As a trainer and a female, I’ve heard it time and time again — in an effort to lose weight, people don’t want to spend any time lifting weights if they could be on the treadmill.
Endurance athletes feel the same way, and they let strength training fall of the bottom of their training priority list. Unfortunately for those who want to avoid that section of the gym entirely, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that strength training improves performance and gets results that cardio alone will not create. In fact, there are numerous reasons why you can’t afford to skip the strength training.
First, proper strength training reduces your risk of injury. Whether you are a beginner or have been running for years, chances are you have experienced unpleasant pain from your workout at one time or another. Strength training will help fix muscular imbalances, neuromuscular fatigue, weakness and lack of coordination, things that are all common causes of overuse injuries.
Second, by building muscle, strength training helps offset the loss of strength and power that may accompany high-volume training. Distance training is also known as a catabolic process, meaning that it forces your body to break down muscle mass for fuel. Alternately, strength training is an anabolic process, meaning that it builds muscle. If you have embarked on a journey to lose weight, consider this: you spend one hour, six days a week, on a recumbent bike and lose 50 pounds in six months. Without strength training, you have lost 50 pounds of muscle and fat. Sure, your clothes may fit better and you may have lost inches, but your body composition has not improved. By incorporating strength training, your body will begin to replace muscle with fat to make you look lean and toned, and you will be healthier overall.
Third, in contrast to popular belief, strength training will not “bulk you up.” (This is especially true for all the ladies out there.) Adding significant muscle mass requires long-term dedication to caloric and protein surplus, as well as very heavy lifting with minimal reps. And quite frankly, women, we just don’t naturally have the testosterone needed to “bulk up.” Stick to moderate repetitions — three rounds of eight to 12 reps — and bulking up will not be an issue.
Strength training is a necessary part to any exercise routine. Muscle helps increase your basal metabolic rate, meaning your body will burn more calories while at rest. Additionally, strength work will help to improve your body composition by lowering your body fat percentage. To become a more well-rounded, efficient human being, start incorporating it two to three times per week for 30 – 45 minutes (recommendations made by the NASM). Have a healthy day.
Information provided by Julia Steggerda, Fitness World 24 – Downtown, 418 6th Ave, #110, 288-1111.