Strength training. What does it make you think of?
Buff guys in the gyms, looking at their biceps in the mirrors and calling everyone bro while they drink their supplements and strut around in their singlets with headphones on?
A 45 year old female who’s doing some physio exercises at home to recover from a shoulder injury sustained at work?
Moral of the story, no matter who you are or what you do, the human body needs to stay strong.
Lets think of it this way. Your muscles are designed to move. To pick things up. Put things down. Let you walk. Help you get up in the morning. Without our muscles, we’d be pretty boring creatures!
Despite the basic NEED of having a solid foundation of strength, there are numerous other benefits such as:
- increase bone density (so you done break a bone)
- fall prevention (nobody wants to end up face first in the dirt)
- weight loss (get you looking good and feeling good)
- blood sugar levels regulation (keep your insides working optimally)
- sleep better (less coffee for keeping you awake throughout the day – save a penny or two in the process)
- stress reduction (you won’t go bald as quick from pulling out your hair – sorry fellas, some of your genetics may cause baldness rather than stress)
There are a couple of misconceptions about strength training too that really don’t add up:
- “I’m too old/young” – no such thing! Just a bad excuse for not looking after your health and increasing your risk of injury and disease.
- “I don’t want to look like a body builder” – You have no idea how hard body builders have to work and how many years it takes them to get the big bulky physique you see. This takes years and years of specific training every day with an extremely refined diet. In other words, you won’t get big and bulky.
- “I’m not strong enough to lift weights” – that’s why we start now.
- “I haven’t got any weights at home” – ever tried a push up? Your body weight is more than enough in most cases.
So now you know why we need to be strong (to do life) and what we need to strengthen (our muscles), so now let me tell you how!
Strength training can come in a range of forms, exercises and program designs. Despite all of these often confusing instructions from all sorts of social media videos and fitness experts, most of us have no idea what we really should be doing.
In it’s most simplest form, strength is achieved through providing a resistance to a muscle and gradually increasing this resistance. This is termed as progressive overload.
To get maximal strength gains, the body needs to be exercised using compound movements. These are movements that use multiple joints. This means that you can work many muscles at the same time. Which also means you can move a greater resistance.
When you are injured or if a certain muscle or muscle group is significantly weaker, you still need to target this movement to build up the strength in these muscles. This is often done through a single joint movement known as an isolation exercise.
So we now understand that isolation exercises are great to target injured and weakened areas, while compound movements are what we use to move greater loads.
Shifting loads is what our muscles need to do. But how much, how often, how many times?
Research varies greatly on this topic although a common consensus is that 3-8 repetitions of a movement completed in 3-6 sets tends to be most beneficial for STRENGTH.
You must understand though, that while we strengthen a muscle, it fatigues the muscle, so be sure to rest at least one minute before starting your next set.
As mentioned, these principles are generic and do need to be tailored for each individual and situation. This is where you physiotherapist comes in. Call our friendly team to book an appointment or join one of our strength classes to get you on track to moving better for a healthy mind and healthy body.