Muscle. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Do you think about it? Do you realize why it is so important? Muscle is not just for bodybuilders and athletes. It is for everyone. It is vitally important for older adults. Muscle is critical for our health, our functional strength, our ability to do day-to-day activities, and our body composition.
Why Should You Strength Train?
- Improve / Maintain muscle strength
- Improve / Maintain coordination
- Improve / Maintain balance
- These 3 things together help to prevent falls & related fractures
- These 3 things together allow us to perform everyday activities
- Strengthen our bone mass – bone density and strength
- Decreased bone density = osteoporosis and fractures
- Change our body composition to one that is leaner and less fat
- Body composition (body fat – lean body mass %) Weighing less on the scale won’t necessarily get us a lower body fat %, in fact, we can have higher body fat & less lean body mass when we simply aim to lose weight.
Let’s talk muscle. Typically, when we talk about Muscle, we are referring to skeletal muscle. There are 3 types of Muscle – Skeletal, Smooth and Cardiac. Skeletal muscle is a series of muscle that moves the skeleton. The nervous system is the control center for movement production, and the skeletal system provides the structural framework for our bodies. To complete a cycle of movement production, the body must have a device that the nervous system can command to move the skeletal system and that is the muscular system. Muscles generate internal tension which manipulates the bones of our body to produce movements. Muscles are the movers and stabilizers of our bodies. Tendons are the structures that attach muscles to bone and provide the anchor from which the muscle can exert force and control the bone and joint. Ligaments connect bone to bone, provide stability and input to the nervous system. Muscle, just like Bone, is living tissue. Muscle needs calories and stimulation via exercise to maintain and grow. The stronger and fitter our muscles are the Better we are.
Progressive strength training takes us out of our comfort zone and builds our foundation of strength, brick-upon-brick. Working in a way that stimulates and continually challenges our muscles is what strength (resistance) training is. True strength training isn’t aerobic exercise with weights. Strength training is using resistance that keeps our muscles under tension, and challenged. Our bodies adapt, so our training shouldn’t stay the same. There are many tools to use for strength training: Bodyweight properly utilized, resistance bands, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbags, etc. For the beginner, focus on learning basic compound exercises with good form and building a foundation of stability and strength to build upon.
We all should be builders of our bodies to keep them as strong, healthy & functional as possible. To have stability, balance and mobility- we need our muscles. To do everyday activities with independence and reduced risk of injury – we need our muscles. To have the body composition we want – we need our muscles. Becoming a builder of your body = Smart.
When it comes to fighting obesity which is about having less fat – we need our muscle. Muscles need calories; Muscles shape and define our bodies; Muscles move our bodies and keep us balanced and coordinated. Be aware that many fad diets are detrimental to our muscles, our bones, our metabolism and our health. If we take care of our muscles we can become fat-burning machines as a normal course of business; we will have stronger bones; we will have a good framework for our bodies that will improve our functional strength, balance and coordination. And yes –look pretty darn FABulous.
Overall, maintain a nutritious diet that keeps you thriving, lead a less sedentary lifestyle and have strength training in your life.
Stay Healthy. Be STRONG. Get After It.
2 thoughts on “Why You Need to Strength Train”
Great article, Jen! Recently got back with my trainer because I wasn’t doing it on my own! Feel better already and strength is improving.
We are on the same wavelength per usual! I love it.
After about a year break from lifting anything that wasn’t coffee related, I started a routine in January with the StrongLifts 5×5 program which I had to modify some because it has you increasing weight by 5 pounds per session and yeah, no. I picked up a small set of fractional weights so used that to increase by say half a pound per session. I started with 2 times a week and just increased to 3 sessions a week here in February.
However, you know me, I’m about to switch it up a bit. Partially because I don’t have the right set-up for true barbell squats. Because my weight has been fairly light (Olympic bar + 5 pounds and some change) I was doing front squats which I could start with a clean grip rather than walk under a power rack. I feel like I’m not getting the best part of a back squat though and I know that as I increase weight it’s just a recipe for a busted floor or injury. Plus doing bench press without a rack, same issue. Anyway…
So I’m going to swap in some bodyweight exercises including all the fun ways of doing squats. Have you heard about Hindu squats? Seems like a whole body motion there!
And kettlebells. And medicine ball. And Limber 11. And some yoga because yoga. AND DEADLIFTS! I forgot how much I love deadlifts.
It feels good to oil up the body and pick up the world.