Why Strength Training Isn’t Just for Bodybuilders

By admin
October 01, 2018

Funny cartoon circus strong man. A strong muscular athlete lifts the barbell. Retro sportsman with a mustache. Flat guy character with heavy metal barbell. Bodybuilder

Forget the image of the consummate bodybuilder, muscles flexing, veins bulging, while he lifts a giant barbell over his head. The truth is, strength training is so much more than a way to build muscle mass. It is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone. Well-Being turned to the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Health & Wellness team for information about how strength training should be a part of “Living Healthy” for Mississippians of all ages.

Strong Your Whole Life Long

Following the adolescent and teen years, everyone begins to lose a fraction of muscle and bone strength each year. Strength training can help maintain and even increase bone and muscle mass. Strength training stresses muscles by using weights and/or resistance, which causes muscles to grow stronger. You can use machines, free weights, your own body weight, bands or other small pieces of equipment that can provide resistance to your muscles. You don’t have to spend hours each day on strength training. Most people see significant improvement with just two or three 20-30 minute sessions each week. This also meets the physical activity requirements supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strength training is something you can do to enhance your level of health and fitness no matter your age, or stage of life.

Hispanic athlete push-up“Studies support even more that it’s not about getting an hour of straight exercise to maintain or improve your health,” said Joanna Dixon, senior health and wellness program coordinator with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi. “Rather, it’s about incorporating movement and physical activity throughout the day using your own body weight for resistance.”

Strength Training Options

There is something for everyone. According to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Health and Wellness team, strength training can be done most places with little or no equipment! Here are some options to consider when choosing a strength training regimen:

Body weight – Push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, crunches and squats are just a few of the exercises you can do with no equipment. This is ideal if you travel frequently, don’t belong to a fitness center or have little space to store equipment.

“Basic body weight exercises are tried and true,” Joanna says. “They have been around since the beginning of time as single, functional movements and will always remain a staple in the fitness industry because they work. Anyone can do them, and you don’t have to buy any equipment or pay for a gym membership.”

Resistance bands/tubing – These are available in a variety of resistance strengths and can be used alone or with other tools for a varied strength routine. These are portable, take up little space and allow you to work all major muscle groups.

Free weights – Barbells, dumbbells and kettle bells are some of the tools available for strength exercises. These are versatile, engage your core muscles more effectively and allow you to do many different exercises.

Weight machines – Most fitness centers have a wide variety of machines that assist you in performing strength exercises. These are ideal for beginners and can help reinforce correct form.

Patients Working Out In Gym

A well-rounded strength training regimen includes exercises for all major muscle groups, including legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms. Before you begin any exercise routine, be sure to get clearance from your physician especially if you have any health limitations.

Warm up with 5-10 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic activity. Choose an exercise or resistance level heavy enough for your muscles to become fatigued after about 10-12 repetitions. Be sure to allow at least one full day of rest for each set of muscles. Do not work the same muscles two days in a row.

Special thanks to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi Health & Wellness Team for their contributions to this article. For more information about living healthy, visit www.bcbsms.com.

What Strength Training Can Do For You

  • Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of fractures, especially in postmenopausal women.
  • Strengthen and tone muscles. Obviously, strength training helps you develop stronger, better toned muscles for whatever you want to do, whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior on the basketball court or golf course, or just want to stay fit and strong for everyday living.
  • Lessen the risk of injury. Strengthening muscles and tendons while increasing the flexibility of the ligaments, decreases the risk of a strain or tear. Not only is it necessary for athletes, regardless of skill level or activity, it is also beneficial to helping prevent injury at any age.
  • Improve body mechanics. Strength or resistance training benefits your balance, coordination and posture.
  • Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
  • Enhance your quality of life. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Because building muscle contributes to better balance, it may reduce your risk of falls and help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.
  • Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.
  • Boost energy and improve mood. Strength training will elevate your level of endorphins, which lift energy levels and improve mood. There also is evidence that it may help you sleep better.

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