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The Importance and Benefits of Strength Training

Let's take a look at what Strength Training is and how it can benefit you!
Two young female participants of Move Headquarters Gym lifting dumbbells overhead

As we close out our endurance block and begin the preparation for our next block of training, let’s take a little bit more of a look at strength training!

Firstly, what is ‘Strength Training?’ 💪

Strength training, also known as resistance training, is any form of exercise that involves using weights or resistance to build strength in your muscles. Strength training involves utilising equipment or your own body weight against a resisting force. There are different types of Strength Training, for example, we have the work we do in the gym but we also have activities such as lifting and moving boxes, digging in the garden, or carrying groceries, these are also forms of strength training. This is often referred to as ‘incidental exercise’, which just means exercise that occurs as part of our daily lives! 

So now you know what Strength Training is, let’s take a deeper look at the benefits. 

Strength training stimulates a variety of positive neuromuscular adaptations that enhance both physical and mental health. Physical and mental health benefits that can be achieved through resistance training include: 

  • Improved muscle strength.
  • Maintaining flexibility, mobility and balance, which can help maintain independence in ageing.
  • May help reduce or prevent cognitive decline in older people.
  • Greater stamina – as you grow stronger, you won’t get tired as easily.
  • Prevention or control of chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, arthritis, back pain and depression.
  • Pain management
  • Improved posture.
  • Decreased risk of injury.
  • Increased bone density and strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis.
  • Improved sense of wellbeing – resistance training may boost self-confidence and mood.
  • Improved sleep and avoidance of insomnia.
  • Increased blood glucose utilisation.
  • Reduced resting blood pressure.
  • Improved blood lipid profiles.
  • Increased gastrointestinal transit speed

Okay, time to bust some myths and misunderstandings, let’s separate the facts from the fiction!

FICTION – Lifting weights will make you bulk up.

FACT ONE ✔️- Muscles will grow to a level unique to your body in a way that promotes many of the health benefits listed above.

FICTION – I have to work only one muscle group per day. 

FACT TWO ✔️- It’s not always necessary to break up our training into body groups, unless you’re someone such as a body builder or dedicated lifter, meaning it’s not always beneficial to adopt this schedule. What is beneficial is keeping in mind that muscles typically need roughly 24-48 hours to recover depending on the type of training you’re doing, therefore it’s important to vary workouts so you aren’t doing the same full-body workout each day. Utilising training such as high intensity interval training and circuit training can be a great addition to a training plan as these sessions are designed to help build muscle, increase aerobic capacity as well as improve recovery time.

FICTION – Strength training and weightlifting can be detrimental to joint health. 

FACT THREE ✔️- It’s a common misconception that weightlifting puts a harmful load on our joints, however various research studies have shown that when people suffering from knee joint pain performed weight bearing exercises, they experienced a 43% reduction in pain after a 4 month period. They were also better able to complete daily tasks and reported a higher quality of life than those who didn’t incorporate some level of strength training. The science behind this is that strength training can help grow strength in the structures around our joints, resulting in them being better supported.

Now let’s delve into some science and touch on the basic principles of a Strength Training from a programming perspective, so you can have an understanding of what goes on in your coaches head when they plan your sessions!

The Basic Principles of Strength Training are as follows:

  1. Overload Principle: It is important to overload the musculoskeletal system safely over time to create and sustain physiological adaptation from strength training and to overcome accommodation of muscles. 
  2. Specificity Principle: Adaptations are specific to the muscles trained and the overall end goal.
  3. Periodization / Progression: Ensuring the programming has enough overload at an optimal level and time frame in order to maximise our training towards our goal. (To simplify this eg. planning your training across 8 weeks so everything has its place at the right time).
  4. Individuality: As your coaches, knowing each individual and knowing their response to training stimulus and therefore tailoring exercises accordingly.
  5. Reversibility: The effects of training will be lost if the training stimulus is removed for an extended period of time. This helps explain why we work through different training blocks and why we don’t do just strength training in our designated strength block but also still have our sweat and perform classes.

Finally, Strength Training can occur in various different forms within our session. Here are some examples of the equipment we use across all our training here at Move Headquarters:

  • Body weight – can be used for squats, push-ups and chin-ups.
  • Resistance bands – these provide resistance when stretched. They are portable and can be adapted to most workouts. The bands provide continuous resistance throughout a movement.
  • Free weights – classic strength training tools such as Dumbbells (DB), Barbells (BB) and Kettlebells (KB).
  • Medicine balls or deadballs – weighted balls.
  • Weight machines – devices that have adjustable seats with handles attached either to weights or hydraulics. In our studio these can be found across the back wall. 
  • Suspension equipment – a training tool that uses gravity and the user’s body weight to complete various exercises.

I hope you find this information useful and perhaps have learnt something new! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me and ask. I can’t wait to take you through some strength training soon!

Amy Bradshaw, B.Sc Strength & Conditioning

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