Strength training intimidates many people. They envision red-faced men and women grunting while lifting heavy weights and building huge muscles.
While this may be true for some individuals, the vast majority of people who strength train do so for improved musculo-skeletal health, not to impress the judges in posing competitions.
The fear of bulking up is just one reason that people avoid strength training. However, unless you have a unique genetic makeup and you’re willing to lift weights for hours a day, that’s not going to happen to you.
Strength training has been shown to increase the rate at which people burn fat and calories. It actually improves cognitive function, reduces blood pressure and blood sugar levels and improves bone density. Even in older men and women it can reduce bone loss and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Strength training improves mobility and boosts confidence.
It’s the essential ingredient for enhancing musculo-skeletal health. If you want to avoid joint and muscle pain, start a regular and systematic strength training program. The corollary is that if you don’t have a regular and systematic strength and flexibility training program it’s almost inevitable you’ll end up with joint and muscle pain.
People also hesitate to train because they’re uncomfortable in the weight room at the gym. The good news is that the first step to strength training, whether you want to go to the gym or not, is often to use your own body weight to get stronger.
Think about the basic push-up. The push-up is a bodyweight exercise. And most people cannot do a single push-up. The movement strengthens your core, your shoulders, your chest and your arm muscles. It’s a comprehensive strength-training movement and it only uses the weight of your body. The following are also strength-training movements that you can do at home with your own body weight:
- Superman back arch.
Each of these movements can help strengthen your body from head to toe. Start with a pattern of perhaps performing 8-12 repetitions in three sets. As you get stronger you can start increasing the number and the intensity. For example, you might do as many push-ups as possible in a minute.
Once you feel a little more confident with your strength you can add weights. If you’re still not interested in going to the gym’s weight room, consider getting a set of hand weights, a barbell or kettlebells. It’s a simple way to add weight and continue to increase your strength.