Improve your performance
Joe Rossi, NASM-PES
Strength training is one of the most important elements of any fitness program and has a multitude of health benefits beyond the physical.
You may be a fitness enthusiast or weekend warrior who believes you are doing a good job of looking after your body’s fitness and conditioning. What if I told you that you may have overlooked one of the most important components in your active and health-driven lifestyle?
What if I told you about something that is responsible for maintaining and enhancing almost every function of your body?
“What could it possibly be?” you say.
It’s strength training and it’s not a fad; it’s for life!
Strength training is one of the most important elements of health. Building strong muscles increases bone integrity, joint stability, and cardiorespiratory health. As well, it creates a sense of well-being. With more than 600 muscles responsible for movement, strength training with dumbbells, barbells, and body-weight exercises provides a foundation for all other physical endeavours.
Stronger muscles are able to contract more quickly. Through strength training, faster-contracting muscles ultimately lead to faster movement. Imagine being able to move more efficiently because of strength training with resistance. Quicker movement could have an amazing impact in your life, from being able to climb stairs more easily to being able to run fast enough to catch the train before it pulls away from the station.
Strength training balances the body
Another benefit of strength training is that it corrects muscular imbalances and distorted posture that can directly affect the body’s ability to perform certain tasks. Runners suffer shin splints, tennis players develop tennis elbow, and weekend warriors tear the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) when jumping and bounding. A well-planned strength program can correct posture using exercises and movements that relieve tight and overused muscles while strengthening weak and underdeveloped muscles.
For a runner, exercises that focus on strengthening the tibialis anterior (shin) muscle will bring balance to shin musculature, decreasing tension in tight calf muscles and eventually alleviating shin pain. Tennis enthusiasts will benefit from exercises that strengthen wrist flexion. Strengthening the wrist’s flexor muscles will bring balance to the forearm and elbow musculature, eliminating tennis elbow pain. ACL tears and other associated knee injuries have been identified with strength in the hip. Overdeveloped quadriceps muscles coupled with a lack of gluteal and hamstring strength may prevent the knee from properly absorbing external forces during jumping and bounding activities. Increasing strength with resistance exercises in the gluteals and hamstring not only prevents knee injury but also enhances control of the lower body.
As complicated as the body may seem, it’s actually very simple. With excessive external stress the body breaks down, resulting in injury. Strength training enhances movement, strengthens muscle and bone, prevents injury, and maintains all physical function. If incorporated into a fitness regimen, your body will be prepared to
Where to start
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced fitness enthusiast, the principles of strength training remain the same: