Have you ever considered what it takes to be in great physical shape? We all have our own idea of what ‘fit’ is, but many of us fail to understand what defines fitness. Most of would like to improve our fitness, whether that’s being able to walk further or garden longer. Others want to improve their fitness in a specific sport. There are several elements to fitness including flexibility, cardiovascular and muscular endurance. This article will be exploring a major aspect of fitness – strength.
Strength refers to the quality or state of being strong. It can further be described as the ability of muscles to produce force. It is most commonly measured by the amount of weight you can lift/push/pull. Strength training is a type of exercise that uses resistance to induce muscular contraction in order to build strength, power and size of skeletal muscles.
Strength training can be performed using body weight exercise, or with external forces such as dumbbells, weight machines or resistance bands. When we perform resistance exercise consistently, our muscles begin to adapt. To maintain strength it is recommended we perform a specific strength program twice weekly. Or if we are looking to increase it, three to four sessions per week is more beneficial. It takes approximately six weeks to see significant gains.
The quantity of each exercise can be adapted towards a client’s goal. For example, someone wanting to increase their general strength may be given a few exercises to perform, such as two to four sets of 8-12 repetitions. On the other hand, a sportsperson may be training for more power so we may give them fewer repetitions, but a higher weight/resistance to use. Below is a list of training variables that can impact our end result:
- Frequency of sessions
- Rest between exercise sets
- Types of exercise
There are many benefits to strength training. No matter your age, anyone can benefit from incorporating strength exercises into their exercise regime. Stronger muscles mean our joints have more stability, which is particularly important as we age or our balance deteriorates. Strength training can also help with weight management, by increasing our muscle mass and reducing body fat. In turn, this helps reduce or better manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, mental health and many more.
My top tips:
- Strength training doesn’t have to be expensive – whether it be in a local park, your living room or a playground, strength training can be performed with no equipment at all.
- Consistency is key – try to perform your strength program two to four times per week.
- Try training with a friend to keep you accountable.
- Avoid holding your breath when lifting/pushing/pulling.
- Try changing up your program every six to eight weeks.
- Listening to music whilst training can be a great motivator.
If you would like assistance in commencing a strength program, contact one of our Accredited Exercise Physiologists today for an assessment.
About the Author:
Laura is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Exercise Science, and with Professional Honours in Exercise Physiology from the University of Tasmania. Since graduating Laura has worked primarily in chronic disease management. She has also worked as a respiratory technician.
Laura is passionate about exercise and the role it plays in the management and prevention of various conditions. She aims to work alongside clients to achieve their goals through tailored exercise programs designed for their needs.
Laura devotes her spare time to her own athletics training and to mentoring junior athletes.