For many adults, strength training seems like it can cause more harm than good. Typically, the general thought and portrayal of strength training is “weight lifting,” big scary guys smashing around heavy weights and screaming, causing many gym settings to be very intimidating. However, there is a distinct difference between strength training and weightlifting. Strength training is focused on safe and efficient training with an emphasis on technique and slow methodical movement of resistance.  Many questions are likely to arise when considering starting a strength training program.  Listed below is information regarding common questions and concerns to help you make the best decision possible for you and your health.

  • I have constant aches and pains in my joints and muscles, and the extra strain would only make it worse.
    • Low impact exercise is a great way to reduce joint pain. Along with strength training other examples include: swimming, biking, and walking. Strength training is particularly effective because not only are you reducing impact on your joints, but also you are stimulating the growth and strengthening of the muscles and other surrounding tissues that provide strength and support to the joints. The final benefit exercise has for joints and muscle tissue is it stimulates blood flow to the muscles and joints being exercised, providing oxygen rich blood to support the healing processes of the body.
  • Isn’t cardio training enough?
    • Contrary to popular belief strength training can be more effective for fat reduction than cardiovascular training (running, walking etc.). The common misconception is that strength training is a way to gain weight and running or walking is a way to lose weight.  According to a study by the MacArthur Foundation, strength training increases your metabolism. As we increase the amount of muscle tissue in our body we burn more calories at rest, which is where we burn 60-75% of our daily calories.
  • Strength training increases other body functions, not just muscular strength.
    • According to a 2004 study conducted by Men’s Health, “Strength training also helps your body make better use of the sugar in your bloodstream and the stored glucose in your muscles- all of which slashes your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.”
  • Every time you strength train you create microscopic tears in the muscle tissue, over the next 48-72 hours the muscle tissue repairs itself and results in increased lean muscle.  In Dr. Covert Bailey’s book Smart Exercise, he discusses the ways in which increased lean body tissues contribute directly to fat reduction.  “This increase in lean body tissue raises your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the total amount of calories your body burns at rest in a day. Higher BMR means more calories burned, and more calories burned means more fat lost.”

These are just a few reasons that strength training is a great way to not only improve strength but also your overall quality of life.  The links listed below provide credible information on high intensity training and strength training.

Bailey, C. (1994). Smart exercise: burning fat, getting fit. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Westcott, W. (1995, January 1). 12 Reasons Every Adult Should Strength Train. Nautilus, Summer Issue, 36-37.
White, J. (2004, April 1). What Else Can Weightlifting Do?. Men’s Fitness , 20.

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