Strength training is an exercise, or set of exercises, that helps the different muscles in your body to become stronger and more powerful. When a person has stronger muscles, they will have additional strength and stamina for daily activities. If a person’s body muscles are strong it also means that the body is more likely to recover quickly from injuries, and it is sure to burn calories more efficiently and effectively.
Why Strength Train?
As a method of exercise that increases the power, and sometimes the size, of a muscle or group of muscles, strength training is part of a balanced exercise routine. Along with cardiovascular exercises and flexibility methods, strength work is part of a complete exercise routine. A balanced exercise routine is a type of workout that is imperative for improving anyone’s and everyone’s health. It is also essential for creating a person’s ideal body and look. Without a balanced exercise routine, some parts of the body will be left out and not get the appropriate attention in order to stay healthy and strong.
Benefits of Strength Training
One of the main things that strength training does is to build anaerobic endurance. This is accomplished through the use of resistance. Resistance is most often in the form of weights. The resistance is used against the contraction of the muscle. Using resistance to muscular contractions makes the muscle work harder that it usually does; thus building and increasing anaerobic endurance and strength.
Strength Training for the Ladies
Tired of sweating all over every piece of cardio equipment at the gym and still getting zero love from the scale? You need more iron. Not in your diet—in your hands. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a mere 21 percent of women strength train two or more times a week. What you don’t know: When you skip the weight room, you lose out on the ultimate flab melter. Those two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie. That translates to as much as three inches total off your waist and hips. Even better, all that new muscle pays off in a long-term boost to your metabolism, which helps keep your body lean and sculpted. Suddenly, dumbbells sound like a smart idea. Need more convincing? Read on for more solid reasons why you should build flex time into your day.
Torch Calories 24/7
Though cardio burns more calories than strength training during those 30 sweaty minutes, pumping iron slashes more overall. A study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who completed an hour-long strength training workout burned an average of 100 more calories in the 24 hours afterward than they did when they hadn’t lifted weights. At three sessions a week, that’s 15,600 calories a year, or about four and a half pounds of fat—without having to move a muscle. What’s more, increasing that afterburn is as easy as upping the weight on your bar. In a study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, women burned nearly twice as many calories in the two hours after their workout when they lifted 85 percent of their max load for eight reps than when they did more reps (15) at a lower weight (45 percent of their max). There’s a longer-term benefit to all that lifting, too: Muscle accounts for about a third of the average woman’s weight, so it has a profound effect on her metabolism, says Kenneth Walsh, director of Boston University School of Medicine’s Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute. Specifically, that effect is to burn extra calories, because muscle, unlike fat, is metabolically active. In English: Muscle chews up calories even when you’re not in the gym. Replace 10 pounds of fat with 10 pounds of lean muscle and you’ll burn an additional 25 to 50 calories a day without even trying.
Target Your Trouble Spots
If you’ve ever tried to ditch the saddlebags and ended up a bra size smaller instead, you know that where you lose is as important as how much. As great as it might be to see the number on the scale go down, when you’re on a strict cardio-only program your victory is likely to be empty. A recent study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared dieters who lifted three times a week with those who did aerobic exercise for the same amount of time. Both groups ate the same number of calories, and both lost the same amount—26 pounds—but the lifters lost pure chub, while about 8 percent of the aerobicizers’ drop came from valuable muscle. Researchers have also found that lifting weights is better than cardio at whittling intra-abdominal fat—the Buddha-belly kind that’s associated with diseases from diabetes to cancer.
Interval training has been used by athletes for years to build fitness. Interval training combines short, high intensity bursts of speed, with slow, recovery phases, repeated during one exercise session. Today, athletes use more structured interval training workouts and HIT (high intensity training) to build speed and endurance. This variation of interval training and speed work can be a simple or sophisticated routine, but the basics are still the same as the original fartlek training.
What is Interval Training?
Interval training is built upon alternating short, high intensity bursts of speed with slower, recovery phases throughout a single workout. The interval workouts can be highly sophisticated and structured training that is designed for an athlete based upon his or her sport, event and current level of conditioning.
How Interval Training Works
Interval training works both the aerobic and the anaerobic system. During the high intensity efforts, the anaerobic system uses the energy stored in the muscles (glycogen) for short bursts of activity. Anaerobic metabolism works without oxygen, but the by-product is lactic acid. As lactic acid builds, the athlete enters oxygen debt, and it is during the recovery phase that the heart and lungs work together to “pay back” this oxygen debt and break down the lactic acid. It is in this phase that the aerobic system is using oxygen to convert stored carbohydrates into energy.
It’s thought that by performing high intensity intervals that produce lactic acid during practice, the body adapts and burns lactic acid more efficiently during exercise. This means athletes can exercise at a higher intensity for a longer period of time before fatigue or pain slows them down.
The Benefits of Interval Training
Interval training adheres to the principle of adaption. Interval training leads to many physiological changes including an increase in cardiovascular efficiency (the ability to deliver oxygen to the working muscles) as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid. These changes result in improved performance, greater speed, and endurance.
Interval training also helps avoid injuries associated with repetitive overuse, common in endurance athletes. Intervals also allow an athlete to increase training intensity without overtraining or burn-out. Adding intervals to a workout routine is also a great way add cross training to an exercise routine.
Interval Training Burns More Calories
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, more calories are burned in short, high intensity exercise. If you are counting calories burned, high intensity exercise such as intervals are better than long, slow endurance exercise, but you may pay a price. There are risks inherent in high intensity training, so it’s important to work with a professional who knows both the the benefits and dangers of high intensity training
Many athletes and trainers use plyometric rebounding exercises to build power and speed, improve coordination and agility and effectively improve sports performance. It’s also important to recognize that these are high risk exercises and if performed incorrectly or performed without a solid base of training, plyometrics can increase the risk of injury.
What are Plyometrics Exercises?
Plyometric exercises are specialized, high intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power (strength and speed). Plyometric training involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that invoke the stretch reflex (stretching the muscle before it contracts so that it contracts with greater force). The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumps and bounding movements. One popular plyometric exercise is jumping off a box and rebounding off the floor and onto another, higher box. These exercises typically increase speed and strength and build power.