Strength training is one of the most effective exercise variations that you can do if you not only want to boost your fitness level but also significantly improve your health standing. Far too many people are afraid of strength training because they're worried it will cause them to look big and bulky, but that isn't the case at all. An effective strength training workout protocol will firm and tone your body in all the right places, offering you the potential for a complete body transformation.
Let's look more closely at what you should know.
What Strength Training Is
First let's go over what strength training is. Strength training is any form of training in which you'll be applying an external resistance to the muscle tissues. Basically, you're overloading them with a stress they haven't encountered before and, in response to that stress, they'll grow stronger.
Strength training can take many shapes, including body weight training, free weight (dumbbell and barbell training), along with resistance band training.
If you're also eating a diet that is higher in total calories, you'll see notable muscle size increases as well as your body builds up more lean muscle mass through the course of your strength training regime.
The Benefits of Strength Training
So what are the benefits to be had from strength training?
As mentioned, this is one of the most beneficial forms of activity you can do, and will transfer benefits over to all other exercise or activities you do as well.
Strength training offers the following benefits:
- Increased bone strength and density.
- Improved muscular strength and functionality.
- Improved insulin sensitivity to combat diabetes.
- Decreased stress levels.
- Improved nutrient partitioning (less chance of gaining body fat when eating a higher calorie diet).
- Improved sports performance.
- Increased heart health.
- Improved mind-muscle coordination.
- Increased metabolic rate, allowing you to burn fat faster at rest.
And these are just the tip of the iceberg at what can be attained through a proper strength training protocol. More importantly, strength training will also help you totally reshape your body. While with cardio training you may lose weight, it's with strength training that you actually can change how your body physically looks at any size.
Strength Training Effectively
When putting together a strength training protocol, there are a number of options you can choose from. You can do a full body workout, which does tend to be best for beginners, or consider an upper/lower body split.
Some people also like breaking their body down further, working just a few body parts at once. You should also be adding compound exercises into your program plan as these will work more than one muscle group at once and be highly effective for training the body.
Exercises such as push-ups, chest presses, squats, deadlifts, lunges, shoulder presses, bent over rows, and step-ups are all fantastic additions to any full body workout protocol.
Your set and rep ranges can vary based on your goal, but generally you'll want to be aiming for around eight to 12 reps per set and three to five sets per workout.
A good strength training program will also always begin with a warm-up and end with a cool-down to assure the body is prepared for doing high intensity exercise.
The nice thing about strength training is that you don't have to devote a high amount of time to see benefits. Just two to three sessions per week at 20–30 minutes per workout would be sufficient to see all of the benefits described above.
So if you have yet to start a strength training protocol, now's the time to get on it and see what it has to offer.