Have you considered adding strength training to your program? Strength training works against resistance to improve the body’s ability to cope with everyday demands. It’s highly beneficial for clients of all ages and abilities – not just athletes! Here we explain why strength training is so popular among our exercise physiologists, and how it could benefit you.
What is strength training?
Strength training uses specific exercises that require the muscle to exert force against a form of resistance. This resistance can be anything from gravity to a barbell or resistance band. For this reason, strength training is often referred to as resistance training.
These exercises are designed to increase the strength, endurance and size of the targeted muscles. As the muscles work to overcome the resistance applied to them, they are progressively strengthened.
Strength training exercises are most effective when performed 2-3 times per week. We often incorporate various forms of strength training as part of our client’s holistic exercise plan.
Using resistance to strengthen the body
Strength training comes in many different forms and doesn’t always involve lifting the heaviest weights possible. Body weight alone can actually offer sufficient resistance to strengthen the body.
The right format of training will depend on the ability of the client and any underlying conditions or injuries we are working with. Common types of strength training include:
If you’ve ever attempted a pull up, you would be aware of the resistance your body weight provides when working against gravity. Body weight exercises are commonly used in strength training for their convenience and ability to target several muscle groups at once. Squats, push ups, chin ups and lunges are all common examples of body weight strength exercises.
We often use resistance bands in our physical therapy programs, but they’re also a great tool for strength training. Resistance bands make it easier to isolate and target specific muscles, compared to working with weights. They’re also easy to transport, so you can train anywhere, anytime.
Weights (Free Weights/Machines)
Weightlifting is most commonly associated with exercises for strength training. At Atkins, we work with a mix of free weights (dumbbells) and weight machines.
Many of our clients are surprised to learn that pilates is a highly effective form of strength training. Although low impact, the practice of pilates requires precise, controlled movements that effectively strengthen smaller muscles that are often overlooked. Pilates is particularly effective in strengthening the deep muscles of the back, abdomen and pelvic floor – known as the core muscles. Core strength is foundational to overall body health and well-being.
Increasing strength for improved lifestyle
Strength training isn’t just about beefing up those muscles. As exercise physiologists, we’re big believers in the benefits of strength training programs that go beyond the surface. We’re talking about long term lifestyle enhancement that can transform an individual’s quality of life.
Benefits of strength training include:
- Improved balance and coordination
- Improved performance of everyday tasks
- Improved confidence and self esteem
- Improved cognitive function
- Improved independence
- Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depressions
- Helps prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis
- Decreased risk of injury
Building strength helps when managing injury
Strength training can be intimidating to newcomers. It’s a common misconception that resistance exercises are only for athletes or those working towards strict performance goals. At Atkins, we prescribe strength training exercises for clients from 15 years old through to 90+!
Improved strength helps make everyday activities easier, which may seem simple, but can make a huge difference for those managing injury or chronic health conditions. Whether your goal is to pick up your grandkids, walk your daughter down the aisle, or gain more independence in daily life – strength training can help.
Strength training is beneficial for:
- Cancer patients
- Surgery prehabilitation and rehabilitation
- Clients with chronic health conditions (Parkinson’s Disease, Arthritis, Osteoporosis)
Exercise physiologists work in cancer clinics to allow people going into treatment to leave in the same condition, if not better, as when they entered treatment. We do so by using strength training to maintain or improve physical capacity so clients may leave the program better for it.
Wondering if strength training is right for you? Why not arrange a personal consultation with one of our expert EPs to discuss how you can incorporate strength training into your lifestyle?