The Experts’ Guide To Strength Training
If your goal is to achieve a fitter and more toned body, increase muscle mass or strengthen your core, strength training can help you with it. Strength training can help build lean muscle, strengthen bones and joints, and boost metabolism, leading to more calorie burn even during rest. It does not require you to go to a traditional gym or specifically use weights.
In this article, we guide you on how to get started with strength training, provide training advice and suggest exercises.
UNDERSTANDING STRENGTH TRAINING
What Is Strength Training, And Why Is It Important?
Strength training is a form of physical exercise that typically involves the use of weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to work for specific muscle groups and improve muscular strength and endurance. You can do strength training through the following:
- Lifting weights - hand or leg weights, or gym equipment
- Resistance band exercises
Strength training is vital for several reasons:
It helps build and maintain lean muscle mass, which can increase metabolism and help burn more calories throughout the day. This is especially important for weight management and overall health.
It can improve bone density, reduce the risk of injury, and improve overall physical performance.
Strength training can also have significant benefits for mental health. It can boost self-esteem, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve cognitive function.
Incorporating strength training into a well-rounded fitness routine is essential to achieve optimal health and fitness.
What Is The Difference Between Strength And Resistance Training?
Strength and resistance training are often used interchangeably, but there are some notable differences between the two.
As we have explained in the previous question, strength training is a form of physical exercise specifically designed to improve muscular strength and endurance using weights, resistance bands, or bodyweight exercises to work specific muscle groups.
On the other hand, resistance training is a broader term used for any form of exercise that involves working against an external force or resistance to increase muscle strength, endurance, and size. This can be done using various equipment such as free weights, resistance bands, cables, or machines.
At its core, strength training is a type of resistance training that is explicitly focused on building strength. In contrast, resistance training is a more general term that includes any type of exercise that involves resistance to improve muscular fitness.
Does Strength Training Have To Involve Weights?
No, strength training does not have to involve weights. While weightlifting is a popular form of strength training, many other ways exist to improve muscular strength without using weights.
Strength training can involve using:
- Bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks
- Resistance bands are another popular strength training tool that does not require weights.
- Other forms of exercise like callisthenics, yoga, and pilates.
GETTING STARTED WITH STRENGTH TRAINING
How Should I Start Strength Training?
If you're new to strength training, starting gradually and with proper form is important to avoid injury and ensure effective progress.
Here are some steps to follow when starting strength training:
- Determine your goals: Before you start strength training, consider what you want to achieve. Are you looking to build overall strength, increase muscle mass, or improve endurance? Having a clear goal will help you design an effective strength training program.
- Consult a professional: If you're new to strength training, consider working with a certified personal trainer who can help you design a program that is tailored to your goals and fitness level. They can also teach you proper form and guide you on exercising safely.
- Start with bodyweight exercises: If you're new to strength training, it's best to start with bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks. These exercises use your own body weight and are a great way to build strength without the risk of injury from lifting heavy weights.
- Gradually increase intensity: As you become more comfortable with bodyweight exercises, gradually increase the intensity of your workouts by adding resistance bands or weights. Start with lighter weights and graduate to heavier ones as you become stronger.
- Focus on proper form: Proper form is essential for effective strength training and avoiding injury. Make sure you understand the correct form and maintain it for each exercise.
- Allow for rest and recovery: Rest and recovery are important aspects of strength training. Make sure to give your muscles time to recover between workouts and get adequate rest and nutrition to support muscle growth
Is Strength Training Hard For Beginners?
Strength training can be challenging for beginners, but not necessarily hard. It is important to start with exercises suited to your fitness level, which can advance as you become stronger. It is also crucial for beginners to start gradually and allow time for rest and recovery. Exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks are great for beginners, as they are simple and require no equipment.
How Can I Perform Strength Training Exercises At Home?
Strength training can be performed at home without going to the gym and using expensive equipment. It can easily be performed in the comfort of your home to gain the strength and endurance you need.
The following exercises can be performed at home as part of your strength training:
- Bodyweight strength training including-
- Training using free weights like dumbbells, a kettlebell etc.
- Resistance band training
Household or work tasks can provide opportunities for muscle strengthening. Tasks like lifting and moving boxes, digging in the garden, or carrying groceries can serve as forms of strength training. Such activities are often referred to as ‘incidental exercise’.
How Many Days A Week Is Ideal For Strength Training?
Ideally, the frequency of strength training depends on your fitness goals, fitness level and training experience. As a general rule, it is recommended to strength train using full-body compound workouts at least 2-3 times a week. Compound exercises/workouts are moves that work multiple muscles at a time.
Remember to do warm-ups and stretches before exercising and give yourself enough time to recover between workouts. It is essential to listen to your body and refrain from overtraining if you feel excessively fatigued, sore, or not progressing. It may indicate that you need to reduce your training frequency or intensity. You can gradually increase the frequency of the workouts as you become more experienced and your body adapts to the training.
ASSESSING PROGRESS AND BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING
How Do You Know If Your Strength Training Is Effective?
There are several ways to determine if your strength training is effective:
Increased strength: If you are getting stronger over time, that is a good indication that your strength training program is effective.
Improved endurance: As you get stronger, you should also notice improvements in your endurance. You may be able to perform more reps with the same weight or lift heavier weights for more sets.
Changes in body composition: Strength training can help increase lean muscle mass while reducing body fat. If you notice changes in your body shape or measurements, that is a sign that your strength training is effective.
Better overall fitness: If you see an overall improvement in your fitness levels, such as an increase in your endurance, balance, and flexibility, then that is a good indication that your workout program is effective.
Better Posture: You can see and feel a significant improvement in your posture. Core exercises strengthen the muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis to support your spine better and improve posture.
What Are The Benefits Of Strength Training?
Strength training has many benefits for your health and fitness.
It can help better and improve:
- Muscle mass
- Bone density
- Joint health
- Cardiovascular health
- Balance and coordination
- Mental health
- Athletic performance
- Overall strength
What Are Some Good Hacks And Tips For Strength Training?
Here are some hacks and tips to make your strength training more effective:
Focus on form as it is crucial for maximising the benefits of strength training and reducing the risk of injury. Make sure you are using the correct technique for each exercise.
Use compound exercises as they are more efficient and effective than isolation exercises that only work one muscle group at a time.
Vary your exercises to keep your workouts exciting and challenging.
Rest and recovery are important components of strength training. Allow your muscles time to recover between workouts to maintain a consistent schedule.
Gradually increase the weight you lift over time to improve your strength.
Focus on progressive overload, which means gradually increasing the demands on your muscles over time, whether through increasing weight, reps, or sets, to continue making progress.
Keep track of your workouts, including the exercises you perform, weights lifted, and reps completed, to monitor your progress and identify areas for improvement.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO STRENGTH TRAINING
What Is A Better Form Of Strength Training: Calisthenics Or Using Weights?
Both calisthenics and weight training can be effective forms of strength training, and the choice ultimately depends on personal preference and fitness goals.
Calisthenic exercises, which involve using your own body weight as resistance, can be a convenient and effective way to build strength. They can be done anywhere, without the need for equipment- making them a great option for people who prefer to exercise at home or outdoors. Calisthenics can also improve mobility and flexibility, as many exercises involve dynamic movements that require a full range of motion.
Weight training, on the other hand, can provide more targeted resistance. It allows for gradual increases in resistance, making it a more effective way to overload muscles progressively and see improvement in strength over time. Weight training can also help increase bone density and improve joint health, mainly when performed with proper form and weights.
Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preferences, fitness goals, and access to equipment. A combination of both types of training can also be beneficial, as each of them offers unique benefits and can work together to improve overall fitness and strength.
Are Resistance Bands Good For Strength Training?
Using resistance bands to work out is an excellent form of strength training. It has been found in a 2019 study that resistance band training yielded similar strength gains as compared to using traditional gym equipment.
IMPROVING AND ENJOYING STRENGTH TRAINING
How Do I Make Strength Training More Enjoyable?
Any workout can become monotonous and boring over time. It is important to mix things up and incorporate strategies that will make strength training enjoyable. Listed below are a few tips that can help you make working out enjoyable:
Figure Out What You Like
Find a form of a strength training exercise that you enjoy. This can take a few tries and some back and forth, but don’t give up. Treat it like an experiment. If you find yourself hating a particular form of exercise, try finding the cause- the type of exercise? the trainer? the music? the location? Once you find the reason, try fixing it, as it is much easier to stick to a workout schedule if you enjoy what you are doing.
Include Music In Your Sessions
Music plays a huge role in working out, a fact which has been corroborated by science. Studies have shown that music can motivate and help increase overall performance compared to working out without music.
Vary Your Schedule
Change things up, and vary your schedule to avoid monotony. Varying your schedule and workout can help you get out of a slump, re-energise and improve motivation levels. Mix things up by combining calisthenics with weight training sessions or incorporate resistance bands into your weight training. Or try including exercises like Pilates and Barre when you feel like slowing things down or taking a break.
Don’t Rush Things
Take your time, and don’t rush into things. Exercise, strength training included, might not always be pleasurable and fun. But this does not mean you are doing something wrong or are lacking somewhere. Be patient with yourself and your body, and don’t make split-second decisions like switching things drastically or quitting. Narrow down the problem and try to find a solution; for added help, consult with a trained professional.
Try the tips above and see how strength training can improve all aspects of your life! If you are interested in bringing the gym home, take a look at PTP’s Bodyweight and Core training equipment best suited for your strength training needs.