The Magic of Strength Training

Is Strength Training Right For YOU?

There has been a lot of good press for strength training over the past 12 months. It is an area of fitness that is expanding in popularity for what used to be thought- only for young and middle-aged males, to now both genders of all ages (great news!). But what does it do for you physically and mentally? How often do you need to do it to reap the rewards? And how heavy do you need to go?

Strength Training Helps You Build Muscle

Strength training helps build and maintain the amount of muscle you currently have. Both men and women LOSE muscle as they age, resulting in a lower metabolism and therefore, an increased likelihood of being over-fat. I talk about fat rather than weight as what the BMI charts do not take into consideration is the body composition of an individual (You can rank as healthy on the BMI scale but still be carrying excess fat stores on your body and similarly you can have actually a very low amount of body fat but still rank as “obese” due to the weight on the scale). So at the very least, you want to train in order to avoid the natural decline of your muscle mass and be sure to concentrate more on how your clothes fit and how you feel rather than the numbers displayed on your scale.

Can Strength Training Improve Mental Health?

So we know that it optimises muscle mass and encourages a healthy body composition but what about the mental health benefits? Strength training is powerful because it empowers the individual- they start realising what they are capable of and also their potential as they measure their progress over time. Strength training (unlike many areas of fitness) is very measurable – if you now bench press with 40kg but started with only being able to lift 20kg then you know you have got stronger. For those of us often consumed with body image and weight, it brings our attention to performance. Research has proven that progress is more likely when fitness goals are performance orientated as the individual then focuses on what they are doing (something they can control) instead of what the scales say. When people feel empowered and positive then they are more likely to maintain their lifestyle changes over a longer or indefinite period of time. Consistency and persistency is key. So how often do we need to train to get these strength improvements? I would suggest a minimum of twice a week and then around that playing sport and keeping active. More than 4 times a week risks not allowing enough time for recovery and the all-important process of building those muscles stronger again before the next strength challenge. You want at least 24 hours between sessions if you are doing full body workouts, maybe even 48 if you have lifted heavy! You want to avoid fatigue, chemical imbalance and burn-out. You need to sleep well, eat well and train the right amount for YOU. Four times a week may feel perfect for someone and way too much for someone else. If you are worried about doing too much then just be sure to contain the time spent per session. A short 30- 40 minute burst of hard work is often sufficient, you don’t need to be there for hours on end!

How Heavy Should You Lift?

So how heavy do you need to lift? The majority of people who try strength training do not lift heavy enough. It is important to use light weights to practice and perfect lifting techniques but after that, it is important that you push yourself to your strength limits. If you are doing sets of 10 or 12 then the last 2 or 3 should be very tough. If 15 repetitions with this weight are possible then you need to increase your weight accordingly. You should feel at the end of the session like you would have really struggled to do any more of each exercise. Remember, it is only by letting the body experience these limits that your body feels it necessary to increase your strength to cope with the current demands. If it doesn’t FEEL that it is necessary, then it simply won’t make stronger muscles and you will experience a strength plateau where you are potentially maintaining but not gaining strength.

How to get the correct Strength Training Technique

It is imperative that you take the time to get the techniques right when strength training: loading the body in an incorrect movement pattern can do you more harm than good. If you have any prior injuries, it is also important to ensure that the affected area is particularly warm before asking anything of it (activation exercises can be used here!) Also be sure to integrate any rehab exercises into your training program because your weakest area will hold you back if you don’t nurture it back to optimum health.
If you aren’t sure whether you are doing the exercises right, ask a Personal Trainer to help you. You can also look at what muscles the exercise be working and see if you feel it in those places. If you are doing weighted lunges where the work should be in the legs but you are feeling it primarily in the back, then there is a good chance that you are doing something incorrectly. You do not to do strength training in a gym – many of our clients have free weights and kettlebells that they use in their home training sessions. You can also do the work outside in your garden or Local Park when the weather is good for that extra vitamin D boost! Whether you are training by yourself, with a friend or with a Personal Trainer: enjoy what you do and celebrate all the improvements you are making! Your time and effort will always pay off if you are working out consistently and effectively.

Have you tried Strength Training?

Have you tried strength training? How did you find it? Did you feel the difference physically and mentally? Please do send me any videos you have of yourself lifting and I will offer free advice that could help you reach your goals. If you haven’t filmed yourself then try it! Often, you can get the best view of how you need to improve by simply seeing yourself in action.

 

Lift yourself up with lifting weights! Lift safely and lift well ☺ who knows how high you can get!

 

Victoria xx

We Can Help

Here at Freespirit Fitness Culture, we always do telephone or face to face consultations so we can have that necessary exchange of information. It provides the opportunity to find out about one another and gives the space to voice expectations about the journey ahead. Finding your perfect trainer and strength trainer is so important because it isn’t having a personal trainer that makes a difference, it is having the right Personal Trainer for you. 

Contact Us

You can contact us via email, telephone or social media. We will be happy to help.
Ask us all the of the questions detailed above, are we the perfect fit for you?

e: victoriajonespt@yahoo.co.uk
t: 07912 444 660

Client Testimonial

” I train with Victoria regularly and because she knows my strengths and weaknesses, I felt that she was able to focus on the parts of my body that needed it most. I am now 1 stone lighter, 20 times stronger and 100 times happier after 12 months with Free Spirit Fitness! “

Mary Dunn

Victoria Jones

I'm a Personal Trainer dedicated to improving my clients health and fitness. I work with people of all ages and levels of fitness, across Leamington, Warwick and Warwickshire. Lose Weight and get fit with Free Spirit Fitness Culture.
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