The Need to Know: Strength Training
The image that comes to mind when people think of exercise tends to be cardiovascular: you picture treadmills and ellipticals, spinning or step classes, or running. However, an equally important aspect of exercise is strength training. The following article will talk about how to incorporate strength training into your exercise routine.
Strength training has many advantages. Building muscle not only gives you an overall nicer form, but it also helps you to burn more calories. When you engage solely in cardiovascular activities, the only calories that you burn are the ones that happen during exercise. Weight lifting, on the other hand, kicks your metabolism into high gear and you continue to burn calories throughout the day, giving you more bang for your buck with exercise.
Having good form is extremely important when working out. When you are first starting a strength training activity, you want to make sure that you have the correct form in order to prevent injury and to get the most benefit from the exercise. Also, by slowing down and controlling your movements, you are actually working your muscles harder, which means they end up being more toned than if you did rapid fire weight lifting.
Warming up before you work out can help you to prevent injuries such as strained muscles and tears. The best warm up regimen is to engage in light cardiovascular activity for about five minutes to get your heart rate slightly elevated, and then to engage in static stretches (don’t bounce! This can put extraneous strain on your muscles and result n a tear). Stretching lightly after each strength training set can also help your muscles stay fluid and less prone to injury.
When you are lifting weights, no matter what muscle group you are targeting, your core sees some benefits. This means that you can help to tone your lower back and abs without necessarily doing crunches and back lifts. All muscles are basically connected to the core, and all the movements your body engages in stems from this area of the body. And by strengthening your core, you help to improve your posture, which can further aid in the perception of weight loss. It’s a win-win situation.
One thing you want to avoid with weight training is focusing too much on one area of the body. You want to give your muscles ample time to rest between sessions. There are several ways that you can do this. The most common strategies are to alternate days of strength training and cardiovascular exercise or to alternate areas of the body you focus on. In the first scenario, your muscles are given the opportunity to rest on days that you are working on endurance and aerobics. In the second situation, groups of muscles are not worked on during certain days. For instance, you may focus on strength based exercises on your arm muscles one day, leg muscles the next, and core muscles the following, then repeat. Find out which strategy works best for you and stick with it.
Don’t ignore strength training when it comes to working out: it is just as important as cardiovascular exercise.