Strength training leads to big bulky muscles, limits range of motion, and causes constant soreness. JUST KIDDING! Those are just some of the many false ideas believed by those that do not lift any weights or that do the most minimal amount of strength specific training.
Why Strength Training?
Muscle is what makes our body move. It is the connective tissue, along with tendons and ligaments, that pull our bones in the direction we want and maintains our posture. Without an adequate amount of muscle, it gets harder to overcome any forces that act against our body, including gravity! As muscle naturally decreases with age, things like walking, opening the car door, and getting out of a chair become more difficult.
Not only is it important for locomotion and posture, but muscle is a major organ of our body. Muscle regulates insulin and the uptake of glucose. It is also where the majority of our mitochondria* live. When we exercise to increase the amount of muscle that is on our body we are also increasing the efficiency of our mitochondria and the amount of blood vessels. Those blood vessels help us deliver oxygen to our brain. This is partly why exercise can help improve our mood and our cognitive abilities.
Having more muscle on your body may also increase your resting metabolic rate (RMR). RMR is the amount of energy (calories) your body burns to run all the most basic and necessary functions (i.e. laying in bed for 24 hours straight). Basically, the more muscle you have the more calories your naturally going to burn daily. This is the most important mechanism for long term weight loss!
An Easy Place to Start to Build Muscle
If you are new to strength training consider working with an experienced trainer. Stick with large muscle groups: back (Latissimus dorsi), chest (pectoralis), and thighs (quadriceps and hamstrings). Save the small guys (triceps and biceps) for the end of your workout if you some extra time. Here are the 4 movements should be incorporated to everyone’s workout.
- Body Row or Pull Up
- Push Ups
- Romanian Dead Lifts
* Quick lesson: You may never get to see these little guys but the mitochondrion are organelles that live in muscle cells and provides our body the energy to go through chemical processes including muscle contraction.