Strength training - you can do it too!
Updated: Sep 6
Strength training is for everyone. Whether it is lifting weights in the gym, doing Pilates, exercising at home, there is no one way to do it but everyone benefits from it.
Strength training or resistance training is applying load to the muscle so that it needs to adapt and get stronger. Strength training helps develop strong bones as well as muscles. It helps improve your balance. There are cardiac benefits as well as cognitive. These are just some of the good things strength training can help with.
The basics of strength training is lifting enough load to induce muscle change. Changing the way you perform the exercise in terms of what muscles, how many repetitions, how fast and how much you lift will change the adaptations of your muscles.
Strength, hypertrophy, power and endurance are all different training parameters. Muscle strength is training to increase the muscle's capacity to lift weight. Muscle hypertrophy is where the focus is on muscle growth. Muscle power is the explosive aspect of strength and training with speed. Muscle endurance is training to be able to repeatedly exert force over a longer period of time. There are many training variables and they change dependent on your goals. It is important to have a good understanding of where you are now.
To optimise the effects training needs to be individualised. We all have individual needs and goals. A needs analysis is important to determine the type of training that will work best for each person. Some common questions that need to be addressed are:
are there any health or injury concerns that may impact training?
what areas need to be trained and with what priority?
what types of muscle actions are needed?
how often can training occur?
what type of equipment is available?
what are the goals of training - muscle strength, size, power, speed, endurance, balance, co-ordination, flexibility, body composition, rehabilitation?
There are many factors that need to be addressed to maximise the outcomes of a strength program. They need to be maximised on an individual level.
Variety in training is just as important as variety in life. It keeps your mind and your body interested and challenged. It ensures complete and full development of fitness. Changes and adaptations happen when your body is challenged.
Recovery is also an important aspect of a successful training program. You need rest and recovery between sets within your workout. Your muscles need time to recover from the acute fatigue to be able to produce force again and also for the nervous system to recover. You also need rest and recovery between sessions. Your muscles need time between sessions as this is when adaptations occur. This is how you get stronger. Whilst you are resting, your body is working hard to recover so that you can continue to progress. Rest and recovery are your secret weapon.
The guidelines for physical activity recommend a minimum of 2 strength training sessions weekly. As you get older, the importance of these strength training sessions increases and can reduce risk of falls and injury.
Find out where you can start and what might work for your body from your physiotherapist. The Movement Workshop Physios also have a great network of highly trained professionals that can get you started.