Speaking of fitness related goals, if you have ever spent any time around me you know how much I preach the importance of strength training. I think the body sculpt class I teach is my favorite. I think we should all add resistence training to our routine and truly believe in the importance of being strong. (When you are seventy and have the strength to lift your groceries out of the car or yourself out of your bathtub, you will thank me.)
Now you know, if you didn’t before, how important I think strength training is. If you are new to this area of fitness you may wonder if you are strength training enough? Or how many days you should rest in order to give your muscles ample time to rest and repair? Before grabbing your dumbbells, these are a few tips for starting a strength training routine safely.
Fatigue Is Your Friend
In order to build strength, you want to get to a point of momentary muscle failure. This means you are not able to perform the exercise again or can’t lift or crank out one more rep without sacrificing your form. ( I always say that I’d rather you do 5 the right way with correct form than 10 improperly.) So, you want to do enough reps, or sets of enough reps, to get to the muscle burn and flat out fatigue that muscle.
What’s the perfect amount of weight to lift? You should try to feel the beginnings of muscle fatigue at the end of each set of eight to 12 reps. If you are cranking out a couple of sets of 8 – 12 reps and aren’t feeling a thing, then it’s likely time to increase your weight.
You should attempt fit in a few strength training sessions per week, but don’t stack those days, meaning don’t strength train on back to back days where you are working the same muscle groups two days in a row. You need to give your muscles time to rest between sessions. Give yourself 48 to 72 hours between strength training sessions in order to let your muscles repair themselves.
It’s Not Just About Weights
Remember, too, that strength training isn’t just about grabbing some dumbbells or getting to the gym to use the weight machines. There are so many other ways to mix up your resistance routine! There are tons of body weight exercises you can do (remember those push-ups?), resistance bands, exercise balls, or different fitness classes like Pilates or yoga. There are also lots of exercise DVDs that will give you a great workout without a gym membership. If you don’t think you will work hard at home with a DVD, you haven’t tried the P90X workouts – crazy!
Warm Up Before, Stretch Afterward
Thank goodness the word has really made it around on the stretching question. Make sure you know it isn’t good to stretch before a strength training routine, since it can make your muscles contract and become shorter, and tighter muscles aren’t exactly what you want when working out. Instead of stretching before you start your workout, warm your entire body up for about 5 minutes with jogging, jumping jacks, elliptical, or other quick cardio routines to get your heart rate up. That way your entire body gets warm and your muscles will get ready for the exercises and work you are about to do.
However, I am not saying to NOT stretch! Oftentimes folks have to leave my classes early. I get that and don’t mind a bit . . . but I hate when I see them run out the door without taking the time to stretch! There is nothing better than a good stretch after a workout when your muscles are nice and warm. Stretching is important for staying flexible and helping to prevent injury. So stretch at the end of every exercise session, after your muscles are warm. Or, you may want to also stretch in between sets to cut down your cooldown time.
Make It Routine
I think this is likely the most neglected aspect of most people’s workouts, and especially women’s. Since strength training is important for increasing your metabolism as well as reducing your bone or muscle loss, helping against osteoporosis and the risk of some diseases, make sure it’s part of your weekly routine. Studies have shown that strength training two to three times a week offers the best gains in muscle performance; The American College of Sports and Medicine recommends that you do either full-body workouts or focus on different areas of the body during each session of your workouts.
These are some simple tips to remember when thinking about picking up a dumbell or planning your exercise for the week. Add the Strength Moves!
For a Monday laugh, I’ll give you another tip: If you are ever running and one of your “so called” friends heckles you as they drive by, IGNORE THEM! Otherwise, you may end up stepping off a curb to answer them, twisting your ankle and limping around for the next five minutes until you can actually walk well enough to finish the run, then have to ice and limp around the rest of the night. Or, you might not be the klutz I am . . .you might gracefully smile, wave, and continue running. I hope you do!
Hope you enjoy your day!
Are you strength training? Have you done your push-ups?
lin encourage you to add one more thinge