STRENGTH TRAINING FOR STRONGER ANATOMY
There are many reasons for improving physical strength. If you are in your 20s or 30s it may only be about physical appearance or increasing your competitive abilities. However, as you age, strength training really becomes even more important for you.
This is because you will normally lose muscle and bone mass as the normal ageing process occurs. At around 35 years muscle mass is lost at a rate of around 1% per year, leading to decreased strength and a decrease in your metabolism.
FORTUNATELY THIS DOES NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN!
Both muscle and bone mass can be regained and maintained with a regularly-performed strength training programme.
....."BUT I DON'T WANT BIG MUSCLES!"
The rate and pace of muscle growth can be addressed by altering the type and frequency of your strength training programme. Realistically, most people can only manage a couple of strength training sessions per week and this is usually not enough to build serious muscle mass - at least not for most of us mere mortals! Moreover, it should be noted that strength gains do not always correlate with muscle size. This is because strength training also involves training your nervous system.
..."SO WHY IS STRONGER ANATOMY IMPORTANT?"
*Strength training will improve your cardiovascular training programme. For example, stronger leg muscles will improve your running technique and speed.
*Strength training will help to control body fat levels by increasing your metabolism - muscle is an energy-hungry tissue!
*Strength training makes you more stable on your feet, therefore preventing falls. Stronger hips, knees and ankles will prevent many types of injuries, especially as you grow older.
*Strength training strengthens and protects your bones too because muscle contractions pull on the bone and stimulate growth.
*Strength training can improve posture if it is performed correctly. Postural problems can occur because of repetitive daily movements, or non-movements like sitting. This becomes more acute as we age, simply because with more time more muscular contractions have occurred.
..."SO HOW DO I STRENGTHEN MY ANATOMY?"
There are various ways to train for increased strength (also referred to as 'resistance training'). For example, resistance training can take place in a gym using 'fixed' resistance machines or with cables, dumbells, barbells, kettlebells or medicine balls, which are referred to as 'free weights'. Furthermore, moving your own bodyweight around in more challenging ways will also incur a form of resistance training, for example when you begin a new yoga class or start a new running programme.
..."SO WHAT IS THIS 'CORE' STRENGTH MALARKY ALL ABOUT?"
Core strength really just refers to the strength in your hips, stomach, chest and back, thus the central portion of your anatomy. Core strength should always be dealt with first because if your arms are strong and your core strength is poor then this is a pre-curser for back pain and other injuries.
For example, if you start moving heavy dumbells with your arms but your 'core' musculature cannot support the demands of your aimed-for dumbbell exercise, then you may eventually suffer a back injury and back pain.