Last Updated on November 12, 2023 by Otuebo Harrison
Strength training is a type of exercise that focuses on building muscle strength and endurance. It involves using resistance, such as weights or bodyweight, to challenge your muscles and stimulate growth. Strength training is a popular form of exercise for people of all ages and fitness levels, and it has many benefits for both physical and mental health. In this article, we’ll explore what strength training is, its benefits, exercises you can do, and some tips to help you get started.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is a type of exercise that involves using resistance to challenge your muscles. This can include using weights, resistance bands, or your own bodyweight. The goal of strength training is to stimulate muscle growth and improve muscle strength and endurance. When you challenge your muscles with resistance, it causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. Your body then repairs these tears, which leads to muscle growth and increased strength.
Main Types of Strength Training
- Bodyweight training: This type of strength training uses the weight of your own body as resistance. Examples include push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks.
- Weight training: This type of strength training involves using external weights to create resistance. Examples include dumbbell exercises, barbell exercises, and resistance machines.
- Resistance band training: Resistance bands are stretchy bands that can be used to provide resistance for strength training exercises. They are portable and can be used at home or in the gym.
- Plyometric training: This type of strength training involves explosive movements, such as jumping or throwing, to increase power and speed. Examples include box jumps, jump squats, and medicine ball throws.
- Isometric training: Isometric training involves holding a static position, such as a plank or wall sit, to build strength and endurance.
- Circuit training: Circuit training involves performing a series of strength training exercises in a circuit, with minimal rest between exercises. This can be a great way to increase cardiovascular fitness while also building strength.
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT involves performing short, intense bursts of exercise, followed by brief periods of rest. This can be a highly effective way to build strength and cardiovascular fitness.
Each type of strength training has its own benefits and can be used to achieve different goals. By incorporating a variety of these types into your routine, you can work on different aspects of your fitness and avoid plateaus.
Benefits of Strength Training
There are many benefits to incorporating strength training into your fitness routine. Here are some of the most significant benefits:
Increases Muscle Mass
Strength training stimulates the growth of new muscle tissue, leading to an increase in muscle mass. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, resistance training is effective in building muscle mass even in older adults.
Improves Bone Health
Strength training has been shown to improve bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that strength training increased bone mineral density in postmenopausal women.
Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning that it burns more calories at rest than fat. Strength training can increase muscle mass, which in turn can increase resting metabolic rate. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that strength training led to increased resting metabolic rate.
Reduces Risk of Injury
Strengthening the muscles around joints can help reduce the risk of injury. For example, strengthening the muscles around the knee joint can help reduce the risk of knee injuries. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that strength training reduced the incidence of sports injuries by half.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Strength training has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that strength training improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.
Reduces Chronic Pain
Strength training can help reduce chronic pain, such as low back pain or osteoarthritis. A study published in the Journal of Gerontology found that strength training reduced pain and improved physical function in older adults with knee osteoarthritis.
Enhances Cardiovascular Health
Strength training has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits, such as improving blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that strength training reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults.
Improves Cognitive Function
Strength training has been shown to improve cognitive function, such as memory and attention. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that strength training improved cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
Reduces Anxiety and Depression
Strength training has been shown to have mental health benefits, such as reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that strength training reduced symptoms of depression in adults with major depressive disorder.
Improves Sleep Quality
Strength training has been shown to improve sleep quality. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that strength training improved sleep quality in older adults with sleep disturbances.
Overall, strength training has numerous benefits for physical and mental health, backed by scientific research.
There are many exercises you can do to incorporate strength training into your routine. Here are some of the most effective exercises:
- Bench press
- Shoulder press
Tips for Getting Started
If you’re new to strength training, it can be intimidating to know where to start. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Start with bodyweight exercises before adding weights
- Use proper form to prevent injury
- Increase weight gradually to avoid overexertion
- Incorporate strength training into your routine two to three times per week
- Consult with a trainer or healthcare professional if you have any concerns or medical conditions
Strength training is a highly effective form of exercise that can improve your physical and mental health. By incorporating resistance training into your routine, you can increase muscle strength and endurance, improve bone density, boost metabolism, and reduce the risk of injury. With the right exercises and tips, you can get started on your strength training journey today.