Whether you are trying it for the first time, or just getting back into it after a bit of a break, strength training has a place in every workout routine and is a great way to get in shape and improve your overall health and wellbeing. Here’s 5 things you should know as you get started:
1. Girls, you won't bulk up as much as you think
Many girls are nervous to strength train because they think they will get really big and muscly. The truth is, even if you wanted to do that, it would be hard. Girls are not built the same as guys in terms of how easily we build and retain muscle, and this mostly comes down to our difference in testosterone levels. Plus physiologically, our bodies are not built to form this much muscle and many girls have a hard time building any definition at all.
2. You burn calories, even when you're not working out
The great thing about strength training is Excess Post Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). This is when your body continues to burn calories after you have finished working out while it builds muscle and recovers from the work you have just done. This is not the same as cardio, which just increases your heart rate and burns calories at the time of exercise. It’s not a lot of calories, or a continuous burn, but it’s more than if you did nothing, and more than following a cardio workout. The best option is a combination of strength and cardio to regularly boost your heart rate and still continue to build muscles.
3. It helps improve your overall fitness level
Strength training works your muscles and your bones, the skeleton and foundation of the rest of your body. If you want to build a strong, fit body, capable of reaching your health goals, you have to build a strong foundation. Muscles which work effectively and are strong, allow your body to work more effectively as a whole, improving your cardiovascular abilities, and making your body work with efficiency, and not harder than necessary. It also means you have a strong foundation for burning fuel, whereby your body burns calories effectively and you are less likely to end up storing fat.
4. You have to eat to gain
I’m not saying you should eat like Michael Phelps, but if you are wanting to build muscle you need to eat the food to do it. Calories are our fuel, and if you want to be building something, you need to provide a source of fuel for that to happen. Of course you need to provide protein to aid as well, but if you are eating a balanced diet, your body can synthesize proteins on it’s own with adequate amino acids and adequate fuel (calories) to do so. If you are cutting your calories too much, or not providing a well balanced diet, you will see minimal muscle gains and may even see muscle loss if you’re body needs to end up using this as fuel.
5. You don’t have to lift heavy to see results
If working your way up to heavy lifting is what you’re after, than by all means, go for it! If you are more interested in strength training just because you know it’s good for you and you want to tone up a bit though, your own body weight is actually a great place to start. Popular exercise styles like TRX and P90X are based on bodyweight and a quick look on Pinterest will show you that the possibilities for bodyweight workouts are endless! And the best part is, many of them you can do in your living room and you don’t even need a gym membership!