Whether you’re looking to sign up to a marathon or simply live a healthier, active lifestyle, strength training can help you achieve your goals.

Strength training isn’t about body-building. Strength training focuses on improving functional strength, allowing improvement in muscular strength, connective tissues and bones using a variety of movements. This can come from pulling, pushing, rotating and training your central nervous system to engage muscles effectively.

Below are some proven benefits of strength training, along with ways on how you can get started.

Benefits of Strength Training

There’s no shortage of evidence to back up the health-related benefits of strength training. Its been shown to improve risk of high blood pressure, decrease risk of heart attack and stroke, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Regular strength training plays an important role in assisting with body composition. It also works in helping the body build lean muscle mass and improve posture. Resistance and strength training can also help improve sport and physical activities such as swimming or cycling.

In addition to helping you burn fat and improve your health, weight training also helps improve bone density. If you need another reason to lift weights, here it is. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Resistance exercises play a vital role in building bone mineral content as well as bone density, fortifying your bones against injuries.

Methods of Strength Training

There are a variety of ways you can improve your functional strength, this depends on levels of strength, environment and equipment. One approach isn’t necessarily better than the other- they simply offer different paths to strength development. The main methods of strength training are: body weight exercises, free weights, resistance bands and resistance machines.

Bodyweight Exercises

Even if you don’t pay for a gym membership or have a dedicated workout area at home, you have the tool you need to improve your strength and condition. Think squats, press-ups, planks, mountain climbers, burpees. The plus-side to these exercises is that they are greatly effective even without equipment. If you hate going to a busy gym, body weight exercises are a great option.

Machines

Machines are generally easy to use once you learn the basic fundamentals. They can provide isolation movements if you’re looking to focus on specific areas. The downsides are movements that can be less functional and wont compliment other activities as much as other options.

Free weights

Many people associate free weights with dumbbells, they also include barbells and kettlebells. They can allow full range of movement to develop strength. Every gym has some form of free weights or you can purchase your own set for home.

Getting Started

When it comes to building strength, there are two things to aim for: Lift heavy (whilst maintaining good form) and multi-joint lifts with great technique. The main ones we like to incorporate in our work-outs are: squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows. There are tons of exercises that can help you get stronger, but when you’re pushed for time or equipment- those are the four big ones will help your whole body get stronger.

When it comes to how much weight to lift or how many reps and sets to do, consider where you are with your fitness currently. Towards the end of each set you should experience some muscle fatigue.

If your training program doesn’t change along the way, strength gains will plateau and boredom can sink in. The idea is to periodise your workouts over the weeks, months and years. Since this can be tricky to determine on your own, working with a trainer is invaluable. Even if you only meet a few times, a trainer can help you design a program that makes sense for your strength and fitness journey.

Till next time,

Lean Body Training

Sticking to a new health and fitness routine is tough, it can even be harder at this time of year when its cold, dark and leading up to Christmas. Its easy to just put- off until the new year. But by getting yourself mentally and physically ready for then- will get you off the ground running.

Start by stacking one small habit on top of another until you have an incredible routine (instead of trying everything at once). In this blog I’ll share some tips on how to make new habits stick.

1. Focus on small steps

Contrary to everything you hear, slow and steady wins the race. Small wins are the best way to move towards your goals with success and most importantly keeping them.

If you’re trying to get more physically active, start with a 10-minute brisk walk around your block a few times a week. You may think this sounds too easy, but that’s the point- its supposed to be. Over time, you can increase your efforts and keep them into your daily routine as the norm.

2. Don’t always count on motivation

4 Ways to Make Your Health Habits Stick

Motivation is essential when trying to build healthy habits, but we all know motivation wont always be there. You can’t always depend on it because some of that initial motivation will wear off and you’ll need other ways to help keep you on track.

The key to getting through low motivation periods is to anticipate it and to set up strategies in advance to help you get through. Phone reminders, ask for professional help, support and block out slots for exercise without any distractions. Remind yourself that motivation can plummet and that you just need to roll with it and keep going. The enthusiasm will return, especially when you start to feel and see the benefits of your new habits.

3. Identify your potential obstacles first

Planning any potential failure might not seem like the best motivational tactic — but the truth is, no matter how motivated you are to make healthy changes in your life, you’re going to come up against certain distractions again over and over again.

If you can identify a bad habit initially and figure out what starts it, you can change the beginning of that cycle before it even kicks-in. For example, if you tend to eat foods high in sugar and fat when you’re stressed out, try to find another way to deal with stress, such as calling a friend, going for a walk or to the gym.

4. Make yourself accountable

When you find you’re losing motivation, it helps to know someone is keeping tabs on your progress. This helps as someone can pull you up when you start slipping. If you can find an accountable buddy to help keep you on track- that’s ideal. But if not, here are a few ways for holding yourself accountable:

 

  • Make a new habit so easy for yourself to win, you’ll gain momentum and complete it every single day. For example, lets start by drinking 2 liters of water per day, if that’s really hard to begin with, take it down a notch, you can drink 1.5 liters. Over the next 7 days that’s all you’ll focus on. As long as you complete that task every day you’ve won.
  • Set alarms on your phone to remind you to get to bed at a reasonable time, pack your gym bag the night before and prepare your healthy meals a day in advance.
  • Until your chosen habits become second nature, write them in your daily planner, on your fridge or wherever else it takes for you to remember.

 

Eventually, those new habits will become embedded in your daily routine — and then you’ll be ready to tackle the next round of healthy habitual changes.

 

To your success,

Lean Body team

For more tips and information on how you can benefit in your daily health and fitness routines visit our website www.leanbodyuk.com