When you think of strength training, it’s likely that professional athletes or bodybuilders come to mind. You may wonder, “Is strength training really relevant to my lifestyle?” While cardio and flexibility exercises certainly have their place, when it comes to effective exercise programs, strength training has unique benefits for your bone and joint health.
Strength training isn’t just lifting weights – it’s actually any movement that involves resistance, whether that resistance comes from free weights, machines, or your own bodyweight. Here are a few reasons to start strength training today:
- Build Stronger Bones
When you train with resistance, your muscles pull against the bones to ever-so-slightly bend and contract them. The result is not only stronger muscles but increased bone density. Bones reach their greatest volume around the age of 30, and without training, both muscles and bones gradually weaken from that point onward. Resistance exercises help combat this by placing them under a healthy strain. When you do these workouts, your ligaments, tendons, and joints all become more resilient.
- Avoid Injury
Strengthening the muscles surrounding joints, ligaments, and tendons can lessen the impact on them to keep you pain-free. Oftentimes, injuries that occur during athletic activity can be traced back to muscle weaknesses. For example, weak hip and glute muscles can cause issues in the lower extremities such as knee or ankle injuries. When you live an active lifestyle, building up your connective tissue helps to maintain your musculoskeletal system. While performing strength exercises, incorporate all major muscle groups to avoid muscle imbalances – generally, training each major muscle group twice a week is sufficient. Be sure to gradually increase the weight you use, train with proper form, and give yourself ample recovery time.
- Live Longer and Better
Whether you’re cranking out pushups or pumping iron, you’re keeping your body functional for everyday activities as you age. Studies have found that adding strength training to an exercise regimen lowers the risk of premature death more than aerobic exercise alone. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue whereas fat is not – while cardio burns more calories during exercise, strength training boosts your metabolic rate to help you burn more calories after exercise and throughout the day. Breaking down muscles fibers allows them to regrow with more protein and strength, which equips you for everyday activities like sitting at your desk job or washing the dishes, while remaining pain-free. Strength training is even known to reduce anxiety, allowing you to focus and enjoy the things you do.
Ready to get started? Basic bodyweight strength training exercises like pushups, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups, or lunges are a great place to begin. For more experienced strength trainers, try incorporating weightlifting exercises. Always make sure to warmup beforehand, and stretch your muscles afterwards. The best strength workout for you ultimately depends on your specific goals.
At POA, we’re here to help you build and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. If you’re considering incorporating strength training or have questions about safe routines, consult with one of our orthopedic physicians in Seattle to learn what options may be right for you. Our orthopedic clinic specializes in sports medicine, joint replacement, foot and ankle issues, and more. Contact us to learn more about starting a strength training program.