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Why should you strength train?

March 18, 2012
By HEATHER YOUNG - CPT, Salem Community Center , Salem News

By Heather Young, CPT

Salem Community Center

The concept behind resistance/strength training is to overload the muscle. This is done by increasing more than normal resistance to movement or frequency in a progressive manner.

To increase muscle strength one would use heavier weights with fewer repetitions. To increase muscle endurance one would develop better by using lower weights with a greater number of repetitions. It is recommended that both styles of training be incorporated into a weekly weight training routine to enhance the development of the muscle.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), resistance training should be performed minimally 2-3 days per week, on alternative days, with at least one set of 8-12 repetitions. Multiple-set programs may provide greater benefits depending on the person's fitness level and goals. All programs should include at least 8-10 different exercises to hit the major muscle groups (arms, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back, hips, and legs). Resistance training forces individuals to focus on their core stabilization muscles, balance, awareness in space, and incorporate multiple joint activities to enhance the benefits of daily living and a lifetime of good health. It is important to remember that to maintain the benefits that strength training provides, it must be continued on a regular basis.

Following are some of the most popular and beneficial reasons as to why you should adapt a strength training regimen into your workout routine.

1. It makes you strong. Obvious wouldn't you say! Most people realize this but what they forget is that it makes you stronger in all aspects of life. It is not just in the gym but also when you are gardening or going to the grocery store, carrying the kids or putting things away it just makes all activity a little easier.

2. It reduces injury. Strength training not only strengthens the muscles and bones, it strengthens everything surrounding the muscle such as the connective tissue. The connective tissue consists of the ligament and tendons that help to keep you moving and protect the body from injury.

3. It reduces arthritis and joint pain. People suffering from pain see much improvement when they begin exercising. The increase in strength helps to cushion the joint so that the muscles take more of the impact not the joint. In addition, exercising increases synovial fluid in the joint area which helps to lubricate it for ease of movement.

4. It reduces blood pressure. After approval from your physician of course, starting a strength training program is great for the heart! The heart is a muscle just like any other in the body. You must increase its workload to make it stronger. Strength training stresses the heart and over time will aid in decreasing the high blood pressure.

5. It reduces body fat. Body fat is a problem for so many people. It not only affects what you visibly see with being overweight, but it affects what you do not see on the inside lining your organs. Most cancers, as well as many other diseases are associated with high amounts of body fat. When you strength train, you build lean muscle tissue which is more metabolically active that fat. When you increase your metabolism you burn more calories during the day. Now who would not want that!

Resistance training is one component of fitness needed to achieve maximum health benefits for people of all ages. The combination of resistance training and cardiorespiratory fitness decreases body fat percentages significantly in both men and women. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has found that the decline of functional activity starts as early as age 20 and continues throughout the life cycle at about 30 percent. Most of the decline seems to come after age 50 for both men and women. As these capacities decline, disease begins to set in such as osteoporosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and obesity. Strength training has been proven to help in the reduction of all of these problems. Many health benefits can be achieved from resistance training, even at lower intensities, frequencies, and durations. Strength/resistance training will make you feel better as it trickles into every aspect of your life.

The Salem Community Center provides many different ways to enhance a strength/resistance training program. We offer a class based instruction called "body sculpt" for those individuals interested in a one-hour instructed session with weights. Our Cybex Eagle line of equipment is state of the art for anyone interested in a circuit style exercise program as well as free weights and body weight stations. Personal training is available for those interested in an individualized program for an additional fee. For information call 330-332-5885 or visit us on the web at



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