Strength training focuses on building lean muscle mass rather than losing weight. In the long run, lean muscle mass is what you need to sustain your weight loss. Plus, it can help prevent conditions like osteoporosis and even improve your strength. Here is everything you need to know about what strength training is, what the benefits are, and how to get started today.
What Are Strength Training Exercises?
Strengthening exercises involve lifting weights to help burn fat and calories, increase your metabolism, build lean muscle, and improve your overall muscle strength. Strength training can focus on full-body exercises or on specific areas. However, it is always advised to work out your entire body rather than just certain areas.
What is Strength Training?
Strength exercises are basically resistance training exercises. The main thing to keep in mind, especially if you are just starting out, is to be mindful of how much weight you can safely lift. It is not helpful to lift more than you can handle. This won’t lead to bigger muscles faster. In fact, all it will get you is an injury that will likely hamper your fitness routine altogether.
Instead, opt for a weight you can comfortably lift with a little bit of resistance. If you are forcing too hard to lift the weight, bring it down. You want to push your body slightly further than it can go, but you don’t want to overdo it. This can be harmful to the muscle and create long-lasting injuries.
The Benefits of Strength Training
When done correctly and safely, the benefits of strength training include:
- Building lean muscle mass
- Speeding up metabolism
- Improving joint weakness or pain
- Developing more overall strength
- Developing endurance
- Improving bone density
- Reducing the risk of injury
Resistance Training Exercises
Whether you are looking for workouts to do at home or a full-body weight workout at your local gym, here are some exercises you can try to begin your fitness journey with muscular strength exercises. Keep in mind it is ideal to complete three work out sets of at least 10 to 12 reps for each exercise. If you cannot achieve this, reduce your weight. This is often the first sign you’re trying to lift too much.
Start with these functional strength training bodyweight workout ideas:
Probably one of the most common strength training exercises, squats are an essential part of your workout routine. They can tone your glutes, thighs, and legs. They can also help you develop better balance and improve your core strength. To make this a little more challenging, try adding a resistance band around your thighs that forces your legs together a tiny bit. This way, you’ll have to work to keep them set to the proper distance.
Try Peach Bands Resistance Bands ($30) to add resistance to your squats or lunges. This strength training exercise can easily be done at home or at the gym.
To achieve a proper squat, make sure to keep your legs shoulder-width apart. Bring your squat down until your hips drop lower than your knees. Then use your glute muscles – not your back – to squeeze your body and push yourself upward. If you are not sinking below knee-level, you are not completing a squat and will wind up working out your thighs rather than your glutes.
No strength training guide would be complete without the classic bicep curl. This exercise can help burn fat, tone, and build extra lean muscle on a crucial part of the body, especially for males. To complete it, you’ll need a dumbbell weight in each hand. Remember, start with a weight you can comfortably lift with some resistance.
To make your life simpler, try an adjustable dumbbell set so that you can increase your weight easily as you develop more strength.
To make sure you reduce your risk of injury and maximize this exercise, take the proper stance. Start with your elbows pressed against your body and your forearm facing upwards. Gently roll your arm up without moving the elbow. Make sure that the elbow stays glued to your torso.
This is probably easiest to do in a gym rather than at home. Deadlifts are second to squats when it comes to strength training exercises. A proper deadlift can work out your entire upper body, from your core to your arms. A deadlift usually entails a lot of weight and is not recommended for beginners. To reduce the risk of injury, invest in a pair of non-slip exercise gloves and a deadlift lumbar support belt.
To complete a proper deadlift, make sure you start with the proper stance. Keep your lower back straight, your chest out, and your knees bent. Squat down to pick up the bar and lift it as you stand back up again- always keeping your back straight and your core engaged. You are not lifting with your back or your arms. You are lifting most of the weight with your legs and your abdominal muscles.
A pull-up is a great strength training exercise, suitable for both men and women. Invest in a pull-up bar and attach it to your door frame. You can pull your body up to whatever level is comfortable for you. Newbies may only be able to lift their bodies slightly off the ground, while more experienced pros may be able to lift themselves very high up. The key is to do what your body can handle and work your way up slowly.
The classic push-up is a great strength training exercise, as well. You can start with your lower legs on the ground at first or even slant yourself up against a wall. As your strength improves, you may be able to lift your body entirely off the ground. Your arms and your abdominal muscles are the parts of your body that will be supporting this exercise.
Remember to keep your back straight and engage your core. This will allow you to minimize the risk of injury and maximize the benefit of the exercise. Plus, push-ups are a fantastic way of using your own body weight as resistance—no need for dumbbells here.
The Bottom Line
Staying in shape is good for your health. If you want to lose weight, tone your body, or simply stay fit, strength training your entire body once to twice per week is highly recommended. The myth that strength training builds huge muscles is untrue. While it can do that, if you don’t use a very difficult weight, that will not be an issue.
Instead, focus on a weight that you can manage so that you benefit from the activity and don’t run the risk of causing serious injury to your body!