Strength training is a necessary component of a well-rounded exercise program. However, walking into the weight room can be a little intimidating. The good news is there are many options to fit everyone’s needs.
Incorporating strength training into your exercise routine will provide countless benefits. For starters, it’ll target the big muscles that power you throughout the day, making normal activities easier and less taxing. These muscles will also protect your body from unpredictable movements such as slips and falls.
Strength training is often overlooked or actively ignored, even by the most health-conscious people out there. Here are the most common concerns that I hear from clients who don’t strength train, and why you should throw ALL excuses out the window and add it into your routine:
1. “I don’t want to get too big.” This is probably the biggest misconception out there and drives me crazy. Everyone thinks that lifting weights will make you big and bulky. While the goal of strength training is to build muscle, it takes a considerable amount of dedication, science, diet and specific training to bulk. The addition of strength training to your routine will work the muscle, leaving them more defined and strong, but not necessarily bigger.
2. “I’m afraid to get hurt.” This is a concern with anything new, and strength training is no different. The best thing to do when starting a new program is to consult a professional aka me haha. Invest in a few sessions with a trainer to show you proper form. Most trainers love their work and are eager to share their knowledge, so you’ll come away with a new sense of confidence and some great routines to take with you. In fact I was able to help a client add a some new ab and bicep workouts to his routine yesterday morning during his fitness consultation.
3. “I don’t need strength training, I run.” I love running and believe it or not, I used to be a cardio junkie as well. Being an endurance athlete and hockey player for the last 25 years I, too, resisted the advice to include strength training as a method of preventing injury. But then the inevitable happened and I developed an overuse injury in my hip and right knee.
While rehabbing these injuries and transitioning into a regular strength training routine, it definitely provided a new perspective on strength. Long story short, strengthening the right muscles will help counteract the repetitiveness of running and other activities that we enjoy.
4. “I don’t know where to start.” Most of the time we want an end result but are unsure where to begin. With strength training, starting small and building slowly is the key. Begin by using the machines at the gym and target the major muscles of the arms, shoulders, hips and legs. Two to three sets of 10-12 repetitions on any machine is a good measure of an appropriate weight for you.
5. “I’m too old/young/middle-aged.” First of all, there is no such thing as “too old/young/middle-aged for anything.” Life is all about mindset, perspective and believing that you can do it. There’s an option for everyone to build strength in a safe and effective manner.
6. “I don’t belong to a gym and don’t want to.” I hear this one all the time as well. Totally understandable, because gyms aren’t for everyone. Luckily, a gym membership isn’t necessary to improve your strength. It would increase your odds of success and accountability, but you can easily start at home with body-weight exercises that target the big, powerful muscles in the shoulders, hips and back. As you become stronger, increase the number of repetitions or add weights to challenge yourself even more.
Strength training doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. With a routine of stability, flexibility and strength training will help to minimize your risk of injury. Building muscle will also improve your metabolism, leaving you a lean, mean, injury-preventing machine.