If You Think Cardio Is King, You Might Want To Think Again.
Maybe you’re not strength training because you’re intimidated by the idea of lifting weights. Or you don’t know where to begin. Maybe you just really like to do cardio stuff – like running marathons. Whatever the reason, you’re making a big mistake if you’re not including at least two sessions of strength training in your weekly workout schedule; a mistake that might bite you in the you-know-what two or three decades from now.
Strength Training Keeps Us Young
It’s not new news that that strength training is the fountain of youth and is superior to cardio exercise when it comes to keeping us young. We naturally lose muscle as we age. In fact, after the age of 35 we lose an average of five percent every ten years. If we don’t do anything to hang onto that precious muscle tissue, we will end up weak, bent and frail in our ‘golden’ years. The only way to maintain, retain and gain muscle mass is through strength training.
Don’t Get Bummed Out. Keep Reading – There’s Good News.
Most people can get a good cardio workout by doing some things that come more naturally than tossing dumbbells around, like walking, running or riding a bike. Figuring out how to strength train is more complex plus many people are intimidated by the idea of going to a gym and feeling silly once they get there because they can’t lift anything more than a 10 pound dumbbell.
The good news is you don’t have to lift heavy weights to increase muscle mass and gain strength. You can use lighter weights with increased repetitions and as long as you reach the point of muscle fatigue you will see good results.
Researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario studied how various combinations of weight loads and repetitions affected the leg muscles in young men. All of the participants did three strength training sessions a week for 10 weeks. The training regimen consisted of doing one set at 80 percent maximum load, three sets at 80 percent maximum load and three sets at 30 percent maximum load. A set was defined as doing as many repetitions as possible with the assigned load. Typically with the 80 percent maximum load a set was eight to 12 repetitions. With the 30 percent maximum load a set was more like 25 to 30 reps.
Cam Mitchell, a lead study author and a Ph.D candidate in McMaster’s kinesiology department said that they found that “loads that were quite heavy and comparatively light were equally effective at inducing muscle growth and promoting strength”.
What the most recent news out of Hamilton really means is that you don’t have to join a gym, hire a trainer (although having an expert’s help is always a good idea) or push heavy weights around to reap the benefit of muscle work. A couple sets of dumbbells of varying weights – or a set where you can add and take away pounds – along with a medicine ball or kettle ball will get you started.
Weight Training for Dummies
If you’ve never done strength training, or it’s been a very long time, joining a gym and hiring a personal trainer for a few sessions to get you started is a great idea. If that’s not feasible there are some other options. You can purchase “Weight Training for Dummies” – no, I’m not kidding – from Amazon for $14.45 new and for a couple bucks used. Weight Training for Dummies also has a web site which shows all types of strength programs.
Thinq Fitness is also an excellent resource for workouts that you can do at home with very little equipment and a membership is only $4.99 a month.
Finally, if you’re thinking about purchasing a workout-at-home DVD you can review before you buy at Collage Video. I know that I mention the Collage Video option often, but it’s a great way to see if a video is the right fit for you before you buy.
Benefits Go Beyond Sexy, Strong Muscles
The benefits of strength training far surpass having a stronger, leaner appearance. Increased muscle mass can reduce the development of several chronic diseases including arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain and depression.
What’s your favorite way to strength train? In the gym, or at home? Please share your tips in the comment box below.