or unfit. Everybody needs a special strength plan.
Everything is connected. The fact that your back hurts may be because of your hips. Heavy squats can make your pull ups better. To improve your running, you need to work on more than your quads to prevent injury. If you have a round-back, you may need to stretch your chest and build strength in your back to keep a more natural posture.
Strength training can provide you with numerous benefits, so don’t wait any more. But do it properly under the professional care of your trainer. Remember, strength training is just one part of a complete exercise program, which should always include some cardio, flexibility sessions and recovery days. And don’t forget about diet!